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.)

1 comment:

  1. Sounds just like a basenji to me! [Found you via the BRAT mailing list]