Sorry if I sound like the negative one, but you want the dog right now, you've chosen the breed based on looks, you're going away to college… this is a recipe for disaster.
I hate to dwell in cliches, but would you have a child right now? The commitment is very similar. Knowing what I know now about dog ownership (and about college!), I'm incredibly grateful I didn't have a dog to take care of when I was a student.
Basenjis - in my admittedly limited experience - like to get closely attached to one person. If that person is you, your dog will be depressed when you go away. If that person is your mum, or whoever you leave the dog with, the question is, does that person truly want a dog? and do you mind that your dog will be more closely bonded to someone else than you?
My girl is generally considered pretty well trained; she does tricks, agility, and has even done some film work. I 'worked' with her 1 to 3 hours a day from the day we brought her home for an entire year (and of course still train together daily since). Not 3 hours in one sitting, obviously, but little by little throughout the day, teaching her to come to me and ignore distractions, playing learning games, clicker training, exercising outdoors, socialising her, attending classes, and being consistent in her training and rewards. I chose to adopt her at a time I knew I'd be working from home. Despite all this, I still have to be careful where I let her off leash, she still whines a LOT when she wants something she's not getting, and she'll still start trashing the house if we're not out on our walk by noon every single day. Basenjis are said to be like cats, but don't let it fool you: they can be fantastically high maintenance. Having her also limited the amount of travelling I could do (although admittedly, I don't like travelling without her anyway) and at times has had an impact on my social life.
I understand your impatience, but I beg you to reconsider - or at the very least, to be very, very careful making this decision. It's easy to get sucked into the excitement of the arrival of a new puppy or dog, but the impact of this decision will last 15 years.
Food has worked wonders for Anubis, but for her recall she also greatly improved as a puppy when I discovered the best thing to do if she ignored me was to run in the opposite direction. Then her prey drive comes into play and she starts chasing me. Other games help, such as hide-and-seek…
She's not 100% either - I don't believe any dog ever is - but if she ignores me, I just keep moving away. When I'm nearly out of sight, she comes running. Of course, this means I never, ever let her off leash in any area where she could be in any danger (which I think should be rule number one anyway).
Seems the Saturday morning meetings are still happening! We went this morning and met 5 other Basenjis, which was really wonderful.
Sabocat, Laskiblue, if you can make it to Laurel Canyon dog park on a Saturday morning, let me know! It'd be great to meet!
Thanks Jolanda! Well here's the thing - we moved from London to LA a couple of months ago so EVERYTHING has changed drastically. This has only started a couple of weeks ago though… Dry skin would make sense; so far I've mostly been wondering if the problem was with her mouth/tongue, but perhaps it is the skin...
Advice needed… The past couple of weeks, Anubis developed a strange habit at night, and occasionally during the day. She starts licking her paws, or the cushion she's lying on, and making a lot of noise with her mouth (swallowing loud), for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. The noise is different from her usual cleaning, and why in the middle of the night? She doesn't do it much - not enough to justify a vet visit I'd say - but the noise wakes me up once or twice every night, as she sleeps on my bed. I give her a bit of water then, because it almost sounds like she's dehydrated, but she won't drink directly from the bowl, she'll only lick it off my hands.
Any thoughts of what this could be? She's 22 months old and otherwise very healthy and happy.
Thanks everybody! Ah, that's reassuring to hear about LA - coming from the UK, where dogs are welcome off leash in most parks and can go to quite a few restaurants and cafes, I've worried that I'd find the rules in the US too constraining. But I already have lots of friends with dogs out there, and I'm sure they'll help me find the best walks. I've already found a training place within short distance of our house!
From what you describe, she gets overwhelmed and doesn't know how else to defend herself against this uncomfortable situation. There were probably warning signs (turning her head away, licking her chops…) that she gave that were too subtle to be picked up the previous times she was put in the similar circumstances, and she's learned that a minor bite was the best way to escape the situation or the people that make her uncomfortable.
The best thing to do is to identify and avoid these situations. You've done a good job identifying what seems to trigger her bites, and the best is to reintroduce these situations VERY slowly, making sure she remains comfortable in the process. For instance, rather than dragging her into a group of loud people, have a couple of people a few feet away and get closer slowly, trying to keep Lela's attention on you ('watch me', or asking her to sit), praising her and giving her little treats when she remains calm. If she gets too nervous or uncomfortable, back away from the source of her worry and try again more slowly.
If you somehow find yourself in a situation where it happens again, don't punish her. Take her away from the problem immediately and calmly; if it is indeed anxiety (and it sounds like it is), then adding negative consequences to her action will in her head link that situation to a painful experience ('loud crowd = slap, so I should defend myself').
Hope that helps?