Saturday, September 3, 2016

Bringing Up Babies

Tiegan and Miles each have their specialties.  We have childproof locks on the cabinets and a yard stick through the handles of the chest of drawers by the bed so Tiegan can’t open them and help herself.

Miles, what a sweet boy, and oh how busy and inquisitive. As I got out of the shower after aerobics one day a couple of weeks ago, I heard something that sounded entirely too much like ripping fabric to be a good thing. I found him industriously chewing a sheet that was hanging over the side of the bed. Upon further inspection, I was dismayed to discover a substantial section was missing. Perhaps I could be more sanguine about such incidents if memories of Ivan’s bowel surgery did not still spark breath seizing panic. Off we went to our wonderful vet who had just a few days earlier met Miles at a wellness exam and pronounced him healthy and handsome, albeit anxious about being in this new scary place.  (We took Tiegan along on the wellness exam so our vet could see how nice she looked now that she has gained a couple of pounds and her tiny hip bones are no longer visible. Tiegan waited patiently curled up on my lap. She knows she’s the princess, and we are her doting people. We hope Miles will soon learn he is our baby boy and has no worries.)

Miles is fine, and did not require surgery.  Eric and I are very relieved, and the babies are now banned from the bedroom during the day. However, another morning, just as I was groggily staggering about minutes after I got out of bed, Miles crawled out from under the covers and chewed a pair of my glasses into multiple pieces. Nothing was ingested so instead of feeling alarmed, I just admired his speed and stealth. He is our sixth basenji, but the first one who decided he needed to chew my spectacles. I took them to the optometrist in a plastic bag, and the amused staff ordered another pair. At bedtime my glasses go into one of the drawers that has been secured with the yardstick though the handles.

While at the vet due to the sheet eating incident, a vet tech sheepishly showed us where Miles chewed nearly through his leash. She said, “it was just a second,” which, of course, is all it takes with a basenji. All those cool knots Eric learned to tie while sailing came in handy because he was able to tie a secure knot in the leash until we could order yet another coupler to have the shoe repair guy sew on yet another leash. I ordered some spare leashes and couplers to keep for future chewing incidents.  We walk Tiegan and Miles with leashes that have couplers sewn onto them. We attach the leash to both the harness and the collar so if one comes unhooked, there is a backup. They keep us on our toes, but they make life so much fun.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Tiegan's New Brother

We thought a lot about finding just the right basenji to adopt as a companion and brother to our magical pixie Tiegan. Our wonderful little girl was the first consideration. The goal was for us to have two basenjis who would not just get along but also develop the type of positive dynamic that Ivan and Dasa enjoyed.
For a while, we considered adopting an African or half-African young adult or puppy. Our little Avongara Dasa was truly amazing; sweetness personified. However, we finally came to the realization that while we could get another African, we cannot get another Dasa so we needed to think about what was best for Tiegan. We then decided to take our time and wait for the right dog to come along. (That plan worked spectacularly well with Tiegan, our Princess of Sunshine and Magic.) Mere days later, there was Miles, and the same feeling that told me to ask about Tiegan, once again said, “Ask about that dog.”

As Eric dryly observes, Tiegan has leadership potential, so the new boy had to be the agreeable sort who wouldn’t mind a tiny girl taking charge. Miles has had some very rough periods in his short life, but BRAT foster parents provided him loving stable safe havens so he is sweet and affectionate. He is very amiable and non-dominate; the foster mom’s 3 female dogs had the upper paw.

The last weekend of July we drove to his foster home to bring Miles home. Miles is two weeks older than Tiegan, and we are also his fifth home. Tiegan is small for a basenji, and Miles, at a lean 31 pounds, is large for a basenji. He is very sweet and agreeable, so usually follows Tiegan’s lead. 

I am happy to say they get along very well. At first I was worried that Miles would be too big or would play too rough for my tiny girl. No worries. He is really a teddy bear, very cuddly and affectionate with us, and careful when he plays with our little brindle whirlwind. They have a very high combined energy level. We now have two very active 20-month-old basenjis to keep us busy. When they do the Basenji 500, it’s best to simply stay in one place, unmoving as they careen around us, bouncing off the couch, galloping around the piano, catapulting off the couch again and scrambling around the corner, through the kitchen, down the hall, flying over a stack of dog beds that were flung off the couch during this series of leaps . . . .   

   Tiegan and Miles play, run, chase squirrels, and run more big circles through the back yard. They stand with their front feet on tree trunks, willing the squirrels to come back. They trot around with their chins up, looking for movement in the leaves overhead. We have enough trees in our back yard that the squirrels never have to touch the ground, they can run from tree to tree, and occasionally up the excitement level by running along the top of the fence.

We still occasionally call our new babies Ivan or Dasa, which sometimes makes us tear up a bit. However, we are so happy to have Tiegan and Miles, and we believe we were meant to be their people. Our house is filled with laughter, a captivating delightful gift for which we feel so very grateful. Thank you BRAT for entrusting us with our tiny Tiegan and teddy bear Miles.

Monday, August 8, 2016

2016 Basenji Fun Day

Forty-six Basenjis (accompanied by fifty-six Basenji lovers) had a blast in St. Louis, Missouri at BRAT’s Basenji Fun Day. The event, hosted by the Route 66 Basenji Club, was held on Saturday, July 16, 2016, on the grounds of Purina Farms. Attendees traveled from as far away as Ontario, Canada, and Hereford, Texas.

 The festivities began on Friday when attendees began arriving in advance of the next day’s activities. Many were staying at Budget Lodging, which had a nice good-sized fenced dog park behind the hotel where many were able to stretch their legs, let their Basenjis run around, and meet old friends and make new ones.

Later that evening, twenty-two of us descended on Tres Toritos, a nice locally-owned Mexican restaurant just a few miles from the hotel. The restaurant was very accommodating  of our large group and everyone had a wonderful time. The food was outstanding and the company of fellow Basenji lovers made it a great evening.

Saturday began early with the set up of the silent auction, raffle items, vendor tables, and games. The event was held at the Service Center at Purina Farms, where we had two large fenced off-leash dog areas, a large shaded patio, picnic tables, and an air-conditioned room to cool off in. The Route 66 Basenji Club came well-equipped with several large canopies and a lot of extra coolers that we filled with ice and water to help keep everyone—humans and canines—hydrated throughout the day.

Welcome bags were provided to each primary registrant. The tote bags had the BRAT Basenji Fun Day logo that was designed for us by Mark Ziegler. Inside the tote bags were large plush imitation lambskin crate pads that BRAT won in the online Shelter Challenge last Spring, a large peanut-butter frosted “BRAT” dog cookie, a dog leash, book mark, and treats donated by Blue Dog Bakery.

The Route 66 Basenji Club outdid themselves with an amazing raffle. The club members created 24 baskets, each filled with wonderful dog and Basenji-themed items. Raffle tickets could be obtained two ways. They could be earned by winning them in the various games the Route 66 Club set up at the event or they could be purchased. There were games for dogs and games for people and games for dogs and people.

The dog games included the super-popular bobbing-for-hot-dogs tub. Watching the dogs bob for the hot dogs was pure entertainment. Some dove right in and gobbled up as many hot dog pieces as they could, oblivious to the fact they were standing in water up to the bellies (see photo of BRAT foster, Ella). Others tried as hard as they could to figure out a way to get a hot dog without getting even a molecule of water on them (Tania Doran’s Dotty). Others decided they could get huge mouthfuls of hot dog pieces by using their lower jaw like a ladle to scoop through the water (Tania Doran’s Barney).

The people games included the Basenji ring toss, which involved throwing hula hoops onto beautiful wooden Basenjis made by Route 66 Basenji Club member Dan Ryno.  Another popular game was the poop-bag toss. No, the bags were filled with stones!

The contests were also a hoot. These included the always-popular costume contest and the Best Baroo contest. Terry Colbert’s Tav won the costume contest with his amazing lion costume. Suzee Aff’s Puck took second place with his—wait for it—hockey puck costume! All of the entrants deserve an honorable mention, as the costumes were all wonderful. The Best Baroo was won by none other than Dean and Terrie Sigler’s World-Famous Benny Booyah (and the Jesters on backup). Second place went to Dave Flannigan’s Nellie, who belted out a solid booyah of her own!

As the afternoon sun sank low, dinner was delivered by Purina Farms’ catering service. Dinner was light because of the hot weather. We had sandwiches or salads with sides of chips, potato salad or fruit cup and cookies. After dinner, the baskets were raffled and the silent auction was closed. After it was all said and done, we’re pretty sure no one walked out of the Basenji Fun Day empty-handed. Best of all, through the generosity of everyone who participated, the fundraiser was a great success. BRAT wishes to extend a special thank you to Jessica Ryno and the members of the Route 66 Basenji Club for hosting the event, making the arrangements with Purina Farms, doing so much of the leg work to make Basenji Fun Day happen, and for putting together the fantastic baskets for the raffle and then donating the proceeds of the raffle to BRAT. In addition, BRAT benefitted from generous individual donors who contributed proceeds from the sale of products at Basenji Fun Day and who donated items for the silent auction. BRAT’s large-scale, successful rescue efforts are made possible through the generosity of our donors and we cannot thank them enough.

This was the first Basenji Fun Day and, hopefully, we will be able to do this again. A great time was had by all!