Saturday, October 24, 2015

Finding Herself

By Linda Grupp Boutin

The first thing Star did when Gary and I returned without Kindu was to examine closely why her brother wasn't with us. A thorough sniffing told her that all we brought in with us was his collar, but no basenji boy. Impossible for me to explain to her, she had been well aware of his illness and that he wasn't doing well. She had taken to cleaning him like he was one of her puppies. At first he objected, but her persistence wore him down and he allowed her to lick his face and keep him clean. 

Star has always been one of our most fastidious basenjis, washing her face after every meal, keeping the floors clean with her own unique style of "vacuuming," trying to wash every bit of the coconut oil lotion off my hands as I let her get away with; the smell is just a bit too much like food as far as she is concerned. She is getting accustomed to being the only dog of the house. She no longer bolts down her food the second it hits the floor. She lingers over breakfast, sometimes not finishing her kibble until it's almost dinnertime.

Star looking backwards trying to convince me to pet her!

She approaches life in her own unique way, quietly, sometimes silently sitting beside me. Then turning those baby brown eyes backwards, reminding me that her ears, tummy, back, paws, face all need good and proper petting. I often wonder how in the world she can turn her neck this way without harming herself in the process. But she manages it on a daily basis. 

She enjoys moving from Gary to me, back to Gary then back to me. She relishes not fighting for the prime position next to our leg on the love seat. But she no longer enjoys long sunbaths on the patio with her best bud, Kindu. She prefers to stay in the house all day long with us, never concerning herself about the comings and goings on Flora Lane. At times Star seems to be completely bewildered having lost her compass in the form of her basenji brother.

We all are learning to live without Kindu, the life of the party. His example about how to enjoy each and every day, rejoice over the falling leaves and the singing birds, and greet every visitor with a loud BAROO. Star's calmness is unnerving  after 7 years with our boisterous boy leading the parade.

So now Gary and my conversations have turned to the subject of adding a 4th member to our pack. Basenji babies are only available in February, so stay tuned. Maybe not in 2016, but certainly by 2017 an addition to the pack is coming. After all, we need Star to train the new puppy about how to behave. Just like Kindu did for her.
Kindu on his puppy leash the first day home, ready to explore the neighborhood.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

How Do You Brush a Stubborn Male Basenji's Teeth

Fig.1 C.E.T.
Note: We invited a guest blogger to provide his unique experience with brushing Basenji teeth!

By Gary Boutin

Tools and Supplies
C.E.T. Tooth paste kit 
A brave owner

One of the interesting adventures for a pet owner is to brush their teeth. After all good hygiene prevents tooth decay and bad breath. 

This post shows the seven steps on how to brush a stubborn Basenji canine teeth without getting bit.

Step 1: Fig.2 shows the logo for Direct to you PetSupply at, where I purchased the Oral hygiene product.
Step 2: Fig.3 shows C.E.T. Home Dental Care is distributed from Canada. Fig.4 shows the Canadian address.

Step 3:  Fig.5 shows the product comes with a brush, toothpaste and a finger brush. 
Fig.5 Oral Hygiene Kit
Step 4: The first step is to show that the toothpaste tastes good. Fig.6 shows the chicken toothpaste that will be introduced to our dog, Kindu. Fig.7 shows the chicken toothpaste is being smelled by Kindu.

Fig.6 Chicken Toothpaste
Fig.7 Chicken Toothpaste Introduction
Step 5: The next step is to place the chicken toothpaste on the outside of the dog's gums. Fig.8 to Fig.10 shows Linda applying the chicken toothpaste in Kindu's mouth. Notice how he is cooperating with the application. (Not really!)

Step 6:  Linda tried using the finger brush and Kindu would not cooperate. Fig.11 to Fig.13 shows more pictures that Linda used in brushing Kindu's canine teeth. He likes the toothpaste but the overall hygiene was not accomplished for this boy.
Fig.11 Brushing front teeth
Fig.12 Brushing Canine Teeth

Fig.13 Holding mouth open
Step 7: At the end all Kindu would agree to was to eat the toothpaste. Linda tried her best and she could not get this job done. Whose fault is it, it's Mine. If I had done this to Kindu when he was a puppy and brushed his teeth then, this process would have been easier and maybe a little fun for him. 

P.S. At 10 years old, all Star wants to do is eat the toothpaste--an extra meal with no brushing!
 This post was written in memory of Kindu my friendly boy Basenji!
Kindu 2015

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Monday, October 12, 2015

A Heavy Heart--Hoping for a Rainbow Bridge

By Linda Grupp Boutin

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I must share with you the loss of our dancing basenji boy, Kindu. Despite all our efforts, attempts at homemade meals and pancreatic enzymes, vitamins and digestive medicines, he lost his battle with digestive disease on September 17th. We found so many foods he just loved, for a week or two, but, in the end, despite eating, his scarred intestines could no longer absorb the nutrients required to sustain him. It turned into a long, hard grind for him to simply eat or drink. 

About a week before he crossed over the rainbow bridge, a new friend, Bridget, stopped by our house. He greeted her entrance with an enthusiastic baroo and spent most of the evening trying to steal her chair which she graciously gave him. He attended our meeting quietly waiting for it to end. This was one unique dog among dogdom. Leash snapped in place, we walked her to her car with  Star and returned home after the dogs finished their business.

Comfy for the night, he stretched his long, skinny frame beside me and I ran my fingers over his prominent rib cage recalling the many conversations over the last month between Gary and me that, "Our boy is failing." I would introduce a new food, make a fresh run to Petco for another different canned food, cook up a round of chicken thighs and baked endless array of trying to tempt our boy to eat something, anything...

During the final month we tried all we could do to restore his strength and spirit. Trips to the dog park brought happiness, but he no longer ran and played, choosing instead to stay beside us. As always his favorite place was stretched alongside one of us in the recliner or better yet for a nap in the big bed. We settled into a daily routine including cooking, feeding him, cajoling him to eat, walking him and picking up after him. Once the food reached his tummy, we hoped for the best but too often watched him endure pain from the feeding.

I weighed him frequently watching his weight fluctuate between 20-22 pounds. No matter what I tried I could not help him regain to his thin 24 pounds or robust 27. Eventually he would no longer eat twice a day anymore, but only would eat after the heat of the day late in the evening. He no longer wanted a morning drink of water and drank less and less every day. He turned up his nose one evening to all food except a hand-fed chicken thigh sitting on the floor beside him. We knew we had reached his limit and decided that the next morning to give him his release.

His final trip in the car provided him the delight of sticking his nose out the window and letting the wind brush back his ever-alert ears. I drove and Gary held his pal and little buddy on his lap, holding onto the spirit of joy and mischief that filled our home to overflowing for just 7 short years. A normal lifespan for basenjis is 12-14 years. But we knew our boy had some special challenges with his digestion along with eye issues from too much inbreeding. We always will cherish these final 9 months when Kindu worked so hard to eat and drink to please us.

It is my dearest hope that somehow God has provided a special place across a rainbow bridge for my fur babies. I am so grateful that He placed these examples of unconditional love in my life for me to emulate. I envision all the dogs of my life running through a green meadow chasing one another in circles and shaking their heads about the silly pair of humans they have shared in their pack over all these many years.

Kindu the summer before his illness took over

From my friend Linda Conger

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Solid As a Rock

By Linda Grupp Boutin

So although 2015 has brought more than its fair share of challenges, it also has brought great joy in resiliency. Our basenji boy, Kindu, has put back on 5 of the 9 pounds he lost, his coat is thickening and its reddish glow is returning thanks to the addition of coconut oil to his daily ration. And although he has hogged the majority of our attention, it turns out that our basenji girl, Star, has turned out to be the strongest member of our pack. She has watched our struggles, continued to cuddle and been the rock where we can anchor our storm-tossed ships.

Since Kindu has been more vulnerable, she has been stronger understanding better and better how vital a member of our little group she is. Star no longer cowers in her dog bed while Kindu claims the spot next to Gary while we watch TV. Instead she grabs the other side and sits proudly displaying her gorgeous profile pretending to be interested in whatever show is on.

Kindu claiming the queen-sized bed as his own

She spends the vast majority of any given day nearby me, always within easy reach of my petting which is better to her than food, although just barely. Sometimes she demands scratches and rubs wiggling in anticipation of the comfort any kind of touch brings this basenji. In the evening if I don't continue the pets long enough, she contorts her body to look backwards at me with pleading brown eyes meant to melt the soul. If that doesn't work, she pulls back her lips and shows me her teeth in a "submissive grin" which almost always makes me laugh.

Then we go through our routine, I pet her a couple times, stop, she wiggles around and grins. She will repeat this as many times as I am willing to continue playing this ridiculous game with her. Kindu doesn't like it one little bit, often wedging himself beneath my knee and growling every time Star wiggles. Sometimes Gary just looks at the three of us and shakes his head.

So like so many times in life, the challenges of this year has bonded our  small family even tighter together. We've grown to appreciate one another just that much more and to rely on our little rock in a storm, Star Baby.

Gentle, yet strong Star

Monday, March 30, 2015

Hard to Believe

By Linda Grupp Boutin

Apologies to all my readers for the interruption in posts on this blog. In rereading the post from last October, there is irony in what I wrote about at that time.

For the last 3 months, much of my time, energy and thoughts have been devoted to how to help our basenji boy, Kindu. In December he had a toothache and began not eating with his usual enthusiasm. In the midst of the holiday  rush, I didn't notice the problem until the week between Christmas and New Year.

I have battled with tooth problems in more than one of our basenjis. They don't like you messing with their mouths, much less brushing their I have relied on a variety of chew toys, edible tooth brushes, and trying to ignore their bad teeth. I know, I know, this attitude has not added up to good oral hygiene for my furry friends. But Kindu seemed to do well enough with this hodge podge process until Star joined our basenji family.

Note to self: Start brushing any new pup's teeth at 8 weeks old, no more poor oral hygiene for my dogs!

Star does not believe in standing at the end of the line waiting patiently for feeding time. If there is food to be had, she wants it. In daily "vacuuming" around our home, she sniffs out any edible, and some not so edible, snack and heaven help anyone or any basenji who attempts to snatch it from her iron-clad jaws. Talk about a Great White Shark hiding under that curly tail and furrowed brow! And now, anytime Kindu dallied over his food (which was multiple times daily), Star happily cleaned up his plate. She kept getting wider, while Kindu withered away before my eyes!

So Kindu's problems began with this toothache. What little winter weather we had in Southern California seemed all to come in the last week of December and first week of January 2015. At the same time, much of our home life took a beating too. When my husband attempted to return to his job after Christmas, he found his bad knees gave up on him entirely. A trip to the VA emergency room and 8 hours later, we learned he would be off work for many weeks. 

We made it back home, fed the dogs and got to bed by 10 p.m. that night. The next morning, well before dawn, Gary's Mom called asking us to take her to the emergency room immediately. Another whole day spent hanging out in an emergency room, only the doctors decided she needed to be hospitalized for what turned into the next 11 days. This was just the beginning of our challenges for the New Year. And as we raced from hospital rooms to doctor's appointments, Kindu became more and more stressed out. By mid-January I took a good look at our basenji boy and realized he had lost way too much weight.

Now this wasn't the first time Kindu has been pretty sick. He has battled colitis from the time he was 6 months old. We have nursed him through several bouts of illness and I confidently went about using my usual routine of home remedies to help him feel better. Except this time it didn't work. Before much more time passed, we decided we needed the vet's advice about this bout.

So several hundred dollars and trying more remedies than I can recall, we have only succeeded in helping Kindu regain a couple of the 11 pounds he has lost this year. The tooth is out and he no longer cringes as he chews, but this time the colitis has not relented. We are still battling to help him regain his health and I must admit my normal optimism is wearing thin. I dislike his new nickname of Skinny Bones and I would give much to see a more rotund appearance on our basenji boy again...
Kindu at his normal weight

Wish us luck and if you wish say a little prayer that our boy regain his health. Hopefully I will be able to post again soon that Kindu is back to his normal ornery self and delighting us with his usual mischief. That would truly be an answer to prayer.