Calhoun's Cannons for Oct 11, 2013
Her mother brought her back inside her belly after a hot date with a good ol' Georgia boy. She and her siblings would be the new scions of an old line breeding with Champion Kenset Made in the USA. And after a whelping that started out with difficulty -- her big-headed sister having gotten stuck for a while in the birth canal -- she popped out, one of four wet, mouse-brown puppies and one exhausted mother. And in honor of her journey, I named the pup Zuri a Kusini Mizigo -- Beautiful Southern Baggage -- and called her Mizigo, for short.
Her lineage promised a kind of Basenji concentrate, Basenji x 10, and when I saw her starting to climb out of the X-pen almost before she could walk, I knew I was in trouble. In short order the tribe earned their well-deserved nickname: The Hideous Georgia Babies. Even their mother fled her duties as soon as she could, leaving much of the mothering to her own mother, the gentle-eyed M'Tawi, who apparently tolerated their concentrated Basenji-ness better than most.
Two of the clan went to live in Morro Bay and I would get frequent reports, complete with much eye-rolling and long, exasperated sighs -- a normal response from all Basenji owners. And two stayed here with the rest of the tribe of greats and grands, mothers and uncles, all of whom snarked and rolled their eyes as well.
That was nearly 16 years ago and over time the tribe, one by one, passed on until Mizigo was the last Basenji standing in what had then become a house of tall dogs -- rescue racing greyhounds, a greyhound cross, and a sleek Sloughi. But, being a Basenji, she was up to the challenge, chugging her way determinedly among the forest of legs, firmly demanding her place in this now-towering tribe, a tough little Dame who must be obeyed. Which they did, gazing to heaven and stepping out of her way.
Even when time began to take it's toll, her fierce will would brook no concessions. She came down with some sort of chronic gut infection that couldn't seem to be cured, only maintained, and when it broke out, she would collapse and take to her bed, hovering at death's door. I would tuck her in and say my tearful good-byes, sorrowfully mourning, convinced that come morning, she would be gone.
But the next morning, there she was, up and hoovering around for food. A miracle!
Then it happened again. And again. Collapse, death's door, sorrow, Boo-hoo good-byes, sleep, then, "Where's breakfast?" After three or four of these episodes I started referring to her as my Resurrection Dog and rolled my eyes and after a while found myself in half-jest starting to whisper, "Go into the light, Sweetie, " then firmer, "Time to go into the light, Mizigo," then hollering, "GO INTO THE LIGHT, DAMMIT!"
But she wasn't about to listen to me. She was on her own focused journey and would do every step of it her own way, thank you very much. So I rolled my eyes and followed behind, with medicine and baby-food at the ready, a steadying hand when her balance left her tipsy, and a mop handy when she got confused about where the back door had suddenly gotten to.
And marvel at her astonishingly fierce determination and iron will; she would do what she would do and if old age and infirmity made that hard, well, she'd just work around that however she could and I could jolly well get out of her way.
That was our new covenant until the end, which came with stunning rapidity. She had eaten her dinner, then within a couple of hours, began her final collapse. I packed her into bed and made her as comfortable as possible. By the next morning I knew she wouldn't be up and hoovering for food. When we got to the doctor's office, she was more than ready to step into the green darkness where all her tribe was waiting for her, eyes gleaming. And with barely a whisper, she was gone.
The house is a tall dog house now, some thirty years of Basenji energy gone, an era ended. Mizigo's ashes will join all her relatives in the back yard, to be transformed into flowers and vines, a yard filled with little ghosts.