How I 'trained' my Basenji 'Antigone'

  • My dog Antigone was named after the Protagonist in the Sophocles Play by the same name. My 'Wild Thing' would rather die than negotiate but I got around this by taking her to the Horse farm and letting her pack with older well trained dogs. Antigone learned her manners from 2 dogs; one was a 15 year old Mutt called 'Fletcher' and the other dog was a 2 year old Labrador called 'Norman'. She learned the ropes from them. She climbed trees (and once got stuck too high so we had to call the Fire Department to get her down!) and chewed everything that she could get into her mouth.

    She adored Cats, and being raised with a Wolf she adored those too. She did think all Canines must die and had little use for them as she considered herself a Lupine. She had been attacked 4 times by German Shepherd dogs that were off leash. I had to squeeze the Jaw of the last one until the pain she was feeling from my hand caused her to release my dog.

    I lost my Tiggy on June 29, 2014 and I have been depressed beyond imagination. She beat Cancer for over 2 years but because she was 15.5 years old she had a relapse. Several Vets tested and evaluated and all were in agreement that she would not survive another surgery.

    I met Tiggy when she was 3 days old on December 26. 1998. We were inseparable from the moment I brought her home. She was a gorgeous Tri Color and her parents were imported from Africa and appeared in the PBS film 'Urban Basenjis'. I would like to find a breeder and try to find another Tri Color female. I never bred her because she was such a horrible puppy I knew I would have to keep all of the puppies because I could never trust anyone to be a crazy as I am!

    My training method worked like a charm. She was a terrible escape artist so I gave up trying to use a crate of any kind. I love the breed and I just want another. I did a great job of caring for her throughout her life; one vet said she had never seen such an old Basenji. We thought that she may have been the oldest living Basenji but I will never know.

    Please let me know if there are Breeders in NJ, PA, or NY because I can get there to see them. I would like to put a deposit on a puppy if possible. I don't ever find any dogs in Rescue.



  • She was lovely, I'm so sorry for your loss and pain. It sounds like you had a wonderful life together. Not sure how many breeders are still on Forum, but there is a BCOA Facebook page, if you are on facebook, you might contact someone that way. OR go to the Basenji Club of America web site for a list of breeders in your area. My sympathy on your loss, and hopefully you can find another 'monster baby' to help fill the hole in your heart again!

  • Go to and search for breeder directory to find breeders in your area

  • How very sad, but it sounds like you two had a wonderful life together. good luck in your search for your next basenji.

  • Hope you find another Basenji to full your heart and mind for another 15 years. She was beautiful, Tri's are so elegant.

    Jolanda and Kaiser

  • Thanks Jolanda (and Kaiser),

    I miss her more than any animal I have ever had. I rescue Horses, Cats, Dogs, and Wolves. Antigone loved the Wolves. I think because I have so much experience rehabilitating ALL the rescues I will buy a pup from a Breeder to do Breed Conservancy. I have lived with one of the little terrorists so I know what they do.

    This breed is 'Critically Endangered' so I am going to Breed the next dog. I will be very careful about who gets the Puppies (family and friends only because I would fear for the Pups' lives!

    I have lost a lot of pets in my life but no loss has hit me as hard as losing Tiggy. She was very sweet and absolutely hilarious. I think it will take a long time for me to get past this, and even longer to find a Tri-Color female puppy. I hope not!

    Thanks so much for your kind words,


  • It is always sad to lose a pet (I have had dogs, cats, horses, and Wolves) but losing Tiggy is the absolute worst. I gave her a great life and she gave me love, she 'fussed' over me and she was very bonded to me and I to her. I love all my animals but Antigone was one of a kind. She was a force of Nature and found the strength to be on her feet trotting around the Vet's office. She did not want to sit still so I let her trot around the room. When the Vet came to give her the sedative, she was on my lap then. I kissed her and told her how sorry I was that I could not help her. She put her face in my chest and sighed and when they gave her the Barbiturate she died on my lap.

    I am starting the search soon because I am moving and I want to wait until I am all set at my new home. Puppies are not born until December so if I can find a Breeder I will put a deposit on a puppy and train that one exactly how I trained Tiggy,

    Thanks so much!


  • Thanks Pat!!!

    Do you Breed them? I am going to check the links now!


  • Hi Anne,

    I will check out the BCOA on Facebook even though I get so much mail from the site because I rescue horses. I have pared it down to 50 folks I want mail from but that site is a mess.

    They ARE monster babies but THAT is exactly what I love about them. The 'Take No Prisoners' attitude, the little arguments when they stomp their little front legs to let you know they are not happy, and so many other things they do makes them eternally fascinating. She was the ONLY animal I ever paid for. I get owner surrenders or buy the horse for $1.00 because that is the legal peppercorn. I fell in love with Tiggy when she was 3 days old and was devoted to her the moment I saw her.

    I am going to check out the links and also go on Facebook!

    Thank you so much!!!


  • I would not say basenji are endangered at all, they just require preplanning to get on a waiting list and get a healthy animal. Of course, only AKC registered should be bred, unfortuantley there are plenty of back yard breeders trying to pass off other registries as legit. Remember you cannot do the hip Xray to determine if the hips are good until the dog is two, that gives you plenty of time for the Fanconi direct Test, PRA test, Thyroid test, OFA eye exams etc. Reputable breeders will provide the name of the sire and dam so you can verify on the site that all the required health tests have been done.

    How familiar are you with showing? Most breeders will insist on a coownership on any pups sold and require that the dog be a finished champion in the show ring before breeding is considered, of course assuming that all the health tests come back acceptable. Normally if the dog is not going to be shown, the contract will require that the bitch is spayed.

  • Sorry for your loss….but I have to say- Basenji's aren't all

  • I did some research and these dogs are definitely an Endangered Species. Please see:

    Meet the breeders who made a pilgrimage to the Congo to save the smart, quick Basenji from extinction.

    When I find my next Basenji I will not show her. I show my horses but cannot run as my left leg is 1/3 of an inch shorter than the right leg. I broke the leg by slipping on ice in the driveway and had to have the leg rebroken and a bone graft taken from my left hip bone.

    I am able to ride because I can adjust the leathers so my feet are even in the Stirrups and I rescue off track Thoroughbred Horses who are very fast. The first time I get on I don't use a saddle of any kind because I have really good balance and some of these horses are terrified of Saddles.

    I will spay my dog when she is around 6 months old. I loved my dog and I love the breed but breeders in my area are hard to find. I can deal with the House Destruction, the DVD and CD chewing, the wire chewing (even though they are all wrapped in Electric tape) and even when a skirt from one suit is shredded and the Jacket is still hanging in the closet. The Cat used to pop open the Closet door & I was always in the shower when she was committing her 'crimes'!

    Thanks so much for the information, I truly appreciate it!



  • Hi Chealsie,

    The breed is most definitely an Endangered Species. Please see:

    Meet the breeders who made a pilgrimage to the Congo to save the smart, quick Basenji from extinction.

    There are a good number in the US but not so many in other Countries. Even in the US they have been cross bred which is never a good idea. So, Worldwide the Basenji is an Endangered Species.

    Thanks for the condolences, it means a lot to me.



  • First of all, condolences on the loss of your dog.

    Basenjis an endangered species? I don't think there is much evidence of that, but possibly in their native land. In this part of the world I think the numbers are likely increasing.

    I am curious about your statement re: off the track thoroughbreds being afraid of saddles. Certainly you can ride them bareback if you choose, but I've ridden lots of them, and have not noticed any fear of saddles while tacking up. The biggest issue I found with such horses was their inclination to walk off when being mounted, as they are accustomed to jockeys being boosted on while they are in motion. It does take a bit of work to get them used to standing quietly, as some aren't happy with the pull on the girth if you mount from the ground.

  • We have numerous PB Basenjis in the US but more crosses than Purebred. They are not common in any other part of the world ergo they are critically endangered all over the World. It is sad that the backyard breeders cross their dogs because the Basenji really is endangered.

    My off track Thoroughbreds have been beaten to get them into the Chute while at the Track. I do not introduce them to a saddle until I am comfortable riding them bareback. That does not take long as they trust me pretty quickly. When I rescue a horse that horse is turned out ONLY with my 23 year old Quarterhorse gelding. They stay with him for a while as he protects them and he teaches them 'the ropes' as they say. He is a huge horse and has always been my Babysitter and he always makes himself the Herd Manager.

    I have been rescuing horses for 20 years and have been riding since I was a child. Horses do not scare me and when they know that their games of intimidation (which I ignore) do not work with me, they stop rather quickly. Also, not owning a Crop or a Whip helps because those are suspect items. You must have gotten your horses via a Private sale because the Auction horses are all in horrible condition. They all have Threshold Anxiety and all, and I mean all, are full of Drugs which they have to Withdraw from. That is horrible to see. They all need to put a substantial amount of weight on and when they are 'fully covered' that is when I start riding them. Eventually they are trained as Dressage Horses. They are gorgeous! 🙂


    Antigone 🙂

  • Most of the OTT Thoroughbreds I have ridden belonged to a friend who raised Thoroughbreds for many years. They were started on the farm and the ones that didn't make it at the track came back to pursue new careers as eventers, jumpers, and dressage horses. Drugs are unfortunately a fact of life at the race track. One of the nice things about horses that have spent time at the track is that most are utterly bomb proof regarding noise, machinery, etc. Taking them on trail rides can initially be challenging, however, as they are not used to nature! If you hang around the track a bit you learn interesting things, e.g. race horses are "short racked" for grooming and tacking, are unaccustomed to cross ties, and are used to having their feet picked out from the near side. Once back at the farm, they adjust pretty quickly and are generally quiet horses to work around. In my experience, well handled horses have no fear of the dressage whip, and it is extremely useful with horses that are not accustomed to leg aids.

    I sure understand you wanting to get the weight back on them before riding bareback! I spent more time on my Arabs bareback than tacked, but they were nice and round and comfortable.

    We are way off topic here, apologies for that.

  • Sorry for the off topic post & I will refrain from doing it again! 🙂

    None of my horses are ''bombproof" but I am used to my huge Quarterhorse spooking for fun. I got him when he was a Colt & the woman who owned him would beat him to get him to the block. I saw his hind end first and when he turned his head I said 'Hello handsome, what's your story?'

    The owner insisted he could not be ridden and I bet her I could ride her horse. She was getting ready to take him to a sale (Killer Auctions here) so when I bet her I knew I could ride him AND I had a huge audience so I would be sure she would hand over his papers and accept my check for One Dollar. That is the legal peppercorn.

    'Cuz I'm Impressive' aka 'Willie' is one of the last of the Impressive sons. Talk about genetics and illness, Impressive had a rogue gene called HYPP which causes the cell walls to leak the fluid in them. Eventually the horse looks like they are having seizures but they aren't. They have to be put down because as the disorder progresses they cannot walk. I got lucky, my horse is HYPP double negative.

    It is the same end for the Basenjis that have that Franconi's disease. I was very fortunate because my dog was healthy from the second she was born. I take excellent care of all of my animals & the horses cost me a small fortune every month because I pay $1400.00 in BOARD. They are in a safe place with folks that know what they are doing and they can deal with my gigantic Candian Thoroughbred Mare. She is a Liver chestnut and she looks like an enormous Coco Puff, that cereal. She is very bossy & I ride her several times per week so she is used to going through the routine. I free lease the horses and I am very strict and I get requests all the time but if they can't sit a horse at the local riding stable then there is NO way they can sit any of my horses.

    My dog adored horses! She used to hang out with Willie when he took his afternoon naps in the summertime. She climbed onto his belly and slept soundly. He would wake her up by nudging her with his nose. I miss her terribly. Hug your dog and pet your horses for me!


    Antigone 🙂

  • First, they really are not endangered. While the ones in Africa have an issue of more populations and previous isolated packs intermingling, trust me there are enough PURE BLOODED basenjis that came out of Africa. They are not mixed, they are pedigreed lines back to africa, basenji to basenji. FAR from in any way being endangered. And while some are in fact getting dogs out of Africa, I assure you those are not being given up for pets and most do not make the cut to enter the registry. You can read up on all that here if you are interested. It sounds like you think the only "pure" are straight from Africa and what is here are mixed breeds. In reality, what is in Africa wasn't strictly a breed as far as a registry and only certain dogs, it was a type, held closely related due to geographic considerations. Those brought out as foundation stock have not been breed to non-basenji… they are in fact the same bloodlines brought out of Africa and regardless of what you are confusing on Animal planet, they are not near extinction as a breed. Furthermore, while many pups are born in Dec. you may want to know that some are born months before and months after and some even (though not the norm) have summer litters also although MOST have only one cycle. Since this is already July, getting on a breeder list is a good idea, but be prepared to wait another year as many already had a list for this year's litter. Just be sure you make sure the parents are Fanconi clear or a clear and carrier. Only one rescue is testing for that at this time (Pam Hamilton, Camp Basenji in Florida), so your best bet is with responsible breeders if you want a healthy puppy. Please also consider older (6 mos or older) dogs as both rescues and breeders often have older puppies or adults needing a wonderful home.

    Second, as pointed out, responsible breeders are not going to permit you to outright buy and breed. They require all the testing and titles… and even if you cannot go in the ring, if you really want to breed, get a handler. Or simply get a pet and spay.

    Third... as a person who has bred (not basenjis, I bred rottweilers), I have to honestly say your blithe comments quoted below would make you not a safe home based simply on your own words. These are not funny, they are life-risking behaviors. It isn't training to just leave them loose, it is training to find a way to make them safe and secure. That your dog didn't get electrocuted or swallow something resulting in intestinal blockage and possible death was simply luck. Good owners of the breed aren't those who can put up with them doing whatever they want... good owners are those who work with this strong-headed breed to make sure you keep them safe. It is so very obvious you love your animals, but I do suggest you reevaluate what good training is and determine to make sure your next dog does learn to be crate trained for it's safety and to find places to have your dog where you decrease loose ones attacking it... or carry whatever measure you need to stop them getting close be it a plastic baseball bat, loud speaker, spray, etc.

    chewed everything that she could get into her mouth.

    She had been attacked 4 times by German Shepherd dogs that were off leash.

    My training method worked like a charm. She was a terrible escape artist so I gave up trying to use a crate of any kind.

    I can deal with the House Destruction, the DVD and CD chewing, the wire chewing (even though they are all wrapped in Electric tape) and even when a skirt from one suit is shredded and the Jacket is still hanging in the closet.<<<

  • You are mixing up endangered (being the sheer number of them), with a lack of genetic diversity. They are rarer to see but again, that is different than endangered. The reason we go to the Congo and bring Basenji's back is to increase the genetic diversity. If anything, in their native land in the Congo of Africa…there may not be as many as other continents but they are still very much a way of life as independent hunters for their tribes. For you to say they are endangered in Africa but not the US, that doesn't make sense, endangered is an encompassing factor. There are also reputable Basenji breeders in all areas of the world....Canada,Germany,Sweden, Netherlands...just to name a few...If you aren't saying that and you are saying that most of the Basenji's out there are mixed blood, that also isn't true. Animal planet is a poor resource for accurate information (just watch their DOGS101 episode...which contains some bad facts as well as leaves out important information about the breed). A better reference would be the BCOA website in which you can read the truth about Basenji history- the area they originated was an isolated area preventing the mixing of other breeds, preserving their heritage. I personally am not arguing on the basis that you shouldn't breed or show your dog (you do what you want)...but for a domestic species (of which a Basenji is), labeling them as endangered is inaccurate. The more appropriate labeling would be "rare" of at risk of not being "genetically diverse"

  • I think you misunderstand me. My dog was never off leash and there is a leash Law were I live. I would pick her up and put my leg on the aggressive dog until the very sorry lawbreaking owner came and got it, She was into all sorts of things the first week that I had her. During that week I 'Basenji proofed' my home and although she did tremendous damage during the first week, each day I accommodated for what she was chewing and removed it.

    I do not have one thing that is available to any dog be it a Basenji or not. I am a responsible animal steward and have been rescuing horses for 20 years, I have rescued Wolves (neutered males dumped in the Dog Pound) because they are Legal where I live. I have rescued over 20 Cats and saved a litter of Feral cats from a neighbor who was going to poison them. I kept them for 6 Months as that is how long it took me to find a Feral cat Colony which was owned by a woman with a 40 acre farm. I paid her $800.00 for the Spay and Neuter because the Vets would not touch them.

    You do not know me and I do not know you. I will get a Basenji when the time is right for me. I am going to grieve the loss of my dog for a very long time. Having them Pack with older dogs is a method that people are now using for stress free training in my area of the Country.

    I wish you the best.

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