Monday, September 20, 2010

The Road That Led to Basenjis

In life before basenjis; life before dogs, there were cats. I mostly grew up with cats and as a young woman, on my own, I had my special cat. Her name was Sugar (and she was very sweet!) but, she was mostly called Kitty. I got her as a teeny-tiny kitten and had her for 15 wonderful years. What does this have to do with basenjis? Read on!

I was expecting my first child and Kitty got sick. All of a sudden she stopped eating and was extremely lethargic. Test results showed she was positive for feline infectious peritonitis; there was no cure. The only option was to put her to sleep. The vet also advised against bringing another cat into the house for at least a year. A YEAR! My grief was compounded by the thought of being petless for such a long time. Even as a kid, we always had dogs or cats. This would be a first for me and the thought was unbearable. If I couldn't have a cat, I'd have to get a dog.


One of my best friends was a dog groomer and had the ultimate (2 Volumes, over 400 breeds) dog encyclopedia, which she let me borrow. This was 1991 and few people had a home computer and the internet; we didn't. I pored over the books, studying every breed, basenji included.

During this time of research, an ad appeared in the local paper for a 2 year old, red and white male basenji. I called. I was quizzed. What did I know about basenjis? Did I know how mischievous they could be? Would I be up to the challenge, especially with a new baby in the house? I knew I would be, but my husband who was not really a pet person, would not. So I passed on the red and white boy...

We acquired a mini-schnauzer, named him Smedley, who turned out to be the best; a wonderful dog, great with the kids :-)

Fast-forward to March 2003: I go to the mall, cruise through the puppy store. Lo and behold! they have 2 basenji puppies! A red and white male and a brindle female. Imagine my excitement; I had never seen a basenji in real life and here were 2 at the LOCAL puppy store! I went to check on them every day; after a couple days the male disappeared. Somebody bought him. I am partial to different colors/color patterns (like brindle, tri) and was amazed that the red/white was chosen over the brindle!
My kids were invited to a birthday party so we went to the mall to get a gift. Of course, we stopped by the puppy store and stared at the little brindle girl. My daughter, who was 10 years old at the time, said, "we could name her Jazz!" At that point, I rushed my kids out of the store...

I was haunted and tormented. We named this dog! I didn't really know anything about basenjis, but I couldn't get that brindle girl out of my mind. I went back to the store without kids; bargained with the manager and brought Jazzie home.

Jazzie was our introduction to basenjis. She taught my kids to pick up and put things out of reach, to push in your chair when you leave the table. Jazzie was easy to potty-train; the yard was already fenced. Once she was about a year old, she let us know she did NOT like to be crated. So we gated off the kitchen, then soon learned we needed to install baby-locks on the kitchen cabinets and drawers...

I felt compelled she needed one of her own kind even though she had a schipperke and a mini schnauzer as playmates. I googled "basenji; Basenji Rescue And Transport popped up. I adopted, I joined and am totally immersed in basenjis now!

If you have the desire to be immersed in basenjis, please go to and click on "Become a BRAT Volunteer."

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