Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Are basenjis label snobs?

I have been in the land of basenjis for a little over a year now after nearly 20 years of cats and of not having a canine since I was in high school. Having Miss Bow in my life has been a great blessing, and she is such a good girl, a statement I make with those three important qualifying words "for a basenji".

No chewing. No counter surfing (mainly because she's a petite girl and my counters are high). No trash can or cabinet raids. No toilet paper rampages. No crankiness when disturbed while sleeping. That's not to say there have not been challenges, but we seem to turn a wonderful corner with a breakthrough every week or so, and our bond deepens.

One challenge from the day she arrived that continues today is leash pulling. I was warned of that, and I found that just having her on a Martingale collar was too challenging, and I feared her slipping out of it. We tried a number of harness options but there was one that she seemed to accept and was the perfect fit -- Premier Easy Walk small/medium. Not small. Not medium. They have a "tweener" size that is the perfect fit.

Just when I say that she is not a chewer and can be left to roam the house freely for five to six hours on her own, I have to qualify that while couches, books, trash cans, clothes, etc. will be untouched, I have learned never to leave a leash or harness within her reach when she is unattended. Once I left her with the sitter who left her in a room where there were five leashes hanging from a door, and she chewed each one into shreds. The same has happened to her Easy Walk Harness when I've forgotten and left it on the coffee table when I've stepped out. Once after coming back from a walk, I took a two minute phone call and found that she had expertly chewed through the harness to release herself while I was on the phone.

Though sturdy and comfortable, they are not cheap. When I went to the big box pet store to save a bit, they gave me a blank stare when I asked for a "small/medium".

"Do you want a small or a medium?"

"I want a small/medium."

"There is not such thing."

That reinforced my belief that it's better to support a locally owned, albeit somewhat more expensive, locally owned pet supply shop where they have an entire row of small/medium harnesses in six different colors.

Brand loyalty has reared its ugly head in other areas. I've tried a variety of small rawhides, but she only accepts Dingo "chicken-in-the-middle". Other brands or varieties are sniffed, ignored or chewed on for a minute or so and then left to gather dust in the corner.

While my supposedly finicky cats would go for a variety of green dental chews, Bow will accept nothing but a true Greenies brand.

I'd been informed before she arrived that she likes broccoli, which proved to be true. But when I replace organics from Whole Foods with something that I picked up from the corner market I get a sniff, snort and a "how dare you" glare as she dashes over to her favorite blanket on the couch.

Just to confirm that basenji life is not all about high end gourmet treats and elegance, any given morning as we walk through my neighborhood where in just about every block it's not unusual to find thrown out half eaten week old pizza slices, molding month old tacos or other household waste, Miss Bow will lunge towards it and put her harness and my loose leash walking skills to the test.

Fortunately we are making progress, and 99% of our walks are calm, loose leash pleasures. But at any given second she will prove that she is the perfect mix of spoiled finicky diva and African outback dingo.


  1. Miss Bow is so very much like the 2 basenjis in our home. They don't chew or destroy anything either - BUT we calculated that my girl has eaten/shredded $361 worth of leashes and harnesses over the past year that we've had her - including an Easy Walker when I left her in my car in the garage for 30 seconds as I ran back into the house for a forgotten item. She wrapped the leash/harness around the center console and "freed" herself immediately in my absence.

    Yet, I go out each time and replace the leashes while threatening to "put it on her tab." The good thing is that boy basenji doesn't care whether his sister ate his new, handsome leash - he's just happy to have another one so we can continue with normal activities!

    Great pictures too - love the yawning sun photo.

  2. We have a different way that leashes are destroyed. One of the girls has figured out that they can hold down the boy if she grabs his leash then pulls him to her when playing on the walk. I was shocked the first time she did it.

  3. I have 4 dogs one being "Miss Priss" my basenji. I was shocked at your picture with the coat on. Not only leashes and collars at our house, Kati has destroyed every attempt of trying to keep her warm in the way of clothes! She loves the heat vent and under the covers but a sweater of any kind? Go fiqure....

  4. We have a basenji mix who likes to chew leashes. In the 10 months we've had her we've probably gone through 5. We took off her collar the other day and in the 5 minutes we left her alone with it, she chewed through the plastic buckle. I was thinking of replacing it with a martingale collar. Has anyone had luck with these, or do they slip out of them? Because I would want to get one she can't slip out of.