I found this article and thought it an EXCELLENT read for those considering to rescue, foster or purchase a Basenji as I know I could most certainly learn from his observed wisdom and advice (this is from the Basenji Rescue and Transport website). There is no date on when this was posted.:
*I happened to visit your website—I was trying to tell a friend at work about the Basenjis—and did a little searching on the Internet. Having lived for a year in a small village in rural eastern Zaire (now Republic of Congo again) in central Africa, in the midst of Basenjis, I would like to interject some thoughts concerning the descriptions of the breed and its habits on your site and elsewhere.
The description of Basenjis as African “wild dogs” is totally incorrect. There are wild dogs in Africa, but they are not similar in the least to Basenjis. Basenjis are domestic animals. Although not cared for in the manner we expect for pets here (people there don't often live that well), they do live with families and are fed and housed by them in their homes. They are prized as hunting dogs and protective companions. They also keep the yard free of rats, snakes, etc. The Basongye people that I lived with, and other Congolese people, praised them for their bravery and intelligence. They hand craft various sorts of soft bells for them to wear to keep track of their whereabouts. They feed them from their own meals, although they must supplement their diet with mice and other critters that frequent the property.
Basenjis in the small village I lived in were socialized in the manner of domestic dogs elsewhere. Like all domestic animals there, they are allowed to roam freely, but also know where home is and spend much of their time there, including in the hut/house. They sleep at home. They are bonded and loyal to particular individuals or families of people—not just general village dogs.
I did observe that Basenjis are highly intelligent, curious, and physically coordinated dogs. The people in my village were well aware of their clever and somewhat mischievous nature, but that happens to be a quality that is more tolerated and actually somewhat prized there, among both people and animals. I never once saw or heard of a person bitten or otherwise terrorized by a Basenji, although it was known to happen in the context of a burglary or assault against their owner. I never observed a Basenji damage its owner's property, as seems to be a problem for owners here.
I am suspicious that a fair amount of the problems associated with Basenjis in the U.S. have to do with the manner in which they are being raised, handled and trained. They would certainly suffer in behavior by being “spoiled” (let on the furniture, fed from the table, too much silly attention), being trained too little and too lightly and, especially, by not having enough challenging work and physical activity. These are by nature, highly active, physically tough hunting dogs that need the same sort of mentally and physically demanding work and play that other sporting dogs need. Like other active, sporting breeds, they are bound to cause trouble if they are expected to be couch potatoes, lap dogs, yard dogs, etc. They should live in a home, but get lots of serious brain and muscle work outdoors to match their abilities.
Based on my experience around Basenjis in their native home, and by the sound of the comments I read from owners on your website and other American owners that I've met, I suspect that what the Basenji breed in this country needs is recognition of their fundamental character and the chance to excel as field and working dogs. Attention to this character should be paid by breeders, trainers and owners.
Please consider posting my comments on your site. I hope that they might inspire some thought and discussion.
Exploration Geologist, New Ventures