Saturday, November 5, 2016

Star Taking the Lead

By Linda Grupp Boutin

     Star has learned to love the life of a single dog living in a pack with two humans. When we sit side by side on the loveseat in front of our TV, she takes up her position between the two of us. This way she is handy to both of us for all petting, scratching and massages.

     We have been so thankful that since the passing of our basenji boy, Kindu, that she has been with us to comfort, make us laugh, and require multiple daily walks. Many days as we adjusted to a new way of life, Star and her needs kept us focused on the here and now.

     She now knows how to read our body language and routines. She understands that she must ask for walks, food, and all her other needs. She doesn't twang the doorstops like Kindu did; but instead jumps up, does a basenji dance with a shake of her head, and then sits down in front of us and stares at us until she gets our attention. Mostly she contents herself by sitting in quiet companionship with us.

    Her biggest need seems to be a rather constant desire to be petted and scratched. When she decides that it is time for petting she tries to sit in a lap, the easier for reaching her ears. Sometimes she chooses to drape herself across one of us for special attention. Once she is properly positioned she turns her neck backwards and fixes her brown eyes directly at us. This is her clear signal to do our job and massage her. But most of the time she is content in the middle touching both of us at once.
Star begging for pets

     This basenji girl stays calm in almost every circumstance. Sirens, fireworks, and earthquakes barely cause her to blink. If she does get spooked by anything, she retreats to one of the three dog beds in our home. Also if she senses that we are getting ready to leave, she tries to hide in the bed hoping not to have to spend the time of our absence out on the patio.

     When she joins me on the bed we have a silly game that we play. She positions herself beside me and cranes her neck backwards to look me in the eye. She has taught me that this means she wants tummy rubs. If I do not comply quickly enough, she pulls her lips away from her teeth displaying a perfect "submissive grin." As soon as I start rubbing her tummy she relaxes and just enjoys the experience. Other times she sits beside me and places her head in my hand indicating that she wants her head petted. So many times people ask me how a basenji communicates if they cannot bark. They use many alternative ways to put their point across.
Star cuddled up with my nephew, Alex
      These days both Gary and I ask Star if she would like a puppy. She does not know what this means, so she usually ignores us when we ask. But we know that a new pup will be a challenge to both the humans and the basenji girl in our pack. We have both started a new exercise regimen to get into shape for the challenges a playful pup will present. Star thinks we are both goofy doing all this exercising, but she always just goes along with whatever happens in her life. I wish she could share in our anticipation, but on the other hand I am jealous of the contentment she always seems to feel.

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