This might be kind of long, but a lot comes to my head:
Rosa was my first show dog, a Diva, more than willing to snub a laughing judge, if she thought it was warranted! (I’ll always remember this, because that judge and her husband were killed a few years later in a car accident) Her head was not an ideal basenji head, but she had enough ‘other stuff’ that she got an award of merit at a Basenji National, I believe in St. Louis.
So we were at a National somewhere, and I introduced myself to Katie Campbell as the owner of a pet boy, sired by her Spencer. The very first thing she said “Is he smart?” OMG he was smart, that’s where he got it from!
So at an appropriate time, I bred my Rosa to Spencer. He passed on his intelligence, he was old (ended up living to 17), and healthy.
Rosa was shown the way to the Rainbow Bridge, at a time I just couldn’t fret about it. I think she knew, as she always seemed to not want to make a fuss – it was 3 weeks after I got home from the rehab place after my car accident.
In one of her litters, she had a little girl so much like her. Promise had the same ‘not correct’ head, but it housed that brain! One of my goals in breeding was to produce puppies that could be thrown out back, near a creek, and survive on their own. I can’t remember if it was Rosa or Promise, but one day I watched her – she had her head tilted down, listening to the moles in the ground. She was the only one I saw doing that. (My original pet boy, the Spencer son, climbed a spruce tree 15 ft, and ate the eggs from a robin’s nest – I saw him. I also saw the blue eggshells in his poop)
Why this story? Promise was like her Mom, she was let go to cross the rainbow bridge, about 5 weeks ago. At the time, I couldn’t think too much about it, we just let her go. She was 16 and 4 months. A few months earlier, we had to let Gretchen go. They were the best of friends. The picture I posted then showed Promise behind her, maybe saying, in their silent way, “You go, I’ll be there in a bit.”
Cinta has 2 dogs from me, I think Dempsey is Promise’s littermate, she might even have 2 from that litter – I can’t remember.
It’s hard to let them go when they’re pups, but knowing the years of love they have gotten, makes it bearable.
It’s really hard to see them go that one last time.
But bearable, when they’ve been here 16 years.
The day after I posted about Promise (a few weeks after she crossed the Rainbow Bridge), we took Captain (Rugosa Rose to the Occasion) in to be euthanized.
He was a Rosa son, from her litter of 1. I gave her spring second heat a try, figured the litter would be small, and he was born. Normally when she had a litter, she was in charge, the puppies did what she said! But not Captain. At 2 weeks he was bossing her around, and she was complying! That’s how he earned his name, Captain. He and my youngest son were close and if I had known Ben was going to join the Navy, I would have named him Chief (Navy equal to a Captain).
He had the nickname ‘Butt head.’ He had a wonderful temperament, respected all humans in his life, so when he didn’t want to do something, he just ignored us. For instance, when I wanted him to go outside, and he didn’t, I had to get his collar, and since our floors can be a little slippery, I just had to pull him all the way to the door, and lift him out. Every time. I could never figure any other way to do it, that’s why my right arm is a bit stronger than my left. He did things like this whenever he had to do something he didn’t want to.
The last time he did it, for the vet, was near the end, and he needed an ultrasound. The vet called me and asked if it was ok to sedate him, he was being a bit stubborn – Butthead!
He was an example of a male basenji, as opposed to a female. He was calm, didn’t seem to hold grudges, easy going, and not a game player. That’s why, when he was 7 or so, he had surgery( was told it ight be $4000+). He was in for a dental, and I always do the blood work for older dogs going under anesthetic. The vet called me after he got the results, something was off, indicating a gall bladder problem. He did an ultrasound and found a mucocele in his gall bladder
He did get his dental, some more bloodwork, and when I dropped him off for the gall bladder removal, they told me he would go home in 5-6 days. I got a call while he was in surgery, was told that the hormones could affect his recovery, so we neutered him(you know what, that probably was during the dental – can’t remember). The next morning after surgery they called and said he was ready to go. We didn’t really have to do much different diet wise either.
When he was originally diagnosed, he was having no symptoms that we could see. That was the reason I do the bloodwork before anesthetic, and why he did so well after the surgery. Also the surgery was almost $2000 a lot less than we were quoted, that’s another reason I do the bloodwork.
I was told the gals there fell in love with him, I guess he saved most of his Buttheadness for us here at home.
He was an absolute pleasure here, and lived to his 16th birthday. He was like my other 2 girls I put down this year, his body was just worn out to the point of causing him pain if we waited any longer. He just turned 16.
He loved to run with Promise and Gretchen, I like to think he still does.
Now, just Freida
Something I learned very early in my basenji pack:
I must be considered ALPHA, as are all my family.
When they were little, they learned that I could touch them where ever, whenever. I did this by touching them, gently, while giving a treat now and then, while talking to them gently, soothingly. Doesn't matter what I said, the tone of voice is what mattered. I eventually touched their legs, back, lifting the 'lips'??? and touching each toenail. This all came in handy for various examinations, even at the vets. If I had my hand on them, they knew they were being taken care of.
When they were little, every 3 days or so, at eating time, I'd take one with me to another room, just us two. Then I would feed one kibble to the pup, me being in control of what they were getting, and when, until their bowl was almost empty - then they'd get to lick the sauce I usually put in.. All while talking soothingly, using a happy voice. Again, words didn't matter, just the tone of my voice.
When they got older, once a week, and then once a month, forever.
It must have worked, I had control of those dogs, with no harshness being used.
I was told using a treat with an older dog to get it to do something, means the owner failed. In basenjis, expect to use treats their whole life, it's not a failure. The last 10 years I used regular dry dog food, but one of those tasty, new brands.
But, when I needed to do something quickly, I got into my 'good dog treats' I kept in the freezer. All the others the dogs knew as 'treats' but the ones I kept in the freezer, usually some kind of meat, they knew as extra tasty because they were called 'biscuits.'
I always like to share the story of when someone, who shall remain nameless, opened the garage dog without checking the dogs in the backyard - because the second garage door, in the back of the garage was already opened. So Spicer led 3 or 4 of them on a walk down the sidewalk. I earned my 'Crazy Dog Lady' label because I walked toward them, yelling "Biscuit" They were about 6 houses down, Spicer heard me, turned around, they all followed him, and they all got a 'biscuit' and "Good" To be honest, it was the cutest thing - Spicer pranced down the sidewalk, each one followed him in single file, and when he turned around, that's how they came back, in single file. He had such a proud look about him, like he was the Boss!
And NO ONE got in trouble, well, none of the dogs. They came when called, that deserved a reward.
You have to teach them YOU are alpha, and good things come from you.
Any snarking, growling, snarling, was not tolerated. I think usually I just grabbed their neck, again, not roughly, but firm, with a stern louder NO, and they were removed from the situation.
Except - Captain growled to have his nails trimmed all the time. He didn't try to bite me, but the growls sounded bad. Ok, I'm going to tell the rest, be warned it's kind of, I don't even know what word to use. He was on the grooming table with the noose around his neck, so we figured it would be best if my husband held him too. Firmly. He figured out the best way was to, I can't believe I'm telling this, and these are the words he used he'd 'rub his bxxxs.' When Captain was neutered he still rubbed him. No growling after that. I guess sometimes you just have to think creatively.
This could be 'my dog specific' but here's my experience:
I had a dog, Ibis, that was extremely food motivated. We have light gray floors, so anything dropped, like a piece of kibble, was immediately snatched. She learned if she didn't get it, someone else would. So, she associated a small dark spot on grey flooring, food. Not really a problem at home, but she was like your dog, including at shows I took her to.
This went on until she was about 2 when we got to a show early, like usual. The show flooring was concrete, there was a 'turd' and Ibis snatched it. She spit it out immediately and to be honest, though I continued to watch her as much as before, she never did that again, except at home.
She continued to be extremely food motivated, which is why I never lure coursed her, except ONCE. I took her to a trial in which my other dogs were entered. At the end, there would be a practice, so, I entered Ibis in that. She was a very observant dog, but I figured she liked to chase things, let's see. We were at the line, she wore her pretty color, and ran 10 feet when I released her. Then, she made a beeline to the LUNCH counter. It was at least 75 ft from where I released her, behind us.
One thing she continued to do, was chase any little critter that moved - just at home, the only place she had an opportunity. The other dogs knew not to pursue a skunk, but Ibis had to learn by doing (her usual way of learning things). Did you know skunks can climb 5 ft privacy fences? Ibis thought that would be the perfect time to grab the critter. What she didn't know was that was a prefect time for the skunk to spray her in her face! We were lucky it didn't affect her eyes. She never did that again.
I guess this story shows examples of understanding the dog's African history and showing that it's part of who they are. You have to be constantly aware of what's going on, and sometimes if you can't change the dog, you have to change their surroundings.
Ibis was the most work, but I sort of miss her the most, and really worked at filling my free time when she left!
The other comment I would like to add is that basenjis go through life thinking "What's in it for me?" THEIR WHOLE LIVES!!!!!!
The best thing for both the owner and the basenji is for the owner to realize they will constantly have to think of positive ways to convince the basenji that what the owner wants it to do, is what it wanted to do in the first place.
It will require some creativity on your part, ITS WHOLE LIFE!!!!
(When I placed puppies, I never placed them with dumb people)
It was so rare that (X - sorry, can't remember which) was sleeping on the coveted heat vent, and had an audible fart. X immediately woke up, looked at the source of the noise with a "what the heck was that?' look!
(It was 3 feet away, and LOUD)
(Nothing like writing a 5th grade post)
Many, many years ago, I sold puppies to families. I always met them ahead of time, before the pups were born were born, and had a little 'class' in which we went over the beginnings of what to do, and not do, with the puppy.`
I remember one family came again, after the pups were born, but not old enough to leave Mom. They had a little boy (just him, no siblings) who did not come the first time (it was for them to approve me, and me to approve them). He was about 6, very smart and well behaved, and went out to the dog room. That was the year I had some oops litters, all born within a week of each other, and he was so excited to just get buried with puppies! I think they were about 6 wks old. I took photos of the whole experience that day, and made a special PRIVATE page of "Ethan's day with the Puppies"
We went over my 'getting a basenji puppy' class and he was so attentive. I never got a call from them about any problems - I'm not surprised, he wanted that puppy so much.
I have had 15 - 20 adult female basenjis over the years, and 2 was the age when it seemed like they became their 'true adult selves.' (spayed/neutered or not)
I do not feel confident giving suggestions, just wanted you to know her age is typical for this to happen.
to me, the beautiful and positive traits are the the thing you are warned about.
My personality made me want a dog that was a CHALLENGE:
I did not want a dog that stayed in an unfenced yard - I wanted a dog that wanted to explore the world! ( a dog that would enjoy exploring the world with me and my kids)
I did not want a dog that accepted all humans and dogs right away - I wanted a dog that required a human or dog that it met to prove itself worthy of it's attention! ( so we would have that in common)
I wanted a dog with an urge to hunt. In fact one of my goals in breeding was to produce dogs that I could throw out in the woods out back, and know it could survive if it had to.( I never threw them out in the woods, I just wanted them to retain the ability to hunt that their ancestors required to survive)
I wanted a dog that THOUGHT. I wanted a dog that would require me to out think it sometimes. (At times they would do something that we had to figure out WHY they were doing it. It usually came back to their need to hunt)
I wanted a dog that constantly assessed the situation, and decided "What's in it for me?" I probably go through much of life that way, and sometimes, what's in it for me helps me to realize why it was good, or not good, for someone else.
There are a couple of posts mentioning their sounds. I just wanted to explain that all dogs do NOT make these sounds. I had one line, staring with my diva, Rosa, that made NO sounds. I had another that had a most beautiful yodel, and was as different from Rosa in most basenji ways. (In fact, she was an embarrassment to the breed in Rosa's mind). Their kids and grandkids were/are the same. No sounds vs sounds. However the girl I have left from the 'embarrassment to the breed' girl, is so vocal, 3-4 times a day. Every time we make a big deal of it, because it's so beautiful (and we have to decipher what she's trying to say.
Please remember sounds/no sounds is not a reflection of their happiness with you or where they live. Sometimes it is genetics.
And that makes me think of one last thing - basenjis are very good at reading your actions. If you think they're doing something because they love you (and you show it) they will continue to do it, to get the same reaction from you.
Be sure that whatever they are doing gets a positive response from you, you won't mind them doing forever. For instance, sleeping in a special spot - make sure it's ok if you let them do it, only once!
Owning a basenji means that someitimes you just have to let things go, and not sweat the small stuff.
may have some mild dementia
before I got to where you said this, I was thinking the same.
Has she always been your only dog? If not, I would think she misses whoever was there.
By being home more, she's used to you being there. If she was my girl, her whining at night would make me think she wants in the 'big bed' with you!
Thank you for being the special person you are, bless you for taking in this girl
This is beyond what Bailey can do right now, but helps to make the vet/basenji relationship a good one:
My dogs have learned that they have to do what I am taking them to, so I treat it as a 'happy time.' If I have to carry them in (too many germs on the floor) I talk happy talk, do it like it's just what I'm doing, and sound like I'm going to a 'happy place.'
I put them on the exam table, talk nice to the vet, and the dog gets the feeling that Mom is ok with the vet, I guess I should be too. And then I step back - shows Mom is ok with leaving me with them, must be ok.
I have a problem with new techs, I sort of have to retrain them. Sometimes they have to take a dog from the waiting room, without me, and every time, they bend down, use a a baby voice, trying to convince the dog to come with them. That's when I step in:
I explain that they have to act like taking the dog away from me is the most natural thing, and where they are going is not something they have to be convinced is ok. It is ok, it just IS, and Mom gave them to the tech, it must be okay. I tell them to use a voice that shows they are in control, and there is no choice. It's good, it's fun, and Mom said it's ok.
I tell them it doesn't matter WHAT they say, it's the tone of their voice. I tell them they can say "Come on little shithead, your'e going to got poked, and prodded, and twisted into all positions" as long as they say it in a matter of fact happy voice.
I explain with the story: If I'm walking with someone down an unfamiliar road, and we come to a crossroad, we have to go left, or right, or straight. If the person I'm with gets all worried about which way top go, with a worried voice , I'm going to be worried too, and put up resistance to even go any way.
BUT, if the person , when coming to the crossroad, just says "Turn this way" I'll turn that way because that person seems to know which is the best way.
I think basenjis pick up on cues in our voices.
So, the tech uses a normal, matter of fact voice, and 99% of the time. it works
When I got my first basenji, she was the same way, but it was clear it was just playing. When she had her littermates, they'd play and bite each other, and I had to replace that, giving her something to bite that would be a challenge.
So, what I figured out, I tied a thin rope to a toy that as okay to bite. About 3=4 times a day we'd play 'chase the monkey," running around the house.
She loved it, got her energy out and bit as much as she wanted. It was good for me too, running around dragging the poor monkey.
It got to the point that whenever I said 'monkey' she got all excited!
Sometimes I'd get lazy and hook the rope to the end of a stick, and lay 'fish for the monkey.' She loved that too.
At that age, ti's easiest to substitute something she CAN bite, rather than always saying 'no.'
I lost 2 earlier this year, 15 and 16,
Now we are dealing with a 15 yr old and every night we ask each other "Is he in pain?" No
"Does he enjoy part of his day" Yes.
The first girl, we waited a bit too long. I knew this, but forgot - the vet told us her brain was shutting down. She had seizures (for the last 8 mos) and was losing the ability to control her rear legs. He said if all else is healthy, they start at the rear of the body, and gradually lose control of the body, working up to the brain.
So, we are letting the boy enjoy what he can. He sleeps a lot, but he did always like his pillow. When I show him where his food is, he enjoys eating it. Today he was just circling in a small circle. He has a bit of 'dementia' so my husband just grabbed him to sit with him for a bit.
Like Zande said, dignity with no suffering. You just evaluate on a dog by dog basis. The second girl was 16 and the vet said "You just know."
Give yourself permission to decide, and know you've loved him all these years, You just know.
We let her cross the rainbow bridge.
We have a house with a front door, a side door, and a back door. We have a 6' wooden fence around the back yard, not affecting the side or front doors.
Our second pet, Spicer was an inch over standard and used that inch when it served his purpose.
He was VERY afraid of fireworks, and afraid of thunder, but we think he thought they were from the same thing.
Once he was still out as the fireworks started (and it was neighbors) he climbed the fence and was jumping at the back door. Such a good boy, he could've run away.
Captain was afraid of the central vac, I tried to use it when it was nice out and he could run to the way back yard.
Freida was more jumpy around noises she wasn't expecting. She was born that way and stayed that way her whole life. I figured it was because she had quite a bit of African in her none of the others did), and she would need that trait to survive in Africa - I'm just guessing though.
Over the years, all my Rosa descendents were anxious in the car at first, then settled down with age, and only showed excitement when the van stopped.
And then there was my problem child, IBIS. She was a screamer, at many things. The van specifically _ we put her in a wire cage in the van (then the truck), like we use at home, about 2 1/2 ft wide, 3 ft deep, 3 ft high. She got to the point that she screamed for the first 5 minutes, settled down, but every stop sign/light, screamed, quietly gradually to blood curdling. I was always reminded of the story I heard on the old basenji list about the neighbor in the apartment building calling 911 because there was a woman being murdered in the apartment next door - and it was the basenji!
She did best with the highway driving.
Never poop or throwing up, it was anger, not the driving itself. When we stopped I think she felt she could get out NOW.
She went through life thinking "I'm the Ibis, gotta love me!"
To the poster that has the screaming dog, I'm very sorry, it is not fun. Luckily Ibis was so good natured, and so lovable she got through it (us too).
Sorry, got off topic - Ibis would feel that's fitting, Gotta Love me! She is the one that we were more outwardly sad when we helped her cross the Rainbow Bridge when she was allowed to pass. She was 16
I have had 12 adult basenjis over the years and found that some would yodel, some would not.
I had 2 lines and think they either have yodeling DNA or they didn't, one did, one did not.
The ones that did yodeled when they knew they were getting to do something they really liked to do, so it was a happy yodel.