Thursday, September 17, 2009

To Bark or Not to Bark


People usually say that basenjis are barkless dogs, and they are usually right. I, for example, never bark, so I guess that makes me the perfect basenji! My brother Gabe, on the other hand, barks sometimes, but not very often or very much. The biggest number of barks I've ever heard from him at one time is three, like this: "Boof! Boof! Boof!"

But just because basenjis don't bark, that doesn't mean they are silent. The truth is that we basenjis can make all kinds of interesting and useful sounds, ranging from growls to shrieks. There's really no good word to describe the sound basenjis make most often, so people have to call it a yodel or a baroo. If you have not lived with basenjis, you may not have heard this delightful sound. There are some good examples of basenjis barooing on YouTube. Last night I found a really nice one to share with you. In this video, a person plays the theme from Braveheart on the piano, and the basenji begins to sing along. I found this video to be hauntingly beautiful. But when Mom heard it, she laughed a lot and called it "hilarious." To be honest, this really hurt my feelings, but I am trying to forgive Mom because I know that sometimes she speaks without thinking first.

Anyway, we did not get to hear the end of the video because the sound of it inspired Barry to start howling, and then Mel joined in, and so did Gabe and I, and we ended up doing a Group Howl which drowned out the end of the video. But maybe you can listen all the way to the end, if no one starts howling at your house. Anyway, here's where you can find the video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XT0k1GzPEjo

Or you can also listen to this other video of two basenjis named Izzi and Bosco yodeling.  It is quite lovely, too, as all basenji yodels are.


Now I will tell you about the Group Howl, which is an important ritual in our house. Before Barry came to live here, there was no Group Howl. This is because Gabe and Mel and Trixie never thought to howl together all at the same time. Then Barry came, and he would start howling sometimes, and everybody else decided it would be fun to howl along with him. Now we do the Group Howl ritual almost every day, and sometimes we do it more than once a day.


The Group Howl happens most often in the morning. When Mom is eating breakfast and she finishes her yogurt and scrapes the bottom of the yogurt container, this is an Important Signal to us dogs. The Signal means that pretty soon Mom will finish reading the paper and then she'll brush her teeth, and then we can go WALKING! The thought of all this good stuff to come makes us excited, so Barry runs around and then he woofs a little, and then he begins to howl. Then Gabe and Mel begin to howl, and pretty soon I feel like howling, too, so I do!

Another thing that can make Barry start the Group Howl is sirens. Sometimes we hear a siren way off in the distance, and Mom cannot even hear it because of her inferior hearing abilities. So we start howling, and Mom wonders why we decided to howl. But then when we finish, maybe the siren is close enough so that she can finally hear it, and then she knows why we were howling.

Well, I was going to talk more about all the wonderful sounds that basenjis make, but I think I have written enough for one day. So I will talk about that other stuff tomorrow.

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