Helping our B cope with the loss of his littermate

Do you have Jimmy's collar still, or a blanket he used? Anything with his smell still on it? If so, give them to Max, especially when you have him in his crate. Hopefully it will comfort him some. Give him lots of love and attention. He's grieving and doesn't understand why Jimmy is not there any longer. Try leaving a radio on, to soft music. I leave radio on the kLove (its a modern Christian radio station). I listen to it in my car, so I know what my dogs are hearing. I know they sleep most of the time, but at times when they do wake, they hear talking or music. Did he get to smell Jimmy's body by any chance, after he had passed?

I've got the same situation. Now my boy is left alone he no longer appears to be grieving but won't be left on his own now. We are currently only leaving him for 10 minutes or so as long as one of us can hear him and get back if need be. We'll increase the time until we're able to leave him for the necessary period. We intend to use the same routine as when his sister was alive.

Whenever we leave, we keep the tv or music going so that they never really feel like we left. They are so used to us coming and going for shorter spells or just going outside to take care of outside chores that they don't get worked up when we go. Of course, we do have quite a few in the house, so they do have company. Even those that have had separation issues in other homes where they have had companions do well here, though, perhaps because we are in and out so frequently. Since you only have a day to come up with a solution, you won't be able to 'practice' the frequent going and coming that we do.
For some, the tv playing sitcom shows may make them feel like family is still 'living around them' even when they are left alone. A quick solution may be doggy daycare until you have more time to do the frequent going and coming practice. You can also set up to have a two-way communication with him instead of just a camera check. I've used Skype and FaceTime to do this. Just hearing our casual talking on FT seems to make a difference for some who didn't stir for hours until the FT audio was muted. There are also remote controlled treat dispensers so they can really think you are magic and always with them even when they can't smell you.
Hope you and Max find a solution that works!

You can definitely end up with separation anxiety in this type of situation. A dog that is used to company may not adjust well to being left alone. My Perry was crate trained but always had canine company at his breeder's. Staying alone in a crate at a new location caused him extreme anxiety which was only cured when we transitioned to leaving him loose in the house. Fortunately he turned out to be the most reliable Basenji I have ever had!

@khaipan I too am waiting as I have a Senior Cat that is a Killer. I will not be able to bring a new Pup until she passes. I keep her because I refuse to destroy a healthy animal even though she killed my fave cat of all time.

I am glad that B owners share similar separation stories. These Dogs grieve.


Its a difficult one - and a situation I am dreading as my two are now 13 and nearly 11. And extremely close. When Lovebird was run over, Donner never did get over it completely. He was pack alpha but ruled from a distance. He never joined in with the others in games or hunts, he was and remained a loner for the next 12 years. They were two when she was killed.

Since then the pack has grieved whenever Rainbow Bridge time called for one of their number but because they were always a pack - they helped each other get over their loss. Being down to the smallest pack I've ever had is going to present problems with the one who is left, I'm sure.

A new puppy - fast - might be a solution.

My condolences to those who recently lost furkids.

I am guessing that KhaiPan would not be interested in a puppy because of being at work all day. Doggie daycare is a good idea, but costly (also, you have to be careful it is a good fit for Max) . Another thought would be to consider adopting an older (tolerant) adult dog (of any breed) from a shelter or rescue group to keep Max company.

I hope he's okay. So sorry for your loss.

Sometimes their grief is being fed by yours. Work on giving him a lot more attention, exercise, learning new tricks. Basically, really truly tire him out the night before and the morning prior to leaving. If possible, try to arrange so that your and/or your partner can run home for a quick lunch/play time. Get the 2 way communications devices so you can see each other and talk to him.

I understand the costs. I had to wait after my beloved Sayblee died to get another basenji. So much expense trying to save her that it simply wasn't responsible to take on a new dog yet. A blanket or something with the smells... or wrap a new blanket around some of Jimmy's toys so that it gets the smell. Leaving that in the crate may help.

I am sorry for your loss, made doubly hard by poor Max's grief. He most certainly can feel you are grieving, but playing UP, higher happy tone, and more attention should help.

Thank you sooo much for the suggestions everyone 🙂
Right now my partner leaves for work at 10-ish and I’m out the door by 630am. Max eats and walks before I leave and then sleeps by my partner until he’s out the door.
He made it 2 hours in his crate today before starting to cry...I did obtain approval to bring him with me to work so, I’m thinking that if I increase the time he is alone/in his crate (or let him roam free like usual) by a half hour each day it might help- then I come home to pick him up and walk back to work with him for an hour or two and walk home around 330/4pm.
We can deal with separation anxiety at any point in time but, right now I want him to know he isn’t alone and will never be abandoned by us.
I will update as time goes on-

Also, thank you for the suggestion but, no puppy. We prefer adopting adults and, I’m a foster for BRaT (Pittsburgh area) so that may be a possible solution if a B comes up in my area. I have to admit I really like having a single B...the time spent is so much more personal for me.

You all are great. Thank you SO much!!

...and, yes the Max was with us when we let James Dog Kibble Bones depart. He was not interested in much after a single sniff. He did run around the house looking for Jimmy when we got back home.

So today the Max has been taken to daycare to see if socialization helps at all.
He lost it when my partner left for work today. Full blown benji siren blasts.

Fingers crossed this helps- is it a big deal if he attaches himself to me right now until he adjusts to being the only dog or, is that going to slow him down with his transition?
By attaching I mean that I take him to work with me where he has his own little bed to chill in. He does not sit on my lap and I do not acknowledge him if he follows me unless someone is asking about him. He’s just ‘there’ in close proximity.
I’m struggling

Personally, I don't believe that being alone is any more difficult than having another puppy. After all, there's always a chance that he doesn't get on with the new one (little or adult). I totally agree that he'll benefit from having more attention and bonding with you. There's plenty of time later to think about having more Basenji company.

@khaipan You are lucky to be able to take Max to work with you. That will allow you to make a home alone transition when you are all ready. He will be sensitive to your feelings, so you need to be ready as much as he is. As long as you don't make a big deal about it, he will be less likely to get excessively attached. My guys are quite attached to me (and, if they are awake, will stay at the window, watching me leave even if my S.O. is here), but they are fine when I'm not here. I've not really acknowledged them when I've left, so they can think that I'm just out on one of many short errands. I can frequently 'sneak out' without them even getting up. Not a big deal.

Before trying daycare again, you might want to approach that at least as slowly as leaving him alone if he's not had the routine of getting together with other dogs. It might also be good to spend the first couple of 'retry' visits with him (hopefully the facility allows for this), letting him have a little fun before leaving. If he's not into other dogs, he will probably be happier home alone. Even if you don't plan on leaving him at daycare regularly, it doesn't hurt to help him learn to like a place just in case you have an emergency need for him to stay.

I think Max is coming out of the woods a little bit!
He’s been more mischievous when he is with me at work (I do feel very lucky that they love him as much as I do) and when I got home last night after a movie he engaged in playtime like he used to do with his brother!! It was so awesome.

He has a handful of girlfriends at daycare and today he made a new friend- Jimmy, a bull terrier. Tears- great tears at least!

You all have been so wonderful. Thank you so very much for all you suggestions and words of comfort. Thank you.

Really glad to hear Max is doing better. I'd love to have a good answer but I'm not sure I have one. Losing Jimmy no doubt sucked for you and it sucked for Max. It will probably take some time for everyone to get over the loss. Unfortunately I don't think there is a magic answer. Empathy for all of you.

last edited by DonC

Ok....and we are back. Sigh... full blown separation anxiety complete with panting, salivating,screaming,destruction and loss of interest in food.
I’m reading up on Patricia McConnells work for separation anxiety and general behavior issues right now. But, as of a few minutes ago we have no crate.
I’ve seen these High Anxiety crates from Impact brand crates and they sound promising for destructibility reasons...combined with training and therapy (not just throwing a dog in a dark crate) I’m hoping this might help Max.
Does anyone have any experience with these crates?
Does anyone have suggestions on de-sensitizing for separation anxiety?
Currently Max is joining me at work during the day and has been kicked out of bed to sleep in his own bed. We don’t make a big deal at departures or arrivals either.
Any thoughts are greatly appreciated!!!!

We are considering bringing in a female companion around the same age.... he does well at daycare (has lotsa girlfriends) after getting over the fact that his pack member has just deserted him for a few hours.
He goes 4-6 hours at a time usually.

Also... CBD doesn’t help much. Trazodone seems to make him more hyper.

Sorry to hear this. Separation anxiety is very difficult to deal with, especially when it is accompanied by confinement anxiety. With both my separation anxiety boys they responded to having more freedom. Especially with Sunny, I did deal with some destructive behaviour at first but that passed. With Perry it was more along the lines of loss of control and involuntary defecation when he was upset, but that tended to only occur in unusual circumstances. As long as we stuck to a normal routine he coped well, and eventually I had no issues with him at all. But he was exceptional, had the run of the house, and didn't even rip up tissues!

I did find both dogs seemed to want to be able to look out. Access to windows was important, and Perry's one destructive urge was the blinds in the sun porch when I closed them to keep things cooler. He did attack them when I was out, because he wanted to see. I learned to leave them open!

I did find distraction when I was leaving was important. His roller ball with treats kept him busy until I was out of sight. If your boy is losing interest in food this may not work for you. One thing I did do was prepare the roller ball a bit before I was leaving, and locked it in his crate (the only use I was making of a crate at this point) so he couldn't get at it but could see and anticipate the reward. On leaving I would bring it out, put it down on the floor, and ask him to stay until I was about to go out the door. At that point he was very anxious to have his ball, and my "O. K." was eagerly awaited! 🙂 Good luck.

last edited by eeeefarm

Sorry to read he is having difficulties alone. I do not recommend the Impact crates, based on the experiences and conditions of one of my former fosters who was returned to me after the crate did not help in that home. He has a leg issue now. I'm not sure if it is a result of panicking in the crate. I have seen dogs damage, even bloody, themselves in crates, including soft plastic. I've also seen teeth damage and damage to some very expensive crates. There is one, a ZenCrate, that is designed to provide relief to those with separation anxiety, though the effect may be realized by leaving music on in the room with the crate. I have no experience with it. I did have one foster who was actually much calmer in his crate and very anxious (and destructive) if left outside of his crate. He was an exception...

Do you currently leave music or tv on? I find they do well when it is just loud enough to cover outside noises - not too loud. Depending on the dog's needs, I find different music or tv shows to be helpful. Happy sitcoms cover the silence with the sounds of people still in the house doing things. 'The Golden Girls' does that while also providing a soothing soundtrack that has put many of our basenjis to sleep. Soft rock has been shown to be soothing in canine studies.

How much in and out practice have you done? By that, I mean going in and out so many times starting with just a very short period of time that your boy won't know if you will be back in two seconds, two minutes, or ten minutes - starting out with just seconds, long enough to lock the door. I don't acknowledge anyone when coming or going when I'm doing this training until we are sitting down, relaxed, on my schedule. First times in and out should be so short that you are back and sitting down before he appears to react. This may mean that you pick up your keys, grab the doorknob, then go sit down. Lots of baby steps.

I prefer to have windows set so that they can watch squirrels, etc., out a back window, yet not see me going and coming out the front window. Blinds can be a safety hazard and face destruction. Our blinds on the front window are on the road side (which cuts down the solar heat load in the house while keeping the blinds out of reach), but you might need to fence off front blinds in your home. Sills may be destroyed.

Two way communication monitoring may help if there is enough noise at your work and during your commute for him to feel like he is still surrounded by life.

I've never not allowed a b to sleep with me unless he had to learn to be less defensive while sleeping first. If I can move them or have them move without being defensive, they are allowed on with everyone else. I don't make a big deal about it. Rather than keeping them out of the bed, I will block them from accompanying me to the bathroom, garage, kitchen, etc.

Since he has been good with just one one companion, adding a new one to the pack may do the trick. You could foster or 'borrow' a friend's dog for a couple of days first to see if this might work before committing to another companion. I do have one basenji who has not been happy when left home alone even if there is another b in the house. He is fine here, though, where there is a pack. One is not enough for him. He needs lots of company..

I hope you find the magic he needs!

Looks like your connection to Basenji Forums was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.