Hi all, I'm a newbie. This seemed like the best thread to post this, since it pretty much expresses how my boyfriend and I are feeling right now. I’m so glad I found a forum that has had posts more recently than 2005! Most basenji forums I’ve looked at seem to be pretty stagnant.
We have an 8-year-old neutered male basenji, Montana. We've had him since August 2005. We got him from close friends. They couldn't keep him because he's not very child-tolerant and they were having twins. They'd had him since he was a puppy and was their first "child"
He's usually a pretty good dog. We live in a condominium and he's crate-trained. We haven't experienced any of the basenji horror stories of him breaking out of his kennel or anything. He's usually quite fond of his kennel- it's his space and sometimes will go in there voluntarily. My boyfriend and I both work full-time during the day and he’s in there for 8-10 hours. Usually, it’s not much of a problem. He’s very happy to see us when we get home and is ready to go outside. I know this isn’t the ideal situation for a basenji, and I know he’s not getting the activity he needs, but we’ve become attached to him (and vice-versa) and don’t want to see him end up who knows where or put to sleep.
Tana isn't too destructive, relatively speaking- he's never destroyed furniture or torn up a pillow. About the worst we've experienced was one time when his kennel door didn't get closed before we left for work, so he had eight hours of free time in the house. He tore into some garbage and ate some kleenex, which made a big mess, but nothing permanent. He can be quite a curmudgeon and aloof, but can also be very cuddly and friendly once he gets to know someone. He’ll play fetch in short bursts. He has a sensitive stomach, so we have to be careful about what we feed him, so a Kong is not a consistent option.
This is our second winter with him (and oh, is it winter-y here in Chicago? Oh yes! With no end in sight!) Last winter he was a nervous wreck- that's when his previous owners told us he gets cabin fever during the winter and gets really anxious. Besides the usual basenji behavior of yodeling and general grumpiness, he was also urinating in his kennel and on the couch quite a bit. We took him in for his yearly exam last February, had him checked for bladder issues, diabetes, Fanconi's, etc. and everything was negative, so it was determined to be a behavioral issue. We made a few changes- not letting him on the couch anymore and supervising him more closely in the house, closing off certain rooms. By the time spring rolled around, his mood was better and the urinating stopped (except for a few instances, which were truly accidental; I can't blame him for that.)
Up until the past couple weeks, we thought his cabin fever for this year was nearly non-existent. He hadn’t urinated in the house in months and he was pretty good tempered. One factor contributing to this is probably that I’ve been out of work since early November, so I’ve been at home and he’s been out of the kennel whenever I’m there. As it just so happens, I just found a new job and start back tomorrow. He must have sensed this or something, because in the two weeks since I found out, he’s become a terror.
All of a sudden, he’s urinating in his kennel and in places around the house on a daily basis (some days more than once.) We’ve tried regimenting his water intake- giving him water, then taking him outside 20-45 minutes later when he should be ready to go. Some days this works, some days not. He doesn’t seem to indicate when he has to go about half the time now, by going to the door, which wasn’t a problem before.
Before the past couple of weeks, when we’d put him in his kennel at night, he understood that it was time for bed and he was fine. We’d feed him in his kennel and he’d be snoring within 10 minutes. Sometimes he wasn’t happy about it, if he heard us up and about, but he’d settle down. Last week, he refused to stop crying and scraping on his kennel door; it was like his life depended on it. It went on for about an hour and finally, I had to sleep on the couch, with him tethered with a leash to the coffee table and he slept all night. For that night, I did it because I figured maybe he had some separation anxiety or something, but it hasn’t stopped. The night before last, he was doing it for over two hours. He’d do it for about 3 minutes, then stop for 5, do it again for a few minutes, stop for awhile. It’s like doggie night terrors or something. Last night, he only did it for about 20 minutes.
I’ve scheduled a vet’s appointment for the day after tomorrow, for his regular yearly exam and to have him tested again for all the possible medical reasons for urination. We’re not going to make any decisions until we make sure it’s not a physical issue, until I’ve been back at work for a few weeks and his schedule is back to normal, and until the weather is better. It’s been frigidly cold here, so neither Tana nor myself wants to be outside for more than a few minutes. I’ve been sucking it up and forcing myself and him to stay outside, walking for a longer time, but it doesn’t seem to be enough.
My mom half-jokingly suggested we put him on Prozac or something. Normally, I’d scoff at it, but I’m starting to seriously consider it as it seems to be our only option in the winter months.
Does anyone have any suggestions? Anyone have experience with using anti-depressants on dogs?
Sorry for this huge post, I just wanted to give the full picture.