This week I innerviewed Kiya Morris, an I realized I was a liddle intimidated. Don’t laugh. I know it wasn’t my first Dog Show. But still.
See, Kiya is a Basenji, another breed unfamiliar to me. So I Read Up, pre-innerview, and found out Basenjis were, like, ANCIENT. I’m talkin’ pre-hiss-TOR-ick. They were wild, fearless hunters livin’ in The Bush. (Musta been One Big Bush.) When they finally started hanging out with humans, it was with the FAIR-ohs, in EE-gipt. (Kiya was the name of one of the FAIR-oh’s wives.) You know those Serious Dog-Headed Statues with the big pointy ears? Basenjis look a lot like that. VERY mysterious. Anyway, when the FAIR-ohs vanished, so did the Basenjis. Didn’t pop back up till, like, hundreds of years later, in the heart of Africa. See what I mean? Mysterious.
Kiya’s mom an grandma opened the door, an Kiya was right there. Lookin’ at us. She was small (17 pounds); slim; short, silky, gold an white coat; long legs; tail curled over her back. Fox-lookin’ face, super pretty, but not in a fluffy way, if you know what I mean. She greeted my assistant. Me, not so much.
“Hello,” I said. “I’’m Bonzo. It’s a great pleasure!”
“Humpf,” Kiya said. “I agreed to speak with you only because Mom wanted me to. I have no wish to be rude, but you should know that I do NOT like other dogs in my home. It’s different on neutral ground, but here, I am making an exception for you.”
“I understand, Miss Kiya, and I greatly appreciate that.” (Scratch the Wag-and-Sniff, I decided prudently.)
“All right, then. This is my Mom, Liz Morris; and my grandparents Mima and Pops. So I will talk an you will write it down, is that correct?”
“Please have a seat and I’ll begin.”
I did, and she did.
“First of all: Basenjis Do not shed. Or smell doggie. We Do Not Even Bark. We yodel. Just so you know. Now then: It was in California, five years ago. Near San Diego. My Mom was dog-sitting her employer’s dog, a Basenji, and Mom wisely grew to love the breed. She has excellent taste. So she acquired a Basenji of her own, from a lady in the nearby mountains. It was I, of course: pick of the litter. An Egyptian princess. I was only a pup, and it was quite a dramatic transition at first. I threw up in the car, going to my new home, and I was extremely apprehensive about, well, everything. And I absolutely DID NOT TOLERATE THE CRATE.
“As it happened, I was not the only pet in the household. There was Bentley. He is a cat. A Ragdoll, to be precise. Very fluffy. When I first arrived, as a playful puppy, I’d bop him on the nose. Incessantly! Then one day I bopped him on the nose and POOF! he transformed into this ferocious, demented puffball. His fur stuck out everywhere and he made a frightening noise I’ll NEVER forget. It took some time, but we’ve became true companions. I realized I groom myself just as he does. And curl up to nap. And stalk things. And he doesn’t tolerate other dogs in our home, either.”
Just then, a large, fluffy gray and white cat strolled in, an I sat quietly and tried to look like a piece of furniture. He looked at me, flexed his claws, turned to Kiya and asked (in very nice Dog, I noticed), “Is everything all right?”
“We’re fine,” Kiya assured him, and Bentley disappeared into the kitchen. I breathed what I hoped was an inconspicuous sigh of relief.
“When I was younger I was always running away,” Kiya continued. “Our neighbors called me Houdini. Once Mom discovered me digging under the fence, an Bentley was helpfully holding a piece of artificial turf out of my way that Mom had put there to keep me in. It didn’t work. I’m very fast. Like a gazelle. Nobody could catch me till a neighbor brought out some of his homemade deer jerky.”
“Cool Catnip,” I ventured, with sincerity. “Do you have dog frens?”
“I quite enjoy the camaraderie at day care. It’s called DogKidz, and the greeter is a parrot named Lola. The first time I walked into the lobby, I heard this voice: ‘Hey, Girl!’ My hackles shot up like a Mohawk! I looked all around, an finally spotted this Bird! Talking! I didn’t know whether to chase it or chat with it. I also have a French Bulldog neighbor, Coco; and a lovely human friend, a pleasant lady we often visit on Ocean Drive. She is always so happy to see me.
“In San Diego there were many dog-friendly beaches: I had several dog frens there. Actually, I am currently working with a human called John. He’s a county commissioner. I’m endeavoring to establish a dog park at the South Beach Community Center. Mom’s helping, too. She’s in real estate.”
“Woof! That’s pawsome, Miss Kiya!”
“I know. Isn’t it? We’re trying to spread the word. I think the activity I enjoy most is when Mom an I go down to the Barrier Island Sanctuary. Mom rides her bike, and I trot alongside. We go several miles and I’m not the slightest bit winded. People smile and wave. It’s our daily routine. Come, see.”
Kiya’s Mom grabbed the leash, and Kiya let out this BIG happy sound. I realized it was her yodel. Ah-ROOOOOOoooooooo! Kiya’s Mom boarded her bike, leash in hand, and off they went. Her Mom peddled briskly, Kiya blithely galloped alongside. They circled back.
“See?” She wasn’t even breathing hard.
Heading home, I was thinking about the exotic, bold little Egyptian princess who could run like the wind and was determined to create a dog park for her fellow pooches. I felt proud to be a Dog.
Till next time,