Thursday, February 10, 2011


It will be 2 years in April since Kenya and Phoenix came into our lives. Like all rescues, they came with some baggage. We will never really know what happend in their past to cause their fears and behavior quirks but we have been so pleased at how quickly they have adjusted. Phoenix, who would attach himself like white on rice to me anytime a new person entered our home has become a confident, fun loving basenji boy who greets everyone with gusto when they enter our home. Kenya had a problem with her head being touched (she would scream like someone had hurt her) but that fear went away within the first month. She was terrified of loud noises. That fear also vanished within a few months. The one thing we could not and still can't do is pick her up. Other than that and waking badly, from day one she was the more confident of the two. She would charm the pants off anyone who entered the house with adorable antics but her main charm was reserved for Daddy. She adores my husband and is definately daddy's girl. Which brings me to something that is baffling us.

In January we went on a cruise. We have a dog sitter who stays at the house for the week. We have been using her for over a year and the kids love her. When we came back from vacation everything was normal. Kenya and Phoenix were excited we were home and it was great to get the love and cuddles we had missed when we were gone. After being home a few days, there was an incident or 2 when she was lying next to Lloyd He went to pet her and she screamed and tried to bite him. We figured it was her "getting startled and waking badly" antics. About a week and a half after we got home we had to go to NY for a day and had the dog sitter come in again. When we came back Kenya started acting strange with Lloyd. Every time he tried to touch her she would scream. She wouldn't go near him. If she was in the room and he entered she would leave. If she saw him coming, she would turn around and go the other way. It got worse every day and after 2 days she was terrified to be near him. She also became very jumpy and frightend with movement and noises. She would come to me for snuggles and love but wouldn't stay in the room if he came in. I'm friends with the dog sitter and she came over and Kenya cuddled with her as well. As the week went on, the terror went away but she still wouldn't let lloyd touch her. She would stare at him from a distance, sleep next to him in bed but no touching. She also wouldn't sit near him on the couch. Its been killing Lloyd as we can't understand what is going on. We had a session with a pet communicator who gave us some interesting insights into what Kenya was feeling. She said Kenya was angry with Lloyd and afraid that he would abandon her. Her anger, fear and hurt was directed at him and not me because he was her person. She also said Kenya wasn't happy because she felt Phoenix was replacing her as the alpha in the household. She assured Kenya that Lloyd loves her and would not leave her and she asked Kenya to show Lloyd she loved him. What was interesting was while she was communicating with Kenya it was the only time that Kenya got up on the couch next to Lloyd and let him pet her. She gave us some suggestions but its heart breaking as everyday is a challenge as to whether she will let him touch her. Now she is starting to act out with me as well.

If anyone has any insights or suggestions we welcome them! We want our little girl back!


  1. Have you had her checked by her vet? Sometimes changes in behavior can have a physical origin. Worth a try. Hopefully you can find an answer and get your little girl back.

  2. i had that with one of mine when i first got him. I hired a personal dog trainer, they worked with me and my jake to get us to have a relationship (not that your husband did not have one with her). it worked and it helped. i also spend time just me and him, whether i take him into the bedroom and just love on him and pet him were the other dogs are not there or my husband. but it is quality time and reassurance that he is there for her and will be there. i would also take her to the vet and just have her checked out. and maybe next time you leave you give her something with your husbands sent and leave a tape with his voice talking to her.

  3. Did your pet sitter have a male visitor while you were away that perhaps scared Kenya?

  4. All the above suggestions sound very good. You may already be doing this, but Kenya might enjoy short (5 min) fun training sessions with your husband, to re-establish relationship and pack order. Use treats and any commands she knows. This helped our male basenji tremendously with issues that were similar to your Kenya's.

    Another thing that helped our boy was the Comfort Zone Plug-In. It's basically dog pheromones, and works to calm anxious dogs. We used it in the bedroom by his crate, and it made a significant difference in his anxious behaviours. I know you can get the plug-in from Foster and Smith.