Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kaya: Alaska's "Luckiest" Basenji

Did you know that BRAT does rescues in Alaska?  We do!  And just this month, we’ve already pulled off a rescue there.  This is the story of Kaya.  

On March 1, 2011, a few BRAT volunteers forwarded us a post on Petfinder.com, about a little red and white basenji girl named Kaya, in a shelter in Anchorage, Alaska.  The post described her as, 
Cute, petite and playful, this young girl is just a year old.  She likes toys, playing fetch, and walks well on her leash. She’s lived with kids, but has a tendency to play bite because she’s still just a pup. Her former owners don’t have time for her.”  

BRAT President Liz Newton responded immediately by notifying the only stationmasters in Anchorage -Lenore and Bud Senko- and asking them to go to the shelter to spring Kaya.  The Senkos said they could go get her from the shelter, but they couldn't foster her because they were leaving that weekend to go on a weeklong cruise celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary.  However, Liz knew of a former adopter and current foster volunteer family, Richard and Gina Knox, who live about 50 miles away in Wassilla, Alaska.  The Knox family had adopted BRAT girl Zeta back in 2003, and they loved her well until she passed in 2009 at the ripe old age of 14.  Initially, Zeta’s foster, Debbi Johnson, had been nervous about flying a basenji all the way from Memphis, TN, to Alaska.  But it worked out perfectly, and the Knox family gave Zeta a wonderful forever home.  Now, Liz was hopeful that they could once again provide a wonderful and loving foster home, this time for little Kaya.  

The Senkos called the Knoxes, who, conveniently, just happened to be in a perfect situation to adopt a new dog.  Perfect!  After their girl Zeta had passed in 2009, the Knoxes had said they weren’t ready for another dog.  But as most dog lovers know, that resolution never lasts for very long.  Now, with a child away at school and a flexible work schedule, the Knox family had started thinking they might start looking to adopt a red & white basenji.  Then they got the call about Kaya, a young, playful little red & white girl only 50 miles away, and the situation was perfect!   Could it be fate?  

 Thus, the perfect plan was set – the Senkos would go to the shelter and spring Kaya immediately, and the Knoxes would drive to Anchorage that weekend to adopt her.  But, when the Senkos went to the shelter to get Kaya, they were told that she had already been adopted earlier that day!  So much for fate and the “perfect” plan.  

However, it turns out that fate had yet another hand to play.  While the disappointed Senkos were there talking to shelter staff, a "good Samaritan" brought in a female basenji who had just been "bumped" by a car.  Thankfully, her only injury was some road rash.  The shelter staff did not immediately recognize her as the same dog (Kaya) they had placed earlier in the day, but the Senkos convinced them to scan for her chip.  They scanned her, and the little female was indeed Kaya.  The shelter called the adopter, who said Kaya had jumped out of her car while she was running errands, and she did not think she could manage such an active dog.  The Senkos immediately offered to reimburse the adopter for the adoption fee she had paid, and they took Kaya home with them that same night.

The next day, the Knox family drove to Anchorage to meet Kaya.  Kaya warmed up to them in just minutes, and went happily home with them to Wassilla.  They were so glad to welcome Kaya into their home, and she’s fit in so well that it is as though she has always been there.  Kaya is a typical basenji puppy – “a Jack Russell on steroids,” so it’s perfect that the Knox family has a HUGE fenced yard (complete with a little duck pond) for her to run around in.  She met the cat (Muffler) and German Shepherd (bailey), both of whom are B savvy, and a bond was made right away.  Now, Kaya spends her days hanging out in the shop with Richard or at home with Gina, and sleeps in their bed or curled up with Bailey just like Zeta used to do.   It’s a “perfect” match, and the Knox family couldn’t love her more!  

All who were involved with this adoption agree that it was amazing how quickly and perfectly it came together, and feel that there must have been fate or a higher power at work here.  There are too many weird coincidences for things have worked out in such a wonderful way, without some sort of miraculous intervention.  At the receiving end of all of the blessings are little Miss Kaya, who couldn’t be happier in her new home, and Richard & Gina Knox, who are so grateful and joyous that they have a new baby basenji girl to cherish.  

BRAT’s new President, Liz Newton, was excited about how wonderfully this placement worked out, as she enjoys most of all her work on the front lines doing rescues and placements.  Liz says, “Making good matches is very rewarding to me and more important than any title I may have.”  As our post from yesterday highlighted, Liz has recently stepped forward to fill the vacancy in the President position left when our founder, Mike Swan, retired from the job after many years of wonderful service.  Liz has been a longtime BRAT Board member and already had her hands full with both placements and administrative work, but she was happy to step up to the helm when she saw the need because she believes strongly in BRAT’s mission.  She hopes to carry us forward, continuing to lead and develop BRAT’s rescue capabilities, and continuing on the front lines making great placements like Kaya. 


  1. My son had sent me a picture of this lovely little girl and I really wanted to adopt her. I have a Basenji now, Tico, that we've had since 2005. I will ONLY ever own Basenji's as I LOVE how intelligent and active they are! They are great dogs if you understand how they operate. You just need to ensure they know you are Alpha and they will happily follow. Tico has NO CLUE that he's a dog...he thinks he's one of my children. When I come home from long deployments (I'm in the USAF) he greets me with a wagging "cinnamon bun" tail that won't stop till I give him my full attention. I love Basenji's...wonderful wonderful dogs! I will get another one if given the chance. When my son contacted me, I was not in the country and couldn't go get her. It was very sad for me because I really wanted to get rescue her. Tico was also a rescue from a Humane Society that took him from an abusive family. I can't see myself without Basenji's!

  2. Guess I forgot to add that I'm in Alaska...LOL