Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Honey's Day

Today marks one year since Honey died. If you followed this blog, you know she was my friend and comfort through the ups and downs of two years of Peace Corps service in Ngaoundéré, Cameroon, Africa. You'll also know that she died due to complications from delivering Cricket, who celebrated her first birthday two days ago.

At first I expected Cricket to be just like Honey. I planned on her being the same color, build, and size. I wanted exactly the same cleverness, manners, and voice. Instead, Cricket is her own dog. One obvious difference is that Cricket's ears have not stood up like a typical Basenji's. For the longest time I told myself they would stand as she grew up, but she has not grown in months. She is in fact shorter than Honey was. Between her smaller size and floppy ears, Cricket will always look like a puppy to me.

When Honey first died, I remember thinking that I would eventually be able to think of her and smile at our happy memories. However, thinking of Honey now is still painful. It had been a while since I had looked through my pictures of her, so making this slideshow helped me focus on the happy times.

Those of you who know me, read this blog, and/or view my facebook profile have seen most of these pictures before. This was one of the harder things about making the slideshow: I have no new pictures (or memories) of Honey from the last year. And I will never have more pictures than these already cherished shots.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

one week's difference

I haven't posted in a week, partly because I was out of town "camping" with my boyfriend, his dad and stepmom. I say "camping" because it was much more luxurious than any camping trip I'd ever been on (and even more luxurious than my house in Cameroon considering there were hot showers!) but a very good time none-the-less. We left the dogs behind for the two nights we were away, and our friends took very good care of them.

Meanwhile, Cricket has grown even more, and lost almost all her black markings. Her white spot on her face has practically disappeared too, though her chest and tiptoes are going strong.

her white tip toes:

photo with my feet for size comparison:

happy puppy:


Buddy teaches Cricket one of his bad habits:

I took these pictures with my new phone. Let me tell you, no technology advanced more than phones while we were gone. I was a little slow on the uptake for telephone technology before, and this is actually the first phone I have owned with a camera function. I am very pleased with the quality of photos it takes. It's quite a leap from a call and text capable flip phone to a touch screen phone with camera which can check my email.

Yesterday we took Cricket to the vet for her first shot. The vet laid down a line of squeeze cheese in front of her, which meant she didn't even bat an eye at the needle he then stuck into her back. Just like that, her second vet visit was over. By the way, Buddy is nearly all healed from his neutering surgery a couple weeks ago.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

cricket and buddy become fast friends

Saturday marked six weeks of Cricket being among us! Since puppies are generally ready to be adopted and re-homed once they reach six or eight weeks, I consider this a milestone. She is old enough now that not having her real mom around doesn't set her behind any other American puppy. I'm very glad we are through this first danger zone, though she never gave us any reason to worry.

She seems to be constantly getting better at everything. She walks splendidly, and in fact can now run at a decent pace. She's gotten used to her collar and I made a little harness attachment to go with it (which she has already practically outgrown since I made it a week ago). She is even climbing steps, though she can only ascend and needs practice descending them.

Here's a video of Buddy and Cricket playing, complete with some characteristic Basenji noises. Also notice Cricket's tough girl face--you wouldn't mess with her would you!

cricket and buddy play

Don't worry--she was fine after that fall! Once we knew she was okay we watched the video again in slow motion--certainly the funniest thing I've ever taped.

Monday, June 28, 2010

what makes them basenji: buddy

Buddy is a light tan color with white on his chest and feet. He also has white markings on his face which we think are beautiful, along with his thick black eyeliner. Buddy's tail does not curl as consistently as Honey's did. It is always looped up when he's having fun, but just being bored can make it hang straight down. Buddy is no taller than Honey was, but he's closer to 40 lbs. He is all muscle. Buddy was neutered last week and is healing well.

Buddy is also a fast and skilled hunter. He earned his spirit name, Broken Ear, because as a puppy one of his ears stood upright and the other stayed floppy. They both stand up now, leading us to call him Once Broken Ear instead. Honey's nickname was Wormbutt, because when we first got her she had tapeworms and it took forever for the medicine to knock them out completely. I always thought Buddy's fur was slightly softer than Honey's, though both were short haired dogs. Buddy grooms himself much like Honey did, though Honey was a little more thorough. Honey would actually clean Buddy's ears and nails for him! We never trimmed either dogs' nails, and Buddy always wears his down completely because he runs around so much.

We also sometimes refer to Buddy as a bear, because he looks like one if he sits up. Honey was a deer.

He's a cuddle fiend. He always sleeps next to one of us on the bed. He doesn't make any noise when he is asleep and moved, but he will try to steal back the spot you just moved him out of immediately. Buddy often sleeps on his back with his legs up in the air, sometimes fully extended. He likes to lay in this way, but then bend his neck so that his head is twisted around next to his torso.

In one way Buddy and Honey were complete opposites. As I said before, Honey hated meeting new people. Buddy loves it. He loves everyone from the second he lays eyes on them. This can be a little scary to some people, since he jumps up to say hi and could knock a smaller child over. Whenever a new person came over he wanted to sit right in their lap on the couch, and needed to hog all their attention if they tried to pet Honey.

Buddy of course loves meat, cheese, and fish. He also will try almost any other food we offer. He liked those cores in the center of pineapple slices, as well as dried fruit, carrots, basically anything we give him. Treats are a good enough incentive to do tricks--he knows sit, lay down, shake, and spin around. Shake is his least favorite--if you don't have a treat he often refuses to shake and keeps on sitting. However, he seems willing to shake for anything on our dinner plates--he basically begs by pawing at us in the same way he's supposed to for shaking.

Buddy makes lots of noise. He will occasionally bark, but more likely he will makes some kind of whine or howl sound. This happens when he's playing, or locked up when he can hear something fun going on, or sad.

Buddy used to howl along with the call to prayer each evening in Meiganga. Allen's house was across the street from a neighborhood mosque. He lived in a Muslim neighborhood, so there were quite a few around. In the evenings Buddy would hear the call to prayer over the various loudspeakers in every direction. The surround sound would echo off the houses and Buddy would howl right along like a lone wolf. It was actually a very sad noise and the one or two times I heard it made me want to comfort him.

video of Buddy howling

Fetch holds Buddy's attention much longer than Honey's, though not indefinitely. He prefers chase games, either chasing Allen, other dogs, lizards, or sometimes an imaginary target. Both Buddy and Honey always ran laps around the house after baths. Buddy runs lap after lap, jumping up and down over the couches.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

puppy chow

Cricket continues to grow. She is pretty good at walking, and even runs some now. She's eating solid food now, and doesn't get any milk anymore. We started her on solid dog food by soaking it in milk until it was nice and soft, then giving her food that was less well soaked until she was happy to eat her puppy chow. She likes exploring the back yard but still jogs back and sits on my feet every once in a while. She only looks sad in the last picture because she always looks sad--her eyes are just so big they seem to constantly be begging! Her tail is up and that means she's happy.

Check back tomorrow for the Buddy installment of "what makes them basenji."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

what makes them basenji: honey

For the benefit of those readers who have not yet met our dogs, I'm going to describe their looks and mannerisms over the next couple days. They have many of these characteristics in common with Basenjis.

Honey was at most 30 pounds, and was perhaps 18 inches at her shoulders (two feet tall including her head). I believe this is rather large for a Basenji. She had reddish brown fur, with white socks and chest. Her tail was tightly curled unless she was laying down, or extremely stressed or upset.

Honey was a very fast runner and skilled hunter (she caught mice, lizards, spiders, and birds). Her ears stood upright once she reached maturity. Honey groomed herself much like a cat, but occasionally still needed a bath because Africa is so dusty. She hated baths, but tolerated them best with a removable shower head with a flexible neck which could be placed against her skin with mild water pressure. She disliked cold water, but often had to tolerate that too.

Strangers were Honey's least favorite thing--she found meeting new people very stressful and it was best if the new friend ignored her and let her approach them when she was comfortable.

Closed doors were no match for Honey's intellect--she quickly taught herself to open them by standing and pushing down on the lever-style doorhandles common in Africa, then pushing or pulling the door until it opens. Buddy watched her do this many times but never caught on to be able to open doors himself.

Honey had no fear of heights. There was a small ledge which wrapped around my second house in Africa (I lived in three different homes throughout my two years in Peace Corps) which Honey loved to walk out on and survey the neighborhood from. Unfortunately, the ledge was at least twelve feet off the ground and she fell off it a couple times before I figured out that a biden (plastic jug) full of water could prevent her access. She also caught on to tricks, and even invented one for herself, "spin around," while I was trying to teach her "stand up."

Honey's favorite foods were, in order from most desired to least favorite: fish, eggs, meat, treats, cheese, any leftover people food, dried cranberries or apricots, beniegts, and bread. No punishment was harsh enough to deter Honey from breaking into a trash bag containing fish. Honey preferred anything that was leftover from my plate. She became accustomed to licking my plate once I'd finished, and in fact would demand it by progressing from grumbles to whimpers and whines to flat out barks. Once she started this behavior I stopped giving her every plate to lick, but she never gave up. Once she decided it was her turn with my plate, the only way to calm her down was to clear the table (or give her the plate I suppose, but you can't reward bad behavior like that).

Honey had many noises in her repertoire besides barking to get her point across. She always made a happy, low grumbling noise when she greeted me at the door, sometimes followed by a yodel or whines. She made a less happy version of this grumbling noise when she was asleep and you moved her. Honey could, and sometimes would, bark.

There was a mosque outside my bedroom window, and she loved to sit and watch the men prepare for prayer by washing. Honey also preferred small spaces, especially if she was scared for some reason. She liked lying underneath the couch as much as she liked lying on the couch. She also enjoyed cuddling, and would steal my spot in the bed right up against the pillow if I got up in the night.

(click the bottom right corner of the slideshow to go to the web album and see larger photos.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

what kind of dog is that?

It seems obvious to everyone that Buddy isn't a typical American dog. Most people ask us what kind of dogs we have. We've boiled the explanation down to this: Buddy (and Cricket) are dogs we brought back from Africa. They are indigenous to Cameroon, but very similar to a breed called Basenji. Most people are not familiar with Basenjis, but they seem a lot like a warm weather Shiba Inu.

We believe that our dogs are Basenji mixes, or Native Basenji (from Africa, not from the original stock imported from the Democratic Replublic of Congo which sired American Baenjis). If you would like a Buddy, Honey, or Cricket of your own, check out these sites for information on this special breed, imported from Africa.
Basenji Club of America
Basenji Companions
Basenji Rescue

And now some pictures: as demonstrated yesterday, Cricket likes to cuddle. She snuggles up to Buddy, or Allen or I.