A few months later, my cat would cross the
Basenjis had held my fascination for more than a decade, and I’d seriously considered adding one to my household many times but knew it just wasn’t the right thing to do with two cats, especially in their twilight years. So after a month of having a bit of space, I took a plunge and filled out the online forms with BRAT, realizing that it might be many months before a fostering opportunity came up. Less than two weeks later, my first foster arrived, a sadly disturbed basenji boy with significant aggression problems (a topic I’ve written about earlier), but he also blessed me with two months of learning the various challenges and many more rewards that convinced me that having a basenji in my life was a must.
There was another month of transition as I anxiously waited for the next foster to arrive. After a first time trial by fire, I wanted to make sure that I was thoroughly mindful of getting the perfect match, but expecting to expect the unexpected with a rescue basenji.
On a rainy Saturday evening just before Thanksgiving 2008, I drove to the
While I had been warned that she tended to pull on walks, there had not been any way to gauge how a basenji who’d spent her first six years in suburban
For any dog, this is sensory overload, but for a basenji used to quiet, oak-lined suburban streets it is a huge shock. My first foster experience gave me a boot camp grounding in walking skills, but I clearly knew that I needed more help. Beginning with my first foster I had scoured the city for its wide range of trainers and behaviorists. From dominance and aversion techniques on one end to new age spiritual-attunement-with-your-dog gurus can be found in
It was clear that Bow and I needed the right kind of support to feel I was keeping her safe and not provoking the wrong kind of behavior from her. Ironically, the search for a trainer led me to the group I had seen dropping by daily a year ago. It has been a perfect fit for both Bow and me. Not only is there a lot of praise for progress for Bow, but also for me. On days when I feel frustrated that we are not enough progress with loose leash walking, it is heartening to have a trainer who can point out that even the smallest positive is a step in the right direction.
Six months into our training, I have come to recognize and embrace that progress comes very slowly and sometimes an important break through comes out of nowhere. I am already celebrating this as the summer we mastered “leave it” and have been able to use just a voice command without a treat to lure Bow away from even the most tempting chicken bone on the sidewalk.