When he came into rescue, he was already 11 years old. The family that had him since he was 1 1/2 was moving and wouldn't be taking him with because he didn't like their little kids. As are all BRAT dogs, he was vetted. He had to be neutered. He was found to be hypothyroid and his dental exam resulted in the extraction of half of his teeth -- everyone of which was abscessed. The vet said he tried to tear her face off when she did the initial exam.
Anderson Cooper shortly after coming into rescue.
In spite of his behavior, I didn't believe he was mean. I asked if I could adopt him under a hold harmless arrangement. I was allowed to do so after agreeing to have him put to sleep if there was another biting incident.He was called Andrew when he came to BRAT. I wanted to change his name to give him a new start but because he was older, I wanted to find a name that was sounded similar to Andrew. I hadn't been able to find one that I liked. He would sit near me when I was working at the computer. One night, Anderson Cooper came on the TV. I asked him if he would like to be called Anderson Cooper. He looked at me and wagged his tail. (It was the only time that he wagged his tail in the five years that I had him.) He answered to it immediately. I knew then that he had bought in.
After doing some research, I discovered that he had a bite history that was not disclosed to BRAT before he was surrendered. He was purchased from a breeder who said he didn't like to be on the show table. He bit his new owner, family members and neighbors. We don't know but we are guessing that he objected to being on the show table and was punished. So, he learned the only way to express his displeasure and have someone pay attention was to bite.He did not consider that being touched by a human could be pleasant. He would snap and attempt to bite if I tried to touch him. So, we took a class in Tellington T-Touch and using the technique, he learned little by little that touching was a good thing. His favorite spot to be scratched became the top of his head. He still had to learn impulse control and to release his fear. We worked with a behaviorist. After 3 sessions, he was no longer resource guarding. He was still fearful but he released his fear by snapping the air instead of biting me and over time, he didn't need to do that anymore.
Anderson Cooper on May 24, 2012
By the time he transitioned, he had become a sweet old boy. You can see the difference in his expression between his early picture and the one taken just before his transition day. His expression changed from one of apprehension to one of pleasant expectation. He never lost that Basenji dignity and air of superiority but he was friendly and no longer fearful. He is a wonderful example of how far a dog with long-standing issues can come if they are given a chance and supported with love, understanding and training.Rest in peace, my sweet old boy. When I cross the Bridge, I am looking forward to seeing you there to greet me - young, healthy and happy.