I so want another, but I dont want my heart broken again !

Hi all,

First post and it's going to be a long one ! But I owned a B for 4 years, and due to a housefire on new years eve one day, I had to let him go back to the breeder. However, our time wasn't perfect together. Yes letting him go absolutely broke my heart and still hurts (4 years ago now but he was MY dog). So Im afraid it's quite a story !

Firstly, I wasn't new to dogs, but it was my first Basenji. Before jumping in, I read a great deal. Then I made contact with owners from the Basenji Breeders club here in the UK. I spoke with a very reputable breeder and agreed to visit her and see her dogs first, have a long chat and go from there.

Many chats later I decided to get a Basenji. My search took a while but I eventually got my little boy, he was from a very reputable breeder and sired from champions. The breeder inspected my home and we were given a puppy, full papers, health checked etc.

My family consisted of two cats and a wife. We had a baby when my B was 1 year old. Never had a problem with the cats or baby.

In the early days, I took him to socialisation events, the local park and trained him regularly. I live next to a forest, and he enjoyed daily runs there. Sure if it was raining he looked at me is if the rain was my fault ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

But then I started to experience issues with him trying to be the alpha male. Eventually after much training and arguments ! He accepted I was the alpha male and he was second in command with the wife. Still no issues with the kids and by this point we had two. But he got progressively worse and it became a jekyll and hyde syndrome. He was laying between my legs fast asleep one evening then out of absolutely nowhere, he flipped ! That evil look in his eyes, growling, showing teeth !!!

I had spent so much time training him, that he would sit, lie down, stay, walk to heel of the leash and I would let him off in the forest too. He loved it, didn't go far and always came back. I know this isn't normal protocol for a B, but gives you an idea of how much time and effort I had put in with him.

But he still had these scary jekyll and hyde moments, I could no longer trust him around other people.

Then just after christmas one year, the thermostat failed on a three week old dishwasher, it caught fire and I lost the contents of my house. The dog was fine but we lost our cats. We then moved into temporary accomodation and the Basenji went to a friendly kennel I knew. Soon after I spoke with the breeder and she took him back. She knew of the troubles I was having and so being reputable, she collected him.

Anyway, I am now at the point where I am thinking of another dog, and I do so adore the Basenjiโ€ฆ.but I dont want my heart broken again. I lost all the possessions in my house, yet the only thing I cried over was losing my little boy. Still hurts today.

So I would welcome realistic comments on the Basenji as a breed for family life. I still have two children and two cats. I can give a dog a good home, regular walks in a nice forest, I can take him\her to work etc

I still blame myself for failing with my Basenji, but my wife does feel there was something wrong with him to be so docile one minute and a devil the next. Is this possible ??? I do honestly feel I was responsible and I did everything I could, but who knows.

Any feedback gratefully received.

I still miss you buddy.........:(

OK, sounds very familiar. We got a bonded pair about 4 years before we had kids. Kidogo and Lia. When our daughter came along, he seemed to adjust to her, but we NEVER left her alone with him. One day she was running and fell on top of him and he snapped and caught her check. It was a mess, he ended up going to live with my husband's parents. Our daughter continues to love dogs to this day. Later after a couple of more Basenji's came and went to the bridge in our lives, we obtained puppy Timi for my son, and 2 weeks later, after losing my 17 year old female Magic, we added her brother Cory at 12 weeks. Timi was a love bucket from day one and never changed. She was a wonderful mom and we could handle her pups from day one. Cory had an old soul, he never really played as much as our other B pups. And he was definitely a one family dog. It made showing him a bit of a problem, but between his breeder and I keeping control in the ring he received all his points but his majors. He just up and decided that showing was no fun, and he never cooperated again in the ring. Never growled of anything, just would not work. In our home, we always had to have a hand on him when our teenage son and all of his friends went running in and out of the house. Because he wanted all those invaders to leave his house. He wore a muzzle alot, he never actually bit anyone, but we were always to scared to allow even the smallest chance of his hurting anyone. Our vet is very understanding and always let me handle him, as well as all our other Bs, and Cory growled every visit. And on the day we took him to help him across the bridge, he gave a very weak growl at the vet, just to let him know he was still the King. We have had other basenjis, males, Gambit, who was a large boy, a marmaduke who never really developed any grace of movement, but had such a huge loving heart, no alpha in him at all. Kell, our failed foster, is also a love machine. He is the first in years that we have not raised ourselves, so he has had to learn to live with people, and we still confound him sometimes I think, I know this is rambling, but there is a B out there for you, probably in rescue. They are all the same and yet so very different. Spend time with the B, with parents if available. My heart has broken every time one of mine has crossed the bridge. We have been B slaves for over 30 years now, and even though it brought pain, that pain has been softened by so many wonderful memories of each and every one of them. I say go find the right B for your family, you all need to be in on the search. Again, apologies for going on so long.

Hi Matt from another UK member. I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your Cats and also having to let your Basenji go.
Maybe Buddy had a thyroid problem or something else medicaly wrong to make him change so dramaticaly.
I do think that Basenjis are not the calmest of breeds and need careful handling.
Our first Basenji whom was born in 1993, so some years ago had a very difficult temperament, he was a rescue when we got him so not sure what his first 3 years were like. He could however go from being calm to a devil dog very quickly, there was always a reason but it was still scary.
We now have a 16 month old bitch and a 16 week old dog. I can see that the temperament has improved but we still do have snarky moments, usualy if they are disturbed whilst sleeping.
BTW welcome to the forum

Thanks for the posts, and no deschroedter you weren't rambling ๐Ÿ˜‰

At the time, I knew nothing of the possible thyroid problem. Wish I knew back then !

Basenjis are such wonderful, enchanting little buggers !!!

Maybe I will make contact with a couple of breeders, have a long chat with them. I want any B I have to have a happy life but also be a family pet. I really want another dog, but the problem is there is no other breed out there that I want !!!

So is it possibly the case that there are just Basenjis that can be a little jekyll and hyde irrespective of lineage ? My little boy was of impeccable breeding.

I still kinda blame myself, but all the work I put in meant that I was very close to him.

Could you contact the same breeder? Just out of curiousity, did the breeder rehome the dog?

I don't know what kind of training methods you used, but it is possible when trying to train a dog to be "submissive" that instead, you train him to supress his natural warning system. So then it can look like the dogs just snaps for no reason. For example, if you reprimand or punish a dog for growling, the dog may learn not to growl, but when feeling threatened go straight to snapping/attacking. Again, I don't know if that was the case at allโ€ฆhe may have had health issues that caused erratic behavior...or maybe he had some sort of mental problem.

Either way, I am sorry for your loss, I can tell that you really loved and miss him.

Hi Quercus,

I couldn't bring myself to contact the breeder, I'm a little shocked it's still painful so many years on.

He would still growl sometimes, move too near his bed when he was dozing and you would get the warning growl. I think that's fair enough, I'm the same at 7:00am ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

I never hit him with anything, nor used any aggressive training methods like shock collars - can't say I agree with them. Training was mostly reward based and exercise him enough to keep him from frustration. He had great times in the forest ๐Ÿ™‚ He was a terrible hunter, I'd see a rabbit before he did - then he would see it. Next thing I would see was the rabbit going in one direction at full speed and him going in completely the opposite direction at full speed ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Just out of curiousity, did you ever have his hearing and vision checked? Basenjis are typically good hunters especially when they see the gameโ€ฆ I would wonder if his eyesite was OK?

Hi Tanza,

Er no I didn't, just thinking back to anything that may have happened to suggest a sensory impairment. Well, besides being a terrible hunter ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Nothing springs to mind yet, but I will keep thinking about it ๐Ÿ™‚

When I get a new rescue in and they are aggressive and/or have socialization issues, I have a thyroid test done and then an eye exam. I find it difficult to pick up on sight problems since dogs can adapt well.

I train my Bs to get used to touching while they are laying down and once they are used to that then start touching them while they are sleeping.

Jennifer

I have had many b's over the years, this b of yours sounds like he might have had some physical issues.
We hope to hear of your finding a new b soon.

so much to think about!!!!

I had the most docile male B, Congo. He was sooo laid back except, of course, when the couch needed a good de-stuffing! But, he NEVER got aggressive and was happy to be at the bottom of the pack.

I now have a 3 year old boy, Hunter, a BRAT rescue. He is the most precious b but he has guarding issues. He guards me against my husband and guards the bed and has gotten into a couple nasty tussles with my female b. But he knows I am the Queen of the Roost but it has taken a lot of work and patience.

My point is that all b's are different. It's possible that something was amiss with him or that he just wasn't a perfect fit for your family. Don't blame yourself, it was just one of those things. You are looking in the right place for ideas. This Forum is full of them!!!

Good luck and can't wait for you to post pics of your new b!!!

Thanks again for your posts ๐Ÿ™‚

I have been reading the forum quite a bit since yesterday, and it has helped a lot. I will investigate further because I would love another. TBH the main reason I haven't contacted the breeders I spoke with before is because I don't want to be viewed as just another inexperienced B owner that failed his dog. I really did put in an awful lot of effort, but maybe it was just one of those things.

I may post pics of my little boy but more excitingly, pics of a new B ! If the breeders will let me have one ๐Ÿ˜‰

Im sure people wont judge you on the problems with your last dog. It sounds like you really did persevere with him as much as you could. With 2 children in the house it certainly wasnt an ideal situtation.

When I was looking for a basenji I definately went on temperment. A few I saw actually biting their owners/handlers at shows (!!) so that put me off those particular lines. The one I ended up with has fitted perfectly into my home, she's a proper lapdog and loves everyone (including my young nephews and the neighbours young children!) but I can imagine how disheartening it is to have a dog be so unpredictable. Since reading this forum I have learned a lot about the various problems that can affect basenji's to the point of altering their temperments quite dramatically. I wouldnt be surprised if you boy did have a thyroid problem, or some other underlying issue, but it doesnt change the fact that you did the best you could for him with the information you had at the time ๐Ÿ™‚

I would recommend going along to some shows and seeing which basenji's you like, have a chat to the owners, find out who's breeding and what litter you might want a pup from. I would advise getting on a waiting list ASAP if you find a breeder you like.

Welcome to the forum too by the way ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

If you're worried about temperment, I would highly suggest a young adult and not a puppy. If the dog is 3 with a nice temperment, what you see is pretty much what you get.

Thanks again for your replies, it's all being listened to ๐Ÿ™‚

@agilebasenji:

If you're worried about temperment, I would highly suggest a young adult and not a puppy. If the dog is 3 with a nice temperment, what you see is pretty much what you get.

Probably a very sensible idea, I'll make contact with the rescue orgnasation here in the UK ๐Ÿ™‚

Fingers, toes and limbs crossed !!!

I think , from what I have seen on this forum and from my personal experience that basenjis have a tendency to act that way sometimes. they tend to be very dominant and express it sometimes with a growl and teeth, especially towards other larger dogs. It tends to stay there'd though and rarely escalates My experience with that came at an early age three months and had to do with resource guarding a piece of rawhide. You can imagine my shock, my last dog was a great Dane. I was shocked, and offended and quite honestly, a little scared. My great Dane would never have done that at me. Never. But I think without knowing I handled it well. Not by punishing him or yelling at him, but by simply refusing to accept it and continue to address him until I took it away. Then I gave it back after a few sit and down commands and did it again and again. I have never had problems with that again ever. I think we tend to freak out because it's scary and a little offensive for " our babies " to suddenly do that, so we tend to see more into it then there really is. Again is has been my experience and I know some dogs have serious behavior issues or health issues that need professional help, but my experience was that as sson as I got over the shock of the actual behavior I realized it was not such an issue and in my case was easily solvedโ€ฆ. So far, I hope he doesn't change he is only a year and a half now..

@dmey:

I think , from what I have seen on this forum and from my personal experience that basenjis have a tendency to act that way sometimes. they tend to be very dominant and express it sometimes with a growl and teeth, especially towards other larger dogs. It tends to stay there'd though and rarely escalates My experience with that came at an early age three months and had to do with resource guarding a piece of rawhide. You can imagine my shock, my last dog was a great Dane. I was shocked, and offended and quite honestly, a little scared. My great Dane would never have done that at me. Never. But I think without knowing I handled it well. Not by punishing him or yelling at him, but by simply refusing to accept it and continue to address him until I took it away. Then I gave it back after a few sit and down commands and did it again and again. I have never had problems with that again ever. I think we tend to freak out because it's scary and a little offensive for " our babies " to suddenly do that, so we tend to see more into it then there really is. Again is has been my experience and I know some dogs have serious behavior issues or health issues that need professional help, but my experience was that as sson as I got over the shock of the actual behavior I realized it was not such an issue and in my case was easily solvedโ€ฆ. So far, I hope he doesn't change he is only a year and a half now..

I like all of that

Years ago, when Cory came to us he was not but about 3 months old. As he matured, and became the alpha 4 legged member of the household, he thought he owned the food in the house and would snap occassionally. I do not tolerate biting dogs. So we had lessons everyday, I would sit on the floor with a bone, something he really loved and wanted badly. I would make him sit, give it to him, let him chew a minute of so, then would take it from him. This did not make him happy and he would growl and act like he would grab it back. I would tell him no, sit, and you are not alpha over me, I have always been head "bitch" here. We would do this every day, until I could take it away from him without a reaction. My son asked why I was doing this everyday. I had to explain, that I expected to be able to take anything out of a dog's mouth at any time, since, especially with Bs, you never knew what they would get into to, and could possibly hurt themselves. And as a show prospect, he had to allow other people access to his mouth. It took awhile, Cory was a stubborn boy, but we came to an agreement, and though he might warn off one of the other Bs, people could take anything from him. He might sulk afterwards, but he never did growl about it again. The breed has changed a lot since Cory was bred, the temperments have been improving, but they can still do unexpected things. good luck in finding the right match for your family.

Hello Matt I feel I have to answer you I also live in the uk and I have experenced the same thing with my boy I tried everything I thought, even had him castrated, but he was still the same then another breeder suggested I get his thyroid checked at first the test came back normal but they did say the lab had said there was a more intensive test so I had that done -result low thyroid he is now on 1 tablet a day and what a difference he has gone back to be a very loving boy no more problems I noticed in dec he started bein a bit funny again retested and he just needed his dose up a little since then no problems at all just a beautiful boy

I don't think you should be put off just because of problems with your previous Basenji. He could, as others have said, have had a physical problem. Get your new Basenji from a reputable breeder and then make sure that you socialise him/her well and make sure that he/she encounters as many different environments as possible. Good socialisation is the key to many issues. You will, having had problems have been made more aware. There is much advice on this forum on dealing with various issues. If your breeder is conscientious and experienced he/she will be available at all times with good advice and will be able to guide you through any problemsd that may arise.

Much of the behaviour Jess mentions is due to the owners and not their Basenjis. There have been temperament issues in the past but mainly due to lack of intimate knowledge of the breed. It is rarely (apart from physical problems) due to the actual dog (although there have been instances). In the early days people had had little experience and treated them as 'just a dog' which Basenjis are most definitely not!

I'm sure Shelley will agree that her earlier experiences with a 'difficult' Basenji have helped no end in the way she has brought up her present two. I would also caution Shelley when she is told that dogs in the pedigree of her first Basenji were of doubtful temperaments. The first question I'd ask is whether the person who told her this was actually the breeder of the dogs mentioned.

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