Hey, everyone! I'm a graduate student living in North Carolina. My wife and I just got back to the US from Bénin, where we lived in a small town near the border with Nigeria. I was doing my Ph.D. dissertation research in cultural anthropology, and my wife was volunteering at an orphanage.
While we were there, we adopted a puppy—my first dog. We named her Cosette (my wife was reading Les misérables at the time). The dogs where we lived are semi-pariahs; most of them have "owners," but they roam free most of the day and scavenge for food. At night, they return home for some table scraps, earning their keep by barking at strangers and scaring away would-be intruders.
We knew we'd eventually want to bring our puppy home to the US, so we did our best to socialize her with people and other dogs. It wasn't easy, since both dogs and people in Bénin tend to assume that all dogs are potentially vicious. There's very little culture of keeping pets or companion animals. A lot of people found it strange that we'd want to go to the expense to take Cosette home with us, but it did earn her a name in Yorùbá, the local language: Bámidélé—"take me home" or "go home with me."
Well, little did we know we'd adopted a basenji. One of the Americans living nearby pointed it out, so we researched the breed. Sure enough, Cosette matches the basenji's description both behaviorally and physically. (The two exceptions are that she's perhaps more elongated than the breed standard, and she can bark as well as yodel.)
As a lifelong cat owner, I'm actually quite glad that my first dog is sort of kind of a cat. Cosette's now almost 10 months old, and she's adjusting well to her new life in the States. I'm eager to keep learning about these charming African beauties on the forums!
Here's Cosette in Bénin: https://basenjiforums.com/topic/14143/cosette-bámidélé
P.S. Can someone tell me how I can change my profile picture?