Help with newly adopted basenji!

  • My sister found a 2 year old male basenji that was picked up by animal control in Milwaukee. After it was declared Adoptable, my sister met him last night. He was loving, like every basenji should be.

    When she went to pick him up tonight, the lady at the shelter said that he didn't like his tail to be touched. (I know he got his shots today, so perhaps it was from that?) Anyway, my sister happily loaded him into her car, and with her friend driving, they hopped onto the highway.

    The dog was sitting on my sister's lap- sort of, with his butt in her face. She went to nudge his butt down, and she must of touched whatever was sensitive, because he totally attacked her hand. I'll attach a picture, but she said he wouldn't let go. She finally got her hand away, and then he grabbed it again- a horrific scene, as they are going 60 mph on the highway.

    Anyway, she's at the ER now, awaiting treatment. My sister is extremely upset and re-winding the scene in her head. She told the truth as to what happened, but what we don't know (yet) is if animal control will insist on getting the dog and euthanizing it. Should it be? Will he lash out at her basenji? Do you think someone from BRAT could rehab the dog? Do you think he snapped because of the shots?

    I've never seen a dog snap like that, but right now he seems "normal". My sister says he's anxious, because he knows something is up, but he's not violent at all. He seems as kind as he was yesterday.

    Any thoughts?

  • Oh how heartbreaking! Poor sister. Dog bites are awful - bruising worse than the puncture.

    As to the basenji, well, if AC requires the dog back, I don't think there's much anyone can do.

    If they don't require the dog to be returned, your sister needs to decide what she can/can not do. I don't think BRAT will take the dog after such a bite. (I could be wrong on that, but most rescues can not take a dog with a bite history due to liablity.) Will he lash out at her basenji? Who knows, but, my guess would be not necessarily based on this bite. Dogs are better at reading dog than humans could ever hope to be. Can he be re-habed? Maybe. It's really impossible to make that sort of call over the internet. It will be a difficult sort of thing and will take lots of management. In my experiences people (be them 4 or 90 years old) are drawn to a basenji's curly tail. They want to touch it, play with it and uncurl it. Personally, I like to wrap Zest's tail around my wrist and wear it like a bracelet. So for your sister's dog, she would have to be very careful about taking him out in public. And she would have to make sure NO ONE touches his tail while he's going through re-training.

    If this is his only bugaboo, I'd say rehabbing is hopeful, IF your sister wants to tackle it. She would need to consult with a professional in her area. Off the top of my head (Andrea, step in here anytime!) I'd approach it like the collar grab game where you desensitize touching the tail. Perhaps start with an assess-a-hand (put a stuffed kitchen glove on a stick). And not actually touch the tail for a long time. Just almost touch, then reward, repeat over and over.

    If your sister is not up for rehabbing the dog, and really who could blame her if she decided to decline that privilege, it would be very tricky and difficult to re-home him. And the kindest thing to do might be to euthanize him. BUT she needs to make a descision for her and her family and try not to let her descision be clouded with the euthanasia. Easier said than done, I know, but that's the only way to make a fair descision for everyone involved, dog included.

    Now having said all that, everyone needs to realize that stress is a cumulative thing - in dogs and people. He's been at the pound, it's noisy and scary, he's been poked, proded and who knows what else, then he got loaded into a car with strangers and they're taking him somewhere else and now this person touches his tail. When I'm having a great day and someone cuts me off in traffic, I'll think "goodness, what a jerk". But on a day when everything is falling apart, hubby's not happy with me, work was awful, I've got a list of things to do, I'm running late for an appointment and someone cuts me off in traffic, well, my thoughts/language gets a little more colorful than "gee, what a jerk". Make sense?

    Please keep us informed on this and if your sister would like to come here and post, I'd love to hear from her. Personally, I'd support any descision she makes as long as it is an honest one for her. There are NO easy answers here. I wish there were.

  • Oh, what an insightful answer- thank you! My sister visits this forum often, but doesn't post much. 🙂

    My sister is back at home, without the dog… Animal Control did pick him up, and the "funny" thing is what the animal control guy said to her at the ER... he said that the dog was snappy about his fanny from day 1, and with many people. He said he was surprised that they adopted him out so soon, because he thought they should have worked with him longer.

    The dog has at least 10 more days to live, and then, based upon his behavior, their recommendations, and my sister's thoughts, they will decide on his future.

    What is so heartwrenching is how wonderful he behaves, for the most part. Sadly, whoever had this dog for the last 2 years must have really hurt him, and scarred him for life. And life, for this little thing, may be limited to 10 days. 😞

  • First Basenji's

    Yikes… what a chilling situation all around. I'm so sorry for your sister's injury. Agile's response was so thorough and wise, I have nothing to add other than I hope the best for all involved. Please keep us posted.

  • @Patty:

    …and the "funny" thing is what the animal control guy said to her at the ER... he said that the dog was snappy about his fanny from day 1, and with many people.

    Hmmmm… I am confused. If they knew about it, did they tell your sister about this when she picked him up?

    So sorry this happened to your sis. It looks painful.

  • Patty,

    I'm honestly not trying to blame your sister, but why did Animal Control allow a dog to leave their care without it being in a crate? If it was in a crate, why wasn't it fastened into the seatbelts when she was driving - in some states this could be breaking the law (in my state, you could certainly interpret RCW 16.52.080 that way, although it's mostly applicable to untethered animals riding in truck beds.)

    If the dog is fine apart from the tail touching, it sounds like all it needs is some intensive de-sensitizing therapy. I'm no training expert by any stretch of the imagination (you just need to watch Roxy to see), but I've found Dr. McConnell's books very useful. Try ISBN 1891767003 to start with.

    I would hate to see such a beautiful pup euthanized, I hope Animal Control and your sister gives him a second chance and finds a good trainer to help him.

    I must confess, my dogs are loose in the car too, but only because they've figured out how to unclip themselves from the seat belt :rolleyes: I need to find a basenji-proof car harness, if such a thing exists.

  • Hmmmm…..well, I am really sorry that your sister went through this. I can totally understand if she doesn't want anything more to do with this dog...and I think it would be justifiable if the shelter decides to euthanize him. BUT...there were a lot of factors that may have come together to cause this to happen. I am in the process of reading "Control Unleashed" (finally! thanks to Kim and Lisa!) and the author points out that, as Kim said, stressors are cumulative...and something that normally wouldn't cause a dog (or person) to snap, can if there are several layers of stress going on. I don't think this one incident can tell us that he is an aggressive dog...but it can tell us that we need to find out more, and be proactive about what may set him off.

    So think about it this the shelter they evaluate him, touch his tail, and he growls or gives and air snap. They mark it as a "be aware" in his file. Then a few more days at the shelter, the stress is building. Sister comes to adopt him, he is handed off, put in a car with two people he doesn't know, in a very small space. He may not have much experience in a car, so the movement may be overwhelming or nauseating. And then someone touches his sensitive area, and he just loses it. I have known more than a few dogs that in that heightened state of stress bite savagely because the "checks" that normally keep them from going to that place in their brain are just out of commission temporarily.

    Your sister is lucky that it wasn't her face...I was envisioning that when you said he was standing on her lap...shudder....

    Whoever ends up adopting this dog needs to have his hips and spine evaluated. The other thought is he may have been spanked on the butt by his previous owners, and he is sensitive to anyone touching him there. If you sister does want to keep him, I think it would be an excellent idea to contact a behaviorist to help her give him the best chance possible. I think there might be a Basenji owner who is also a CPDT in the Milwaukee area. I will try to get her contact info.

  • Shoot…I just looked her up, and it is Minneapolis, not Milwaukee...sorry about that. But here is her info, none the less....

  • Hi everyone,

    When I talked to my sister last night, she was more concerned with the dog's plight than she was with her injuries. I don't think she's given up on him, at least not now.
    To answer some of the questions, I have no idea about the crating while in the car. I'm from Wisconsin, so I guess my opinion is that Wisconsin is not the leader in pro-active legislation… shoot! They just banned smoking in all restaurants/bars this July! 🙂 I can understand your point, and I surely can see the plight of this overwhelming situation for the dog after reading all of your posts. My sister feels like she was responsible, in retrospect, or at least that she wasn't being responsible when she picked him up. In all of her happiness, she said, she overlooked what the dog may be feeling.

    I also see where she was coming from, because when she rescued her first basenji, she travelled from OK to WI with him in the seat right next to her, without any issues. I've never seen a basenji snap, so it seems so out-of-character, in my mind.

    My sister is also confused/angry that the animal control staff didn't clearly explain what they meant when they said, "he doesn't like his tail to be touched"... and I'm upset that they didn't keep the dog longer to work with him, as the worker clearly stated when he picked him up. It reminds me of when you go to get a rental car and it breaks down a mile down the road, and when you get back to the counter, the clerk says, "yeah, I figured that would happen"...AGGGH!!!

    Anyway, thanks for the insightful thoughts. Hopefully we can have a happy ending after all of this. My sister really fell in love with this dog, and wants a happy-ever-after ending. 🙂

  • Patty, it is really possible that they didn't see that behavior coming. Not that that excuses it. A dog who mildly indicates that he doesn't like something may not give a serious indication that under stress he may snap. Sometimes a VERY skilled evaluator might catch it…but nobody can predict everything.

  • I am sorry to hear about your sister's bad experience but I'm also sorry for this dog - he has obviously had a traumatic experience at some time in relation to his back end.

    I can understand that your sister is so concerned about the dog's plight - and it seems that he had no real evaluation by the animal control staff but then perhaps it's not their remit. However let's hope that he is given another chance and is taken to a behaviourist by whoever does take him on. I hate to think of a basenji euthanised but I do realise that with the pressure of finding homes for all these dogs there is little time to concern over one who might be aggressive and do major damage to somebody.

    My best wishes to your sister and I hope the bite soon heals.

  • Please let us know what the outcome is…its just sounds sad for everyone.

  • I am so sorry to hear this. I wish your sister the best, whatever decision she makes.


  • Any updates? I was thinking about your sister today; hopefully she's healing nicely.

  • Wondering too how this is going - just read through it this evening. Sorry for your sister, sorry for this basenji.

    Wiser heads than mine have already given you insightful answers. All I can say is that we dealt with similar issues with our rescued boy. He suffers from fear aggression and I have lingering pain in my knee to this day from a bite shortly after we adopted him. (Not as bad as your sister's - I can only imagine how dealing with that situation in a contained space at 60 mph must have escalated things.) That aside, our guy is an absolute sweetheart, much more affectionate than our well-behaved girl. It took many, many slow months of gaining trust and training to get there, but if it works out it's worth it.

    As others have said, whichever way your sister decides to go - if she's given the choice by AC - is understandable. If she ends up with this boy in her home she may be in for a long haul, but the payoff could be huge. Warm wishes to her - and to you for caring - however things end up.

  • Hi everyone,

    When the Animal Control took the dog, they said that he would be quarantined for 10 days before any decision was made. My sister just found out that they euthanized him the next morning. She is extremely upset, as she was working with local basenji rescue
    people to find options for this poor dog.

    I really appreciate the support from the basenji family. The outcome was certainly not what we expected. 😞

  • What a sad story for all concerned.

  • I am so sorry to hear this.
    I talked to your sister, and she sounded really motivated to help this little guy. She must be devastated. Give her my condolences.


  • My sincere condolences to your sister - what a sad outcome!

  • I was afraid this might happen. Perhaps if it is any consolation for your sister, we can be grateful this dog was not placed in a home with young kids. And I think it was better to euthanize him sooner rather than waiting 10 days then euthanizing him. Your sister made an honest effort to help and do the right thing. This is so not her fault, please let her know nobody blames her.

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