Many of us, if not the vast majority of us, have never met. We "get to know" each other via our posts to the various lists/forums, our responses to others who post to the various lists/forums, in addition to our treatment of others via these same venues. The fallacy in this is - we only get to know the parts each of us wants to be known, which may or may not be a true representation.
If we have been in the breed awhile, sometimes we can additionally 'get to know' a person via people who actually know one of us and we can pick their brain to see how much of what is presented to the public, is in fact the truth or the whole picture; sometimes folks will send private information unsolicited in hopes of education, which we can store away until such time we might want to look at it and compare it to what we are reading on line.
If there are folks on this forum like me, who do not take much at face value from people with whom they have never met in person or with whom a relationship has not been formed, they might, like me, question what is being written at times. They might also do their own research to get, or to give to others, a more balanced picture of the subject matter and/or the person doing the posting.
From what I can recall Rose Marie Holt showed up in the basenji world around 2006, after she fell in love with the breed as a teenager and dreamed of owning one. I can honestly say, for me, in those early days Marie was quite erratic which made me tread cautiously and give her a wide berth on the various lists; she seemed out of focus, all over the place, as she herself puts it "awkward".
For a couple of years I sat on a variety of lists while Marie innocently, yet destructively (for her) stepped on a multitude of basenji toes in what can best be described as a kind of spaced out naivety. Often I nodded my head in silent agreement while she took some serious, and continued, tongue lashings via the public airwaves due to her being somewhat socially inept with some really out of this world ideas and thought processes; in truth she seemed to be out of the bell curve - from another planet. While I do not recall ever jumping into the public floggings, looking back I admit to being just as guilty for my apathy by allowing it to continue even when her gaffe was nothing more than asking questions about her then nipping puppy. I do, however, admit I was rude to Marie on several occasions by cold shouldering her at Nationals at least twice; something I am not proud of.
As you can well imagine - seeing me come to her defense would be the last thing Marie would expect and certainly the last thing I would expect of myself if you had asked me a few short years ago. So what changed? How did I go from someone who treated Marie (if not literally, then figuratively) as though she had leprosy to someone who, while not agreeing with everything she says or everything she does, can respect her for the intelligent individual she is (a medical degree as well as a PhD) and has become, and will defend her right to make her own choices while also defending her from what I believe is undeserved and continued harassment on a public forum in which she is not allowed to defend herself but can view each hateful word? (As a guest she can view anything and everything posted to this forum, and she does at time; she just can not reply.)
First and foremost, I learned she was dealing with an undiagnosed mental illness in addition to another disorder, both of which have the ability to incapacitate a person and skew their cognition beyond recognition, unless and until they get the help they need which includes chemical intervention. Much like dealing with a drug addict or a raging alcoholic, we are not dealing with the real person but with the disease; unlike an addict, mental illness is not the accumulation of a few bad choices. Empathy, while nice, means little if understanding of the disease process is ignored and thoughts, actions, et al. displayed during that period of their lives stigmatize and ostracize them forever, without hope of redemption.
One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Wayne Dyer - "You are what you chose today, not what you've chosen before." I would hate to think we are stagnant beings, with no hope of ever evolving our thoughts and ideas, always being judged by our worst or most disagreeable moment(s) in time.
Secondly, even at her most erratic, Marie has always been a veritable open book. She has never hidden who she is - good or bad, mental or non-mental; if she had, I would have no reason to write this. She has never, to the best of my knowledge and belief, hidden anything about her dogs, domestic or imported - be it DNA coat color, coat texture, health stats, mating?s, etc. ? things that many responsible breeders have not always been forthright about, but are judged less harshly.
She has answered time again what part of Africa her imports have come from, she has shared numerous photos and stories; photos some importers would have burned rather than to admit their specific dogs were anything less than perfect. All of which has left her exposed to the virtual harassment that has not let up since she first queried a few Washington (State) breeders for a puppy back in 2006.
Once her head got straighten out, the real Marie seemed to emerge; an intelligent, well read individual, with something to offer if we are of a mind to see her as she is now, not as she was before; overwhelmed by a crippling disease.
Today I find a person who has shown tremendous growth sorting through all things basenjis and while I might not always agree with her premise, on a variety of basenji issues, I recognize the legitimacy of her thought process, based on her extensive study of a multitude of basenji subjects; historical records, the reading of books on Africa (which seem more like an encyclopedia vs. leisurely reading), study of genetics, financing and traveling (alone) to Africa to educate and experience for herself the provenance of previous Avuvi imports, as well as bringing back several of her own. Kind of like the Grand Canyon ? you can see it in photos, you can hear others describe it, but unless and until you live it, it is someone else?s experience, someone else?s truths.
The same growth can be seen in her communication style on the various lists, when she does not have to act like a cornered dog; often times making more sense and having more to offer educationally then some of her long time detractors. As a BCOA member of good standing, and based on the positive contributions she made during the health committee?s work on the BCOA Fanconi FAQ?s, Marie was asked to be a member of the BCOA health committee this year; she showed a tremendous ability to work as a productive team member, and was very willing to do all that was asked of her, no matter how mundane (this prior to even being a committee member!)
She has shown herself to be willing to listen to and to heed advice that has been beneficial to her dogs. Earlier this year she spent close to six weeks on the East coast combing the area for one of her dogs who escaped from its temporary owner (sadly he has not been found), she has modified several houses to accommodate her dogs and their needs, and just recently I learned she moved to a larger piece of property, again for the care and comfort of her dogs. Have I been to her house, no, but neither has any one from the fancy and certainly not any of her detractors ? the advantages of living in Idaho! She is slowly but surely getting necessary health testing on her dogs, recently having spent a number of weeks in a hotel, in an area where the testing can be more easily done; one of the disadvantages of living in Idaho! She has said she is willing to take back every dog she has bred and she has never given this reader a reason not to trust and believe she will do just that should the need ever arise.
In fact, she has never given this reader a reason not to trust her or the other responsible, long time, and highly respected BCOA breeders who are affiliated with her and all of the Avuvi imports.
Has Marie been zany, even crazy at times, back in the day? Absolutely; I imagine she would be the first to admit it but I have never known her to be dishonest or to lie, and I have been ?getting to know? her for quite some time now.
So for the length but I felt it was important to take the time to say.
[This message has been reviewed by Dr. Rose Marie Holt and is posted with her permission.]