Hello to All - New Basenji Mom needs help!

  • My name is Kirsten and I have a 3 year old border collie, a ragdoll cat, and a new, one year old basenji named Maddy Keller. I adopted Maddy Keller from the local pound. I thought she was some interesting type of mix. I didn't know that Basenji could look like this. After looking into the Basenji breed, Maddy Keller seems ALL Basenji.

    I also didn't know that she was deaf. I saw this calm, quiet, intelligent looking little girl who needed a home. She was a little mouthy and completely untrained so I knew I was getting a fixer upper. All I knew of her history was that she was adopted out once from the pound and then again picked up as a stray. They traced her back to her new family through her microchip. They did not want her back!!!!!! She is a sweet little girl who while I was typing this just cleaned my dinner plate for me. Maddy has shown much improvement with learning sign language, potty training, riding in cars, going to work, living in an apartment with another dog and a cat. She does however have food aggression and social issues with other dogs. She likes other dogs but she seems to have trouble with communication. I take her to the local park and have had issues with her interaction with other dogs. She and my other dog have had many altercations which I have been breaking up. Triggers are over food or when Maddy plays too rough. They are better now but my border collie seems nervous of her and avoids her. Maddy Keller tries to slink up next to her to cuddle in the dog bed. Sadly Bella wants nothing to do with her.

    I have had one session so far with a dog trainer to try to work on Maddy Kellers issues. I am considering re-homing her. I think that she has wonderful potential but the only kind of adequate excercise that I can offer her is at the local park with other dogs and that is not really going well. It's so sad. She really wants to play with the other dogs but they just don't seem to like her. I had her in the tennis courts but as the weather gets warmer this will not work. If anyone has any experience with Basenji and behavior issues of this sort mainly food aggression (she did bite me once) and dog socialization. Her deafness hasn't really been an issue but makes correcting the other issues a challenge.

    We are working with positive training techniques and she is certainly food motivated. I'm not sure that keeping her is in her best interest in the long run but I am trying to assess whether these issues can be corrected. I need some insight from those of you who are very familiar with this breed.

    Kirsten and Maddy Keller

  • It sounds to me like Maddy is actually doing very well, considering.
    I don't know how to work around deafness issue, though as most of my corrections w/my dogs are verbal or a snap of the fingers {they ignored the clicker, but responded to finger snapping. I thought that was weird}.

    I'd like to see you hang in there with her, just because she does obviously bring you joy and it's always sad to see a dog go from home to home looking for its forever place. But I understand the difficulty also.

    Good luck, and do keep us informed with your progress.

  • Maddy's Mom-I hope you don't give up so soon. Have you tried keeping her on a leash while at home to correct her unwanted behavior. Since she's deaf this may be a possibility to help her get over good aggression.

    The exercise is definitely a problem…maybe a dogwalker so she can get her exercise while she works on her social skills??

    I know lots of multiple dog owners that have issues with dogs & food. We've been working on that as well. We work on sit & stay while we prep food. No one is allowed to get anxious or near each other while we prep food. Then each dog must eat in their own crate...this helps calm down any nerves that another dog will come take my food. Before I place their food down they must sit calmly in their crate for at least 10 sec.

    It takes time...please don't give up! We're here to help in any way we can.

  • Both dogs should be fed separately and should only have chewies when they are in their crate to avoid resource guarding issues. Working with a good positive reinforcement trainer is a good start. You may want to consider an animal behaviorist to help in developing a plan to get Maddy onto the right track if just laying the foundation of training is not enough.

  • :eek: 😞 😕 Today we had another fight over nothing. I was trying to put Maddy's leash on to go out and they just started fighting. I pulled Maddy Keller back but Bella, my normally sweet little girl wasn't giving up. It took two people to break it up and this was not the norm. Luckily this time no people or animals were injured but it's only a matter of time before someone get hurt. My arm is still healing from the last time that she bit me.

    This was in the office at work so not so good in a normally sedate business. Customers get very uneasy when they hear dog fights going on in the back room. I'm not in a situation where I can easily deal with her aggression issues. I have a hearneated disk and have been laid up many times. If something happens where I can't take care of her there is nobody that I could trust her with. I live alone and my friends and family are afraid of her.

    I've read many of the comments and concerns people are having with their Basenji's and I commend their efforts and dedication to these dogs. It's definately not an easy situation and I have tried so hard and spent so much of my time and resources on her that everything else is falling apart.

    So, if anyone knows of someone who wants to adopt a one year old black and white basenji who is deaf, food aggressive, dog aggressive, semi potty trained, sweet, smart, not too destructive …please let me know. One thing everyone agrees on is she is adorable and has a sweet face.

    Thanks so much for your words of support. I do appreciate knowing that there are people who care.

  • Kirsten, you might want to contact BRAT. But I don't *think they take dogs that have bitten people because of the liability issues (though if the only time she bit was during a fight with another dog, they might make an exception? I don't know) You might return her to the shelter you adopted her from. If you decide to rehome her yourself, please be very, very, very honest with whomever adopts her. A dog like that requires a tremendous amount of management and training, and as you found out, doesn't fit into the lifestyles of most people who just want a nice pet. My guess is that is why she was returned to the shelter, and not wanted by her original owners. It is terribly, terribly sad that the shelter adopted her out without finding out why she was there.

  • I did contact Brat and filled out the relinquisment form. I just heard back from them. I did read on their website that they will try to work with dogs who have bitten. When she bit me, it was clear that she knew who she was biting and it was very intentional. The dogs were apart. She was just still wound up and mad. There was no warning. I do understand the seriousness of this type of agression. I have always owned sweet non-agressive dogs who I would never have to worry about harming anyone. I was a shelter volunteer and volunteered with the Humane Society taking care of the Katrina dogs down in LA. Mostly pit bulls. I am familiar with agressive dogs but not living with them.

    I can see the potential in Maddy Keller to be a good dog for the right home but only if the right home can be found. If not…I know that I cannot provide the right home for this dog and it is heartbreaking. Hopefully Brat can help. It is a shame that Chicago's Animal Care and Control does not have better adoption screening. She was obviously not properly assessed. Not only did they miss her deafness, ear infection, food and dog aggression, they called her a terrier lab mix. I blame this on a lack of funding and resources. It was clear when I went there that they were understaffed.

    The deafness is not a problem with training and signals, ear infections are easily treated, the agression with patience, caution, and positive training can be controlled but I cannot continue to break up dog fights in my home, on walks, at work, in the car, at the park. My dogs go almost everywhere with me.

  • I'm horribly sorry you have to give her up. Definately keep us posted. I'm interested to see if BRAT will still take her, it seems like they would but I don't have any idea.

  • << It is a shame that Chicago's Animal Care and Control does not have better adoption screening. She was obviously not properly assessed. >>

    I agree. I just went to a Sue Sternberg seminar, and I learned sooo much about screening in shelters. It is so, so critical.

    Good luck in rehoming Maddy Keller. I sure hope it works out for everyone.

  • I agree. I went to a Sarah Kalnajs seminar, http://www.bluedogtraining.com It was a really good seminar and really did show the benefits of assessing dogs, be it at a shelter, in rescue, or even for daycare situations.

  • Although I have no words of advise I do want to commend you for trying your best to give Maddy Keller a chance to have a home. I wish you the best of luck in finding her a new home.

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