Mar 16 1996

IT was two a.m. Rafi had come downstairs to watch me working in the office. In a week he's come a long way from being afraid of the stairs, to sitting midway, with his head poked thru the banister, laid out flat, surveying. He was ready for me to come upstairs and thought a good long stare would get the idea across. But I had a scene to finish and wasn't stopping for ANY reason.

Thirty minutes later he had crept into my office by increments, and was sitting with that very SPEAKING stare fixed on my face. He did NOT want to go out. He was disinterested in the leash and his dry kibble buffet but still on polite behavior didn't allow himself that old basenji CLAW. But he came close to it. He squatted back, then stood upright (on two legs) and gave me the doublefisted boxing stance, barely out of reach of my leg. (I.E. it was a double Claw with some impressive self-restraint.) He made this Urping noise. It sounded like a German (gutteral) swallowed Meow. (Dunno how else to describe it.)

At any rate, with the clown at work,I wasn't getting any more work done. I went upstairs, much to his delight. He leapt on to my bed (where my daughter was sleeping.) I put her back in her bed and turned on the nightlight. At first it appeared that it was going to be a normal night. Then I heard the noise. On to the bed. On the floor. On to Lauren's bed. Over the toychest. On to the hope chest. On to the bed. On to the floor.

I turned on the light expecting to see Rafi playing ring around the ragdoll with the cat. No cat in sight, however.

He circled. He stalked. As if there were some terrible beast in the center of the floor, something too horrible to approach but too delicious a target to ignore. This wasn't silent, either. Not that he was doing anything more than an anxious whimper but--frankly, graceful he's not. Everything there was to bump into or trip over, he did.

My daughter woke, laughing. She followed Rafi and after a few moments of child-dog communication discovered a fist-sized furry cloth packet with the face of the BEAST on one side. (It is a "mask" for a Ken-type doll, the removal of which transforms the BEAST into Beauty's hero.) This was a toy that had been relegated to the box of Rafi's potential safe chew toys (including a few fluffy stuffed animals, pound puppies, tennis balls, etc.)

"It's okay Mama." Lauren said. "I already decided I want him to have it."

She gave Rafi the thing, thinking it was going to be a chewie. But Rafi wouldn't touch it except to toss it around. When he realized this was actually being given to him, he crowed in delight. He tossed the thing on to my bed. We tossed it back. He tossed it up. Eventually we were saying, "Get the RAT Rafi!" and he was fetching it from hiding places. (The thing looks uncannily like a deflated, long haired rat, especially when he's giving it the old Basenji Rip&Tear.)

This would have continued all night, had I not had the good sense to turn the light off.

Today, after the kids had gone to school and I was working at the computer, Rafi came into the office. He had been fed; he had been walked; he had run a few pre-school miles heeling my teenager's bicycle; he had spent a few hours watching what we now call B-TV (squirrels at eye-level through an upstairs window). He did the little circle-"C'mon-I-wanna-play" dance (feet splayed, tush up, on your mark, get set, GO! position) and, (not knowing how much language he's picked up in his history) I suggested, "Get the rat."

He cocked his head at me, and I returned to work. A few minutes later, I spied him through the french doors in my office--tossing the "rat" at the foot of the stairs.

It's a good child who amuses himself.

Just another day in the trenches....