Goodbye, Anubis.

For Anubis
Can you picture him? Anubis is a basenji.
He's about 17 inches high at the shoulder, with a muscular, compact body
covered mostly with red short fur, but with white fur on his chest and
making a collar around his neck. He's also got a white stripe down
the center of his forhead.
He's got pointed, upstanding ears with wrinkles between them, and a tightly curled tail.
He weighs about 25 lbs.
Got the image?

When I met him, he was a small pile of wrinkles with stumpy legs and
big pointed ears.
An accomplished thief--even though he was only about 10 weeks old--he stole
my heart.

Later, he was fishhook teeth in my foot while he'd play the "drag me around the house" game.

He was a stumbling, bumbling red-and-white shadow wherever I walked.

Once, while I was in the bathroom, he fell asleep curled in my pants as they
were down around my ankles.
How can you finish your business and move
without waking such a one?
Shuffling quietly out of the room
with my pants still around my ankles, I looked down and saw him raise a sleepy head,
then lay back down and go back to sleep.
He trusted me, you see.

Even later--

He was licks on the tip of my nose to wake me up in the morning.

He was an underwear thief.

He was yodels when I came home from work tired and hungry.

He was a cold nose in my armpit.

One time, he somehow knocked all my boomerangs off the wall
except for two near the ceiling.
Of course, he chewed them up. I couldn't scold him because I'd never thought to teach him not to grab things
5 or 6 feet off the floor.
All I could do was say "Anubis? How did you DO that?"
Over the years, I've asked him that question a number of times.
He'd never answer, but just trot away
to look for something else to get into.

Other things--

He would stare at my stomach because of rumblings in it--comical with his
cocked head and extra wrinkles between his ears and eyes focused inches from
my belly.

He walked the world with ears straight up, a tightly curled tail,
and a jaunty stride.

I knew when he finally was ready for sleep when his ears would
slant sideways, and his tail would uncurl.

He would roll in my sweaty clothes; flopping like an idiot with
total abandon, flinging  the clothes, and finally falling off the couch.
He did the same with my shoes, putting his head into each one and
trying to crawl inside.

Once, he ate out the seat of my pants--while I was sleeping in them.

Another time, he was running towards me at a park, when a much larger dog--
like a yellow Lab--started chasing him. Anubis was running towards me
and the other dog came up behind him, running hard. I was too far away to do anything
and I became concerned.
The strange dog was almost to him when Anubis looked over his shoulder.
Without apparent effort, Anubis just...ran faster, and left the big dog behind.
Then he turned back and started running in circles around the bigger dog--who was still running hard.
The big dog finally stopped, winded, and Anubis came bounding over to me.

He was a bozo and he made me laugh every day.

When he was sad, it would hurt my heart. A sad basenji's
howl is the eeriest, saddest thing I've ever heard.

I almost lost him once, when he fell through some ice into a slow stream.
We were visiting up North.
He never made a sound. He just started swimming and then got confused
when he hit the broken ice and couldn't climb onto it.
He started swimming *away* from shore.
A girlfriend watched, horrified, when I waded into the water up to my shoulders,
risking hypothermia or drowning as I broke through the ice to get to him.
I would never have been able to live with myself if I thought his last view of this world was me
NOT trying to pull him out.
I wouldn't have been able to bear believing that his last thought was
that I didn't care enough to save him.
So, I waded in, and although I'm sorry for causing worry,
I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
I *did* save him, though, but it took some time. He and I ran back to warmth,
with ice forming on my pantlegs.

He was my friend for over 12 years.

And now he's gone.

His kidneys just...gave up.

I couldn't save him this time.

It took only seconds from the vet's first push of the plunger.

I felt Anubis go.

I can take comfort knowing that he died where he always wanted to be
...sleeping in my arms and dreaming near me.
I got to hold him and stroke his fur
and I got to tell him

We don't usually get the opportunity to say goodbye.
Losing a dog is often so sudden.

Farewell, Anubis.  I hope you enjoyed your time with me as much as I enjoyed mine with you.

© Richard Dashnau,  December 18-19 and 23, 2004


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