Much has changed from when I picked them up from the Solano County Animal Shelter on May 5, 2011. They had escaped from the back yard of their owner two days earlier just as he was supposed to surrender them to BRAT. I picked them up with no medical history, no intake assessment, not even certain if they would turn out to be basenjis. And is often the case with fosters, they were supposed to be with me just a few days until we could find a permanent foster since having just lost my Bow a little over a month earlier, I was not quite ready to take in new basenjis.
When the animal control staff brought them out, they clearly had the look of two refugees anxious to begin a new life. Shaka was a bit dusty but healthy and friendly. His white fur had a yellowish cast. Audrey was skin and bones, had mites on her ears, a scraggly coat and clearly was recovering from nursing puppies. She hid under the passenger seat of the car as we drove back to San Francisco, sometimes daring to peek at me in fear. Shaka was a little less cautious and I respected his distance. Just as we exited the East Bay Bridge tunnel and the San Francisco skyline came into view, I felt a paw on my right shoulder and Shaka stared into my eyes and then regarded the skyline, as if to say he was letting me know he approved.
The past year has been one of gradual and subtle progress each step of the way. Shaka has not changed significantly, only growing more affectionate and enjoying the stability of a loving home. Audrey is not the same basenji that arrived last May. She got her weight stabilized within the first six weeks, but the change in her coat has really taken a full year but has gone from being like a porcupine to soft, smooth and silky. But most dramatic is that she has gone from looking at me in fear to greeting me with tail wags and an occasional baroo every time I enter the door. When I have been a way for a few hours, she will wrap her front legs around my legs, giving me a big hug.
It has been a wonderful adventure the past year, and the support of the BRAT community has made it easier.