Monday, August 17, 2009

Learning to Live with a Basenji

In my last post I mentioned my first basenji, Jazzie, as the reason for me finding and becoming a part of BRAT.

Now, I mentioned that she was my first "rescue" but technically, I did buy her from a pet store. However, in my mind, I was saving her from a life of certain horror as basenjis are rare and if someone else bought her she would be doomed. Like I knew what the heck! As a young puppy, Jazzie was a dear, sweet thing who house trained quickly, crate trained easily and barely made a peep! I didn't get the Basenji-500 at all that we watched in amazement. Even the other two dogs, a mini schnauzer and a schipperke looked on in confusion.

When Jazzie proved to be "accident proof" in the house, she was allowed to spend time outside of the crate, but contained in the kitchen with the other dogs. Soon we found kitchen towels shredded; placemats stolen from the kitchen table were also found shredded. Hmmm... Smedley, the mini schnauzer, was 11 years old. He NEVER caused a bit of destruction and had the run of the house since he was housetrained.

Flippie,the schipperke, was 2 and had her moments of destructive behavior but seemed to have outgrown them.Then the culprit was caught in the act! One of the kids had left their backpack on the floor in the kitchen. Jazzie was going to town chewing a hole in the side of it; determined to finish the snack that had been left behind! OK, so we learned to remove the placemats from the the table after use, put the towels out of reach and backpacks were NOT to be left within Jazzie's reach.

We had things under control now; no more destruction. Or so we thought... So one day, I came home and found some of the cabinet doors in the kitchen open. Kinda creepy, pots and pans were laying about the floor. The next day, I came home to find the cleaning products from under the kitchen sink ransacked and strewn all over the kitchen. How was Jazzie getting into the cabinets? There were no pulls or handles! A trip to Baby's R Us was made to purchase baby locks to install on the cabinet doors. Success! We outsmarted our basenji girl again!

A few weeks later, I came home to find some of the kitchen drawers open and pilfered. The drawer that contained all the owner's manuals for the appliances had been turned into confetti. Thumbs were chewed off the oven mitts, dish towels were turned into dog towels.Meanwhile, you're probably wondering what wasn't happening in the house for Jazzie to continue with this behavior. Well, Jazzie had doggie playmates, human playmates, a huge fenced in yard to run in and was walked daily. She was "home schooled" for obedience. Being very food motivated, she learned all the basIc commands quite quickly. She has the prettiest down-stay, crossing her front paws :-) which she will do, if it appears an especially tasty treat is in the offing.I feel we did/do all the right things, a bit sloppily at times and this is just her innate nature.

I call her the hoodlum. She sleeps with one eye open at all times. She is cool as a cucumber, patient and takes full advantage of every opportunity presented to her. Jazzie will be 7 years old in December. She is no longer a holy terror in the house, but we cannot let our guard down completely. Because if we do, she lets us know, BAD IDEA!

When I think back to the day I brought Jazzie home, I know I did the right thing. I had no idea what kind of "monster" I was bringing home. But if I hadn't, she probably would have ended up in rescue. I'm glad I got there first.Next post, I'll have to tell you about Jazzie's escapades outside the fenced in yard...


  1. How sweet. I too rescued my first Basenji from a pet store. My husband had one as a child and knew about the breed but, I never knew what I was getting into. Cinji will be 9 in December and we have had our times with her as well. We were even crazy enough to rescue a male from a puppy mill where he would have been used for more breeding. We love them but, most people would have put them into rescue.

  2. I rescued one from a pet store, too! Then I rescued two BRATs.

    Who needs the rescuing, now?

  3. We also got a Basenji from a pet store. I never had a dog before. I had done some research about the breed, we were probably a bit unprepared, but he was so cute...In the end, I wouldn't trade my boy in for anything (despite chewing carpet, drywall, retainers, plants, garbage, etc). Now, at age 10, he has free reign of the house, and I actually consider him the responsible one - we recently adopted a 1 year old girl from BRAT. So now we're back to the chewing phases...I hope she learns a lot from him.