Way back in 1980 or so, I was a young woman in need of a dog. I used to read the pet section for fun. It was my mother's fault really. Or maybe we should blame it on her father. You see, my grandfather once competed in a limerick-writing competition. The prize? A black chow puppy.
That puppy was my mother's faithful companion along with a host of other creatures including a coatamundi (she lived in Harlingen, TX which is very close to the Mexican border.) Apparently my grandmother nixed the coatamundi within three days. Something about a clever creature that could climb and steal food. I very much doubt my grandmother would have been a Basenji aficionado now that I think about it.
But there I was reading the paper dreaming of my sweet, affectionate, loyal, well-trained next pup. Then I saw the following ad:
For Sale: Basenji, female, $100, show quality.
Well I didn't know the first thing about show quality, but I remembered the "Good-bye, My Lady" movie. This was it! My perfect pet was calling to me. I contacted the number then drove out to see MY dog that afternoon.
The lady of the house greeted me at the door. I remember she had a child and another dog who were there. The dog was a huge slobbering hound. I immediately assumed the lady didn't know what kind of dog she had if she was giving away this bundle of drool. But she immediately assured me that Dart, an 8 month old German Shorthair was not for sale. (ASIDE: This is why I can't remember anniversaries and birthdays. My memory is consumed with the names of animals I have met ONCE. sigh.)
She kenneled Dart then brought out this gorgeous red and white deer. She said, "Here's Tammie. Let's see how she takes to you, shall we?" in a very precise British accent. I wasn't sure who was judging whom. I mean HEY! I was here to give her one hundred bucks and she wanted to see if the dog liked me?
Well, Tammie came right to me. She sniffed, of all things, the backs of my knees. Then she looked at me for about a minute or two. I looked back and told her how pretty I thought she was. I offered my hand for her to sniff, but she ignored me. Then out of the blue, she gave this wild sound and jumped up on me wagging this weird tail.
Charmed doesn't even begin to describe what I felt. I scritched her neck and ears then sat on the couch. I should note that this house had piles of paper here and there. I thought the woman was probably overwhelmed with two dogs and a toddler. Poor dear didn't have time to pick up the trash!
Helen and I chatted for a bit about why she wanted to sell Tammie. Her husband, a USAF officer, had gotten her in England (along with Helen, actually) to hunt with. Tammie had shown some interest in hunting as a pup but when she hit about 10 months old, Helen said she just seemed to forget all her training. Helen's interest lay in obedience rather than showing. She had Dart for that because Tammie's obedience work wasn't…shall we say, precise. Also, Dart fell down and peed all over herself at the site of any small brown dog (including miniature dachshunds.) Then the truth came out.
Tammie was the reason for Dart's trauma. So Tammie, at the age of one, needed a new home. I was offended on Tammie's behalf. Surely this precious bundle of adorableness was just misunderstood. I handed over the money and Helen handed over the leash and papers.
The best was yet to come. I took Tammie home. That day I took her out for the first of what I was sure would be many enjoyable "girl and her dog" times together. Me walking a beautiful little girl who would prance proudly beside me.
You know what is coming.
After twenty minutes of leash wrangling/untangling and me swearing/laughing at the red and white tornado, we were finally doing something that resembled a calm promenade. Then it happened.
A bee swooped in. I am afraid of bees. Terrified. I snatched Tammie up from the ground.
Can you guess what happened to me when I saved my new precious pet from the evil bee?
SHE BIT ME.
Not hard. She didn't even break the skin but did leave a good bruise. I was warned in no uncertain terms that there were things we do and don't do. Picking Tammie up without negotiating was one of those.
When I got home, I sat on my couch surveying the gorgeous red and white deer who had so hornswaggled me with a donut wag and a baroo. She curled up next to me. Tucked her nose under her back end and went to sleep. It was all over. At that moment in time, I knew that I might hold the leash and buy the food, but I wasn't the one who was the owner. I gave up my independence that day to become a devoted Basenji slave.