Why A Reputable Breeder Is Important (if you're not adopting)

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.

Your post is great and shows how people can fall into the trap of getting a Dog from somebody that shouldn't be breeding Dogs.
Before i joined this forum i was so uninformed about things even though i've been around dogs all my life.
Through joining the forum and mixing with doggy people at shows and other events i have become better informed.
I'm glad things have worked out well for Paco, he's a lucky puppy. So sorry to hear his siblings weren't as lucky.

Thanks SO much for sharing your story about Paco. Imagine - your story came from a tiny island. Then imagine all of North America, Europe, the world, and think about how many dogs never have the chance for a good home.

A story in our local newspaper made me very happy the other day. The Humane Society was "watching" a local backyard breeder - the condition of the dogs and the facility as a whole. Not only did he/she breed from their one property, they had additional properties where they were pumping out dogs of various breeds. Thumbs up to the authorities who have charges pending against this back yard breeder. Our laws need to protect these innocent lives!


Thank you Fran for sharing this article. Folks who "just" put 2 dog together are "littering".

First Basenji's

Shannanigan, your post reminds me of a dog movie that I recently saw, My Dog Tulip. I highly recommend it – but a good portion of the film involves this doting owner trying to find a mate for his Alsatian (German Shepherd), and doing exactly what we would call backyard breeding these days. Except in his case, it's more like balcony breeding, as he doesn't even have a backyard in his 1950s London home.

The German Shepherd does eventually get pregnant and produces a litter of mutts. The narrator/real life writer J.R. Ackerley talks about the trouble finding good homes for the pups, and how he eventually ended up giving them to anyone who could take them. It sounds like he had every intention to do the "right" thing and follow up on the lives of the puppies he produced, but when he realized that many of them met sad fates or just became lost, it became too depressing for him to pursue further...

In a very gentle, non-judgmental, but sobering way, that film tells the same story you tell now. And while things changed in the fifty years since that story took place, backyard breeding still happens the world over. Maybe it always will? I don't know. But like you, I've come to some stark realizations in the years since we got our first dog from what was most likely a puppymiller posing as a backyard breeder. Despite my naivete at the outset, I don't think I love dogs any less.

I've heard it said elsewhere, and i think it's a good motto to consider. It doesn't matter so much where your current dog came from, it's where your next one comes from that counts… And now we know.

I told Chris last night that I had posted this story on here, and he said that last he'd talked to the guy we got Paco from, he said he'd neutered his female because he didn't want to go through that "trouble" again. "Trouble," for him, "sad life" for the pups, but at least he learned and won't be doing it again. Now I understand how people banding together and refusing to buy from backyard breeders can help discourage them from continuing to do what they're doing.


Shannanigan, thank you so much for sharing your story and the ones of the pups you do know about. It is sad to hear how something "so trivial" ( in the dam and dog owner's eyes), can become so sad for many years to come. I am glad he decided "the trouble" wasn't worth it, lots and lots of BYB's decide the trouble is worth it every season and has litters upon litters regardless..

Paco has angels in you and Chris..I know he thanks his lucky stars Chris came into his life while working at that house..it was meant to be.

Shannanigan, very well put and hopefully an "eye" opener to many that either think they want to breed and/or are looking for a puppy.

What a great post, Shannanigan! The sad thing for me is when people look at puppies as profit opportunities. Rather than breeding with the dogs in mind, or considering the health of the breed, some people breed because they hear that basenjis are "rare" so they must be worth something to someone.

I'm so glad you have Paco… beware, though! I've found through my life experience that basenjis DO multiply within the household, lol. Maybe you can rescue Paco's mom?

Many blessings to you. 🙂

Thanks, Patty. I think Paco's mom will be fine as she is spayed now and has free roam of the house and yard of this man's property. I'm definitely ready to let more basenji's enter my life - as soon as I get room for them! lol


I also live on St Thomas, Virgin Islands. I have recently lost my 14 year old female part Basenji that I rescued and am heart broken. I am really longing for a puppy and I am set up well for a Basenji after the last 14 years. That is the main reason that I just joined this web site. However after I read your story I have a question. I apologize that my first entry at this site is a sad one.

I ran into a man and woman at Hull Bay with a black and white male Basenji. When I mentioned that I was looking for a puppy he told me that he has a spayed female (mother of his litters) that he is looking for a home for as he travels. He also mentioned a 1 1/2 year old female tri color that needs to find a new home. He said that he has papers for one of the parents but not for the other. He did not seem to know about fanconi.

After some research I found that the humane society in St Croix managed to send a black and white Basenji off Island to find a home in January. I also heard that a black and white male ended up in the St Thomas shelter in March. He is no longer there but what his fate was I have not discovered yet. However I heard that he was "agressive".

My situation makes it a bit difficult for me to rush right in here. I have a 2 rescue little dogs and 4 cats also rescues. Everyone gets along well as they did with my Basenj mix. I very much want a pure bred Basenji puppy and I think it would be easier for me to integrate a puppy into my household than an adult dog but I hate these stories. The possibly burned Basenji that you spoke of may be tri 1 1/2 year old female that needs a home. Is there any further information that you can give me. I am currently doing my own research which includes vets, humane society and the breeder My aim is trying to find help for these two females if I am unable to it myself so any information would be helpful.

I wish you good luck in adding to your family. Also WELCOME to the forum

Welcome! Sorry to hear about your loss.

I know the people and the dogs you are talking about; Paco was in the spayed female's last litter, and the 1 and a half year old female is his littermate, who I see on a regular basis because I tutor her owner's nephew. The black and white male Basenji you met is Paco's sire.

There are no puppies or upcoming litters that I know of, and there aren't a lot of purebred Basenji's here in the VI. The one and a half year old female desperately needs a good home, as her owner is tired of her escaping, and the breeder (the man you met) won't take her back. He is looking for an owner, but she desperately needs training, and someone who understand Basenjis. Any stimulation leads to biting, and the neighborhood children are all scared of her.

I suspect the Basenji's in the shelters on St. Croix and St. Thomas are all from former (or the most recent) litter of the dam who the man you met finally spayed last year after being unable to find homes for nearly an entire litter (the one I described in this thread; Paco's litter). I know for sure that two were sent to St. Croix free of charge when he couldn't find anyone to buy them. I don't know what happened to the two other pups that were in the litter; I have to hope they found good homes on St. Thomas.

I would recommend seeing if you can talk with breeders or BRAT about looking for basenjis in the states if you really, really want a purebred Basenji pup, and transporting the pup here. Personally, I will probably be at the Humane Society of St. Thomas when I'm ready to add another canine to the family.

edit: I just noticed that you are also looking to help the spayed female and the 1 1/2 female tri: There is a woman who works at Bella Blue in Yacht Haven who is interested in the 1 1/2 year old tri, but I gave her information to the tri's owner and I don't know if he ever contacted her. I had no idea that the spayed female needed a home as well, but she seems better tempered and trained, or did when I met her to pick up Paco.

I think of myself a year ago, when I was basenji-less and going about researching the breed. With the help of this forum and meeting good breeders, I was able to make an intelligent, informed choice when we got Kipawa. There is always strength in numbers, so IMO, we must be vocal about not buying dogs from BYBs.

Thanks to all who welcomed me and those who expressed sorry at my loss, you would think that I could get used to this after all of these years. Especially thanks about the information regarding the two dogs that may be up for adoption on St Thomas. I have an interest in following up on the two females that may need homes but if the one is on it's way to a safe home that is great. If she does not have a home I will pursue this.

I too have been rescuing animals since I was a child and am the proud owner of two petite road side rescues and another fostered at the request from a vet. My decision to get a pure bred puppy was made as I had such fun and great fascination with the little minx who just passed. She challenged me in every way but I would not have changed a minute of it. I envy you your future with Paco and I hope I will run across your family some day and see him in person. That may sound strange to the state-siders but our Island is so small this is possible. In order to feel a bit less guilty in my puppy quest I did contact BRAT but they seem reluctant to send dogs to the Islands. You may want to note this in case you do attempt to adopt. They cited both cost and temperature problems as well as an inability to help across the distance if needed. In fact BRAT ended up with the St Croix dog so I guess it found a good home. This might be partially why they are now reluctant to send dogs here. Not being one to give up easy I asked them to keep my application on file and assured them that not only will I pay all transport costs but I will fly up there to meet with both the puppy and BRAT rep. I hope that they will consider this as it will help me both get a puppy and "rescue" at the same time.

Maybe they will allow a respected vet on Island to agree to pre qualify those of us in the Islands who may want to get a rescue and have the same vet do home inspections and follow up care so BRAT can be more sure of the future for their dogs. I really do understand and respect their concerns. Again thanks!!

It would be cool to get a vet here involved with BRAT - I had wondered if living here might cause difficulty if I ever wanted to adopt from them. I guess it can, which is too bad. I'm surprised that they cite temperature as a problem; for African dogs, you'd think the climate here is perfect!

I bring Paco to the Puppy Socials at How 'Bout Your Pet the last Wednesday of each month, but since I'll be off-island for the next two months, he'll probably miss those. Once I'm back, you might catch us walking on the Waterfront or hanging out at the Dog House Pub in Havensight. 🙂 It's not too hard to find us.

Paco's sister definitely does still need a home; there's the interested woman, but she has at least one dog already, and I'm hesitant to recommend that Chica (that's the name of Paco's sister) be put in a home with other pets.

I do hope something happens soon; I see Chica four times a week when I tutor, and she's just not being well cared for. I was told recently that she also has intestinal worms, and I have no idea if she's being treated for them. sigh

I will keep an eye open for you and Paco in a couple months. I think when BRAT mentioned the termperature they were referring to the temperature during the travel itself. You are right that our temp is great for Basenjis. We all have to be hyper vigilant when travelling with an animal if they go in baggage or cargo. You are essentially putting them in the hands of many strangers who do not have the same love nor are they very responsable or accountable for their handling techniques when it comes to any baggage. But there are many things one can do to ensure a travelling animal is as safe as possible.

I did tell my vet today about BRAT's issues and he said that he would be willing to get involved and write a letter etc.

As far as Chica is concerned I do have other animals cats and small dogs and although I have some ability in this area I need to be careful what I do. Do you know that Chica is questionable around other dogs and cats? I think you did mention that she is a fear biter. Actual bites or just agressive moves? So far neither my vet or the humane society can give me any information on Chica but I am still calling around.

Oh, this b Chica needs an angel to help her. Hope she finds one.

That makes sense about flight temperature - during certain times of the year, I think it's ok, but not all year round. Especially not in the coming summer months.

I talked with the Chica's owner's sister the other day, and she says that it wasn't Chica that had worms, but another dog, and apparently Chica has all shots required for dogs here on St. Thomas.

I asked if she's ever drawn blood with her biting, and she said no. She bites mostly as a response to play, as she's never been taught not to use her teeth, so when children run and handle her, she's all mouth. I haven't seen her actually be "aggressive," just rougher than most parents would like a dog to be around their kids. The kids were able to pick her up and carry her home after she got loose that day, and really, I get the impression that Chica just wants to be loved. I even played with her for a bit.

She killed an iguana recently. There are other dogs in the neighborhood that she apparently gets along with, but I wouldn't be so sure about cats.

I told the owner's sister about BRAT and about this forum, and she said she'd pass the info on. Hopefully BRAT or we will hear from him soon, and find a good home for Chica.

Thanks for the information. I may look into this a bit as it seems workable. Once I adopt, it is for life no matter what the situation I just want to try and avoid a problem by this research.

I know that it isn't great but truthfully I have never had a dog that does not kill iquanas and yet those same dogs have been totally safe around even the smallest bottle fed kittens. Poor iquanas, they must taste really good. Every once an a while a sleeping iquana falls off his branch and lands on my deck. We have about five minutes of chaos as I try to catch any dogs and put them away before…:eek:

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