Tag Archives: basenjis

It's the small things

I can’t tell you how nice it was yesterday to be able to put the dogs out in their yard and not have to run right back out and bring them in. As rough as this summer has been with the prolonged triple digit heat wave and the drought, I got spoiled. My dogs love heat, and although I worried about the Old Guy being more stressed by it and brought the boys in for frequent cooling-off breaks in the air conditioning, I was able to put them back out as soon as they started bugging me were comfortable again. Rain is a whole other country. And we have gotten some rain this past week.

As I’ve said before, Basenjis don’t like wet things, like grass. They hate to get their feet wet, they don’t like raindrops falling on their head, none of that stuff. So we all have to stay in the house, except for those essential trips outside for potty breaks (which, of course, are more frequent for the Old Guy). Fortunately, the rainfall was fairly light and broken up with occasional lulls, so I was able to take him out long enough to do all the required business (no trail of turds around the house this time), with only a couple of bladder accidents when the rain’s timing was bad.

I was hoping that the long dry spell had somehow dispelled the Puppy’s traumatic association with wet grass, which I have no idea how or where he got. If it wasn’t so maddening, it would be comical. He’s absolutely petrified of walking in wet grass. Like it’s gonna jump up and bite him. I don’t know if I’m ready to give him credit for being able to make the connection between wet weather and his itchy-skin fungus breakouts (which, of course, are aggravated by almost any change in weather conditions, especially changes to damp), but it’s possible, I suppose, that he’s thinking, “NOOOOOS! If I goes out in wets grasses and gets my feets wet, boogie monsters will try to eats my skins off!”

Heavy sigh. I wonder how long he could actually “hold it” if I didn’t drag him out into the yard and stand there looking daggers at him until he pees. Who could not love one of these dogs? Seriously. Because you are so bowled over ecstatic by those fleeting moments when they’re good!

Morning rituals

I really hate getting up two hours ahead of the sun, but old dog bladders can’t wait, so here I sit, waiting for daylight. I’ve had the dogs out, fed them, fixed myself some “iced” coffee (cold but without the ice), and sat myself down at my computer. This is actually the first time I’ve tried using the quiet time to do some writing. Composing on the computer this early in the morning…anything can happen.

The Old Guy is curled up in his blanket behind me, snoozing away. Every morning we go through the same ritual. After I take him out, then take the Puppy out, I feed them, then I take him out again (I learned this the hard way — he always “saves” something). Then I spread his blanket out on the living room floor so he can get it wadded up to his ever-changing specifications. Sometimes he ends up near the kitchen, sometimes near the windows (clear across the room), and sometimes against the base of my chair. Makes getting up for more coffee a bit dicey. And he “talks” to the blanket as he shoves it around the floor. He whines at it with an air of “why don’t you cooperate for once?” Finally, he gets it subdued and then goes about arranging his old bones on it — which can get comical, considering how easily he loses his balance and how lumpy a pile he is trying to negotiate. Then he just flops down with a sigh, tucks his nose under a back leg, and it’s off to dream land, usually until around eight a.m.

Now if only I could get him to sleep that late to begin with…

High Maintenance… the point

The previous post was really just the first part, but I published it so I could break up my computer time with my “take the dogs out, bring the dogs in” routine; and so I could sit under the ceiling fan with my clipboard in my lap and write with my big fat pen.  I still prefer to compose with my low tech tools.

My point in going on about all the stuff I have to do for the next few weeks for the Puppy was that it’s not really a big deal. I’ve been here before. My first dog was a dachshund with a chronic/recurring case of some mild form of mange — his vet called it “red mange.” Almost every summer we would have to put him on a schedule of twice or three times weekly baths with medicated shampoo that had to be left on his coat/skin for ten minutes, then rinsed out. This was usually my job, although my brother or one of our parents would often be on hand to help (mostly to keep him from running off while soapy and rolling in the dirt somewhere). At some point he apparently outgrew the condition, or the repeated treatments eventually eliminated all the mange bugs and all generations of their offspring, because I remember a lot of summers in his later years when I didn’t have to bathe him every other day.

At some point in their lives all my dogs have become high maintenance.  Even my easy, breezy, beautiful basenjis have had their share of glitches, although until now they mostly showed up as the dogs got older — like 13 or 14. And I always just figure out how to deal with it. Like these baths. Giving dogs baths in the tub in the house KILLS my back. Don’t want to go there. Same for a tub on the ground out in the yard. So I found a little plastic table about knee high that the tub just fits on. The little monsters darlings are less likely to jump out of a tub a little higher off the ground, especially if it also wobbles just a tiny bit.

When the Old Guy had his second stroke last fall I had to help him walk by holding his leash taut enough to hold his head steady. I had to carry him down the front steps and set him on his feet in the yard. Then I had to carry him back up the steps and set him on his feet in the house (I’m so glad I graduated from great Danes to smaller dogs). And I used a towel as a sling under his middle to hold him up on his feet while he ate. It’s just what I do. What anyone would do for someone who gives so much trust and affection and asks for so little in return.

It’s what I thought I was doing when I came home from Kentucky to look after my father after he had his stroke. But was it that simple? Oh, no.

(To be continued…)

High Maintenance

The holiday weekend just past (July 4th) and a trip to the vet with the Puppy on Monday have put me behind on my blogging. I knew I’d be too busy over the weekend watching “Independence Day” for the umpteenth time and eating barbeque to do any writing — which is one reason I published “Bicentennial.” It was already written, was about the Fourth of July, and I’ve been planning to release some of the chapters from my novel before I finish it to see if I can create a frenzy for the finished product…okay, maybe a small flutter.

I took the Puppy to the vet for a non-life threatening condition, so, not to worry. One hind foot had become puffy and inflamed-looking and I couldn’t see an obvious injury. His chest and neck were also looking inflamed and itchy — an indication that his allergies were flaring up beyond the ability of the benadryl-three-times-a-day to control. The vet said he had probably picked up a skin fungus from the yard, and since he’s got highly susceptible, sensitive skin, it made him break out.

So now I get to bathe him twice a week with special shampoo that I have to lather up and leave on for ten minutes; I’ve got some steroid spray to spray on his foot twice a day; and for good measure, I got some ear drops for the Old Guy, who seems to be having a milder case of the same thing and has been shaking his head a lot (which sometimes makes him fall down).

I consider myself lucky. For most of the first year of his life, the Puppy had one skin condition after another, and was almost always having the special baths — this was before I got him. The breeder had him evaluated for food allergies and ended up putting him on a vegetarian diet. After I got him — at age ten months — I added the benadryl because there was obviously something else “in the air” of Central Texas that he reacted to. Not surprising. A lot of people have told me that before they came to this area they never had allergy trouble. I started having to take allergy medication regularly before I left Kentucky, but could sometimes skip a dose and not really notice the difference. Not so here.

Now we’re in this prolonged drought, and there is dust everywhere, mold spores everywhere, general yuckiness everywhere. Not to mention the triple digit heat and 80-plus percent humidity. Uber yucky. So the Puppy gets his special baths on Tuesdays and Fridays, and since I wouldn’t want him to feel left out (and because he’s a dirt magnet anyway), the Old Guy gets one on Sundays. And I’ll be taking a lot of cool showers and eating a lot of popsicles.

Old dogs vs. old men…

…and why I prefer old dogs.

The other day one of the doggie people I follow on Twitter had this link to a story about old dogs… It made me cry, of course, so if you go and read it, have a hankie handy. I’ll wait for you to come back.

It got me thinking about my own situation with old dogs, and old men, since I took care of my ninety-something-year-old father for the past five-plus-something years and have also had an old dog or other at the same time. First there was Crazy Eddie, and now The Old Guy. The Old Guy is actually more like my dad in being really old but in relatively good health, so, inevitably, I came up with some comparisons.

1. If you help an old dog get up out of his bed or off the floor, he doesn’t get all huffy and offended.

2. If an old dog pees his bed, or anyplace else in the house, he doesn’t get all embarrassed.

3. If you have to wipe an old dog’s butt, he doesn’t get all huffy and offended and embarrassed.

4. It is not scary to see an old dog naked.

Old dogs may be aware that they can’t do all the things they used to be able to, but they don’t dwell, they don’t sit and feel sorry for themselves and blame everyone else for their sad state. The Old Guy knows he can’t catch the cat, or bunnies in the yard, but he still makes a short lunge-and-snap. Then he looks back at me with a twinkle in his eye like, “Hey, did you see that?” He doesn’t get all upset because he can no longer run the prey down. For him the victory now is that he can still make them run away.

The Basenji Code

The Basenji Code goes something like this.

1.  If I can get it in my mouth, I should be able to swallow it.

2.  If I can swallow it, it is food.

3.  If the food makes me sick, oh, well.

4.  If it moves, I need to chase it.

5.  If I can catch it, it may be food. (See #1.-3.)

6.  If no one is watching, I’m not being a bad dog.

7.  If I’m not on a leash, I don’t have to sit, heel, stay, or listen to my name.

8.  I know that Dammit and No are parts of my name.

9.  Good dog and bad dog are relative terms.

10. I know my people love me whether I do what they want or not.

Now, I’m fully aware of the fact that other dogs, other breeds, have similar Codes, but I would make the argument that the Basenji Code predates those. It may, in fact, be the original Code upon which others are based. Because basenjis are very old. Dogs like basenjis were companions to pharaohs in ancient Egypt. They set the standard for companion dog behavior, and everything that has followed has been an adaptation gained (or lost, depending on your point of view) through selective breeding.

Humans have designed dogs that do what they’re told, no matter what, whether anyone is there to see them do it or not. (Basenjis look on and shake their heads.) This is perfectly fine, and it has made dogs that much more useful to many more humans. I have even had dogs like that, myself, in my past. I found them to be “needy.” Like, “please tell me what to do. Tell me what to do and pet me. Pet me and tell me what to do. Please pet me, pet me petme.” (In fact, my first husband was like that, too.) I’ve discovered that I’m not that crazy about “needy” creatures.

I can live with the Basenji Code. I can live with being highly selective about what toys I can give my dogs, about keeping them on leashes and watching for things they’re likely to lunge after, about picking up the shredded pieces of the various things they destroy when I forget to watch out where I leave things. I can live with their subtlty in showing how much they love me. I get them. They get me. Enough said.

This totally cracks me up


Biomechanical Artificial Soldier Engineered for Nocturnal Judo and Infiltration


Get Your Cyborg Name

That a random word-generating thingy came up with such a perfect designation for what a basenji is rocked my day. (Why do you think I make the little darlings sleep in crates at night?)

Hot Dogs

There’s no getting past it. It is officially summer in Central Texas. It almost always gets here well ahead of the “calendar” start of summer, on the solstice. Some years it starts in March. I kid you not.

The temperature has been 95 degrees or higher (that’s Farenheit) for over a week, and at night it only gets down into the mid 70’s. That qualifies as summer. I don’t mind as much as I used to. Before I lived in Kentucky for 14 years, I thought I wanted nothing more than to live someplace cooler. Of course, Central Kentucky gets as hot as Central Texas, just not for as long. I discovered living there that it’s just as uncomfortable to deal with bone-chilling cold for nine out of twelve months as it is to put up with scorching heat for that much of the year.

At least the dogs like it. Basenjis are heat-seeking missiles. Four of mine learned to listen for the furnace to turn on every winter in the mobile homes we’ve lived in, and then curl up on top of the floor vent to soak up all the hot air. My first female, at age fifteen, sat too close to a space heater and scorched some of the fur off her back. Fortunately, I saw her butt smoking and made her move before she got burned down to the skin. She had a thick undercoat of a much lighter color than her outer coat, and had a “brand” of alternating black and gray bars on one hip for several weeks.

So the boys are happy out in their sweltering yard. They do nothing but lay in the shade and sleep all afternoon. I make big ice cubes by freezing water in large yogurt containers to put in their water bucket every afternoon. I doubt if it keeps their water cool for very long, but at least I feel like I’m doing something they like. I know I would like someone to bring me ice cubes — or popsicles in my case. But I have opposable thumbs, and I can get them out of the freezer for myself.

I have normally spent a lot of time in summers past putting up a tarp across part of the dog yard to provide shade. It’s a pain in the ass. If I leave the tarp in place for very long, the winds eventually rip it to shreds, and I have to go buy a new one. Or I can put it up and take it down every day, or every time the wind gets too strong. Problem with that was that if it was real windy, but also sunny and hot, taking the tarp down meant no shade for the dogs, so I’d have to bring them in the house. And every ten minutes they’d be bugging me to take them out…until they got outside and discovered that “hey! it’s hot out here!” and the dry grass would poke their feet and they’d want to turn around and come back in.

Now they have this nice plywood shade roof/Puppy sundeck that doesn’t flap in the wind. I made another shade awning for them using plastic garden fencing and shade cloth. I wanted more of the yard to get some shade in the late afternoon, because there are no trees anywhere near the west side of their enclosure. The wind mostly goes through it, and rain will too (if it ever rains again), so I don’t have to take it down until winter. Yay. It’s the little things, you know?

The Trail of Turds: Basenjis against the elements

Basenjis are not by nature wet weather dogs. At least mine are not. They love a good drought — and heat, lots of heat. So it is always a challenge when it rains, to get them to go outside and “do their business.” 

I take my dogs out on leashes because I don’t have a completely fenced-in yard, and only a fool would turn a basenji loose. (Although it is possible to catch one that gets loose — sooner or later their nose stops them long enough for a lucky fool to catch up, or they can be lured in to an open car door [by someone they know] — I would not bank on being able to do it more than a couple times before they would catch on and keep running.) So it’s not about expecting them to get wet while I get to stay dry. No. When it’s raining, I go out three times, so no dog has to stand around getting soaked waiting for someone else to “go.”

Still, they try at least once to turn around and go straight back to the door. “I don’t have to go now, Mommy. I’ll wait until August… when it’s dry.” And the boys are the biggest pansies. They dig in their heels like the proverbial mule, and have to be pretty much dragged out into the yard. This week we’ve had some rain. It was raining hard enough Monday morning that I delayed taking the Old Guy out until about an hour after the normal time. I knew he had already peed the blanket in his crate — that’s an almost daily occurrence. I have about eight blankets so I’ll always have a clean, dry one to make an exchange while he’s eating his breakfast.

When I finally decided I’d better take him out, it was still raining hard enough that I let him convince me staying out and getting soaked was not going to hurry his bowels at all, so I brought him back in and started getting their food ready. Sure enough, when I put his bowl down, there was a little “gift” on the floor behind him. I got a paper towel, and as I bent to pick it up, I glanced down the hall and saw another in front of my bedroom door. When I picked up that one and turned around, I saw the one he had dropped at the other end of the house, in front of my brother’s bedroom door. And as I passed through the living room I saw one in front of my desk and another in front of the loveseat. He had made his complete circuit, at a gallop, dropping turds on the fly. He had not missed a single room. Talented.

And so I didn’t need to take him out again until the rain let up later in the morning.

What a Maroon

If my dogs were Loony Tunes characters, The Old Guy would be Tweety. He just wants everybody to get along. The “puddy tat” may be trying to eat him, but his defense is zero offense. He’s completely non-confrontational. I’ve never seen a male dog with such a disarming personality. Of course, the downside is that the slightest noise can make him fall over (a lot of things can make him fall over, at his age). Another one of his nicknames is “Mr. Twitchy,” because he flinches so often. Sometimes I think he’s just practicing, so he’ll be ready if something scary actually happens.

The Puppy would be Bugs Bunny, always leaning up against a tree munching on a carrot. “Nya, what’s up, doc?” In fact, since he’s on a vegetarian diet (he’s allergic to normal dog food), he has picked up the bizarre habit of searching the yard looking for rabbit droppings. Yeah, that’s right. While his elders would fight each other to the death over some nice fresh cat doo, he’s looking for bunny turds…. And he grazes. Other dogs eat grass to make themselves throw up — he just eats grass because he likes it.

I have such weird dogs.

I see Her Royal Heinous as Daffy Duck, although I’m sure she’d be horrified to know that — so don’t say anything. Daffy is kind of another “Crazy Eddie” type — always doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, and getting blown up to boot. There’s also a bit of Wiley Coyote about HRH, with the Extra Dog playing the part of the Roadrunner. She’s sure she would kill that cat, if only it will: a) come inside the fence where she can reach it, b) act afraid of her, and c) hold the frak still so she can figure out where to bite it.

The late, great Crazy Eddie could only be Taz. Chaos for the sake of chaos was his bread and butter. I know he found things to get into because he liked to see me lose it. “Oh, look. Mommy’s jumping up and down. Let’s see if we can make her do it again. What fun!” 

I’m never tempted to think of the dogs that are gone as in any way saint-like. Basenjis are scoundrels. They are good at it. From beyond the grave they still remind me of what scoundrels they were. My first basenji, Miz Thang, was no exception. She would walk up to my well-behaved Bernese Mountain Dog where he was lying on his rug (this was in the house), and wag her tail all sweetness and light (and basenjis are not big on tail-wagging). As soon as he would lift his head, she’d pounce on him, he’d jump up and start bouncing around thinking it was play time. Then I’d have to yell, “knock it off!” Of course, basenjis don’t mind a little noise, but big, sweet Berners get their feelings hurt. Poor puddin. And what cartoon characters would they be? Tom and Jerry.