Monday, December 5, 2011

A message from the Board: Keeping Basenjis Safe

In recent months many reports of basenjis getting loose are coming in. It can happen to anyone; on a transport or at home. The best approach is to be prepared. Take measures to prevent the possibility of your dog or the dog in your care from getting loose.

First, start with a martingale type collar. It works like a choke collar without the "choke." It hangs loose around the dog's neck. The collar is adjusted so the dog is unable to slip or back out of it when tension applied from a leash that is properly attached.

Martingale collars can be found at just about every store that sells pet supplies; even Walmart. If you do alot of fostering or transporting, you can buy them in quantity, at a discount from

Lupine ( has a line of colorful and "fashionable" martingales, as well as an unbeatable guarantee. If the collar is damaged and can't be used (even if it has been chewed), they will replace it free of charge. No lie; I've put it to the test several times!

But, BRAT has a couple of volunteers who make their own versions of the martingale collar. Nick Russell is in KY and can be found on facebook (Bluegrass Collar and Lead). Joanne Kalisz is in VT, her visit her on-line store:

Dixie (L) is wearing one of Joanne's designs. Jazzie (R) is wearing one of Nick's.

Venus is wearing a Lupine martingale. They are made here in NH!

Titan is sporting a Nick Russell design.

A harness may also be a good option. Some of them can be used in conjunction with the seatbelts in your car; especially good on a transport if a dog does not tolerate crating. or


Every dog on a transport or newly adopted dog should be considered a high "flight risk." Use a martingale type collar; make sure the leash is properly attached. For the especially timid or fearful dogs, you may need to double leash using a martingale collar AND a harness. Be sure the configuration you are using is secure BEFORE any doors are opened.

Using a chain-link leash on a transport is a good idea. The leash can remain attached without fear of the dog chewing through it. Keeping the leash attached requires less handling, which is good for a fearful/head-shy dog. It provides more control and less opportunity for the dog to bite.

If your dog does escape or get loose; get the word out as soon as you can. For starters send a message to, call the adoption coordinator, call Animal Control. Make and post flyers EVERYWHERE, enlist as much help as you can. NEVER give up. The following is what one adopter did when his newly adopted basenji escaped.

Last Christmas we lost a female basenji name Bunny that we adopted one month prior. She backed out of her harness and ran away just as a snowstorm began. Bunny was lost from December 22 until December 30, when I was able to trap her in a very large Hav-a-Hart trap. Bunny survived 3 snowstorms, single digit night temperatures, and local predators. Because of the snow, I was able to track her immediately after each snowfall, and I saw plenty of coyote tracks running the same paths she took through the woods. The reason for sharing the perils she survived is to let the party who lost this dog know that they should not give up.

Also, some advice. We printed and distributed about 1,000 flyers over the first six days. (We asked our teenage daughter to help, and a number of her friends also helped. People will volunteer to help in this kind of a situation; you have to ask!) We delivered the flyers door-to-door and/or mailbox-to-mailbox in the area where she was lost (around our home) and in ever-widening radii. Some people suggest a reward is a bad idea, and some people suggest including your phone number is a bad idea. We did both. We offered a $200 reward and we included ALL of our phone numbers (home, business, cell). We received numerous calls reporting sightings, some of which were false, but all of which helped immensely. And we received aid in the form of a number of people (about 12) volunteering to help after reading the flyers. In addition, we emailed a photo to local TV stations, and one of them broadcast the photo and our contact info. We also made a few large posters and posted them at major intersections near the area where she ran away.

We also used online basenji resources. We called our regional BRAT director and asked her for help and advice. She posted our daily or twice-daily email updates (which consisted of her photo and daily sighting locations and search details), and we received great advice, support, and physical help from local basenji owners.

So, primarily because of the flyers and posters and BRAT advice and exposure, we received a lot of local help and, after 8 days, we got Bunny back. Basenjis are tough and resilient, and they won't quit until they absolutely have to. Bunny was hit by a car within a few moments after she escaped, had a (literally) cracked skull and lacerations that required surgery, endured single digit temperatures despite the severe head injury, stayed a step ahead of predators, lost nearly 25% of her body weight over 7 days, 22 hours, and about 15 minutes, AND SURVIVED. Please tell the person who lost the dog to work at it and keep trying, even after it SEEMS futile. We experienced a number of moments during which we did not believe it was possible for Bunny to survive, but she did. (Bunny's exploits were posted daily on the basenji forum beginning on Dcember 23rd or 24th, 2010.) There's a lot we did that can't be covered in a short note. If you think I can be of any help in offering more detailed advice, give me a call at the number below.

Finally, we now use both a harness and a collar. In other words, we keep a harness properly adjusted and we fasten the leash to both harness d-rings AND to the collar d-ring. We found it is not possible for her to wriggle out of that combination.

Greg Pinto

Roberta Kosek

BRAT Vice President


  1. I still remember when my dear basenji boy escaped from his harness while I was walking him -- I was fortunate to be able to run and catch him, but we have not used a harness since. If you do, make sure that it is tight enough and that they don't start pulling backwards (away from you)!

  2. Thanks for this info. I couldn't find Bluegrass Collar and Lead on Facebook.... can you post a link?

  3. Here's the link to Bluegrass Collar and Lead: