The tenth annual BRAT Convention and Family Reunion was held June 7- 9 in Indianapolis. Over 40 humans and about 50 dogs attended this convention. BRAT volunteers traveled from California and Connecticut, and eight other states in between. They traveled from small towns and big cities, all in a quest to celebrate their rescue mission and return home with renewed energy and conviction, renewed dedication to seek the best possible home for each small curly-tailed dog.
This is BRAT’s 13th year of operation, and at this tenth convention we enjoyed reconnecting with some of the volunteers we’ve known since its inception in 1999. We also had the opportunity to meet some volunteers who are new to the calling of rescuing Basenjis. They come from all across the county, from diverse backgrounds and occupations, but all are dedicated to these magical little dogs. They devote a lot of time, energy, and other resources to finding forever homes for Basenjis in need of a second chance.
Because it is all about the dogs, the conference’s canine attendees were welcome in the meeting room. Some of the basenjis snuggled in beds under the tables, some sat on convenient laps, some sat on their own chairs beside their people. For the most part, they were very patient, at least for basenjis. They let us know when they felt the proceedings did not meet their expectations, when they were bored, or when they felt things needed to be livened up just a bit. There were some very personable basenji-mixes in attendance, and even a few honorary basenjis including Suzanne Sarlls-Hartwell’s Huskies and Tonya Christiansen’s Chihuahua Ellie. There were some feisty young pups less than two years old, and some grand old seniors. I believe the oldest or if you prefer, most senior, Basenji at the convention was 17.
What do we celebrate at BRAT conventions? I’m happy to report that 275 dogs were rescued, rehabilitated and given second chances for happy forever homes in 2011. In the first half of this year, 132 basenjis have been given this chance at a new life in a loving home. There are 71 dogs in varying stages of the placement process. There are also numerous dogs who were able to stay in their original homes because BRAT members were able to help the owners solve problems. I’m elated that so many Basenjis got a second chance, a happy, safe home due to the efforts of a long chain of BRAT volunteers, each link playing a part to bring the Basenjis to their forever homes.
All along the way, BRAT volunteers have worked to bring about these happy miracles. All along the way, BRAT volunteers who juggle their BRAT duties with jobs, families, and basenjis of their own, have made this possible. They’ve worked at BRAT duties, some small, some large, to pave the way the way for these happy endings. They’ve formed a safety net, from one set of hands to another. BRAT is an all-volunteer organization, and there are volunteers across the country working for rescue Basenjis. They handle paperwork, coordinate dogs, transport, make phone calls, send emails, and do home visits. And then there are those wonderful heroes who foster and give basenjis a safe place to heal so they can go on to their forever homes.
There’s quite a lot to celebrate. One by one, these humans quietly, daily, make contributions that bring about happy changes for little dogs. God bless them every one.