After we lost our Jengo I began toying with the idea of rescuing another Basenji. I wasn't convinced I was ready, but I miss him, missed having a dog and wanted to just see what might be available. Kinda dip my toe in. I spoke with Karen at MedFly and she said she was winding things down, but that she hadn't had a call for rescue for quite some time. I started checking in with several other rescue sites regularly, but not much there either. This was bit concerning. Would there be one once I was ready? Maybe not. This drove me to reach out to a few breeders. Initially I didn't get any response despite more than one inquiry. But, eventually a few others either responded or gave me a referral. I began trading emails with one particular breeder. I won't mention the name until I have permission. Coordinating a time to meet took some time. I was really hoping to work with this breeder, so I decided to wait. Plus, articulating what I was looking for was awkward. I didn't know. A puppy, a mature dog, or a dog needing to retire? Yes, yes, and yes. Male or female? Yes, that would be nice. Chestnut, Tri, Brindle, or black? Sure, I'd take one of those. I'd heard that breeders had lengthy reservation lists, so I was prepared to wait a year or two, and I was in no position to make any demands. Was just looking for a nose. I did make a few other contacts as backup, but was honest with them that I was speaking with this particular breeder and wanted to see where those discussions might lead before moving forward with them.
Well, after several more weeks, emails, and waiting; the stars finally aligned and we were invited to meet the breeder and the Basenjis. We drove down last Friday and were able to visit with the breeder Saturday, Sunday, Monday and again on Tuesday. We got to know one another and all the dogs!
Several years ago my wife, son and I visited the Big Island in Hawaii. One of the things my son and I wanted to do was see real lava. We drove to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and found our way to the Jagger Museum at the edge of the Kilauea Caldera. Way off in the distance, about 6 to 10 miles away, in the far back left corner of the caldera was a pit. We could occasionally make out a bit of boiling lava as the steam cleared every few minutes. A binocular really made it easier to see. It was still breath taking, but my son said "Dad, I can't really see the lava that good. Is this as close as we can get?" Didn't need to ask me twice. I was thinking the same thing. I asked the Rangers if there was anything happening elsewhere on the island where we might be able to get a bit closer and was informed that we needed to go to the Leilani Estates area along highway 137. We headed there, got parked, and walked to the observation area. We could catch glimpses of lava oozing through the trees about a quarter mile away. It was about dusk, so the red aura lighting up the sky above the lava field was impressive. But, once again my son said "Dad, I can't really see the lava that good. Is this as close as we can get?" Didn't need to ask me twice. We'd passed a few popup canopies between the parking and observation areas. They were offering close up lava tours on private land. So, we walked back there and asked how close to the lava we might be able to get. They assured us that it would be close. Really close. Okay. When our group was called up we followed the guide to a property about a quarter mile up a side road. Once there we were given some history, science and rules. Then we were led to a split rail fence at the back of the property where we were told to grab a stick. I asked, "Do we need a stick if we feel comfortable hiking the lava field without one? The guide responded, "No, but what are you going to poke the lava with, your finger?" We all grabbed one and were led across the lava field to an active area with flowing steaming lava where we began probing it with the sticks. There we were standing in what had become the blackness of night, the lava lighting our way and 360 degrees all around us were dark clouds occasionally erupting in lightening strikes. This was the most primordial thing I'd ever done. So, by now you're asking yourself, "Great story, Monkey, but what the heck does this possibly have to with a dog gone Basenji?" Hang on, gimme a minute, I'm gettin' there. In life, there are things that make an indelible impression on us. Things we look back on like it was yesterday and say to ourselves, "I am SO fortunate to have experienced that."
A Clown Car
Getting to the breeder's house was one of those indelible moments... that will live in my mind forever. We pulled up on the driveway and called. We were met and invited through a gate into a side yard where we encountered another gate. I could hear all kinds of Basenji noises coming from behind the gate. My excitement and eyes grew in anticipation. Now this next part is no big deal for breeders cause you've seen this everyday for decades, but for me... I've never seen this. Always wanted to and this was finally... my moment. The gate was opened and all of the sudden here comes a pack of yacking Basenjis climbing over top of one another and spilling through the gate like a parade of clowns exiting a Volkswagen. It was adorable and hilarious at the same time. There were a few standing on their hind legs with necks and noses outstretched as if to ask, "Do I know you?" It was glorious! We'd parked the RV at a park not far, so it was easy to visit while we were there. Each of the next four days we were met with the same basenji clown car gag. It never gets old. We were treated with oodles of affection, a bit of trepidation, lots of excitement and a dash of puppy breath. This story isn't over yet. It's another adventure that will unfold over time and it's fun not knowing where this trail will lead. I'm pretty confident that we're going to be able to become monkeys for another Basenji at some point. This was truly THE best weekend 2020 has offered me this year.