"You can't do that with a Basenji!"
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  • Well, the trouble is, when I got my first one I didn't know that. :)

    Our family dog was a Shetland Sheepdog, and we had had him since I was 7 years old. When he was 14, and fell ill, I had to make the decision to put him down. I was devastated, and that was when fate took over. I hadn't really planned on another dog. I really wasn't at a good place in my life to take care of one. But then I saw a Basenji for sale in the paper, and I couldn't resist! I had read James Street's book, "Goodbye My Lady", and I had been captivated by the magical dog of the title, but I had never actually seen a Basenji. Finding that ad in the paper seemed like an omen. I had to go have a look…..and of course I brought her home.

    Here she is at my parent's house back in 1966. Note the loose dog with not even a collar on.....in an unfenced backyard in the city.


    I used to walk her off leash in the city, and she was reliable. I also took her to the place where I boarded my horses.


    She used to follow me when I rode. That was fine in the fields and woods, but I had a difficult time convincing her to stay off the road if I went down the sideroads. One memorable day she zipped off into a barnyard we were passing. I yelled at her and she came back alright…..half dragging, half carrying a chicken! Once I separated her from the chicken.....which was mad but not hurt....I headed back to the road, but Val felt we needed that chicken and went back after it. I finally hoisted her up on my horse, climbed on behind her, and rode far enough away that she stayed with me and forgot her dreams of chicken ownership, or whatever she had in mind to do with it. :D

    Val was the best Basenji I ever had, but I didn't realize at the time she was unique. Her temperament was wonderful. She was good with everyone, and especially loved children. "Back in the day", nobody trained their dogs with treats, the reward was your praise, and there were consequences for disobedience. I trained Val the same way I had trained other dogs.....and she responded well. I smacked her when she was bad and praised her when she was good. She was reliable in the house, and never gave me any grief when I took her with me......and I did that a lot. Strange people, strange house, no matter. She behaved! And she wasn't one bit dog aggressive, either.

    My girlfriend and I jumped in her VW beetle one fine day and took Val and her Boxer bitch up to the lake. We went swimming, leaving the dogs loose on the shore, and they both followed us into the water and swam with us. The other memorable aspect of that trip was that we had to run with the windows open all the time because of my friend's flatulent Boxer! :D

    I treasured Val, but I also figured out, a bit belatedly, that I was in no position to have a dog. I was dating, working full time, and leaving my girl with my mother far too often. I would have kept her regardless, but I got lucky and found a family with three children that wanted a dog. Val fit right in, and while she was glad to see me when I visited, she was content to stay in a home with children. I kept in touch with them for all of Val's life, and she had a happy and good one. They spent summers at a cottage on an island, so Val continued to have lots of room to roam. There was a little incident…..one Easter morning the kids across the street had been given a rabbit as a gift. Val spotted the rabbit, dashed across, and disgraced herself by dispatching the Easter bunny! I am glad I wasn't around for the aftermath of that one!

    Only after I acquired my next Basenji in 1975 did I discover just how unusual my first one had been. None of the others have ever quite measured up, and looking back I wish I could have enjoyed her for all of her life instead of just a brief part of it, but I know in my heart anything I could have given her could not match the joy she had with those three children.

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  • What a beautiful story and such great pictures.. thanks for sharing.. :) Val sounds like she was something really special..

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  • First Basenji's

    I just have to say I am glad to have read that wonderful story too! Thanks for sharing, I know what you mean about that first one in your life. Maybe…..but for now, loving the one I got-no matter what!...Really! :D

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  • Thank you for sharing Val with us, he was indeed a special girl! And you sacrificed so she could have a richer life.

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  • I'd like to share one more "Val" story. As I described, she was pretty perfect, but she did have her "Basenji" moments.

    Since I was living in my parent's house, I had to abide by their rules…..one of which was "no dogs on furniture". Well! Val actually did comply with the rules as long as someone was around to notice if she took any liberties. She would occasionally play games with my mother, such as leaping on the bed and crawling down under the covers, which she knew was not allowed. And when nobody was in the house, when I returned and turned the key in the lock I would hear a "thump". Upon checking, I would find a warm spot on my bed where she had been lying. (she had her own bed in a box with a cushion on the floor)

    One memorable night, I had stayed out rather late. I was over 20 years old, so I could presumably do as I wished, but living under my parent's roof I tried not to offend their sensibilities. Accordingly, I snuck in quietly, made my way to my room, took off my clothes, and slipped into bed. A bed that featured a very wet spot! Repressing my wrath, I glared at my "loyal" hound and went silently in search of dry sheets. It was the one and only time Val ever had an "accident" in the house. And it convinced me Basenjis are definitely capable of spite!!! :D

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  • What a beautiful, heartwarming story - it was wonderful to read it. I'm sure Val is never far away from you.

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  • Beautiful story. Val was indeed an unusual Basenji - taught like a "regular" dog, she behaved like a regular dog - makes you wonder. Ours are spoiled rotten and learn the "my way or the highway" way of behaving for treats real quick.

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  • What a beautiful dog and wonderful story. Yes, it is hard to give up a dog, but I also think sometimes it is the right thing.

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  • P

    Lovely to see Val and hear her stories. I know just how you must miss her even though she's been gone a long time.

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  • What a great story!
    Our Buana is so much like your Val!

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  • I love this story with pictures! Thanks for sharing!

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  • Gorgeous dog and such a great story! I loved reading it…she was something VERY special...thank you so much for sharing!!

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