Potential Adoption

We have a 9yo male (Blaze) that has a neurological disorder that makes it incredibly difficult for him to control his back legs (he has no pain, but it is degenerative). He’s more comfortable walking on carpeted surfaces and grass, but struggles navigating stairs and walking on hard surfaces. We live in Pittsburgh, PA and own a large Victorian house, where stairs and hardwood floors are inevitable, so I’m not certain our home is best suited for him. He is limited to our first floor, where we don’t spend much time, unless we are in the kitchen cooking/eating. He cries when he isn’t with us and his demeanor resembles that of someone who is depressed and it’s breaking our hearts. We carry him up and down the steps to be with us, but he panics, because he is floors removed from his water/food (he’s a grazer)/dog door - so he isn’t really enjoying himself. We are thinking about putting him up for adoption, but haven't considered any options or even know where to begin. I wanted to toss this out to the community for guidance and to gauge if anyone here who really cares about the breed is interested. Thank you in advance!

last edited by Henderson1005

My initial reaction is that this dog has enough to deal with and a change of owner/residence will add stress he doesn't need. Especially at 9 years old. Work at making him comfortable where you are, take a second food/water dish upstairs if necessary, pay attention to his routine in terms of when he needs to go out and accommodate his needs. It will be extra work, true, but don't you think he deserves it?

I absolutely agree with you that adoption would be a disruption/major cause of anxiety; and we have and will continue to try the second food/water dish and bringing him with us. He just gets so upset: snarling and whimpering and growling when we bring him upstairs, and then crying when we take him downstairs. Open to any suggestions you have to help him acclimate.

I would disagree that he doesn't have pain.... because he can't navigate stairs or hardwood may not be physical pain (but I would question that) there is mental pain since he can't be with you. He wants to be with you, that causes him mental pain... again IMO... I don't believe that placing him would be a good solution.

@henderson1005 said in Potential Adoption:

He just gets so upset: snarling and whimpering and growling when we bring him upstairs, and then crying when we take him downstairs.

When does the snarling and whimpering start? When you pick him up? Does it continue after you are upstairs and have put him down? I wonder if he is sore and complaining because it hurts to be carried. Also, what are the floors upstairs? Bare or carpeted? Can you give him a strip of carpet or rug to walk on if they are bare? A mat to lie on that can be moved to the room where you are? When he was fully mobile did he spend much time with you upstairs?

last edited by eeeefarm

Perhaps a narrow ramp (with carpeting) on one side of the stairs might help.
I have seen improvement in a couple of seniors when higher doses of omega 3s and Vitamin E were added to their diets. MaxxiSAMe has also helped one with poor motor control.

I agree with what others have written about rehoming your basenji. Nine years of age would qualify as middle-age for most dogs. Leaving the only home that he has known since he was a puppy would bewilder him. When we acquire a dog, I think that we make an unwritten contract with the dog that we will keep them unless severe behavioral issues or unforeseen circumstances unrelated to the dog arise. My first reaction to your email is that you are tired of taking care of him because he has health issues. I hope that I am wrong in my assessment. Now is the time that he needs you more than ever.
Some suggestions/ideas: 1) navigating the hardwood stairs. Check to make sure that his nails have not gotten too long. 2) I had an older dog, who could not go up and down the hardwood stairs, so I bought some non-slip carpet stair treads. They solved the problem. They are not very expensive, so you could put them on all the stairs and not have to carry him up and down 3) have you considered putting down some non-slip area rugs on some of your hardwood floors? 4) how about putting some of his food upstairs? 5) If you are upstairs most of the time, and he is downstairs, he probably gets lonely (he cries when he is not with us.) Basenjis in particular are social animals; they get very attached to their guardians and like to be in proximity of them. Carpeting the stairs might help this situation. 6) As for the neurological disorder, there is a lot of useful information online, including various forms of pain relief such as canine massage. GOOD LUCK to you and Blaze!

I know about loving one's house, and trying to keep it as it's history mandates, but believe me, we have done EVERYTHING to our home that we could, often temporary, to accommodate our basenjis.

Our last died a few weeks ago, and we are only now redecorating/remodeling rooms where things were done to accommodate our basenjis. Please do not be one of those people that gets a puppy and rehomes it when it is old and too much work.

If you get rid of him, every day you are in your home you will see things that remind you of things you could have done to keep him.

I do not mean to be harsh, but I just lived through what you are living. All are gone now, and every time I see something in my house, I am reminded of the things we changed to accommodate each and every one. And did it happily, with love.

It is possible to put down a thin carpet, wall to wall, upstairs, that you can put in yourself. It doesn't even have to be attached, then just take it up when he is gone.

I suspect the crying and whimpering going up the stairs is because of the way you are carrying him, sounds like pain. Have you taken him to the vet, explained the situation, and possibly given pain mads?

I am very sorry you are experiencing this, and will pray that you can make a decision that you can live with.

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I am so grateful for everyone’s opinions/recommendations/guidance. Our family in no way wants to relocate Blaze; and my prayer was that this community would suggest that we don’t put him up for adoption. He isn’t a burden to me, and I am in no way giving up or tired of caring for him. I’m running into roadblocks. To answer some of your questions...

  • We have carpeting on all of our stairs/hallways and large area rugs in all rooms except the kitchen, which is tiled. We do have carpet-remnants down to help with transitioning, but he has 9-years of routine, so he hasn’t grown accustomed to using the “new” way of maneuvering.

  • In terms of pain/pain management, he sees our vet regularly and we are on top of massaging and gently feeling for swelling/pain triggers. If he does have pain, it doesn’t seem to be muscular/joint related, so I haven’t gone the CQ10-route, but will try all of what you have suggested. We have Gabapentin, and have been giving CBD for the past 3-months (we haven’t noticed a change).

  • His aggressive behavior starts after we bring him upstairs with us and put him down. He’s so anxious that he paces and whines, but when we try to comfort him he bears his teeth and snarls. He was sleeping at the foot of our 5yo daughters bed at night, which we thought was a breakthrough, but he has started bearing his teeth and snarling at her when she stirs.
    We don’t want him to bite her in the middle of the night, so we got him a dog bed that we keep in our hallway, so that he can be with us (I had it in our bedroom to start, but he wouldn’t go in it). Again, he is anxious, so he’s up all night whining; and when we take him downstairs, he’s quiet for a little bit, but starts crying because he wants to be close to us.🤷🏻♀

We can’t take him on walks anymore, because he walks on the tops of his back paws, and walks result in a bloody mess. We bought him shoes and paw covers, but that seemed to make his dexterity worse. We do have another dog (a Cane Corso) who Blaze loved
to play with in the backyard, which was great exercise for him; but he is becoming increasingly aggressive and agitated with her, so the play doesn’t happen and she keeps her distance (which is crazy when you think about a 120-lb dog avoiding a 20-lb dog).

We are open to any/all other thoughts and suggestions!

Thoughts....you are between a rock and a hard place, and I feel for you. It sounds like he is uncomfortable and confused. The aggression may stem from that or he may be having cognitive issues. What do you know about his "neurological disorder" and how was it diagnosed? I have known a few dogs (not Basenjis) that had back end issues as they aged. One was helped by wearing boots, which you have tried. Another lost most back end function, had to be taken out and supported by a towel under his middle so he could do his business, and adapted to a wheeled cart to support his back end for walks. He continued to enjoy life, including swimming, so there wasn't the difficulty that you are facing.

Have you sought an opinion from another vet? Sometimes a different person with different experience might be able to suggest an alternative treatment or spot something the first has missed.

The bottom line, if you are unable to resolve things, is the question of quality of life. A dog that spends all its time being anxious and upset is not enjoying the experience. That is a question only you can answer.

@eeeefarm - I agree with eeeefarm... you need to look at his quality of life... especially that his is now showing aggressive behavior mean to me that there is more going on... have you tried a holistic Vet? Just asking, but as eeeefarm has indicated you need to look at his quality of life at this point in time... and look at the very, very hard decision to let him pass over the rainbow bridge... we want them to live forever and making that decision is not an easy one... been there, had to do that...

He had an MRI, which was how we arrived at the diagnosis. I believe the medical term is Hip Myoplasia (sp?). Our vet, while not holistic exclusively, was who recommended the CBD route and has even suggested we try acupuncture if it wouldn’t cause Blaze to be anxious, which we know will be the case. My husband and I have discussed the quality of life piece also. Thank you again to everyone!

@henderson1005 said in Potential Adoption:

suggested we try acupuncture if it wouldn’t cause Blaze to be anxious, which we know will be the case.

You could be wrong. I had a Basenji that we tried acupuncture with for a different condition, and while it didn't solve our problem I was pleasantly surprised at how she handled the treatment. I expected her to be anxious and difficult, but very quickly into the procedure she relaxed totally and started drifting off to sleep! Might be worth a shot because you never know....

You are absolutely right! I’m probably the anxious one. It’s worth a shot

@henderson1005 said in Potential Adoption:

We can’t take him on walks anymore, because he walks on the tops of his back paws....

This is called "knuckling" and is a symptom of his neurological issue. Please take your dog to a different Vet for an analysis. There are ways to treat this. Imagine. How you would feel if you were walking on the tops of your feet? If you are putting your dog down and the dog's hind legs/paws are not positioned the way they should be, he's going to be in pain. Treat the knuckling and the neurological condition that is causing it. Get proper treatment for that and your dog stands a good chance of living without pain.

last edited by elbrant

@henderson1005
Oh my - I sympathize with you. This is so heartbreaking. Please try the acupuncture- my basenji had a few treatments when she was diagnosed last year with vestibular dog syndrome. The acupuncture really did work - I was surprised - I immediately noticed a significant improvement - it enabled her to relax.
My thoughts are with you!🐾🙏❤

I swear by acupuncture and have been using it on m old folks for years. They have, without exception, benefited.

Even during lockdown, when you drive to the vet's carpark, phone to say you have arrived, he comes out and takes the dog from the car into the surgery and treats it before bringing it back to you, Hoover showed no anxiety and always relaxed when Ian came to get her.

At first I hated not being with her but she was perfectly OK and each treatment saw an improvement.

I would go for acupuncture but have it at the back of your mind too - am I keeping him going for ME or for HIM ? Because if his quality of life is deteriorating you owe it to this wonderful little man not to let him suffer in any way at all. Saying goodbye will be a last chance to show him how much you love him.

@henderson1005 You have so much going on. Snaps me back to Jengo. There's no easy or right or wrong answers. Just keep trying till you run out of chances.

When Jengo first came home he couldn't walk, so we were given a RuffWear dog harness with a handle that I could use to hold him up as we started the rehab. I wrapped a leash around the handle so I didn't have to be bent over as I walked him. He too had the knuckle under issue. Maybe not as bad as your guys does. Still, I'd consider a harness with a short short lead lashed to the handle.

I couldn't let him anywhere near stairs, so I gated them off completely. I'd carry him up and down. But, once it became clear that he needed to urinate much more frequently, he and I moved to the down stairs bedroom. He needed to go about every two hours. After weeks of this I was pretty sleep deprived and didn't trust myself on the stairs at 2 and 4am. Moving us downstairs helped a lot.

A few months after he'd been home his anxiety began to peak. I think it had much to do with switching from Phenobarbital to Potassium Bromide (KBr). Gabapentin and CBD helped, but was seemed to help more was getting on the floor with him and talking to him. Try putting him into his dog bed, lay him down, lay next to him and talk. I might hand feed him some snacks, but mostly... just talk. That seemed to calm Jengo more than anything else as I recall. I remember just laying there with him nose tip to nose tip looking into his eye and talking.

Much of the lower floor is all tile, so I bought dog play pens to keep him contained mostly to the carpeted areas. I didn't like seeing him slide out and smack his jaw on the tile. We also moved carpet runners to parts of the tile that he needed access to. For instance, from the family room to the back door. He also began to get tangled up in end tables and chairs, so those were stored elsewhere.

To me, it was like bringing a toddler into the house. I did everything to make it safe, but he was great at showing me all the things I'd missed. I just had to keep watching him.

As far as the aggression towards your 5yo. This one is frustrating. I will say that your little one watching you care for and modify your life to care for you dog will prove to be a life long lesson of love and compassion. I hope other members might chime in on this part. I don't know how to correct this, and I'd be asking for help too.

Having been through something similar... no judgement here... regardless your choice. Take care.

Reading this, I learned more about his 'condition.' He cannot be rehomed without him being completely devastated.
You will know when it is time to let him go. Don't be afraid of making that decision, in the end, it's the best gift you can give.

How long have you been in this house? Have you tried setting up a place to sleep and hang out downstairs to see if he eventually becomes growly even on the first floor? All electrolytes, including IONIZED CALCIUM are within normal range?

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