Izzy came to BRAT after her owner died of cancer. Well-loved, she lost the only home she had ever known in nine years of life. The owner's daughter could not keep her and made a very difficult choice to rehome her with BRAT. Her owner, in fact, almost loved her to death, as she weighed 43 pounds when she came into foster, and hair so brittle that she could hardly be handled. I immediately suspected and it was confirmed that she had hypothyroidism. She was put on medication immediately.
Izzy is a unique Basenji. She is ¾ African, the daughter of an Avongara Basenji father bred through the African Basenji Stock Project (http://www.basenji.org/african/project.htm) and a ½ African mother. She was bred and born in Louisiana, the only girl in a litter of five.
Izzy had a bit of a rough start in BRAT. Her first foster home was not a good fit, so after six months she was moved to a new foster home in Florida where she would spend another eight months. But finally, BRAT found her the best forever home with Wade. Wade has been a valued volunteer, taking on some of our medically fragile Basenjis, and his most recent foster died of Fanconi disease after a valiant battle. Wade wanted a new companion, and Izzy needed a safe and knowledgeable Basenji owner. It was a match made in heaven.
Izzy took the long route to her new home in Nebraska. She made the journey from Florida via the 2018 BRAT Convention in New York, where Midwest volunteers transported her to her forever home.
On Thanksgiving Day 2018, BRAT learned that Izzy is a svelte 26½ pounds. Wade and Izzy take regular walks and Wade watches her food intake, and ensures she gets her thyroid medication as directed. Izzy is safe at last and able to live out her days not being loved to death, but being loved until her death ... which is many years from now!
Who would have thought a Basenji could love snowy Alaska … they don't even like rain! Well, you haven't met Athena!
During our search for a dog my husband and I became intrigued by the Basenji. We thought it was a beautiful dog and rushed to the library to find more information about the breed. When we found only two older publications we turned to the Internet.
After searching many websites we discovered the BRAT site. Wow! Even after reading the Reality Stories we decided that this was the breed for us.
Because we were so saddened and touched by the stories of these dogs in need, we decided to adopt a Basenji from BRAT. And this is where we saw Athena for the first time!Her picture and story made our hearts melt and we thought, "This beautiful girl has seen the worst. As her new family we are going to show her the best!"
At three years old, Athena was rescued from a puppy mill near Modesto, where she lived in a deplorable situation.
After we read about her, we knew it was meant to be and said, Athena's the one! We were absolutely certain we could give her the best home ever in Alaska and soon she was on her way to the igloo state.
Seeing Athena in her crate for the first time, I thought to myself, "This is our new dog; she's so beautiful!"
Athena has come a long way from the wild-eyed puppy-mill dog she was when we got her. At first you couldn't get near her—she was so shy and wanted nothing to do with us -- so we talked to her a lot and after a few days she let me touch her. When she started to cuddle with me on the couch my heart melted into a giant puddle. It took longer for her to warm up to my husband. It was a great day for us when she decided he was an ok guy and got up on the couch to cuddle with him!
Athena loves to play and loves to be chased around our yard. She also loves to play with the cats. Although we had been warned about how destructive Basenjis can be, she is perfect when she's alone in the house or car. We like to think it's because she's so comfortable in her "forever" home.
Now, I'll bet you're asking, What about Basenjis in the snow in Alaska; does she play in the snow? Well, she tromps through the snow like humans walk in the surf. We take Athena walking, snow shoeing, and skiing in the snow. Who would have thought a Basenji could thrive in Alaska? … we would!
Crissy and Bob Beauvais
Not long ago, Augie, was rescued from a home where he had been confined to the yard with little shelter for the years—he is now eleven.
In late March of this year, I lost my beloved Basenji, Nikko. Nikko was rescued from a local shelter – he was thought to be about a year old. When I decided to try that “little reddish brown and white dog”, I asked the shelter staff what breed it might be. They looked at a chart on the wall and said it was a Basenji. Whatever. Little did I know! When I took him home he would leap from one level of the house to another. Interesting, I thought – very active dog! So I went on the Internet and did a little research and realized I had acquired an interesting but challenging dog. One-on-one and classical music calmed the beast and we lived, for the most part, in harmony for the next ten years.
But back to Augie. After Nikko died, I was surfing the net and came upon the BRAT site and there I came face-to-face with Augie. It seemed like a perfect match – a geriatric dog for a geriatric owner – he was eleven and I had just turned eighty – a quiet senior dog for a reasonably quiet senior. I filled out the application, had my home visit and everyone agreed it was a suitable match. However, the reality of Augie was somewhat different than my expectations. Augie has the energy of a dog half his age and he is all Basenji. Kleenex is his favorite and he will fight you for it. Shortly after Augie arrived, I left him in the car with the windows partly open (a nice spring day) and a chew toy. I went into a school meeting and was shortly alerted to the fact that my car alarm was on. Indeed it was. Augie had also opened the lever for the gas tank and chewed some of the plastic molding. Fortunately, it is an old car. Augie does not like being left in the car for more than five or ten minutes.
I had another interesting experience with Augie. One day, I returned home from shopping and Augie greeted me warmly anxious to see what might be in the various parcels. My last stop was to return an unsatisfactory item and, being in a bit of a rush, I stuffed the $20 bill and two fives in the top of my purse. On returning home, I placed my purse on a lazy-boy chair and began unpacking the groceries. When I turned around, I noticed Augie was chewing something. He was chewing a $20 dollar bill! He had gone into my purse and took the $20 just resting on top. Since he is a dog of good taste and high living, he took the $20 and ignored the two fives! However, this saga has a positive ending since Augie was good enough to leave the serial number of the $20 bill intact and the bank replaced it.
However, let’s not dwell on the negative. Augie has a charming personality. He does the Basenji dance and shakes his tail. He loves his stuffed animals and doesn’t chew them – only mouths them, throws them up in the air and catches them or will play tug-of-war with you. He is well behaved at the groomers to have his nails trimmed and is easy to vet. Overall, he is a great companion as we march into the sunset.
There is a long list of people to thank for bringing Augie to his “forever home”. First, the BRAT organization itself, his foster mom, Linda Webb-Hilliard, her sister Betty Webb who did the actual rescue, and Sibylle Michel who did the home visit and the last leg of his transport to Perth, Ontario. Also, a special thank you to all those involved in transporting Augie from Kentucky to Canada and to the foster home who cared for him overnight during the transport.
Judging from the photo, I think everyone will agree that Augie has found his place in the sun and hopefully his senior years will make up for some of the deprivations he experienced prior to the BRAT rescue.
Hello, my name is Bambi Feldman. I am a beautiful (so I’m told) Basenji girl. My human parents (Andrew and Sandra) adopted me on September 7, 2002 from BRAT. Before my adoption, Paula Harshberger was my foster parent. At the time, I was 6 years old and my human companion had passed away. I was very upset and longed for a forever home again. My parents found me on the BRAT website and set up a meeting with my foster mom (Paula) to meet me. Andrew and Sandra drove four hours to Tampa, Florida and brought Rudy, my Basenji brother with them. We met at a dog park and I greeted them as soon as they arrived. All I wanted to do was run and run. Rudy and I got along immediately. I was so friendly with my parents and Rudy so they took me home that same day.
I have been so happy throughout the years. My human parents recently got married and I am expecting a human brother in January. I can’t wait for him to arrive, but I know I will have to share more attention and we all know how much I thrive for attention. I still misbehave sometimes. My mother and father still have to hide the garbage can because I love knocking it over and eating all of its treasures.
Now, five years later, I am still enjoying life with my parents.
Not only do I have Rudy to play with now, I also have my sister Chihuahua (Kiara) and my silly sister cats (Gabby and Myla). Kiara gives me a run for my money. If it wasn’t for BRAT I would have never found my loving forever home. I am truly grateful to BRAT and my human parents.
We are writing this letter to regretfully inform you that we are having a problem in our new home and we would appreciate your immediate intervention in the matter. When we first came to this new family we were quite happy, despite there being a large, yellow, hairy dog already in residence. He turned out to not be so bad and we rather liked him. This new home was quite comfortable, there is always a patch of sunshine somewhere to lie in, and when it’s cold there are lovely fireplaces to warm in front of. The humans share our bed with us and that works out very nicely because they always move out of the way when they are taking up too much room!
There is almost always some human here to let us in and out a million times a day and to cuddle with us on the couch and if one of the resident humans isn’t here the “grandma” comes over and takes us for a walk and pays attention to us. So as you can see this has been an ideal place for us until recently.
When we first came here the food and treats seemed to rain down out of the sky! There was much fuss made about our bones sticking out and our coats being in poor condition. It seemed we couldn’t turn a corner without somebody offering us something wonderful to eat and encouraging us to chow down to our hearts content! Well, this has all come to a tragic halt. There are rarely treats anymore and, if we’re not mistaken, we could swear our regular rations have been cut back a little. We have heard comments about Sati looking a little “Rubenesque” and that “extra weight” is bad for our health! If we’re lucky we get a little greenie once in a while to “freshen” our breath. There’s nothing wrong with our breath as we had our teeth cleaned shortly after we arrived at this new house!
The final straw occurred on the Fourth of July. Many people came to the house and they were all very nice and made a proper fuss over how cute we were. But not one of them offered to share a single piece of chicken or a rib with us. Our resident humans told them not to!! They told them that scraps are bad for us, and that we’re getting “too fat”!!! That’s when we realized that this situation is reaching crisis proportions and we needed help from a higher authority.
Now we want you to understand that it hasn’t been all taking on our part since we’ve arrived. We seem to have brought these humans a great deal of joy. They always say what nice dogs we are and how much they love having us and taking us for little strolls in the park. Sadly, the dog that was in residence when we arrived passed away a few months back and we offered great comfort to these humans during that difficult time. We cuddled with them and licked the tears from their faces. They often stated that they don’t know what they would have done if they didn’t have us. We also have helped with the grief they were experiencing over a Basenji they tragically lost to a car months before we arrived.
These people really seem to just enjoy our company. So you see, we don’t feel that it’s asking too much that the original feeding regimen be continued. We are old ladies and we just want to enjoy our retirement in peace without any of this “it’s not good for you” nonsense. Please don’t misinterpret our wishes. We have no desire to change households. We realize we are part of the family here and that these poor humans would be lost without us. We just want you to straighten them out about the treats! We have included pictures that show how politely we were asking for the ribs and chicken on the Fourth of July and how badly we really wanted them. The pictures will help you understand how dire the situation has become. Please intervene as soon as possible.
Bes and Sati Hall
I admit it: I was dog crazy. After having grown up with dogs, all I really wanted was a furry baby of my own to train (ha!), play catch with (ha-ha!), and cuddle with (well, okay). In 2006, on our first trip to the pet store to 'scope out' breeds, with the good intentions of going home and adopting a rescue, my husband, Mike, spotted the only quiet thing in the place: A little curly-tailed, tri-colored Basenji girl. When the store owner told us what wonderful pets these bark-less, shed-less, well-behaved Basenjis were, we thought we had found the 'perfect' dog, and we walked out the door with our little Reef that same day. Boy, were we in for a surprise! Several pillows, mini-blinds, couch-arms, and a kitchen counter-top later, we finally learned how to live in peace with our little 'devil dog,' and in the process we realized how much we love her.
After about a year with our affectionate, playful little Basenji girl, Mike and I began to notice one important thing: SHE STILL HAD SO MUCH ENERGY!! We decided that Reef needed a Basenji playmate-- Enter: BRAT. From the moment I saw Biko on the webpage, I felt that he would be perfect for our family; he just needed a lot of love. Although he was only six months old, Biko had a history of being very afraid of people because he had not been handled much, and had been destructive in his prior two homes. His wonderful BRAT foster family had already made some positive strides with him, and Mike and I were up for the rest of the challenge.
When we brought him home last Christmas, Biko was terrified of anyone touching him, and it took us nearly thirty minutes of coaxing just to get him on a leash every time he had to go potty. He was particularly afraid of young men & boys -- which we discovered when we took him to the beach, and he actually barked! He did, however, bond instantly with Reef, and quickly learned to emulate her affectionate behaviors towards us. Gradually, Biko has become completely comfortable with Mike and I touching him, cuddling him, picking him up, and even giving him baths (yikes!). He has developed into a much more confident dog than I had ever thought possible, and is beginning to even let our friends approach him and pet him. Surprisingly, Biko has turned into quite the affectionate little waggy-tail boy, never letting us out of his sight when we play outside, giving us face-baths with his tongue, and always wanting to be touching us in some way. And, especially when he wakes up in the morning, we have discovered that our funny little boy loves to roll on his back and 'talk' to us!
These days, Biko spends his time hunting seagulls and playing with the big dogs on the beach (he's faster than they are!), sitting in the sun on our enclosed front porch, playing catch with Mike (he actually brings toys back!), or, as always, doing the Basenji 500 all over the house with Reef. At night, he loves to wiggle himself right in between Mike and I in bed, and frequently I wake up in the morning to find Biko's head on the pillow next to mine. As for destructive behavior, we've never seen it -- unless you count the fact that Reef has taught Biko how to properly raid the bathroom garbage for tissues! It's been almost a year since Biko has come into our family, and Mike and I couldn't be happier with our two wonderful Basenji children. Thank you, BRAT!
Kristen and Mike Ayres
We adopted a 16-month-old Brody in March 2006. He had not had a good 16 months before we met him (abandoned by his first owner and then mistreated by his second owner) but he was still loving and gentle.... He instantly bonded with us as he road the 2 hours from our pick up site. By the end of the night he was snuggling with us in bed and he still sleeps with us (makes the rounds from boys room to our room) in the bed....
He has become a huge part of our family! He sleeps with us and takes care of us when we're sick—he'll cuddle on the couch all day, if needed—he supports the boys at the soccer field, loves to protect the house from those evil fuzzy-tailed invaders in the yard (AKA squirrels), LOVES pizza crust, and walking in the neighborhood and military park. He is such a cutie, sweetie pie and he loves EVERYONE and expects EVERYONE to love and pet him. He has a bandanna that reads "Don't just stand there pet me!"
Brody demands a 2-mile walk daily with his "mom" ... And let me tell you he has rock star status in the neighborhood. Some of our neighbors don't know our names but they know Brody's name! The kids love him and have to pet him every time he comes by! One neighbor keeps dog treats for Brody even though he doesn't have a dog himself. Brody is a great ambassador for BRAT and the Basenji breed. He has stolen our hearts and we cannot even fathom life without him even though he can be a BASENJI at times.... He is very vocal and talks to us a lot which we enjoy...
He has blessed our lives in so many many ways.... And we are very thankful to BRAT for introducing him to us. We are so enjoying him; my boys enjoy having a dog that is young and playful, even though he has eaten his share of electronic cables and controllers. I think Brody thinks my youngest son is another Basenji litter mate, LOL!
Well, I must go, the "boss" is banging on the front door. There are squirrels to chase and bushes to pee on! Thank you for letting us share our love for our special BRAT, Brody! Thank you to BRAT for bringing this wonderful dog into our lives!
I thought you'd all like to see this side-by-side before and after photo of Camo, the little guy that was pulled from the SPCA up near Ottawa, Canada just six weeks ago. He was the one that barely looked like a dog, much less a Basenji.
This photo's a pretty graphic reminder of how big a difference BRAT can make in the life of one small dog. In case you haven't heard it today, thank you for being there for dogs like Camo, even when you don't always get to be part of the enjoyable or rewarding stuff involved with fostering.
P.S. Camo wagged his tail today :)
In 2006 we were looking for a dog to complete our family. We have two children who were six and eight and we all love animals, but due to the military lifestyle, we were without any pets. After searching for just the right breed, we found the BRAT website and tried for a couple of adoptions. We just could not seem to find a match. Then in August there was a mother and daughter pair that were looking for a forever home. I applied and everything happened really fast. I drove nearly 20 hours roundtrip to Tennessee to pick them up and bring them home the weekend before school started in the fall.
Charm is the mother and a beautiful red & white, while Katy is the baby and is a beautiful black & white girl. During the first few months there were several power struggles at our house. They both understood that the parents were top dog, but they were not sure about the kids and the dogs would see just how far they could push. Charm especially wanted to be top dog and would challenge the kids if she could.
We had a very old couch that needed to be replaced and found that exposed stuffing made them go completely insane. They shredded the couch and forced the purchase of new one. Although both of them can be very house destructive, they are happy to be left in their crate while we are away and that is the safest place for them. They both love being outdoors, but will be escape artists if left alone.
We have been the proud parents of the girls for well over two years and none of us can imagine life without them. They are sweet cuddlers, they are both very active and playful; and we have enjoyed their company very much. Basenji’s are not for every family, but they fit in with our family very well.
We began looking for a new home after my husband retired from the military and whenever we look at a house, we always consider how the girls will like the yard, neighborhood. They are part of our family.
Prior to the arrival of Puzzles in October 2001, we were owned by a typically active, 22-month-old Basenji boy named Cisco.
We started considering a playmate for Cisco when we realized we were having a heck of a time keeping up with him during his extended periods of playful mischief!
We carefully considered the implications of a two-Basenji household and then contacted BRAT to inquire about adopting a rescue. We soon found ourselves browsing the rescue pages, looking at all of the choices and wanting to adopt each and every dog! Holding ourselves in check, we sought a female, a bit older than Cisco.
Puzzles, a 2½-year-old female, was available and being fostered in our state, awaiting a forever family. After going through the very simple adoption process we were approved and a meeting was set up with Puzzles′ foster mom. The first meeting went extremely well and Puzzles came home with us that day. At home, as we settled into our usual daily routines, we were subjected to about 10 hours of non-stop running and playing in the house. We grew concerned and wondered if adding a second Basenji to our home was the right decision. What would we do now? The dogs were so excited they wouldn't settle down!
Finally, Miss Puzzles ventured onto my lap where she made herself comfortable and went to sleep.
Now, over four months later, things have quieted down. The "kids" now have a normal routine and we couldn't be happier with our decision to add Miss Puzzles to our family. She now spends her days alternately chasing squirrels and/or Cisco around our back yard. She is a welcome addition to our family and we can't imagine our life without her. As an added bonus, we're happy that we were able to "rescue" this little gem and call her our own.
I had wanted a Basenji for quite a few years. My dad saw them when he was in Africa, and always talked how unique they were. Although we talked about getting a rescue, our first Basenji was a puppy we adopted in May 2002.
Misha is quite a handful, so when I suggested getting another Basenji, my husband was not really ready. We kept looking on the BRAT website, although Joe was still not sure about the whole thing. I said let's just fill out an application and see what happens.
To our surprise, Heather contacted us the next day about a dog in the area that seemed like a good match. After a few phone calls and visits, we brought home a beautiful tri-colored boy named Dillon. Dillon's foster mother said it might take some time for him to warm up to us, since he had been through so much in the last year. Within a few minutes of arriving at home, he fit right in with the rest of the family. It's a lot of fun to watch Misha and Dillon play. They both have given us so much joy. We laugh so hard that sometimes we cry. Misha has tried to teach Dillon some bad habits, like getting the newspaper out of the recycle bin or getting the T-paper. However, when Misha gets the towels off the rack or cloths out of the hamper, Dillon will take them from her and bring them to me. Getting a Basenji rescue was such a great thing; it was more then we had hoped for. I know Misha is glad.
Cheryl and Joe Simpson
When my first girl passed, I contacted BRAT requesting to adopt again. I specifically asked for a girl who'd come from a difficult background, adding that "cosmetics" didn't matter.
Three days later, I was given a chance to adopt a two year-old Basenji girl who was then called "Cleo." I renamed her Dinah, because she was very much like the main character in the book The Red Tent. Although she had endured a horror story of unimaginable abuse and neglect, her sweet spirit remained.
Thus began ten years of indescribable joy. Dinah, supposed to be the vulnerable one, saw me through a number of medical difficulties, including four strokes. I was supposed to be her rock, and I was, but she was also my rock.
She was a "common girl"—not a "pampered" show dog with perfect lines and markings. From the moment I first saw her, she was the most beautiful of all God's creatures to my eyes.
My Dinah had to leave too soon. God wanted her with Him. I let go ungracefully with enormous, undignified grieving, but as the days pass, each one includes a few more happy memories, and fewer tears.
My little Dinah, my best girl, I will love you always and never forget you. Be patient ... I'll get there when I can.
We lost our 16-year-old red & white male, Congo, in April 2009. Our 6 ½-year-old tri-colored female, Bandit, went into a deep depression. Even constant trips to the river brought little happiness to her life. She moped around and we worried she could die of a broken heart.
I immediately signed up to adopt from BRAT. To my surprise, I got a call less than 2 months later saying a young male was available and was I still interested. Luckily for us, the person who usually fosters was on vacation and could I take him now?
Jake came to us on May 31st. Bandit snarked and was a little put out at first but I told her that now she knows how Congo felt when we brought her home to live with us!!! His previous owner had 2 big dogs and Hunter wrestles with Bandit like he is a big dog. Bandit has had to put him in his place but he is learning to be sweet with her. As you can see from the picture, he loves to sleep with his head on her!
We changed Jake's name to Hunter because he didn't even know his name and was not a Jake anyways.
We had to get Hunter a bright red collar so we could tell them apart. They are almost twins! We aren't sure if Bandit is big for a female or if Hunter is small for a male. Maybe, a little of both.
Megan, our BRAT volunteer, said she thinks he knew he was home when they pulled in our driveway. He came to us at a time when we all needed him as much as he needed us. He is the sweetest little pup who just wanted love and attention, and he has found it in his forever home.
This little tricolor girl's name is Kenya. She came to live with us in June 2006, after being rescued by BRAT with her brother, Congo. They were originally from Texas. The dogs' former human mother gave them to BRAT and they were moved to a wonderful foster home in Michigan. The foster people there had five of their own Basenjis, so Kenya and Congo learned to be independent of each other.
My family had lost our little red Basenji girl awhile back and we were starting to look for a new little girl. One of the BRAT coordinators thought Kenya might be a perfect match. She was so right! Kenya is the friendliest and cuddliest Basenji we've ever had. She is our fifth Basenji. Four have been BRAT rescues. She gets along well with our brindle boy, who is her age, and also our fourteen-year-old red and white boy, Simon.
Her brother Congo also found a good home near the foster home, so this story has two happy endings!
When adopted Khaki, an eight year old brindle and white boy in April, 2011. It seems that Sammy was misunderstood and was going to be put down. My husband and I are suckers for the dogs that have come from difficult backgrounds.
Since adopting Khaki, he has adjusted very well in our home. He and our other dog Sam get along really well now. They enjoy chasing the squirrels around the yard, playing fetch, and lounging in the sun. Khaki is such a good boy and we love him so much. He has learned how to roll over to get his belly rubbed. He loves it so much he just wiggles around on his back.
He can now remain out of the crate when we leave the house. We still have him go in there for breakfast and dinner though.
He loves to lounge around the house with us. He snuggles up as close as he can to you ... or I should say it’s more like a “plop.”
We’re so happy we rescued Khaki. He’s such a loveable boy. He pins us down while we’re sitting on the couch and cleans our ears, eyes, and forehead.
Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to adopt Khaki.
February 20th, 2007 was Linus’s first anniversary in his new forever home. He was a little worried that he might be too old for most people, but ten years old was just about right for us two senior citizens. We had just lost our Basenji after ten years, at the age of 13, and after a three-month hiatus in our family; Linus was the perfect addition to our home to fill the void. Transportation was no problem, his foster home was only 1 ½ hours away.
Linus’s previous home was growing up with a ten-year-old girl until it was time for her to leave home. At that time he also had to find a new place to live. He has found it with us and he entertains us with his antics. Watch out for your wash cloth and bath towel, because Linus likes to wash his face every morning and then dry it in the towel. Even when visiting he will make use of towels hanging on a doorknob.
He had to do some training himself and he insists that I have to pay a ransom to get into my bed at night. If I call him he will jump off the bed and shake hands with me in order to receive his treat. This gives me the opportunity to jump into bed and get under the covers. If I forget to play the game, he will vigorously defend the territory (my bed) and not let me in.
Before we got to know Linus, we did not know if we could trust him home alone so we left him in a crate. Much to our dismay, we would find any cloth lining the crate in shreds by the time we returned. We did not think he was distressed being locked in the crate, he willingly entered and received his treat and when we returned he was happy to see us. To investigate the reason for the shredding, I set up a video camera one day, and to our horror we saw for ourselves how unhappy he was during our absence. He started by whining, then trying to get out and eventually shredding the towel, rug or sheet inside the cage. Needless to say, we folded up the crate, and have never had a reason to regret leaving him free in the house while we were away.
Adopting an older dog means there may be some psychological problems the reasons for which we don’t understand. Since we never will understand, we accept him as he is and enjoy him as a permanent member of the family.
Martha A. Covi
I have been a Basenji person since I was a child and attended a summer camp in Connecticut that had about 500 screaming kids and one red and white Basenji named Barkus. I was always impressed by how that dog could bob and weave and avoid being petted by hundreds of clamoring kids. I was impressed at a young age by the breed's look, and attitude as well as its aloof-ness (if that is a word).
Our family has had several Basenjis over the years and unfortunately become quite familiar with health issues like Fanconi syndrome, brain tumors and PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) but we have always had a continued affection for the breed. When our (now 8 year old) brindle Basenji Beezley was stricken with PRA and went blind at one year of age we struggled with the idea of possibly placing him for adoption but thankfully decided to keep him and have never regretted that decision. (He was 2/3 new African gene pool and came down with an entirely new version of early-onset PRA)
In the spring of 2006 we saw a listing for "Daisy" through the BRAT network. We weren't exactly looking for a companion Basenji at the time but she looked like she needed a good home and we had lots of room, a fenced yard and plenty of things to chew on. We visited "Daisy" at Barbara Narehood's home and brought our blind Basenji Beezley and our kids for a visit. Beezley seemed rather unaffected by the whole deal and was his average grumpy old self. We ended up passing the audition and took "Daisy" home with us. The only problem was that we already had a mixed breed dog by the name of "Daisy," so on the ride home we decided to rename our new girl Lola after hearing Copacabana on the radio and simply, because she just looked like a Lola.
Traditionally, most Basenji adoption candidates have issues with young children (we have an 13 and a 8 year old), but Lola is different, she loves everybody. Our kids have been raised with Basenjis and are very savvy to their idiosyncrasies. They know all about "snarking," grumpy sleep issues and food aggression.
Lola turned out to be more of a cat than a Basenji: She can effortlessly stroll from the tops of furniture just like a feline. Happily she has none of the traditional Basenji bad habits. In fact she has been the best behaved Basenji we have ever had (if you disregard the chewing the noses off of any stuffed animal she can find, the recent gnawing of all of the drawers of a desk my wife was in the process of restoring, or the waking up like clockwork, 8 minutes before the alarm is set to go off no matter what time you have it set for) She loves to snuggle and has no snarking or grumpy issues about being awakened. In fact we think she is somewhat narcoleptic because when she falls asleep, she is completely unconscious till morning.
Above is a photo of Lola in action (or inaction as it may be). She fell asleep on a blanket on the couch next to our son. After a short while we came back in the room and found the two of them like this, happily snoring away together.
I wanted to write a success story for you guys as I can't tell you how pleased I am with the BRAT organization:
My Grandmother's spoken love for Basenjis during my childhood is what originally sparked my interest in the breed. As I grew, the memories of her made me begin searching on the internet for these "barkless dogs". I quickly found BRAT and wanted to help. I was just a poor college student at the time and wanted to make a difference in whatever way I could. I contacted a local BRAT sponsor that told me how I could get involved. I made a few long drives to get some Basenjis out of some less-than-desirable situations and find them new homes. I fostered them until BRAT had a new family all lined up for them. I quickly fell for the unique characteristics of the breed my Grandmother had described.
As I began to get ready to move back home in late 2004 from college, I began thinking about my parents’ giant back yard and how I could help give a Basenji a permanent home. Then, I was picking up a 6-month-old red & white BRAT rescue from a town nearby, I took her home to foster her. It was a matter of minutes before I knew she would be mine forever. Makaela is now about to turn 5 on January 16th, 2009. She is gorgeous, way too smart for her own good, perhaps the most spoiled dog in history and the biggest BRAT in the world.
Makaela runs with me all the time and worships my 14-year-old black lab rescue to this day. She hates wet grass and cold weather, and wants to be with company at all times. I'm getting married in July and Makaela now enjoys my fiancé’s affection more than my own during movie time. She has a brand new (to her) huge backyard and a house all to herself for the time being (although that may change as we look to adopt another dog down the road). She's fully trained and we are considering doing some agility training for fun soon.
She has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me and my family. My Grandmother's (Marie) death in 1996 due to cancer was a hard thing to deal with, but each day I wake up and see Makaela Marie sitting next to my bed and know my grandma is smiling down on us.
I couldn't be happier with my decision to help such a wonderful organization like BRAT and Makaela, I look forward to a long life together.
Thanks for everything you do.
Having moved away from home for graduate school, I miss my friends, family and of course, my dogs very much. Because I wanted a companion to make my new place feel more like home, I looked at BRAT and found Nugget.
Nugget is such an awesome little Basenji boy and it was so sad that he didn't have a permanent home at 11 years old. Having had him since February, I can't image why anyone gave up such a little ball of excitement and awesomeness. Because Nugget is older and calmer, he's an amazing match for my schedule being in class and he's always well behaved.
Rarely a day goes by where Nugget doesn't make me laugh. It's especially entertaining when he pushes the pillows around on the bed to dig to China. Whether he is balled up on the couch with his nose tucked in his feet or he is rolling around in the sheets on the bed asking for belly rubs, he's my grad school buddy and I don't know what I'd do without him. He even got to meet my girlfriend and she's fallen in love with him just as much as I have.
All Nugget ever wanted is a bed to sleep in, some treats and a person to snuggle with. I'm glad I can provide him with all of the above.
We had been thinking about adding a smaller dog to our pack, and Basenjis looked interesting. The more I researched the breed, the more apparent it became that a Basenji could definitely complicate our life, so I put the idea on hold.
I discovered BRAT during my research, and volunteered to transport a rescue dog. Most of our animals are rescues, so this was appealing. In February, a BRAT coordinator asked me to help evaluate and transport a dog living in a nearby town. I mentioned that I might be interested in adopting, and filled out the Foster Contract, since I would be picking up the dog from her present family.She was happily living with a family who had six children, so it was a given she was good with kids. Their cat was another story, however, and was now residing in the garage until the small intruder with the curly tail moved on.
I knew from the Foster Contract that a crate was the preferable way to safely contain a Basenji, so I was surprised and concerned to learn she was being tied to the doorknob with a leather lead and a choke chain. The hair on her neck was worn off from the collar, and she looked a little rough, but she seemed like a happy girl. The owners had tried to use a wire crate, but she tore her face up trying to escape so they resorted to tying her.
I wasn't at all sure what I was getting myself into, but decided to pick her up after work on Friday which would give us the weekend to get her used to her plastic crate before I had to leave her on Monday. Meanwhile, my husband had read the Basenji horror stories, and wasn't too keen on having our two older cats harassed by the "little maniac."
Over the weekend she was introduced to her crate, where the meals were great and treats abounded. On Monday it was time for her to spend the day in it. I felt like I was leaving a toddler in daycare for the first time—the guilt. When I returned early in the afternoon, I was relieved to see her face and toenails intact. No blood, no trauma, just a happy little girl named Rio ready to play with the big dogs and chase a cat or two if she got the opportunity. Boy, was BRAT ever right to insist on the crate. What a relief to know she and our house would be in one piece when I got home.
My husband and I were rapidly falling for this little clown. I decided to take Rio on a road trip I had planned before she was in the picture. It was just Rio and me on the road for nine days. This was my idea of bliss. We camped and stayed in motels where she was welcome. She was the perfect traveling companion. She was tagged and micro-chipped, and I was careful to keep her hooked to her seat to avoid an escape. When we got back, we formalized Rio's adoption, since she was now home for good. She proved to me that a rescue dog is not necessarily a problem dog, just one who might have not been in the right place to begin with.
This weekend she'll meet her Basenji cousin C.J. — big dogs look out!
I just wanted to let everyone know the Happy Ending story that I have had with my wonderful, hardheaded, temperamental, jealous, controlling, genius, playful, mischievous, dog/cat/three-year-old child named Roscoe.
I rescued Roscoe through BRAT in February 1999, or maybe he rescued me? He had been with a family that did not have the time to care for him, and he was offered through the service. I picked him because he was only two hours from home and he was young; but it had to be fate.
Roscoe has been a loyal member of our family for over ten years now. The photo of him at right was taken this month. We have had our ups and downs, but all in all the experience has been wonderful. Even at his "advanced" age of 12 years old he is still the consummate escape artist. Recently my heart was broken, when he managed to escape from a new detention facility I had erected on the back patio so he could enjoy being outside without the fear of getting wet. He decided the facility was not to his liking and escaped. Two days later he was found in the company of the local doggie jail. He was recovered no worse for wear, and all the comments I received were positive about his behavior while resorting at their facility. The big surprise came when I told them he was over 12 years old. They thought maybe four or five.
I tell the story of his escape to tell all those adopting a Basenji that the stories of their eccentricities are not rumors. Basenjis are great companions not pets, and they expect to be treated as such. They never grow weary of their mischievousness, and your life will be fuller with their presence in it.
Long Live Roscoe; Long Live the King.
Sammy came to us a few months ago, skinny, a little shy, and full of curiosity. Today, Sammy is still full of curiosity, but no longer skinny or shy. He the most well behaved Basenji I have ever owned and the most affectionate. Though near-perfect Sammy, like most Basenjis, love to shred paper and the kids have to make sure their coloring books are out of reach. He doesn't chew clothing so we overlook the paper thing. Ha, ha, ha.When Sammy first arrived, he chased our cat Boo constantly. Now they chase each other! Boo is quite fond of Sammy and rubs against him like she does everybody else in the family, including our 70-pound Doberman pincher, Shanzi!
Shanzi loves her new Basenji playmate too. They have a great time in the yard chasing each other and they love to cuddle on the couch with my husband and me after the kids are in bed.
The dogs have their own sofa on the screened in porch and I often find the two of them out there, together; Shanzi taking up the whole couch and Sammy, curled up on the top of the cat's scratching post, where there is the most sun.
We take the kids to the park at least twice a week and Sammy goes with us. Because of his sweet manners Sammy has met many friends at the park and has a growing "following". He sits quietly to be petted and takes the treats they bring him very gently.
While his rescue and placement may be ordinary to others, it's extraordinary to us. He has brought extra wonder and love into our lives. His delightful cross-eyed stare makes me smile whenever I see it, and his happy yodel makes everyone laugh! Having him as part of our family gives me extra pleasure because he reminds me of the person that first introduced me to these wonderful dogs, my Dad. Although Dad has been gone from my life for two years now, every time I look at Sammy, I am reminded of my father. He would have been delighted with Sammy. I know we are! And this will always be his forever home.
My search for another Basenji, and my discovery of BRAT and Sarah, began after my first Basenji, Colborne, died at the ripe old age of 17. Thunder, Colborne's nephew, now alone and distraught, began rearranging furniture, chewing through doorways and howling and screaming for hours when I went out. He clearly needed a Basenji buddy.
At first I passed over Sarah because she sounded like too much trouble! Her description read: 8 years old; doesn't like teens; growls at anyone approaching; seems to be losing her vision; overweight due to a thyroid condition.
But there was something that appealed to be about Sarah and I couldn't quite forget about her. I kept going back to look at the picture of this stout black and white female and began to focus on her positive attributes: Gets on well with older people (I'm 42 and remember when I was 20 and thought 42 was ancient!); yodels incessantly; loves her food; cuddles once she knows you.
I applied for Sarah and won! That's how I felt, like she was this giant, rewarding prize.
Sarah was living in Texas and was gently and patiently fostered by Marilyn Sterling. Sarah's trip to our home in Brampton, Ontario was quite amazing! She got a "direct flight" from Texas to Brampton aboard Lyle Sterling's oil truck. No one can tell me this wasn't meant to be.
Amazing is not how I would describe Thunder's reaction to Sarah's arrival. Not in the positive sense, anyway. It wasn't easy between the two of them in the beginning. With patience, diligence and a lot of help from Marilyn, BRAT staff, my Basenji mentor, and Basenji Companions, we worked through the discord. It took about two months for Thunder to appreciate Sarah's presence and company. This is truly a happy ending!
Thunder is back to his old self and Sarah reminds me of a little circus bear. She dances! She yodels! And she is a very easy going and joyful b-girl! So what if she has taught Thunder how delicious paper products are? She is precious and sweet, and we now have lot more to love about our household.
We lost our beloved 16-yr-old Basenji Vinnie in Sept 2009 and were not planning on adding another dog to our family as we still had another geriatric Basenji at home; plus the loss of Vinnie was still very raw. But being a Basenji lover I still went out to BRAT to look (actually I had been doing it for a couple of years). Just looking, mind you, not adopting. I came upon Scooby and one look into his eyes and something just pulled us. I had to contact BRAT. That was May 17, 2010.
We drove from Tulsa to Rolla, Missouri that Memorial weekend to meet Scooby. He is the most beautiful brindle we have ever seen. We loaded him into the backseat and his new older brother Joji in the front seat (laying in Mom’s lap). By the time we got to Tulsa, Scooby was also in his new Mom’s lap. He is very good at the Basenji slide and making sure he is noticed.
He insisted on letting his new brother know that he was now in charge, but that has changed to just wanting to wrestle and rough play. Joji isn’t too interested, so that usually means either Mom or Papa have to intervene on his behalf.
Scooby loves being outside in his backyard; I think he considers it his kingdom. He sits on top of the patio table surveying and listening to everything. He even caught a bunny not long after coming to live with us. Papa made sure it got away though. The yard isn’t too big but he can get up to speed running the back fence with the neighbor dog. They try so hard to see each other through the privacy fence but he does not dig or try to escape.
He is so smart and well behaved. He seems to have had some training in manners. He sits while his meals are made and will always yodel at me if I seem to be taking too long. He loves to give the “high four” (doggie version of the high five) before he eats. He knows sit, down, off, and back and will even speak when asked questions concerning food.
He now weighs in at 26.8 pounds. He is not overweight by any means, just tall, very big built and muscular. We call him Scooby the Bull. Everyone who sees him comments on how beautiful and friendly he is.
Scooby is a huge snuggler and has been in bed under the covers with us since the very first night. We were told he didn’t like toys but that is not the case. He has a basket of stuffed toys that he plays with constantly. He insists we play with them too. It is so funny to watch him run to the basket and nose each toy trying to decide which one will be the victim for that day.
Oh, he loves to have his teeth brushed! First dog I have ever heard of that will insist on getting it done too. Every evening when he hears that bathroom drawer open he runs into the bathroom, sits down, and gets those pearly whites brushed. If his Papa is lagging (he seems to know when 9pm is) he runs around telling him to hurry up. One of these days we may try to get it on video and send it in to American Funniest Home Videos.
He is an amazing addition to our family. We love him dearly and cannot imagine our lives without him now. I would like to thank not only BRAT but also Scooby’s parents for the first 3 ½ years of his life. If it weren’t for them I don’t believe he would be the wonderful dog he is, plus we would not have him in our lives. Thank you so much for such this amazing gift.
It was just over a year ago that I found my forever family. For the first week I fooled them by being the quiet and shy little Basenji. I pottied when I was supposed to and I slept in my crate like a good boy and I was never far from my new “Mom” (by the way, she is a pushover most of the time and I really like that!). I’ve learned how to “sit”, “stay”, “come”, and “drop”. I’m pretty smart (or so my mom tells me). Mom feeds me great dog food and bought me Mother Hubbards COOKIESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!! I now weigh a very svelte 26.5 lbs. My coat is all filled in and the hair on my tail is too! My ears are pink as pink can be now (instead of black!) Mom says it’s the food – I think it is the COOKIEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!
Mom bought me a new bed and new bigger crate, (hehehee) I made the bed into confetti!!!!!!! I started out sleeping in my crate, it lasted exactly 10 days. I let them know that I did not like to sleep without them in sight (I screamed loudly so they heard me upstairs). They moved me into their bedroom on yet another new doggy bed (hehehee) that one was fun to de-stuff too! To be honest, after making confetti out of doggy bed No. 3 (see photo below while bed No. 3 was still in one piece), I “graduated” to my Daddy’s swivel rocker in their bedroom. That lasted exactly 10 days. Now I sleep very soundly right between my Mommy & Daddy (they have a big bed so all three of us fit… at least I think we all fit… sometimes… well ok… most of the time… OKKKKK every night… Daddy says “Seeeeeeeeaaaaaaaamus… move over!” Then I scoot a little closer to him and wash his face and his bald head thoroughly; then he hugs me and quiets down (hehehee) so I can get my rest.
I have lots of new toys now; they are already “un-stuffed”!!!!!!! I have a skunk, a squirrel, a fox, a rabbit, a raccoon, and one that mom calls “the rat.” I toss them up into the air and catch them and play “keep-a-way” and fetch and generally have a great time with them. Mom bought me tennis balls and let me tell you, those are the best. They bounce and they roll and my Daddy throws them down the hallways and I fly after them and catch them and bring them back repeatedly!
I love to be outside with my new mom and daddy. I have a huge backyard and a woods with lots of squirrels and chipmunks to chase. The leaves are great to chase around too. Mom says “Seamus you are better than a bug-zapper!” because I can catch most bugs with one snap of my mouth! I do the B-500 much quicker outside where I can get a good grip in the grass. I do the B-500 in the house too, but the tile and hardwood floors make it hard to take the corners with any amount of dignity. Mom and Daddy laugh hysterically when I do the B-500 in the house.
The best though is hiking in the woods with my Mom or Daddy. I do not like the rain here in Rhode Island any more than I liked the rain in New Jersey when I lived with my Foster Mom & Dad. So we do not walk much when it rains, but that’s ok, we make up for it on sunny days.
I have the best seats in the house in the breezeway. In the winter it is heated with a fireplace and in the summer the sun shines in the morning through the slider doors and in the afternoon through the bay window! I have a recliner by each! I also like to sun myself out on my deck, it is the best spot for squirrel watching and catching a few rays as well as doing my “bug zapper” imitation.
My Mom works in her office downstairs. I learned really fast that I could spend lots of time with her there. I like to meet her clients; I met all 1600 of them during tax season this year. I must be doing something right (or maybe it was the black bow tie I would wear each day) because most of her clients wanted to take me home with them. Mom always laughed politely … but would do this “eyebrow arch” thing when someone would get too fresh with wanting to take me home. She luuuuuuvvvvvvs me a lot. Mom decided that it would be best if she had me micro-chipped (yuck!). She was afraid that someone might be serious about taking me.
Daddy says that I’m a “momma’s boy”… I guess he is right, cuz I love my Mom. I go everywhere with her. Wherever mom is, you will find me. My Mom takes me to lots of different places; we go to the ocean, the pet store, the park, the school track field, and to Tractor Supply Store (did you know that I can go into the store as long as I have a human with me??????). They love me there!
Mom also arranges little liaisons for me. I have several young lady friends, but my very special lady is Hennessey (AKA Henny). She is so beautiful, she is my best girl. Her human is one of my Mom’s secretaries. Henny and I play for hours and then after a light lunch and of course Mother Hubbard’s Cookies for dessert, we snuggle up and snooze while my Mom and Cate work on payrolls or tax returns.
I still have a few issues (from my Puppy Mill days), but they are fading fast. I don’t startle so much at loud noises and I never ever NEVER growl anymore. I don’t wolf down my food anymore, so I do not get the hiccups as much. I don’t cower anymore either and I have lots of self-confidence. I walk with dignity and my head is always held up with pride.
All in all, my life is one of “Riley” now. I have a forever family that loves me for the “wondrous gift I am” (that’s what my mom always says). I love my humans and I think I will keep them.
Seamus and Terilynne DeBlois
In 2001, one of the BRAT coordinators called and said there was an 8-year-old boy in Maryland that desperately needed a home. His original family had given him to their son and his family, and the teenagers had teased him and as a result he had turned aggressive. I already had a male Basenji and a female, but agreed to take him on. He arrived at O'Hare airport one night at 11:00. By mistake, one of the luggage handlers had put his crate, with him in it, on the conveyor belt! We grabbed him off quickly, signed all his paperwork, opened his crate door and put the leash on him. Away I flew through the lobby, holding on for dear life. He sure was glad to get out!
Introductions were made in the middle of the night out in front of my house. All Basenji's sniffed and snarked, most of the consternation coming from the two males. We all survived and thus began our lives as a pack. Having three Basenji's is so much different than two, but I'd never do anything differently. The males established a truce, and the little female loved them both. Simon never showed any signs of aggression with any human that he ever encountered. He was never a yodeler, either-a very quiet dog, never asking for attention but receiving affection gladly.
Eight years later, he has seen his brother and sister pass, and another brother that we adopted after the first boy died. He is a very healthy and happy 16 years old, living with his sister, Kenya. He has declined somewhat in the last year - I believe he is quite deaf, as he no longer runs into the kitchen when the cabinet doors open. However, he can see pretty well, and has only just begun to lose his balance at times. We have wood floors and his legs go out from under him, but he gets right up. He can run pretty fast when he wants to. All he wants to do now is sleep (see recent photo of him doing his favorite thing) and cuddle, which is just about the best you could ask for.
This past April, we adopted Sophie (formerly Cami) from BRAT. She was fostered by Tonya Ahrens, in Missouri, and we live just west of Milwaukee, WI. Our Basenji experience goes back 10 years, when we got our first dog, Bailey (in the black collar in the photos). After having 2 kids (now 4 and 7), we decided to adopt a 2nd dog. My husband wasn't too thrilled with the extra work and expense of 2 dogs, but really liked the idea of getting a rescue. It's a great opportunity to give a dog a second chance.
When I first read about Sophie, she sounded like a perfect fit for our family, and we were soon chosen to adopt her. We were very excited when Tanya was able to arrange transportation from Missouri to Madison, about an hour away. I was very nervous how Bailey, an only dog for 10 years, would take to having a sister. We brought him along on the trip. The weather was cold and raining, so we put Sophie right in the kennel in our car, and they sniffed each other. They drove home quietly, and were properly introduced in the garage. Once in the house, they had no issues with each other. Sophie was VERY shy, and kept her distance.
Two days after we got Sophie (a Tuesday night), my worst fear came true - Sophie escaped from the house. We searched the neighborhood up and down, and didn't see her. The only identification on her was the BRAT tag – I hadn't even had time to get her a tag. I sent an email out to all the neighbors, and they helped search. There was no sign of her that night. The next morning we were up early again searching. I handed out fliers to people in the area, the grocery stores, and a nature center near by. Liz Newton sent an email out for any volunteers in the area, and several people came to help or called with suggestions. That night we got a call from someone I had given a flier to earlier in the day saying they spotted her. We went out, with Bailey, to search. She managed to slip away. We were relieved she was still in the area. On Thursday, I rented an animal trap from the humane society, and set it out where she was seen. Thursday and Friday, there was no sign of her. I kept thinking how alone and scared she must be. Since she was so shy, even if someone saw her, I doubted they could catch her. We only had her for 2 days, so she really didn't even know us, or how to get home. We felt so helpless. Tanya even considered driving up to help. Liz Newton sent another email out, asking for volunteers to search on Saturday morning at 10am. It was our last hope. That morning, my husband and daughter went out early to look again. A storm was rolling in, so I knew there wouldn't be much of a search.
Then at about quarter to 10 on Saturday morning, the phone rang - it was our local Humane Society (HAWS)...Sophie was there! That morning, about 2.5 miles northeast of our home (in the complete opposite direction of where she had been seen), Sophie finally "surrendered her freedom" and walked right up to someone. The lady recognized she was a Basenji, and took her over to HAWS. I had called HAWS several times earlier in the week, so they knew Sophie's story, and knew it had to be her. I grabbed the kids, and raced over. I was so happy to see her! I forgot how shy she was and ran right up to her, scooped her up, and hugged and kissed her. I was amazed at how kind the humane society was. They understood what had happened, and did not charge us any fees. They did not charge us for the animal trap, either. I was also truly amazed at how many people emailed, called, and volunteered to help, from BRAT, our neighborhood, and even BCOSW (Basenji Club of Southeastern Wisconsin). It is one experience I hope I never have to relive.
Sophie was in great condition - hungry and exhausted. She had a number of cuts on her legs and belly, and a tick on her neck. She was very dirty, so she got a bath, a bowl of food, then she slept on my chest the rest of the afternoon.
Since we got Sophie back, she's been slowly adjusting to her new life. We immediately worked with her on waiting at the door before going outside, and she's now very good at that. We're still working on her shyness. She paces a lot, with her tail down, when we're cooking or cleaning or moving around the house. Once we sit down at night on the couch, she jumps up on the couch and is fine. But when if one of us gets up, she jumps down. We still have trouble catching her in the house to take her outside, or put her in the kennel. In the house, unless she's lying on the couch, she runs when we approach her. When we head out to go on a walk, she does get excited and will wait at the door for us to put her leash on and go out the door. Sophie is not motivated by food at all, so enticing her with treats does not work - it only gets Bailey to come by us, since he will do anything for food. I think in the time we've had her, she's allowed me to walk up and pet her only 2-3 times. When she's comfortable around us, like on the couch or bed, she's the sweetest dog and likes to cuddle. We're not sure how to make her feel more at ease all the time.
I think Bailey and Sophie are a perfect match. I've been surprised that Bailey hasn't shown one hint of jealousy. To watch the two of them play together is hilarious. Whenever Sophie is in the mood to play, she gently swats Bailey in the face. It doesn't take long for him to take the bait, and the two of them will start wrestling, standing on their hind legs, chasing each other around the house (even up and down the stairs), and having a great time. It's the Basenji 500 times 2. At bedtime, she does the same thing to him, and they wrestle on the bed! We have seen a whole new side of Bailey that we haven't seen since he was young. We've watched him transform into a whole new dog. He rarely played with toys or anything before Sophie came along. Now he loves to play with her! They are a fun pair. It's so nice to see them interact with each other.
Bailey has really helped with Sophie's shyness. She sees how confident he is, and will follow his lead. If I want to pet Sophie, I'll bend down and pet Bailey, and she'll usually come over for attention. She has also started sleeping in bed, which has helped a lot. She ran upstairs one night before we had a chance to put her in the kennel, and we caved in. Every night she sleeps up against me. Good thing we have a king bed!
In the 2 months we've had Sophie, it's been quite an adventure (or more like a roller coaster), but we're all getting used to each other. I have not seen Bailey play this much since he was very young. His Basenji 500 was more like a 125 ~ 2 laps around the house and he was done. Now he's just come to life. I love watching the dogs play, and the way Sophie tries to instigate trouble. I call her Sassy Sophie because she just won't leave Bailey (pictured at right) alone sometimes, by biting his neck, pulling his tail, or just swatting at him. They have so much fun together. With 2 red Basenjis, it sometimes seems like we have twins. Especially when they go racing past at top speeds. Life with 2 dogs is more work, and Sophie has challenged us, but to see how happy they both are makes it all worth it. I thought for sure Bailey would want to pack up and move when she came home, but he has been great to her.
I can't forget how close we came to losing her, and how very lucky we are to have her back, and in great condition. I am so grateful that it was a happy ending. I often wonder what would happen if Sophie got out of the house now, since she's more familiar with us and the neighborhood and Bailey, but I sure don't want to find out!
Liz & Kevin Carroll
Sting came to live with my mother(76) and I in August 2005. I had read about Basenji’s but there was some disagreement about a dog in “The House”… fleas, dirt, torn up furniture!! We had just moved in the spring, so: the house was painted; the carpet clean; and the woodwork was in good shape. I had looked for a year for this house and we did not want it torn up or any antiques damaged either!
After much discussion and prayer Sting (age 9) came to live with us. Not long off the streets of Rome, GA came this little man that took our hearts and brought great joy to our lives. He was kind of a couch potato type but did test us from time to time in Basenji form. He ran my mother up and down the street the day he escaped.
After time, he walked nicely on a leash for her while I was away. He learned mother’s limits and was a great companion to her during the day. Sting would stay close to mother especially during thunderstorms. Always laying quietly by or behind her chair. She became his comfort then but mostly he was there for her.
It took some time to keep Sting off the couch…it was a competition for us to outsmart each other so the cushions were tilted at a 45 degrees for months. I remember the time I could not find him and he was behind the cushion sleeping…out popped this little head—BUSTED! Eventually Sting felt sorry for me and was content to lay on his beds or the floor.
Sting is very vocal and baroos for treats and when he smells food. He will even dance or loop the yard for a treat. He is rarely crated and welcomes friends to our home with much joy! He gets along with my relatives young cats and lets children unroll his tail. Sting travels well on trips and gladly wears his seat belt.
Sting is truly a great dog!! I will always be grateful for BRAT and the work they do. Sting came along at just the right time. I have learned to: go out and look at the stars; take more naps; and not stress so much about “The House.”
By the way, Sting is allowed on the couch now but was reluctant to join me at first.
Sadly, I recently found out that Sting has cancer and Cholestatic liver disease. He is on medication and will continue to be the king of our home. He has come a long way from the streets and is truly a loyal and wonderful Basenji! It has been my privilege to have Sting in his senior years and be able to learn some life lessons from a little dog.
It was divine intervention when Tahzu came into our lives in May 2005. My husband and I were taking some time off work, so we were at home when I received an email from an active BRAT volunteer in Texas. She asked if we could foster Tahzu for no more than a week. (We had adopted from BRAT before and helped with rescues and transports, so we were happy to assist.)
Arlene already had a couple of prospective "parents" for Tahzu but had yet to complete home visits. In the meantime, Arlene was trying to get Tahzu out of a local shelter, where the previous foster left him when he "had a family emergency" -- problem is, the foster never came back to pick up Tahzu. Not sure what happened there.... but it wasn't cool to leave the little guy like that.
Mitch and I picked up Tahzu from the kennel and we could tell he was stressed from being there. He was having digestive problems; he was grumpy and unhappy. He wasn't too friendly with us, understandably so. But within an hour of arriving at our home, he warmed up immediately. We already had two rescue Basenjis, a male and female, so Tahzu knew we were suckers for a beguiling face and personality! Within just a few hours, Mitch said, "I think we should keep him."
I suggested that having three Basenjis would be too much, with vet bills, boarding when we travel... plus the fights that could ensue with the other two dogs. And, since Arlene had told me that there were two potential adopters for Tahzu, I figured he was already spoken for.
But I emailed Arlene immediately and to our delight, she was equally delighted that we wanted to keep Tahzu! Turns out, Tahzu is the most affectionate little guy -- I call him the "Reluctant Basenji" because at times he doesn't behave like a Basenji. He's smaller, stockier, less aloof, cuddlier, and so sweet. His previous "parents" must have loved him very much at one time, because he shows no signs of being neglected and he does tricks! He shakes paw, sits, lies down and hops up on command. He LOVES sleeping with me in bed -- head on pillow and little body under the covers, just like a human!
We are so grateful Tahzu came into our lives. He gets into the occasional scuffle with our 12-year-old male, named Bagel, but for the most part all three dogs have learned to co-exist peacefully.
We love our relationship with BRAT. We have met so many great people like Arlene who love dogs as much as we do. We've experienced the joy of helping many great little Basenjis like ours travel to their own forever homes.
Update: Since we first wrote you about Tahzu, our first BRAT rescue, Bagel passed away. Shortly after that, we discovered that Tahzu has Fanconi. However, we caught it early. He is on the Gonto protocol -- sort-of! He is the most finicky eater ever, so getting him to take meds is a challenge. But so far, it's been two years since we discovered it and he's doing well. To look at him, you'd never know anything is going on inside. He's healthy, coat is shiny -- he's lovable and terrorizing at the same time!
Robin and Mitch McCasland
It's been about a year since we adopted Tana and she has totally blossomed into a different dog. I am so proud of her.
When I went to visit her at her foster home, I was prepared for a skittish, fearful dog, former-puppy-mill breeding female. And she was. A bit on the thin side, too, and very petite. But absolutely adorable.
The young daughter of the foster family was the only person Tana trusted . . . and even she had to crawl under the dining room table to get her from her hiding spot.
The last thing I expected was for Tana to fall asleep in my arms within 10 minutes of me holding her. Everyone was surprised, as she hadn't yet warmed up to anyone like that after several months with the family. I knew it meant she had chosen me to take her home . . . or maybe I was just soft and squishy and she got comfortable on my lap. Either way, I fell in love with her instantly and knew there was no chance I was leaving without this dog.
The first night, she slept almost glued to my body, curled in a tight ball in my arms. She still sleeps with me, down by my legs, with Jibini, not out of insecurity, but because it's warm! She used to be scared to death of men and strangers and jumped at every loud noise. Being in a truck was a kind of immersion therapy for her. She was in a small space with a man 24/7 and taken for walks around a lot of strangers and loud noises. I was there with her every step of the way with treats and praise when she made progress. I gave her time and let her figure out her own way of handling things. Within two months she stopped avoiding my husband like he was contagious, and by three months she would allow a strange man to pet her.
Today, she waltzes right up to strangers and gives them a good sniff. Doesn't even back off if people reach down to pet her. Loves kids. She is also very playful though it took her a while to figure out how. Now I can engage her in play very easily and she does the same with me! We have our playtime rituals, including taking turns pawing at each other. She does the typical Basenji slap but it is soooo slow and gentle, so I do the same back to her and sometimes it's enough to get a B-500 out of her! Silly is the best word I can use for her.
Occasionally she is overwhelmed with bouts of silly and will leap straight up in the air, or spin around in tight circles for no reason at all. Maybe it's ingrained cage behavior from being in the mill; she does a cage twirl when really excited and I love to see the joy on her face when she realizes she has plenty more room to move around.
I've taken her to the dog park a couple of times and have found that she loves other dogs and she is very fast! I would love to try agility with her.
She is also intelligent, sensitive, and willing to please, unlike most Basenjis she hates to be told no and that's about all it takes to make her stop misbehaving. I think she'd be a great obedience or agility prospect.
I knew she was "my dog" the day Fred told me she whines when I leave.
She is the most adorable little princess. Even Jibini, Mr.-Grumpy-Pants, who initially gave her the silent treatment, couldn't resist her charms. If she gets wet, Jibini dutifully licks her dry. He cleans her ears. He cuddles with her when it's cold. (Though he seems to do it reluctantly if he thinks I'm watching, scooting closer and closer to her with a resigned look on his face until he's up next to her, then he'll go to sleep.) He uses her for a pillow when they sleep together. He only grumbles half-heartedly when she climbs over him and lies down beside him. I swear he taught her the rules as she closely mimics his behavior during our daily routines and I haven't taught her a thing.
Sorry I wrote such a long Tana-novel, but every day I am amazed at how much this little dog has become ingrained into our life. I can hardly remember what it was like before we adopted her. My thanks goes out to BRAT, her adoption coordinator and her foster family for allowing me the honor to have this little dog in my life!
Danielle and Fred
I love Happy Ending Stories about dogs who have fallen on hard times and been miraculously saved - litters born to homeless mothers who find Forever Homes, dogs who have been injured or lost in storms or natural disasters, or rescued from non-caring or cruel owners. They are all very heart-warming and bring tears to the eye.
Troy’s story is not like any of these. He was not in any way taken away from a bad situation. On the contrary, his owners loved him so much they gave him up after having him in their home for ten years. Their kids had grown up and moved away and the parents’ job situations had changed, leaving Troy home alone a lot. He was boarded often, as they had to travel a lot now. As he had always been a very sociable dog, this broke their hearts. They found BRAT and agreed to relinquish him if a suitable adopter could be found, someone that could give Troy a new life. The one thing he had going against him was his age - he was ten years old.
They may have been surprised when someone stepped up to adopt a senior dog. One may think that a dog of that age might be set in his ways and have trouble adapting to a new routine with brand new people. However, those of us with Basenjis know that ten is only middle-aged! My husband and I have had five other Basenjis, the last one dying at age seventeen of natural causes. He left us with a lonely female, aged 10, and we decided to find her a companion of about the same age.
On paper, Troy was too good to be true. He was described as a really nice dog with no bad habits, who liked kids and other people and other dogs. BRAT offered to set the Basenji Underground RR in motion for the trip from Kansas to Virginia Beach. We picked Troy up in Richmond, where he had had his second sleepover on the long journey. He jaunted out and jumped into our car like he was being picked up for a party. He sat on my lap the whole ride home.
The meeting with his new female companion, Kenya, went as well as could be expected. A bit of an alpha, she decided to put him in his place that night; peace was shattered by the growling and snarking of the first “getting-to -know-you fight”. We had been through that with our other dogs, and knew it would take them a few weeks to iron out their differences. Within a few months, they were best of friends.
As far as teaching old dogs new tricks, there were no issues with Troy. He seemed to feel right at home in our house right away. He was nicknamed the “Rock Star” at his first home and he quickly assumed the role here as well. There is no new person or dog or group of dogs or people that get to go by without an official greeting by Troy. He considers it his duty to meet & greet everyone around. People who don’t know Basenjis praise him lavishly, and he knows it! People who do know Basenjis can’t believe he is eleven years old now. He and Kenya get to go to the beach to walk several times a day, and everyone knows them.
At home, Troy wants to know what we’re doing at all times - not in a clingy way at all, though. He simply needs to make sure his humans are settled happily doing something useful, so can just sit with them and be a sentinel, or perhaps take a nap. When we do leave him, he doesn’t mind because he has his pal, Kenya, to keep him company. He knows he won’t be lonely any more - that is the gift his first parents gave him when they sacrificed their happiness for his.
My youngest daughter had been asking for a dog for about three years. She was pretty clever about it too; leaving her dog encyclopedia open to pictures and descriptions of "the dog of the week." I've never been a dog person because I had the misconception that they were all smelly, unintelligent, barking beasts. Now I know how wrong I was!
One morning I came down to my desk, and the book was opened to Basenji. I read about them and discussed the possibilities with my husband. When he agreed, we Googled the word "Basenji," and there was BRAT.
We looked through the site and immediately fell in love with Wilson; we thought he was perfect! We went through the adoption process—application, home visit, etc.—and anxiously awaited a decision. Then we got the call that Wilson would be ours!
We picked up Wilson on February 29th, 2004. He did very well in his new crate on the three-hour trip home.
When we got home, Wilson started marking everything in sight. I asked myself, what have we done? Fortunately, the marking didn't persist.
Wilson spent his first night with us seeking high ground. He'd sit at the top of the stairs while we sat on the floor downstairs talking to him. The next day I spent the whole day walking him, talking to him, petting him, and holding him in my lap. His uneasiness started going away immediately, and day by day, week by week, he grew accustomed and attached to our family. I work at home, and Wilson spends most of the day with me. I look forward to his signal to go out. We take a long walk and explore the neighborhood. He's fallen in love with a dog down the road, and when the weather is nice he has to lie on the side of the road, waiting for her to show her face.
We've settled into a regular schedule where every family member has quality time with Wilson. We argue about whose bed he will sleep in every night, and as there are four choices, we all must be patient for our turn.
Wilson has to greet all visitors, plays like he doesn't have a care in the world, does the Basenji 500, and falls all over himself with excitement when he gets sight of our cat, Murray. He can be a real character!
While it's true that Basenjis are not typical dogs—they will defy you and play mind games with you—they are also very charming. If well-exercised, they can be content to lie in the sun or by your feet for a nice nap.
I can't express how impressed I am with BRAT. From the website, to the selection process, to the immediate help with questions and problems after the adoption, this organization and their many volunteers are extraordinary!
you again and again!
Jill, Jim, Erin, Paul, & Hunter Cullen
I wanted to post an 11-year anniversary happy ending of me and my adopted BRAT dog Zenta. I posted one several months after her adoption many years ago and wanted to take the opportunity to give everyone an update to let them know that we are still living happily-ever-after 11 years later!
I started my journey because of my love of sight-hounds. I researched many breeds, starting with Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Greyhounds, Pharaoh Hounds and Ibizan Hounds. Eventually I re-discovered the Basenji. I say re-discovered because my "bible" when I was 5-years-old and I lived in Germany was "Welcher Hund ist Dass?" (Which dog is that?) and one of the first breeds featured was a Basenji and I remember thinking that they looked sporty and elegant, as if dressed for a tennis match.
What I mean by that is that is I knew about Basenjis and loved sight-hounds, but I had yet to meet a Basenji. One day (after three years of sight hound research) I saw a red & white Basenji trotting along his human companion. I had never seen such a graceful animal in my life (and I ride dressage horses.) I knew this dog was the one for me.
I was never able to have a dog because we moved so much internationally and (at the time) extensive quarantine periods were an issue. So, finally, now was the time.
I applied for three dogs total. The first one was an Akita/Basenji mix that had a terrible past and she had already been adopted. The second was a Basenji Boy that was almost adopted.
Finally, I came upon "PJ" a beautiful 2-4 year old red & white Basenji from Illinois. I fell in love with her immediately. She had a sad story and had been homeless for some time so she really spoke to me. I applied for her and got a home visit and within a week she was mine.
I remember panicking before I picked her up. I felt as if I were about to have a baby. I knew my life would never be the same and it hasn't been: it has improved. I would always have someone else to worry about and care about. I can't imagine life without her now.
The day I got her home, I had no name for her. I called her "baby" or "pretty thing" or whatever came to mind. I adopted her on August 12th, 2000. I am Latvian and Latvian's have a heritage of "Name Days." THEN, I remembered a dog I met at a farm many years ago named Zenta. She was not a Basenji (probably a Shepherd Cross) but she had the same beautiful furrowed face and brow of my little Basenji girl; so I had to name her after this dog. Ironically, Zenta's name day is August 15th, so that is the name I had to give her.
One year after her adoption, I gave Zenta (or Zeenie) an anniversary party complete with treats for canines and humans. When asked by a neighbor who attended the event, "I thought you were crazy for inviting dogs to a party..." I responded, " Who is crazier? Me for inviting or you for attending?" He had to laugh and agree...
Since then Zenta (or Zeenie) has been on many adventures. She has been to the beach several times, she has met goats and horses and she now has several canine companions. Currently, she resides with Ty and Henry (both Basenji males) and she continues to be the "Alpha" and boss of them both!
Zeenie must be between 13 and 15 years old and I know she won't be here forever, but she has changed me forever. For one, she has ruined me for other dogs: Basenjis will forever be my breed of choice. For another, she is the smartest, funniest, most intelligent dog I have ever met. She has surpassed all of my expectations.
I have so many stories to tell about Zeenie, but I will close with a couple of beautiful pictures of her as we celebrate a happy 11th anniversary!
Thank you BRAT and all of the wonderful work you do. If it weren't for all of you, I wouldn't have Zeenie and the happiest 11 years of my life!