Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Year Three Begins

Cinco de Mayo was never that important of a holiday for me until two years ago when I responded to a call from Ray Eckart of BRAT to take in two basenjis in a desperate situation.  We agreed that it would be just for a few days until we could find them a foster home.  I had lost my beloved basenji Bow barely a month early after a grueling year's battle with brain tumors.  I had planned to give myself six months to a year before ever considering adopting another basenji, and I wanted to really think it out and find the perfect basenji.

It was clear that the two I picked up at the animal shelter in Solano County had great potential.  Their names were Shaka and "Cry Baby".  When I posted about them here, the most common comment was "Cry Baby needs a new name!"  That didn't take long.  Within a couple of weeks it just seemed right to call her Audrey, like the various characters Audrey Hepburn played where a little frightened ragamuffin turns into a sawn.  Audrey was the true ragamuffin basenji -- a malnourished girl who obviously had been nursing puppies just weeks or days before she arrived.  Frightened of everything.  She hid under the passenger seat all the way on the way back to San Francisco.  Her coat was ragged, matted, uneven, so light in color it was hard to think of her as a "red and white".  Shaka was what he is today -- confident, gregarious, a little pushy for affection.  The first night "Cry Baby" had a terrible kennel cough.  Her situation pulled my heart strings, but I told myself I couldn't taken on another sick basenji after all I had gone through with Bow.

I had to go on a business trip within a few days, and Gerald Lane took them on for a few days and handled their spay and neuter work.  In less than I week they had grown on me, and I decided that if a foster did not emerge and the vet found no serious illnesses, I might consider fostering them for a while.   My vet did a thorough examination and said that both were the picture of health.  Audrey just needed to gain some weight, have a healthier diet and a little TLC.

A month passed, and the word "foster" was soon leaving my vocabulary.  They were definitely not the perfect basenjis -- lots of pillow and other chewing, a challenge to walk together, a challenge to get them to cooperate with each other.  But it was clear that we were perfect for each other.

It is hard to believe two years have passed and how little Shaka has changed and how "Cry Baby" has so fulfilled her new name as Audrey -- the most loving, outgoing, fun-loving basenji you could meet.  She still has her fears -- people in dark clothes, soccer games, skate boards, people walking behind her. But with people she knows and loves, she could not be more confident.

It has been a wonderful two years.  As I look back, I can't help being sad that we lost Ray Eckart who was such a support in our journey.  His calm support, witty sense of humor, and ability to always find a solution were crucial to the success of Audrey and Shaka.  It makes me want to do more for BRAT and the next basenjis needing help.  Shaka and Audrey were fortunate to come into BRAT, and every basenji deserves to find an equally loving home.


  1. Ray Eckart's generous legacy lives on in your two beautiful basenjis. Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. They are a testament to your own good nature, Gregg. Glad you changed your mind about fostering! :)

  3. I absolutely love the updates you do on Shaka and Audrey, they look wonderful!