Saturday, March 19, 2011

Basenji Supervision Required

One of the many joys of living with basenjis is the lack of dog hair festooning every surface. We can wear black with impunity, and we don’t have to leap to cover a chair before a guest’s posterior comes in contact with massive amounts of fur. We don’t have huge puddles around their water dishes as they are fastidious consumers of liquids. We seldom have muddy paw prints to contend with as getting muddy is not one of their favorite things. (Dasa will occasionally risk it if plants need to be disinterred, but mud in general is something they avoid.) However, since Ivan and Dasa don’t shed or drool, they seem to feel we need other incentives clean on a regular basis. They frequently offer assistance in this area as they aren’t quite sure we can handle it without their help.

In addition to counter surfing, which she is determined to master despite being not quite tall enough, Dasa’s help consists of scratching at the door of whatever room I’m in, making it quite clear I’m neglecting her. I have a baby gate in the doorway to my work room (also known as a room filled with odds and ends that need to be sorted, donated, filed or otherwise dealt with at some unspecified point in the future). Dasa might be asleep on another floor, but should I step over the baby gate and attempt to sprinkle a bit of order among the confusion, she’s at the door, scratching insistently to remind me that I’m on the wrong side of the baby gate. I know they can easily hop over baby gates, but they don’t seem to remember that about this one, so please do not tell them.

Ivan is a wonderful helper with most anything he decides to oversee. Laundry can be very challenging for humans and, therefore, careful supervision is required to make sure we get it right. I learned from Reno that I should sit on the floor when I sort laundry because it’s easier for a little basenji to reach items and race off gleefully with a human always a few steps behind. Ivan benefits from this early training, and takes full advantage. My puppy boy sometimes parks himself on my lap as I attempt to sort laundry. This assistance requires me to sort with one hand and rub behind an ear with the other.

Ivan also industriously plucks articles of clothing from the dryer and runs off with them, having trained me to chase after him and quickly trade a treat before the article is customized. Despite my efforts, many dinner napkins and aerobics t-shirts bear evidence that I was not quite fast enough. Occasionally, I’ll find socks or underwear whose customization I missed until they’re ready to fold. Then I realize the Jaws of Ivan have made it unnecessary to fold these articles, thus saving my time for rubbing ears and tummies. Ivan is often so helpful I get no real housework done, but I do spend time with two small dogs, which is much more important.

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