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"LADY"

Vom Rojac's Lady Evenstar, SC, FCh December 14, 1989 -- October 18, 2002 Rest In Peace My Lady Love


"STAR"

Linda's Arwen Evenstar November 17, 1977 -- May 27, 1990 Be At Peace My Star Bright

Star's Story

My Name is Star..... and this is my story. I was born in the very late fall of 1977. My birthplace was a cage in a puppy mill. I never met my father and left my mother when I was 7 weeks old to go to a pet shop in a large mall. It was kinda scary being alone all the time; oh, there were other puppies there, but we were all in cages by ourselves and even though we could talk to each other, we missed our mothers and brothers and sisters and cuddling when we were cold or scared. One day when I was 9 weeks old, I saw a young girl staring at me and making funny faces and I really liked her right away. She was on the other side of the glass cages we were in and though I yodeled my very best puppy yodel, I didn't think she heard me 'cause next thing I knew, she was gone. I decided to curl up and try not to hear the other puppies crying or think of my mother, but it was very lonely. Basenjis really do cry, you know.

Well! Next thing I knew one of the clerks was taking me out of my cage and I was handed to the very same girl who had stared at me earlier. She told the man she was with "Look daddy; I told you they had one of those barkless dogs I've heard you talk about". Well, next the clerk put us all in a little room together. The man "Daddy" and the girl (Daddy called her Linda) sat down in chairs and the clerk put me on the floor. Well, I have to tell you; this man "Daddy" had shoe laces that were a Basenji puppy's dreams come true. I couldn't resist..... I raced across the room and attacked.....those shoe laces learned that a Basenji isn't to be trifled with, I'll tell you! Next thing I knew, "Daddy" was giving the clerk a whole bunch of green paper things that I could have made great confetti out of; I was tucked inside Linda's coat and we went outside to find the car which took a long time while cold water was falling out of the sky. Well, when we got to this place called HOME I had to pee something awful, but every time I tried to "Daddy" yelled NO! and took me outside where I was scared and couldn't. I'll tell you, we had an awful time before we finally came to an understanding that I would go and scratch at the door and pee outside when I wanted to, not when Daddy wanted me to. I mean, when water was falling from the sky, I could go a LONG time without peeing!!!

I proved how long I could go without peeing, by not doing it in the little box full of towels I had to sleep in the first week. I didn't like sleeping in the box, but it was beside Daddy's bed which was alot better than the cage at the pet shop so, after the first couple of nights, I decided not to fuss about it. And guess what happened next? Daddy said 'cause I hadn't peed in the box, I could sleep on the bed with him, and that's where I slept for the next twelve years, except when I was sleeping on Linda's bed.

Until I was 11 years old, I was Daddy's running partner, bed warmer, sofa eater and all 'round best friend. We went to the open spaces alot, where I chased squirrels and birds and anything else that moved fast. Then one day when I was 11-1/2 years old a little thing called a tick bit me. It was almost three month later before the stuff the tick put into my body started working, but when it did, I found out that it was hard to shake without falling. Daddy took me to see Dr. Hopper who is my favorite doctor, but he couldn't figure what was making me fall. Even after I gave them some of my blood and even let them shave the back of my neck so I could give them some of my spinal fluid, they didn't know what was wrong, and I didn't know how to tell them about the little thing called a tick. Finally, after I started having problems with my eyes and trouble figuring out where my feet were, Doctor Hopper sent some of my blood to some place called the "east coast" were they figured out the tick had given me a thing called Ehrlichiosis.

Dad and Dr. Hopper tried everything they could think of to make the tick thing go away, but I could tell from the way I felt that nothing was really working, so I just spent all my time curled up in the corner. I didn't care; I couldn't think of anything else to do and I knew I was going to have to leave Daddy soon. Even though it was hard for him to admit, I think Daddy knew it too and knew he had to have a Basenji around to keep him on his toes.....That's where Lady comes in.

One day in February, cold and rainy just like the day twelve years earlier when I first came "home" I was curled up in my usual corner, ignoring the world when Daddy brought a nine week old, little girl Basenji into the house. Well! You can bet I quit ignoring the world and started letting this little upstart know where she stood in this household!! You better believe it! There wasn't a chew stick in this house that she was going to chew 'til I was finished with it! And no food to be eaten 'til I was finished eating! And no laps to sit in 'til I said it was okay! And no balls to chase 'til I was through........well, I let her chase the balls; I'm afraid I couldn't stop her without falling down, and that was embarrassing, me being a runner all my life, even going four or five mile just one year earlier and up to eight miles in my prime. I loved to run with Daddy any time I could and used to do a wild and crazy dance when I saw him putting on his running shoes. He'd laugh and say "You stay and be a good girl" if I wasn't going to get to go, but if he didn't say anything, just laughed, I went even crazier in my dance 'cause I knew I was going too. You know, I could never figure out how anybody with such long legs as Daddy could be so slow, but I always (almost) ran slow too, so he could keep up with me!

Linda said I gave this little girl they called Lady the nickname "Devil Puppy from Hell" but it was really Linda's name for her. When Linda was thirteen, she came to live with Daddy and me full time. I was one year old then and she stayed 'til I was almost nine. After she moved out on her own, I really missed her and she missed me so she came to see me every chance she got. Anyway, this little devil pupp...I mean Lady jump started me every morning......really! I always slept at the foot of the bed on Daddy's left side. Lady, after she showed she could go all night without peeing in the box (surprised me, I'll tell you! 'specially after all the water I talked her into drinking before bedtime every night) slept on Daddy's right side up by his chest. Every morning, what's the first thing that little devi....Lady did? Jump on my tail and try to eat it!

Well, the time finally came when the tick stuff got into my spinal chord and I had to say goodbye to Daddy. Daddy called Linda who went with us to see Dr. Hopper and give me the Goodbye Medicine. I've been watching over Daddy, Linda and yes, even that dev....Lady puppy. Lady's now almost four year old and the mother of five. Two of her puppies live with Daddy and her and all seem to make him happy, but.......I can tell.....Daddy misses my "Am I going to go running too?" dance; and my yodels letting him know how happy I am to see him when he's been gone; and my yodels giving him hell for having been gone too long! Yes, he misses me and I miss him but someday when it's his turn to say goodbye and come to the Rainbow Bridge where I am, he's promised to wear a brand new pair of shoe laces. I'll be ready with my most ferocious attack and then maybe we can go for a good long run. I sure hope he'll be faster, but if not I'll wait for him like I used to. After all, he is my "Daddy" and I'm his "Star". copyright 1994

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Star was the first Basenji I ever saw in the flesh. I'd seen the movie "Good-bye My Lady" as a teenager in the mid 50's and it made enough of an impression that over 20 years later my daughter dragged me out of the mall bookstore where I was browsing. She wanted to show me this puppy they had in the pet store, "You know, the kind you told me about that's from Africa and Doesn't bark." We didn't know about puppy mills and pet shop dogs in those days and what 12 year old can resist a look at all the puppies in the window, so that's usually where she headed first when we went to the mall, while I usually headed for the bookstore. I certainly had no intention of buying a dog. Didn't want one, didn't need one......'til Star came charging across that room and attacked my shoe laces and my heart. She was the opposite of what I'd expect from a pet shop puppy today. I don't really know that she came from a puppy mill, I'm just guessing by the age she was sent to the pet shop, 7 weeks, and the fact that the breeder's address was a P.O. Box in the farming town of Porterville, CA. She was a cuddler whose favorite place was my lap! At 9 weeks, it was a struggle for her to get onto the sofa. The cushions had a rolled edge around the top that she'd hook her front paws over, while she scrabbled with her hind legs 'til she finally made it up then charged for my lap. My habit of reading the newspaper at the dining room table comes from the fact that it was impossible to read it sitting on the sofa or recliner with Star around. From the first day she came home, she would head for my lap and newspaper be damned. I can't start to imagine what my life would be like today had it not been for Star. Obviously I wouldn't have Lady or The Hooligans as Bo and Dew are sometimes known. I probably wouldn't own a dog. Of course it could be said I never did own a dog........I was owned by Star! It took me several weeks to write Star's Story; weeks of thinking back and laughing 'til I had tears in my eyes at some of her antics; and then just tears thinking of that last few months. Star had big, red caution flags on her chart at the vets; Dr. Johnson, Star's vet the first eleven years, didn't trust Basenjis and Star, sensing that, didn't trust Dr. Johnson. It was pure chance that the first time I took Star in with her first symptom from the tick disease that Johnson wasn't there and Pat Hopper was. I suggested that he might want to muzzle Star before trying to examine her; he said, "Well, let's see how we hit it off." Got down on the floor with her and by the time he was ready to do the exam, she was putty in his hands. Once it was diagnosed as Ehrlichia, the battle was to try and stop this thing that was attacking and destroying her central nervous system; antibiotics were the only means to attack, but antibiotics have trouble getting through the barrier that exists between the blood circulatory system and the central nervous system. Dr. Hopper would put her on Prednisone and a tetracycline type antibiotic, she would stabilize for a while then start to deterioate again. This went on for over six months. One test he would put her through was to pick her up, cover her eyes, hold her front legs out in front of her and let her paws hit the edge of the examining table. She would feel her paws hit and start scrabbling as if to climb onto the table. Then came the day her paws hit the table and.....nothing. He moved her back and then forward again; paws hit the table and, again, nothing. Dr. Hopper looked at me and simply said, "I'm sorry." I knew then the end was near; but even though she could no longer climb the stairs to my bedroom; even though she had to be lifted onto my bed each night, she hadn't been in pain. (Funny, on weekends I liked to sleep late back then 'cause I wasn't retired as I am now. Before she became ill, Star would be off the bed and doing her thing 'til I woke. I'd then whistle for her and she'd fly up the stairs and leave the floor as she came through my bedroom door; about an eight foot leap and she was in my face, "Come on dad! Let's play!") Anyway, 'til the last few weeks, she was in no physical pain though I'm sure it hurt her mentally to be unable to do all her previous acrobatic antics. But then the disease got into her spine and the pain hit. Saturday night, Memorial day weekend, 1990 pain spasms hit and hard. I finally managed to get a Valium down her; called Dr. Hopper at home; called my daughter and we all met at the Veterinary Hospital where we said goodbye to this wonderful little girl. In the open space above Walnut Creek and at the foot of Mt. Diablo, there's a hiking trail with a deep arroyo on one side and, as you travel into the open space, there's a high, grassy knoll with one giant, old oak tree on the other side. Star loved to run free in this area; she would spot ground squirrels on the opposite bank of the arroyo and go charging down the trail side and up the other. Of course, by the time she reached the squirrel's territory they were all in their holes and she'd look around all puzzled, "Where'd they go?!? Her ashes are scattered on the knoll under the giant oak and I imagine the squirrels are a little more vigilent with her spirit lurking about still wondering, "Where'd they go?" Having now lost Lady, her ashes will also be scattered there as will Bo's and Dew's when it's their turn to join Star and their mom, Lady. My ashes are also to be scattered there as I've made everyone who might have anything to do with that decision promise. One hundred years from now, if there are stories of a tall, balding, goateed man and his four red and white Basenjis haunting that area, well........... copyright 1994 J. Richardson

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