Friday, February 18, 2011

The Road They've Traveled

Often when so many Basenjis need homes we think of people giving the dogs up because of behavior problems or because they just are not willing to take care of them any more.

Of course there are many more reasons for Basenjis to end up in BRAT. Some are strays, some have been abused, some are from puppy mills offered up for auction. But there are many other reasons for Basenjis being put up for adoption from their used-to-be-forever homes.

In hard times people lose their homes, end up out of work and having to move to other areas. Sometimes people die and the relatives or friends do not want the responsibility of taking on a dog. Illness and moves to nursing homes or retirement homes may not permit a person to take their dog with them. Many times a dog is loved and cared for and the idea of finding a new home is the only option that can be seen at the time.

Most often adopters have no idea what the Basenji they have adopted has been through.

We knew when we adopted our Sanji that he had been in a puppy mill for over a year as an intact male, then was neutered and adopted from a pet store by a couple who eventually went through a divorce. He was taken to obedience training by their daughter. He has several scars on his legs and one on his face. He was given up to BRAT foster care when he was 4 years old, then shipped from Virginia to us. He is now 10 years old.

For the first years he was with us he exhibited fear and had intestinal upsets, until we figured out that he was allergic to grains. He was aggressive toward other dogs on walks, pulled excessively, and tried to go after other dogs while he was leashed. At the dog park he completely ignored other dogs, and only sniffed around the fences.

Now he has another Basenji boy, Gumbo, that he raised from a pup, and our Sanji is a happy Basenji who finally believes he has a forever home at last. When Gumbo came into the family Sanji began to have more confidence, and even though he guarded Gumbo from other dogs, he began to run with them for the first time.  Now he is totally relaxed at the dog park and with other people, and Sanji actually plays with other dogs besides "his" Gumbo.

Sometimes it takes a very long time for rescue dogs to come out of their shell, but it is wonderful and absolutely rewarding to see their progress. We are so happy to have Sanji and Gumbo.

Marj Baker


  1. That is a great story about Sanji. and it the truth there are a lot of reasons a person may be forced to give up a loving companion. I remember one post I saw from one of the wonderful people of BRAT that does transport with his airplane (occupation an airforce pilot). He did a pick up of two Basenjis and I just remember his words,"It was one of the hardest and most heartbreaking pick ups he had ever experienced. The lady who had to turn her beloved dogs over to BRAT had been moved out of her home by her children and put in a seniors retirment complex where pets were not accepted. Her husband had past only months before this. Those two dogs were their babys and probably their care takers, meaning they gave them a reason to get up and take care of someone to maybe take walks etc.Well the women was so heartbroken to let those two dogs go that he said it broke his heart right in two. Sometimes peoples children can really do cruel things to them.

  2. All the ups and downs make for better stories. Sanji and Gumbo look like such a sweet pair.