Thursday, May 28, 2009


Meet the creature that yanked on my heart strings. These were taken in March at a pet store (GASP!!) with my father and his wife. They've been wanting a dog for as long as I can remember, and I am the first person to push for someone to bring a dog into their life. And until I met this dog, there were a thousand and one reasons to talk these two out of becoming dog owners. Goldfish owners? Nah, still probably not.

Reasons they shouldn't get a dog at this point in their lives:

-Neither their city or Hamptons home is puppy proof.
-My dad doesn't go for daily walks, and he loves sleeping in more than the average bear.
-They have white suede furniture.
-They have white, fuzzy rugs.
-She is insanely allergic to dogs' saliva.
-My father hated Mojo because he jumped and yelped when he could see me through a glass door and couldn't get to me. And also, because he pranced around ALL THE TIME. But when they bonded, I thought Mojo was on amazing behavior because he didn't bark, have any accidents, destroy anything, and he slept silently through the night.
-And let's not overlook that when discussing his potential purchase with me, he mentioned that if the dog thing didn't work out, he would simply hand the dog over to me.

1. They can be noisy. Though it's true they don't bark, they can growl, whine, scream and yodel. And when I say scream, I mean SCREAM!!
2. They can be destructive. Basenjis get bored very easily. If you do not give them something to do, they will FIND something to do. It usually involves ruining something you value, but irresistible to them. They will eat almost anything: paper, Kleenex, toilet tissue, q-tips, plastic, wood, carpet, kids toys, etc. They must be crated when not supervised, for their own safety, as well as that of your belongings. It is true, they are worse as puppies, and most will get better with age. However, some don't, and the time it takes to 'get better' and the degree of 'getting better' varies a lot. Some turn into perfect angels, some are always troublemakers.
3. They are hard to train. For thousands of years, the basenji has had to be an independent thinker to survive. Therefore, they do not see the need to obey humans. Positive training methods must be used and even then, they usually only obey if it doesn't interfere with what they want. I have found that you must trick the basenji into thinking that what you want, is what he wants.
4. They are destructive.
5. They are escape artists. Because they are hunters, and have such a high prey instinct, basenjis must not be trusted off lead unless in a well fenced area. I have found the best to be a 6 ft wooden privacy fence, with the cross boards on the side away from the basenji. Chain link fences are often merely ladders to where they want to go. The radio controlled fences (dog wears a collar that 'zaps' them when they cross) do not work. To a basenji, the zap is only a mild inconvenience when chasing a squirrel or rabbit. They are very fast and very strong for their size. It has been said that the main cause of death in younger basenjis is being hit by a car. Basenji owners must be very careful when opening doors. Many basenjis have escaped in this way, and unfortunately, been killed by traffic.
6. They are a high energy breed. A basenji may appear calm and aloof. But if he does not get enough exercise, he begins to release his energy in ways we humans do not approve of, mainly destroying things. If you do not have a fenced yard, plan on taking lots of walks. Every day. Basenjis can be happy in the city, in apartments, or condos, but only with owners who understand they will have to devote a lot of time and energy keeping their basenji happy.
7. They need human companionship. They can not just be left out in the yard, fed, watered, but not part of the family. They must be included in your life, as they consider themselves one of the family. They require a lot of time and attention, acting like 2 year old children much of the time. If you work long hours, think long and hard if you will be able to furnish the companionship a basenji needs.
8. Did I mention they can be destructive? They chew a lot. Though many basenjis, as they get older, become less destructive, some do not change.
9. They have an almost uncontrollable 'chase' instinct.
10. They are stubborn. If you are a control freak and demand complete obedience, do not get this breed. They will not back down, and you can end up with a confused, aggressive animal.
Reasons to get this one specific dog:

-She has the most beautiful coloring on a Basenji that I have ever seen in my life.

*She isn't available anymore. So I hope that her new family lives on a huge property with other Basenji's where she can exercise and chase and chew freely all day long. And I hope they don't feel too racked with guilt for supporting cruelty to animals and over-population of dogs by supporting a pet store.

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