Wednesday, March 14, 2012
It's been a bit more than ten months now since Shaka and Audrey arrived in my life. Since their owner essentially abandoned them and I picked them up on behalf of BRAT at a county animal shelter, they arrived as a blank slate. I really knew nothing of their medical, behavior, training or other histories.
That would have been pretty daunting had I not had some history with basenjis. But it was in some ways a great chance for renewal for all of us. We had no expectations or history with each other, so we got to invent a life and bond just as we wanted.
It has been quite an interesting journey but rewarding every step. Shaka is essentially no different from when he arrived -- very smart, has a penetrating gaze and almost always gregarious (unless you disturb him when he is sleeping!). There was also evidence that he had some level of training, and on the first day he could do "shake" which is shown in the video above from this week.
Audrey is nothing like she was the day I met her: an underweight, terrified girl with a mangy, uneven coat and clear evidence that she had probably been nursing a litter of puppies shortly before her owner abandoned them. (We strongly suspect their owner used them as backyard breeding stock. Who knows how many of their puppies will come to BRAT?)
Audrey's transformation has been gradual but dramatic. The first week or two she seemed to always be terrified and barely able to make eye contact with me, and when she did it was with a look of "Please don't hurt me!" She slowly progressed to cautious indifference to occasional tail wags when I came home to what she is today: the most affectionate dog I have ever had in my life. She typically wraps her front legs around me when I come home, and she has actually let out a joyous baroo when I have been away for a long time.
Her coat has slowly improved and is still shy of perfect. After having her on a skin and coat supplement for six month, she developed a flea allergy and got a hot spot on her neck. The vet had to shave a two inch circle to treat it back in November, and it has taken until this month for it all to grow back. Her weight got to normal in the first couple of months.
Each step of the way with them has been a great pleasure, and I continue to learn so much from them every day. The rewards of rescue are always great, and I think that with basenjis it is at least double.