When Chris first met Paco, it was while working at a house that was being renovated. There was a litter of 6 pups, just a few weeks old, 3 tri and 3 black and white. Chris would spend his lunch break playing with and filming the pups on his camera phone (with the owner's permission) and falling in love with one of the two tri males.
The owner of the house, who was also the owner of the mother and father of the litter as well as another Basenji who was from one of their former litters, told Chris that when they were old enough, he would cut Chris a deal on the price of one of the pups. Instead of the planned $800 for a tri male, he would only charge $300. A black and white would only cost him $150 instead of $600.
The pups were about six weeks old when Chris approached me with his idea. I brushed the whole thing off at first, saying that I wanted to adopt from the Humane Society, that I didn't want to pay money just to have a full-breed dog, and, after researching the breed, that a Basenji was going to simply be too much work for the two of us and our very un-dog-proofed apartment in the middle of windy, un-safe-to-walk roads.
After much more talking, debating, and deal-making, I decided to give in to Chris' puppy-dog eyes and take on the challenge. When Paco was 9 weeks old, we took him home. One of the other pups had already been taken home weeks before. Today, I'm glad we got Paco. He fits in well in our apartment, after a little puppy-proofing, and he's a part of a loving family. His siblings, though, were not all so lucky.
The owner of the dogs had told us when we picked Paco up that his mother's sister was a show dog, but that due to a disagreement with the previous owner of the mother, he didn't have her papers. "They'd disapprove of that in the states," he said, "but I figure here on St. Thomas we do things a little differently." He had the father's papers, but didn't offer us any kind of documentation, contract, or even some kind of receipt or evidence of our purchase of Paco. I had never bought a dog before; I had always adopted mine from the Humane Society as my family had been doing since I was a child. I didn't know any better.
The island is small, so we generally hear news of what became of the other siblings. The one female tri started losing fur in spots all over her body, and the owner could not figure out why. After vet visits and treatment, the vet says it looked like someone threw hot water on her; it is assumed that a neighbor did it, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, but I'd be much more angry than this owner seems if that were the case. One male black-and-white found a loving home, and things seem to be going good.
The other two black-and-whites, two females, did not find homes quickly. When Paco was maybe 5 months, we ran into the owner at a puppy social with the two of them. He was trying to find possible interested buyers. The dogs were severely overweight, and he confessed that they hadn't gotten any exercise - they just stayed in the same pen they had been kept in since birth, eating Purina Puppy Chow and lying around. For 5 months! They towered over Paco and looked like they could eat him. Months later, while I was away for the summer, Chris says he ran into the owner again, and he said he had found someone on St. Croix to give the dogs away to.
The other tri male, that had been taken away from the litter long before we took Paco at 9 weeks, we haven't heard anything about…at all. I worry that it was too early, and that we don't hear anything because he didn't make it. Honestly, the island is only 14 miles long and 3 miles wide...I truly feel like we would have heard something by now, and the guy who sold us Paco hasn't mentioned that pup since the day we picked Paco up.
The seller never mentioned Fanconi Syndrome. We figured out what that was, and where to order a test for it, from these forums. When Chris called to ask him about how he exercises his dogs since the island has no dog parks, he said that he lets them run in his yard. We didn't have a yard. The guy said the dog would be fine, and to stop worrying so much about things like exercise. He hadn't done much getting to know of me and Chris, which tells me that he probably didn't care much about where the other pups went, either. The other pups' owners also probably don't know about Fanconi.
A responsible breeder would have made sure not to plan a litter unless he/she knew that all pups would have homes. That would have spared the b/w females from their isolated, inactive puppyhoods. He/she would have gotten to know the potential owners, and warned them about Fanconi...and tested the pups for Fanconi. He/she would have done a lot of things that I'm sure I'm not even thinking of because this is the first time I've ever been in a situation like this.
I'm sure this guy doesn't plan on having another litter, after his experience with having to feed two pups for 5 months only to give them away. I hope he doesn't, in any case. I think about how what this guy did is what hundreds, probably thousands of people are doing in their backyards all over the country, and I'm sad to think of what happens to the pups that homes can't be found for. Personally, Chris and I are glad we got Paco, because now we realize how much we love Basenji's, and now we know that BRAT exists, and now we know that BRAT is where our next Basenji will come from.