Monday, October 18, 2010

The Facebook Basenji

This is the message that came in from BRAT-help on July 27th that started it all:

I learned via a third party on facebook that a basenji has been picked up by the Cumberland County (NJ) Animal Control people. Their phone number is 856-691-1500. I was a volunteer with Springer Spaniel rescue and thought of you right away, thought you’d want to know. I hope you can help this dear little dog.

Then came the Petfinder ad:

Small Adult Male Dog

More About Sebastian
Sebastian is a seven year old, neutered Basenji. He is very shy in new situations but warms up nicely once he feels secure. Sebastian is best suited to a home without cats or small children. Basenjis are a very unique breed of dog and will require an owner with extensive breed knowledge or previous Basenji experience.

Many attempts were made to contact the shelter by phone and e-mail. Finally:

Hi Roberta -

Sorry for the delay in responding to you - it's been a little crazy around here and we've just done a raid on a house that ended up landing 55 animals on our hands.

In NJ we're required to give the owner 7 days to claim the animal. He's now past that time, and at this point no one has called. We were slightly surprised by this since he's neutered and microchipped (chip isn't registered). We've held out a few more days hoping that someone will come looking for him. Right now the little Basenji guy is okay... he's been health checked and vaccinated. He's actually be put up in our adoption area and we have a junior volunteer working with him daily (he's not thrilled in the kennel but loves to go for long walks). Normally we attempt to place an animal first through our facility unless there is a specific issue that makes us uncomfortable with placing the dog, but we are starting to get a little tight on space around here.

I know BRAT well and we have worked with you in the past with this wonderful little breed - I'll try to call you tomorrow by phone. I have a 609 area code if you see it come up on your caller ID

Thanks for reaching out about this little fellow, and thanks for doing what you do... it makes the lives of shelter dogs better. Talk to you soon,


It was still a few more weeks before I could confirm that the shelter would actually release Sebastian to BRAT, find a foster home and plan a transport to get him there. But on Friday, September 10, Sebastian was picked up from the shelter and began the journey to his foster home in Maine which eventually led him home. Not to a new, "forever" home, but back to the family who loved him.

After being pulled from the shelter, spending the night at the home of a volunteer in Elizabeth, NJ and changing hands a few times, Sebastian arrived at the foster home. Foster mom, Heather, agreed with everyone who'd handled Sebastian along the way; what a nice dog he was!

...going from CT to MA...

Coming from a shelter, Sebastian didn't really have any belongings. There some paperwork showing a microchip ID#. It haunted Heather that this nice dog could have a family out there, somewhere, who was missing him. She began the process of tracking them down, not an easy task since the chip had never been activated.

...getting settled in his foster home...

Heather was able to find out that Sebastian came from a puppy store who was supplied by Hunte Corp. Someone at Hunte Corp. was able to provide the name of the person who bought the puppy, but that was in 2002. Would the same people still have owned him? Could he have been given away or otherwise re-homed? If the same people owned him, would they still be living in the same home? It took some time and detective work, but Heather was able to locate Sebastian's family. His name was not Sebastian, of course. That was the name the shelter gave him. He's Charlie!

Charlie had gotten lost when he slipped his collar on a potty break returning home from visiting relatives. He was far from home. Owners Kelly and John were frantic, but it was late and they had 2 young children to tend to. They had to go home without Charlie. Kelly kept returning to the area, hoping to find Charlie. She checked around area shelters as best she could, coming up with nothing. Then her computer crashed and her best means of finding Charlie was lost...

...the Reunion...

Kelly was never so happy as when she got the call from Heather that her lost dog was FOUND!

Charlie had been a birthday present to Kelly from her husband.
Sebastian is gone.
In all honesty the reunion couldnt have been better. Sebastian was clearly overjoyed to see them, the minute the door opened he pawed at the screen which he never does, his ears went flat to his head and he was licking them, all things ive never seen him do.
I'm not one to give human emotions to dogs but in all honesty i believe sebastian knew he was leaving and he took a good 4 minutes to come say goodbye to me. it was about the time they were leaving he had his leash on which is his signal to get excited and head for the door but he didnt. I was sitting on the floor and he came over without being called and put his forehead against my stomach and stood between my legs for a good 4 minutes, even with the kids tugging on his leash. He stood there with his forehead pressed against me while i petted him. When he was done he looked into my eyes for a good 60-90 seconds then walked to my roommate and did the same thing for about a minute, then he turned and walked to the door. I have to say that it was amazing, absolutely amazing. It was like he knew he was leaving and he wanted to say goodbye.
Kelly is very sweet she home schools so sebastian is surrounded by dogs cats kids and mom all the time. She even said she washed her bedsheets and then her and her husband slept on the couch so sebastian would have a nice clean bed to sleep in when he came home. Its very clear that the entire family just loves sebastian and are so happy to have him back

Thank you to Cait Reynolds in DE, for pulling "Sebastian" from the shelter and getting him on his way. To Mary Silva in NJ, for her part in the transport. To Ricardo Ramos, also in NJ, who provided food and lodging overnight on 9/10 and continued the transport the next day. To Colleen Casey in CT, Liz Curran in MA, Sally & Chuck Cobb in NH who all participated in the transport. HUGE thanks to Heather Stanton in Portland, ME who gave "Sebastian" a temporary home, lots of TLC and reunited CHARLIE with his family! The one he was meant to be with.


  1. Wow! This brought tears to my eyes; just one example of why I am proud to be a part of BRAT.

  2. What a wonderful story! I couldn't imagine losing my dog for so long, but having him come home to me after so much time! What a great story!

    I love BRAT!

  3. I am so happy for him! I only had him for a couple hours, but he was a really sweet guy and I am SO GLAD he has made his way back home-YEA!!

    Liz Curran in MA

  4. Great story. You can tell from the flattened ears in one of the Pic's that Sebastian/Charlie is very happy. Thanks for giving me a smile!

  5. As a BRAT member and mother to Sophie (BRAT basenji) and two other adopted dogs, Maizey and Benny, I was so very glad Sebasatian got rescued, got to BRAT and that his foster mother was focused on finding his owner. I am so glad he got home. What a great story

  6. Followed your story on the Basenji Forum and loving it all over again. Such a sweet ending.

  7. What a wonderful story. The basenji community is truly a community, where we are all "in this" together. Heather deserves baroos and curly tailed wags for her extraordinary efforts!

    Thanks to everyone at BRAT!
    Patty in Tampa FL