Monday, April 12, 2021

Spring is for snips and snails and puppy dogs’ tails

| April 4, 2021 12:00 AM

The day our son picked up his puppy at the airport four years ago was one that forever changed all our lives for the better — Luke’s, ours … and Copper-dog’s.

At 6 weeks, Copper’s red and white fur coat was a size bigger than he was so he wore this endearing wrinkled, worried expression on his puppy face.

As is trademark to the Basenji breed, Copper is carried on long, elegant, graceful legs with white socks, comparable to the finest thoroughbred horse. A Basenji’s ears are tall and always pointed up. Think of the dogs painted in ancient Egyptian art — actually the Basenji breed originated in Africa and was brought up the Nile to be given to the pharaohs as gifts.

Small and quite handsome hound dogs, they are capable of a smooth trot and great speeds. When lounging, their lithe limbs fold casually around them. When they rise to stretch, they seem to increase their length by double — we call it “longdoggin’ it.”

Perhaps the Basenji’s crowning feature is its tightly curled tail tipped in white.

The breed is also known historically for its hunting prowess and many consider Basenjis to be “one-man dogs,” fiercely loyal to their owners but not terribly social.

Copper, however, is possibly the most social dog I’ve ever met — with both people and dogs. Due to his never-ending curiosity, he’ll plant his face right in the middle of whatever project you’re working on, literally sticking his nose into everyone’s business.

Apparently, each of Luke’s friends, including me, think that Copper likes them best. But my family agrees that, aside from Luke, I’ve been his next favorite human.

He loves to play with other dogs and is a well-established favorite of the staff at doggy day care. He’s the dog that gets to sleep with the caregiver if he’s on an overnight stay. He’s completely indiscriminate what dogs he plays with. One time he played so hard he rubbed his paws nearly raw from running around.

Copper isn’t shy about accepting heaping doses of affection. If a family member is busy talking, cooking, or not giving him his due attention, he’ll jump up and poke his paws into your hip or butt, then run into the next room to get you to chase him. He then decides whether to have you chase him around the house, or he’ll hit the breaks expecting you to heartily pet him.

Copper is also polite. He’s never chewed a sock or shoe. He never begs at the table, but waits patiently at your feet (often on top of them) until you’re finished eating and the table is cleared, then stands and asks for you to lift him on your lap so he can rest his chin on the table and grab some more petting.

When he stays at our house he can’t wait until my husband and I finally sit down to watch TV in the evening so he can curl up between us and snooze.

Perhaps the most unusual trait of the Basenji is they don’t bark. Their vocal cords aren’t equipped. They are known to yodel, but Copper has only rarely in his three years. But a Basenji’s face is full of personality and they seem quite content to forgo the canine bark, ignoring other dogs who do.

Copper-dog is a delightful addition to our family and he knows we all, rightfully, adore him.

Community Editor Carol Marino can be reached at