Monday, September 28, 2009

FOR LOVE OF THE BASENJI

No surprise here, I am an animal lover. I have spent enough money rebuilding strays that could have provided a financially secure retirement. Guess what, no regrets. While the "Mutts" I found hold my heart, they are like a "box of chocolates." You are never quite sure what you will get. That is not a bad thing.

Pedigreed dogs cut out the surprise as there are pretty specific characteristics attached to each breed. At favorite of mine that I have owned are the Great Danes. They are magnificent dogs and will fill your life, literally. Just try to find couch space when you own a Dane. Greyhounds have crossed my threshold and warmed my heart. No dog is more grateful for attention nor more awesome to watch at full speed.


The Blue Heeler you all ready know about from a previous post and while I love the dog, I would want more land than I have for another one. They are high energy dogs that love to work. For pure lap pleasure and singular devotion to its master, you can't beat a Chihuahua. I have had them totally steal my heart. Last but certainly not least on my short list,is the Basenji.


I would like to introduce those of you who are animal lovers to this very unique but really cool dog that I just adore. In 1956 I saw a movie that touched me an made me a huge fan of the Basenji (phonetic pronunciation: buh-SEN-jee). Until that time, I did not know such a dog existed. In the 50's, the Basenji barely did exist outside of Africa and a few in England. The movie was "Goodbye My Lady" with Walter Brennan and Brandon de Wilde. Netflix does not carry the movie and a copy can now days costs from $40 to $200. Guess I can live with the memories if not the hard copy.



The Basenji is a very ancient breed which dates back to the days of the Pharaohs. He is both a scent hound and a sight hound and is, to this day, highly prized by the natives in the Southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo for hunting.

The Basenji is known as "the barkless dog", caused by their flat larynx. However, he is certainly not mute, being capable of all the other 'doggy' noises, plus a delightful yodel or chortle when happy. The sounds are unlike any I had heard before and the chortle can only make you smile. I have done some pretty silly things trying to encourage the chortle.

Basenji is a remarkably clean dog, hates being dirty or getting wet, and possesses no 'doggy' odor. They will groom themselves in a cat like manner. In fact they are very cat like. He is extremely intelligent, independent, alert, and affectionate to those he knows and loves, but can be rather aloof with strangers.

They are rather small dogs that typically weigh 24 pounds (11kg) and stand 16 inches (40.6cm) at the shoulder. They have a graceful, confident gait like a trotting horse, and skim the ground in a "double-suspension gallop." When running flat-out at their top speed, their characteristic curled tail straightens out for greater balance. It will also straighten out when they are relaxed.

The Basenji are accomplished escape artists. Fences are easily climbed which makes owning one a challenge. This talent will invariably get them into trouble. They can get lost hunting game or can let their cocky little natures get them into fights they can not win with strange dogs. If you don't have a solid board or electric fence, they can only go outside on a leash.



They have unique facial muscles and are very expressive, often wrinkling their foreheads quizzically. Besides being very intelligent, exceptionally clean and delightful to listen to, they have two traits I have never seen in another dog. Forcing a Basenji to do something it doesn't want to do or correcting with any physical punishment (newspaper) will likely cause him to snarl or even snap at you. This is a breed trait. They won't be bullied.

However, if they know they have broken a cardinal rule, they act very chagrined and will cry actual tears when punished, even if only reprimanded verbally. I have seen it happen and it makes you feel like a brute. It can break your heart. Either reaction to rebuke is painful to the owner. I highly recommend only "reward" training of these dogs which works marvelously.

I have owned three of these wonderful animals. One was given to me as he kept escaping from his former owner, picking fights with bigger dogs and coming home in pieces. Rex was a handful but I loved him. When he died , I bought a replacement from a breeder in Kentucky who actually hand delivered Spock to me in Florida.

Spock was only the second dog I ever paid for, the first was the Australian Heeler. Spock eventually suffered from blindness in his later years, which is unfortunately an inherit disease of the breed along with kidney failure. A portion of the breed are subject to these diseases for the Basenji in the United States comes from a very small gene pool. Most of the Basenji outside of Africa are descendants of 12 original dogs. In the 80's new dogs were brought in from Africa to try to expand the gene pool.

Third Basenju I had was a little female stray who had most likely gotten lost from her owner. She was found 10 miles from any house in deplorable shape. These dogs do not mind well off leash and will often run off in chase of game and get lost. I placed a lot of ads but got no response. She had one eye, the other, which was sewn shut, I am sure she lost in battle as they can be aggressive towards other dogs. She eventually went to a lovely home familiar with the breed.

Guess you can tell by now, I like the unique type of dogs. That really is a foolish statement for all dogs are unique. The Basenji however is certainly not for everyone, but for those who know and understand the breed, they are truly delightful and worth the extra effort.

If you want a little less complications, think Mutt. There are plenty out there that will fill your home with love. Again I ask, please support your local Humane Society or shelter and please spay/neuter.


And your dog of choice is-----

None of the above are my pictures but are from the Net.

22 comments :

  1. My choice once was German Shepherds but after Luckie, it is MUTT without reservation, and dogs over cats, primarily because city ordinance requires cats on leashes, or house confined, a task I'm not willing to assume.

    Even though their unknown gene pool brings surprises, or not, I find myself wanting to adopt a handful of those mutts, and some unfortunate pure breeds,shown on late night TV apeals for monthly financial support.

    After Luckie's basket of medical problems, monthly support might be less expensive, but who can factor the price of devotion?

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  2. My favorites have been cocker spaniels, and we had two of them when I was young. My favorite dog was a cross of cocker and black lab, and she was the smartest dog I've ever known. I like the look of the Basenji.

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  3. What a lovely tribute to the dog family. I had once a dog. She was friendly to me and subdued, but as soon as there was a baby or a toddler in the house she went for it and bit it. So I had to put her in an other room when I had visitors with children.

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  4. Oh as you know I'm a Pekingese fan!
    I don't remember why I was so attracted to the breed as my first one Chingo, I got in 1973. She lived to be 15 years old. Then I later had a Peek-a-Pom named Sassy who lived to be 14. I always wanted another Pek so Hubby gave me Sadie and Jake as a wedding/Christmas present. Of course you know we bred them and kept the two surviving pups. Everyone has now been rendered defunct in the reprodution game so it is a real interesting life around here with 4 babes. We adore these guys though and will do our best to give them a sweet life! I do support my local shelter have them on the lookout for a working dog to help with the cattle. I'd love to find a blueheeler/border collie mix! :)

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  5. I like all breeds of dogs except the Pit... I could not have one of them because of the grandkids...I do not want another dog in my sane days but on any off day I might just buy one you can never tell...

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  6. Hi Patti, I learned a lot about basenji, thanks for the info. I read your story about Emma Lou and I just cried, what a wonderful story. We have had two blue heelers, in fact you might like my post about our first one here is the link.

    http://bluestarrgallery.blogspot.com/2009/03/blue.html

    Have a great day, hope your weather is cooling down, ours is.

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  7. I've always been drawn to labs, particularly yellows. They seem to have the most gentle natures. I've never seen a Basenji, and the photos you've included here make me wish I had. They look like beautiful, expressive animals.

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  8. We adopted a dog someone left on the door steps of our restaurant. She is a sweetheart. Her name is Gladys. What sweet eyes the Basenji has.

    enJOY your day!!

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  9. I've never heard of the Basenji before. What a wonderful animal they are. I'm not a bit surprised to read that they (like cats) were known to the pharaohs. Good advice about discipline by encouragement rather than by bullying, I think that works across species! I'm still not sure how to discipline a domestic cat however. Pleading, persuasion, bribery, flattery, and distracting games seem about it with a certain Ginger person! Oh well!

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  10. Nitwit
    Shepherds are wonderful but I don't think you can beat Luckie.
    The iffy gene pool is usually a good thing. You are not locked into how a dog ought to behave an can be surprised.

    kenju
    Gee, I just had a friend's son call wanting to give me a cocker spaniel. He knows cold weather is coming and since he will not allow a dog inside, he is worried about it suffering. It is not his dog but his girl friends. Had to decline.

    Reader Wil
    It is not too unusual that dogs and small children don't get along. You were smart to separate.

    Carol,
    Your Pekes make me miss a grand little Peke I had. Snort was named for the obvious reason. Your puppies are just too precious.
    You can't go wrong with either a heeler or a border collie and the mix should do the trick. They are real workers.

    4th,
    I have a story about a child and a Pit for a later post. Most Pits are sweet dogs, the one bad one can chill you to the bone.

    Linda Starr
    Enjoyed your story about Blue. Thanks for the link. They are grand dogs and there is no cutier puppy. Hard choice isn't it.

    robin,
    Labs are wonderful family dogs. They only desire to please.
    The Basenji is not far removed from a wild dog. I just love their attitude.

    Cheffie mom
    I think your restaurant has a reputation. Didn't someone drop a cat off there also. Someone likes your food. Bless you for taking them in.

    Peter,
    You don't train cats, they train you and hopefully you are quick about it. Pretty sure Ginger has you and Laura right where she wants you.
    The Basenji is almost as trainable as a cat. Scary huh.

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  11. If I ever get another dog, I will talk to you first. I've never heard of a Basenji---but when you said BARKLESS--that caught my attention. I definitely do not want a dog that YAPS constantly (like a Poodle)...

    I want a short-hair dog that loves people --and is basically a healthy breed. I have always heard that getting a mutt is better since they usually stay healthier..

    Thanks for the interesting post. I'm not sure when or if we will get a dog--but it won't be until we aren't able to travel much anymore.

    Have a great day.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  12. So interesting! I am a total cat person, so I didn't know any of this. If we ever get a dog, I would definitely want to investigate Basenjis further after reading your post. We can't have a cat, much as I love them, due to family allergies.

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  13. Hi Patti,
    There is a brand new blog that you simply must see..., utterly hilarious and the photo on today's post of two cats sunbathing had me in stitches. http://verificationvocabulary.blogspot.com

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  14. My dog of choice is the PBGV - Petite Bassette Griffon Vendeen. It's about the size of a Basenji, and it's a scent hound, with a big "voice" that surprises people. They can't scare anyone, they're too cute when they bark. Love those Peebs!

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  15. Patti-

    I had to laugh when I read "I have done some pretty silly things trying to encourage the chortle". I have done this many times as well.

    One of my favorite boarders back when I was full time was a Basenji named Selket. She was a love and I was always happy to see her name on the schedule.

    I recently saw her owner after a decade who remembered me (she informed me that I could at least have the decency to age :)...) and now has four of them, though Selket is no longer alive. I have met many of them, but none touched my heart like Selket.

    I hold a special place for greyhounds, especially retired racers. My pointer is a goof, and I love him, but...

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  16. I have never owned or even liked big dogs but since I was given my Rottweiler I would definatly get another.....they aren't vicious, they are clowns. I also love my little border collie x cocker spaniel.

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  17. I never met a dog I didn't like ;)

    The Basenji sounds interesting
    they sure do have many cat traits!!

    do they get along with cats?

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  18. I have friends who owned a basenji for years. They dearly loved her up till her death. I love terriers best, even though they are hyper and can drive you crazy. Right now I have a mini fox terrier and a pekingese mix. They run like wild horses throughout the house and yard all day long. Fun to watch.

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  19. Betsy,
    Aw Gee, take one with you when you travel. Yeh I know, I would go a lot more places if I didn't have Mighty. They do hold you back.
    As much as you and George like to explore, probably not a good idea.
    May be a good idea when all the hiking you want to do is around the block with a dog on a leash. Till then, enjoy what you are doing.

    Edelweiss Transplanted
    Welcome to TNS and thank you so much for stopping by. If you like cats, the Basenji may be for you as they are very cat like.

    Peter,
    What a clever blog. Those cats were too funny. Thanks so much for the link.

    Betty,
    Have seen the PBGV's on the Westminster Dog show and they are so cute. I just love saying their name(the abreviated version)

    Barry,
    Aw, I am so glad someone else has met and fallen for a Basenji. Such neat little dogs. That chortle is something else. It is almost like a delighted laugh.
    I too love the greyhound. They are such loving animals. They sure do like to lean on you don't they.

    Amanda,
    As a rule a Rottie has to prove to me he is nice. There are a lot of agressive ones out there and unfortunately, they don't let you know either way till you are either being licked or munched on. They just wrinkle up their forehead for both moods. I do believe it is how they are handled. You evidently have done a good job.
    I love your smaller dog and wondered what he was.Such a sweet face.

    Dianne,
    Mine got along famously with my cat. They would groom each other. Only cat like thing they won't do is bury their poop.

    Janie B.
    Glad someone else knew a Basenji up close and personal.
    Got to go with you with terriers. Mighty dog is a terrier mix. Our families first dog was a toy fox terrier. These dogs are brilliant. Our Susie lived for 14 years. I grew up with her and she was like a sibling.

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  20. My choice for an all around cattle working dog would be our Border Collie X McNabb. He is always a gentleman, and is loved by all who meet him. Get him out with the cattle and he can't be beat. My new pup is a Scottie, and he is just plain full of piss & vinegar. This is the second one I've had. They are great pets.
    I have seen a Basenji, as I worked for a vet for a number of years. Your discription was right on.

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  21. I dunno.. I'm not a dog lover :(

    But I wanna marry this Basenji !! Sounds too good to be a doggy. Looks like I'm starting to develop a liking for animals thanks to your endearing posts ;)

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  22. Brighid,
    Oh dear, if you worked for a vet, I am sure you saw the surly side of a Basenji. You would be making them do what they didn't want to and that does not bring out their best side.
    I enjoy watching dogs work cows. They really love their jobs.
    Scotties are terriers and I love the breed with Mighty being some sort of terrier combination. He has aged passed the piss and vinegar stage. Now it is "if you aren't quick enough, he pisses the floor."

    lostworld,
    I am still laughing, that is just too funny. They are quiet and self cleaning,good traits for a hubby.
    Hang around, I may get you over the hump to animal enjoyment yet and if I don't that is OK too. They aren't everyone's cup of tea.

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