Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have a situation that warrants immediate attention. I'll do my best to explain the situation and then I will deliver my plea for help.
My name is Jason Newton. I am the current owner of a nearly 9yo pure bred basenji. I adopted "Tucker" from a basenji rescue organization about 5 years ago. Tucker has bitten several people, but does not fit the characteristics of an 'aggressive dog'. And, yes, I am biased because I love this dog and want to do everything I can to keep him in our home and safe. Tucker is a dog that will only bite if he is approached in fear or by a stranger without proper introduction. If ignored, he does not act aggressively at all. My wife and I chose to muzzle him about a year ago because we have an older woman who lives with us and constantly messes with the dogs because she is a drunk. Since being muzzled, we have had no incidents, but prior, he had bitten this older woman. The majorty of the bites have been minor, but a few have drawn blood. Fortunately, he has also never been reported to any authority for biting or I might have already lost him.
It is a difficult reaction to explain as I never know if someone will warrant Tucker to lash out or not. I think Tucker is a resource guarder and I am his primary resource. He also exhibits this behavior in the home, as I think the home and my wife are his secondary resource and he guards them as well. Most of our family can come and visit with no incidents, he simply has to be ignored. While ignored, he sniffs and explores and will sit down almost right on top of anyone and does not exhibit any bad behavior. But if you pet him or try to move him off of you, he might get snarky.
My wife and I had a child just 11 days ago. While Tucker ignores the child, presently, we fear that when the child becomes mobile and curious, there may be problems. Tail pulling, reaching and grabbing… We're simply not sure how Tucker would react and are fearful of the consequences should we give it a shot and find out the hard way. Additionally, while we have areas of the house gated for separation of dog and baby, we are not trusting enough in Tucker to allow him to go near the baby unattended - if at all. I sit on the couch with the baby now and Tucker lies next to me and completely ignores the baby. But it's that one time a basinette is toppled or he is on the floor in the carseat after being out that we fear. We simply can't be everywhere all the time.
Tucker was abused in his past. His tail has been torn off - he only has about 5" of is tail left. I was home number 6 for Tucker and I committed to providing him with his forever home. I was unmarried and childless at the time. At that point in time I had no idea that 5 years later I would be married and have a child.
Some of you may have seen us at a few of the meetups as we have attended 2 or 3 of them. One was at Cameron Station and the other was at Ft. Ethan Allen I think, on Old Glebe Rd. He seems to do fine in the dog park around other dogs.
Given our present living situation, we simply cannot have the dog in the house with us. We are presently building a new home and are in the permit phase as I write this. We have a contract, plans, etc. The county estimates about 6 more weeks for the permitting process. The construction schedule is 6 months beyond that. We are planning a secure dog room in our house as well as a dog run in our backyard in an effort to provide peace of mind and a means in which we can rest easy with both the dog and baby in the same house. We really want to keep the dog, but cannot at this point in time.
We are seeking the right person to foster Tucker for approximately 8 months. I do not know if this is even possible, but my heart fingers are crossed that it is. Once the new home is completed, we will reintegrate Tucker into our new home.
There are a few more things that need to be made clear. Tucker wears a muzzle in our home 24/7, except when I am home alone or he is eating. He wears a basket muzzle that allows him to drink, yawn, etc. He also suffered a lens luxation a little over a year ago and is currently taking eye drops 3 times to manage this condition. Other than that, he is a healthy dog and has a couple years left on his 3 year rabies vaccination. He is also neutered. I have been told by the rescue organizations that if they take him back and he does not pass the temperment exam, he'll not be rehomed and will be put down. This is not an option for me.
The only other option I have found is a 'takes all dogs' sanctuary in Texas. They will take tucker, but I will never see him again and this I cannot bear to swallow. As fellow basenji owners, I'm sure most of you know what it feels like to know your dogs life is at risk. It is a terrible place to be.
And, for the record, I have seen two behaviorists, one class trainer and one one-on-one trainer in efforts to rehabilitate Tucker, but all failed due to differing situations where one moment my wife tells me to get rid of the dog (like this) and then we're going to 'try again and see how it goes'. With the baby, he has to be out of the house until we can accommodate him in about 8 months. I have contacted every shelter and sanctuary in Va. All local sanctuaries are full and are not taking in additional dogs. I am avoiding the shelters because I think that, regardless of no kill or not, that Tucker might meet his end there. I simply want Tucker to be able to live out his full life and be happy (with me) in doing so.
I am reaching out to all of you in the hopes that I can find a foster for this time period or someone who might want to foster AND work with Tucker - for around 8 months. I realize this is a rather large request but I still have high hopes that networking and the community might hear my please and respond positively. Tucker will require patience and distance for a period of time to adjust.
My intent is to fully support Tucker while in foster care. Any financial or medical issues will be taken care of by me. I will also be more than willing to provide food, bedding, muzzles, leashes - anything he needs to be comfortable in foster care. I will provide the medications and the cost to cover any medications. I will provide the heartworm prescriptions and fleat/tick applications as necessary. I can even take him to the vet assuming the foster is within reasonable driving distance. I have an insurance policy with VPI and would prefer to not have to discontinue this policy - so the responsibility for vet visits and medications will be fully borne by me.
Any help would be appreciated.
(703) 867-8708 (m)