Friday, February 19, 2010

The oddest play date

It never fails that I get comments when I dog sit Bridget. "That's NOT a Basenji!"
"Really?" I say. "Oh, I guess she's not." Smirk!

Bridget belongs to Spring Creek Manor in Soda Springs, Idaho. Her original owner lived there and left her to the whole facility when she passed on. Bridget is the beloved lap dog of 30 +/- seniors and has filled the niche of on site therapy dog to residents who often suffer the stresses of dementia or other elder related memory issues. She has a knack of inserting herself onto the lap or just close proximity of a distressed senior and helping them regain their calm.

Rencently she has been living with us on a "Spa Retreat" because she has been offered too much people food and was in danger of sudden death over the results. Reno has taken her under his paw and is helping her play off the pounds. So far she has lost about four pounds and we are considering the end of her spa stay in the next couple of weeks. We are hoping the facility can institute stricter controls on her diet with the understanding that the seniors who are anxiously waiting her return have one last chance of taking better care of her health.

Reno has not just been effective as her spa partner, he's also been trying to teach her about crating and the blessings of creating a mutual warm spot on the bed. Since Reno is a retired show dog, who traveled the circuit with a multi-breed handler for years, he's had a lot of experience with other dogs and has never seemed to suffer from some of the prejudices that I have encountered in my years of fostering other Basenjis. He loves to go to work with me as well to visit all of the seniors who live on the campus. His problem is that he is so much more athletic than little dogs like Bridget that unstable seniors with walkers can too easily be upset by him, even when he just "leans."

The one real difficulty we have struggled with during this month long spa play date is going for walks. Reno just walks at a pace that poor Bridget cannot manage! That says nothing about his interaction with his environment during the walks; Bridget stays right next to me, walking with a loose lead the entire time, not so Reno! He's forging ahead, lagging behind to get in an extra sniff, prancing and dancing when we meet strangers (human & canine) and generally involving himself in each and every thing with confidence, curiousity and a peculiarly Basenji kind of charisma. Now a lot of the dog loving world would say that Bridget is all that a well trained dog should be when walking on lead. Reno can walk like that, when I remind him and hold his leash with the intent that he really needs to pay attention to me... just like he was trained for the show ring... but for the most part, walks are for, well walking joyfully in the brisk morning air, celebrating life.

As I have come to appreciate the sweetness of Bridget I have also had the chance to re-evaluate my commitment to all that Basenjis are, just because they are Basenjis. I have decided, again, that Basenjis are what truely suits me and that I will do what ever it takes to assist them wherever and however I find them. Commitment to the health and welfare of the breed in general and assistance to any individual dog wherever they cross my path. 

1 comment:

  1. Amen to that! :) I think everyone questions their dedication to this mischievous breed sometimes - I particularly do every time I have to spend the entire night sewing the couch. My coworkers and friends have no idea why I would choose such a high-maintenance breed... but then they make you laugh, and they approach life with such gusto, that you just can't help but love them! I wouldn't trade mine for a Bridget any day :)