Rescue basenjis often have parts of their pasts that we’ll never know about, people or events that will stay with them forever, circumstances that helped to shape their perspectives on the world. Details of their pasts might well remain unknown, so we need to patiently try to learn how our little curly tails see the world.
We moved from Florida to Illinois just a few months after we adopted Dasa. When we bought our house in Illinois, the back yard was surrounded by an inexpertly constructed shadow box fence that would not have significantly slowed an escape by the Munchkins. One of the first things we did, even before unpacking much more than essentials and all dog-related paraphernalia, was arrange to have a 6-foot privacy fence built with landscape timbers along the bottom and padlocked gates to make it as secure as possible. While we were waiting for the fence to be constructed, we decided to give the Munchkins some back yard time with 40 foot tie outs. They were never left alone on the tie outs, just as we don’t leave them alone in the backyard now. I took them into the back yard, attached the tie out cables to their collars, and undid their leashes.
They had differing reactions to the tie out. Ivan immediately went to the end of his cable, nearly walking sideways to sniff a spot just a tad out of reach. No matter where I put his tie out, there was always something wonderful just beyond it, and he kept himself entertained with his busyness and efforts to take over the entire yard.
Dasa, however, was quite happy to be on a six-foot leash. As soon as I hooked the tie out cable to her collar, her little tail drooped and she sagged with misery. I tried to assure her that I would not leave her alone in the back yard, but even sitting with my arm around her, administering lots of reassurances and rubbing her tummy did nothing to comfort her. A dark suspicion began to form when I clipped on her leash, unhooked the cable, and saw the transformation. She was quite content and her little tail assumed its jaunty arch. A bit later I tried the cable again, and she fell into the same disconsolate posture. The dark suspicion became an angry black cloud. Someone had left my tiny girl tied out somewhere. My tiny girl. Cold and alone. I immediately switched back to her leash, and promised my now happy little girl that she would never be left tied to anything.
We may never know Ivan and Dasa’s entire stories, but we do our best to make all of our chapters good ones.