Monday, April 30, 2012

Getting to Know Star

By Linda Grupp Boutin

Star moved in with us on January 10th this year, officially the oldest dog we ever adopted at 7 years old. And I would be fibbing if I said the road has been free of bumps. We started off with a big advantage because we were there when Star was born and she knew our scent as some of the very first that she learned. When you are a newborn pup, blind and deaf, first and lasting impressions come through the sense of smell. So when we picked Star up, she seemed to have a deep recognition of us.
Star about 1 hour old.

That helped, but plenty of challenges remained to incorporate Star into our "pack." She had been raised to be an outside dog, so the first thing she tried to do was cover up Kindu's scent on our bed. I'll leave some of this to your imagination, but it did involve the washer and dryer...hence the beginning of our housebreaking procedures. She actually caught on quickly once we succeeded in teaching her the new schedule around our house.

Although she was new to us, the vet considered her to be a "senior dog" requiring special older dog precautions adding greatly to the cost of having her spayed. And we had no idea she is a complete and total diva. We knew we faced troubled waters when we arrived at the vet's to pick her up from her surgery. We could hear her objections loud and clear in the waiting room. One thing about an unhappy basenji is that they do not just whine and cry, they scream and Star was very unhappy, maybe even downright angry about the whole thing. Her screams rang loudly in our ears and I've never seen a vet's office so happy to send a patient home!

So Star took out all her pent-up fear, frustration and frantic energy by attacking the cone she woke up to find firmly attached to her head. I would arrive home to find she had found another way to remove this hated appendage. I replaced it over and over onto her head and she looked for more and more ways to remove it. I have never had a dog succeed in removing a cone before, so this was new to me. After we resorted to duct taping the chewed up thing back together again, Star took matters under her control and ate it off of her! Now I was scared she would need another surgery to get all that plastic, tape, etc. out of her stomach. A couple days later I (and the vet) breathed a huge sigh of relief when she successfully passed the remnants out of her system.

And this doesn't begin to address the matter of convincing both dogs to get along--this part of the adventure will be saved for my next post!