|Star at 5 weeks old|
By Linda Grupp Boutin
Star is lying beside me tonight. Methodically she lifts her left paw (yes, she’s a leftie), licks it, wipes it across her face, licks her paw, wipes it across her face, over and over. As she prepares to bed down for the night, she likes to wash her face. You might say that’s what cats do, but I am here to tell you that’s what basenjis do too. The breed is quite fastidious about their personal hygiene.
In Star’s case, she also uses this method to draw your attention to the fact that she “needs” petting. She always wants more petting, Gary calls her “needy.” And she is. She loves food and is willing to taste just about anything; however she is passionate about tactile comfort including just touching you while she sleeps. Being brushed is a special kind of pleasure that she is just discovering. While Kindu fights the brush trying to bite it, Star shivers in delight as the many teeth of the brush send comforting scratches in unison all over her back. She stands still, waiting in anticipation for the next pass of this magical tool. At 7 years old she’s found a new pleasure in life.
She has other unusual approaches to life. All of my basenjis have always ruffled up a pillow by scratching it into submission. More than one of my pillowcases died a slow death from the dog’s toenails. Star though finds stomping works more to her taste. She steps around in circles, just like every other basenji, but instead of circling and scratching, she turns around and around stomping the pillow to death. Many mornings when I get up, I give her bed pillow a good fluff just to try and give it some body again. If I didn’t occasionally fluff it, she would stomp it as flat as a pancake.
There are always times when life leaves you feeling as flat as Star’s pillow. Pain has been knocking me down lately leaving me feeling paper thin at times. Star and Kindu join me on the bed in the afternoon while I lie down begging the pain to stop. Absently I run my fingers through their fur comforting both them and me. The mere act of petting an animal releases stress-relieving chemicals for both the person and the pet.
Star has really great instincts too. It makes good sense to wash your face and make sure all is in good order before you go to sleep at night. When you take the time for this it makes waking up the next morning just that much better. I always feel that way about putting my kitchen to bed for the night so I get up to a clean room the next morning. So what about you, can you use Star’s example to put some needed order into your life? My challenge to myself is to make sure my world is in the best order possible before I close my eyes at night.