Friday, July 1, 2011

It's a wonderful life

What do your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors think about your life with basenjis?

People tell me, “I can tell my dog not to eat the sandwich on the coffee table and he won’t. I think they must believe they’re bragging, but truly, why would you leave food within a dog’s reach and then torture him with a command of that sort. The poor baby wants the sandwich, but he lives to please his people. That sounds cruel to me. However, should I ever be deluded enough to leave food within striking distance, I could sternly exhort the munchkins not to touch and they would wiggle their tails obligingly even while they snatched the food out of my hands and ate it right in front of me.

I proudly tell of Ivan and Dasa’s quirks and foibles, and about the chaos at our house. Non-Basenji folk usually give me furtive glances as though they can’t quite believe I am walking around without a keeper. My sanity is openly questioned, which only amuses me more.

Eric and I are permanent residents of the State of Insanity, and we kinda like living here. We have baby gates in front of all the bookcases because Ivan likes to eat books. Trash cans are secured against a raid. We have notes on toilet paper dispensers pointing to the cabinets where the toilet paper must hide if it wishes to survive. We've learned to scan magazines quickly and then recycle them before the Jaws of Ivan find them.

And I don’t understand the people who won’t let their dogs on the furniture. I want to sit by my dogs, and if they have to sit on the floor, then so do I. I don’t mind sitting on the floor occasionally, but as a rule, Eric doesn’t sit on the floor so this would never work.

What about the no dogs on the bed rule? Who thought of this? Really? It must be for hairy slobbery dogs because my sweet little basenjis are so nice to sleep with. Of course, those dainty elegant little dogs stretch to take over all available space, which is why we have a king sized bed.

My mom lives in a small town where everyone knows everyone. On a recent visit we met one of her friends when we were having lunch. This woman looked at me and demanded “Which one are you?” (I have three sisters and this is the usual comment when I visit my mom.)

After I gave the identifying information, the woman replied, “Oh, you’re the one with the dogs, and you’re a freak about it.”

Being sane is highly overrated. Think of all the fun you'd miss.


  1. I completely agree. I started getting these looks recently especially since I started making the dogs' food. People can't believe I spend hours cooking for dogs (of course the food is raw so "cooking" is just a term).
    We found decorative window planters that are now placed behind our toilets as toilet paper holders. The original ones are removed from the walls.
    Bomba's special lambskin is placed on one of our tables because he might as well be comfortable while he's up there. And we have a special window box by the front door filled with dog treat's so our Basenji's get there due offerings before friends are allowed in the house.
    Yep, we live in a Basenji world. :D

  2. Peggy, I think this is your very best post yet! I couldn't have said it better. It surely takes a very special person to be a basenji person, and we can always recognize our kind of crazy when we spot it in another person. My friends, family, and coworkers think my dogs are adorable but they are appalled at all of the accommodations I make in my life for them. My thoughts are, you would change your life around for a child, right? So why not for a dog? It's not about whether you should or should not treat dogs as surrogate children, it's about just treating everybody equally. I treat my basenjis the way I would want to be treated if I was a basenji. If that makes me crazy, then I'll join you in the State of Insanity :)

  3. I find this post amusing, but couldn't fathom changing my house around THAT much for a dog. I have a basenji mix, but his attitude and antics are more basenji than anything else. Personally I would not allow my dog to rule my life, and i don't. If my dog chewed up books, I would discipline him, and if he did it again, he would be disciplined again until he learned NOT to do it again. My dog has chewed up a few things, but only because he was frustrated or when he was a puppy. Good luck on accommodating the high class dog you've created.

  4. I love Amanda's comment here, because it's a perfect example of how nuts most non-basenji people think basenji people are! My own father used to think I was lazy for not disciplining my dogs until they learned NOT to do something again, because I come from a family who trains their dogs very, very well. What my father didn't understand about basenjis was that we've been to obedience school, we've read tons of books on disciplining dogs, and I am NOT a lazy person at all... we'd been trying to discipline our basenjis for years. Somewhere along the line, I just started making accommodations for them, because it made more sense to me to prevent a basenji from eating a book rather than to discipline him for it and have him do it again when I wasn't looking. Basenjis really just have a mind of their own, and rarely have I seen one with a whit of "normal dog" obedience in him. It's more like trying to train a cat. Interestingly, I was vindicated a little bit just last year when my father told me, "Hey, my coworker says she has basenjis too. Did you know those dogs are pretty much un-trainable?" Really, Dad? And here I thought I had just not been trying hard enough all these years.

  5. =] i do think it's nuts! eventually i'll have a "real" basenji and may know what you're all talking about, as for now i'm happy with my aloof, mind of his own, too smart for his own good dog, Rufus.

    I also wonder if my dog is a little different because he is a basenji mix, but also because he was wild when my husband got him. He found him in Africa when he was a pup and brought him over here to the US. who knows, sorry if i offended anyone. =)

  6. Well stated, and I agree with you on all your points. Although we are working on obedience and some basic rules with my fosters, I keep giving them and me some slack. It comes down to having a great bond and relationship. While jumping on the dining room table (which we've managed to stop) is not okay, jumping on the couch on in the bed with me is fine and actually much appreciated. I think it's best to trust your instincts and theirs, not to follow all the "rules" of a book or TV show.