By Linda Grupp Boutin
Over the last two weeks, we cuddled our basenjis more often and with appreciation for the special role they fill in our lives. Kindu pretends that he doesn't like to be held, petted and cuddled. But late at night before we retire for the night and early in the morning, our independent boy loves to be held like we did when he measured only 8 pounds. On the other hand, Star makes no bones about loving every pet, stroke, or word of affection. Gary has taken to calling her "Skin" because whenever she is in the house she is nuzzled up beside one of us for sure. And let me tell you, this basenji girl really radiates the heat; perfect for those really cold nights!
On April 15th while watching the chaos in Boston, I had one dog snuggled up on each side of me. The mere act of petting a special animal friend lowers blood pressure and releases stress-relieving chemicals for both the human and the animal. So doctors have learned that owning a pet can promote health and well being. I love sharing my home with my 4-footed friends. They make me laugh, they keep my secrets, they keep me company no matter how bad a mood I might be in, they are there for me whenever I call.
The down side of pet ownership is that they require some things too. This week I am planning a visit to the veterinarian for annual vaccinations. I am hoping to learn what the vet recommends for a supplement to help both dogs with hip soreness. With both Kindu and Star over 5 years old, they are officially senior dogs. Coupled with the fact that both dogs are fixed, I must keep a close watch on their calories and weight to keep them in good health. Teeth need to be kept clean. Fleas must be kept off the dogs and out of our house. And of course, there are the 3-4 walks per day, picking up after the dog waste, and taking care of Kindu's inevitable upset tummies.
Although the money part can get tight, I find the sacrifice to feed and take care of my pets to be 100% worth it. If you want a friend loyal to the bone, get a dog. You know my preference is a basenji dog, but I must admit they are tough dogs to raise and train. But now, with 2 adult animals that listen when I insist they do, all those years of chasing Kindu around the dining room table are paying off. When I see the bliss on their faces when I pet them just right, I smile and love them all the more.