Saturday, March 8, 2014

Benny the Basenji

Benny was born about January 2010 to a breeder in the Ross County Ohio area. In the March - April time frame Benny was sold to a family in the Frankfort, Ohio area. This family was not experienced with Basenjis and their behavior. In October 2010, Benny was found by the dog warden near Franklin, Ohio, where he had been dumped, and was taken to the Ross County Humane Society in Chillicothe, Ohio.
Angie Raney, Benny's foster Mom, relates:

"About a year after Benny was adopted, Kevin was walking Cammie, the resident B, when a lady in a red van stopped by the side of the street and inquired about Cammie. She stated that she had a litter of B’s and there was a red/white boy that had gotten loose. In talking it was discovered that this was Benny’s breeder and she had sold him to a family that had no knowledge of Basenjis. When the breeder went to follow up with the family, she was told that Benny had gotten loose and was not able to be found. The owners even told her of his “terrible” behaviors, of chewing up items, destroying things, etc…. "

So in October 2010, at the ripe old age of 10 months, Benny was rescued from the Ross County Humane Society in Chillicothe, Ohio, by Angie and Kevin Raney on behalf of BRAT. Angie tells us:

"During his one month of foster care with Angie and Kevin Raney, it was discovered that Benny was underweight and had some difficulties with being mouthy and destructive. He was also aggressive towards the resident cat. He was not aggressive towards the resident B but, due to the difference in age, the resident B never took to Benny and only tolerated his attempts to play. Due to his behaviors, it was determined that most likely Benny may not have been given a proper start in life by being weaned early nor properly socialized. Benny needed a home where the resident dogs would take him under their care and teach him how to properly play and not chew."

In the meantime, about six weeks prior, Terrie and I had applied to BRAT for a Basenji boy, but were denied due to perceived incompatibility. The BRAT coordinator, Suzanne Hartwell, contacted Terrie about the possibility of adopting a different boy, Benny. There was no hesitation in the resounding "YES" Terrie gave Suzanne. So, on Friday November 26, 2010 (the day after Thanksgiving), Angie and Kevin Raney drove from their house in Chillicothe, Ohio, to Indianapolis with Benny to meet his new forever family.

In Indianapolis, Terrie and I awaited the arrival of the new addition to our family. Also unknowingly waiting were Mr. Bear, an eleven-year-old Schipperke, and Willow, the resident five-year-old Basenji. Willow was the whole reason we were waiting for the arrival of Benny. She had come to us by way of our daughter. Willow was adopted from the Indianapolis Humane Society in 2006 at the age of about 12 weeks. My daughter and her husband were looking for a companion to their Cocker Spaniel, so they went to the Humane Society to adopt. They looked at all of the dogs there and came across Willow, who was lying quietly in the corner until Sandy kneeled down. Willow came over with her tail wagging and got her 'pet on'. There was no barking and Willow did not act crazy, so they adopted her. Within a week of going home, Willow started exhibiting all of the traits of a Basenji puppy, thus started 10 months of "crazy Basenji behavior" the likes of which my daughter had never seen.

Now, Willow had come to our house for several visits and had spent considerable time with Mr. Bear and the resident nine-year-old Great Dane – Precious. During the first overnight, Willow, at six months old, decided to challenge Precious for the title of Head Bitch In Charge. It was a valiant effort but, alas, Precious prevailed, breaking Willow's left ear in the process, giving it a permanent fold midway up. When Willow was 13 months old, my daughter found out she was pregnant. After much soul searching my daughter called us and indicated Willow was way too much for them to handle and much of the research they had done on Basenji's indicated they were not real good with young children. She indicated they were going to take her back to the Humane Society, unless we were willing to take her. There was no hesitation on our part, absolutely we would take her. So Willow came to live with us on a full time basis. 

When Willow had been with us about two years, we made the most difficult decision to help Precious, at eleven years old, cross the rainbow bridge. Willow and Mr. Bear moped around for several months, then Terrie decided she wanted another Great Dane. So, while I was on a business trip to Japan (I made these trips every month) Terrie brought home an eight-week-old steel blue Great Dane puppy. Terrie indicated she didn't know what to name him and I said I would just call him the obvious choice – Blue, hence he was named Blue. Willow immediately became his mother and raised Blue to be a Basenji. This was in early 2008.

After Blue had been with us about 18 months, our schedules had changed so drastically that Blue was having to spend 14-18 hours a day in a crate, which was unacceptable to us. We made the decision to place Blue, now two years old, on a farm in northern Indiana where he had 100 acres to run on and would not have to spend time in a crate. This threw Willow into a deep depression, as she had spent the last two years raising Blue, and playing all of the Basenji games. Mr. Bear mopped around too, but nothing like Willow. This brings us to the point where, three months later, Terrie applied to Basenji Rescue and Transport for a Basenji companion for Willow.

So now it is late morning on November 26, 2010 and we were awaiting the arrival of a force that would change our lives forever. Angie and Kevin pulled up into the driveway with Benny and I immediately put Willow and Mr. Bear out in the back yard so there was no distraction when Benny brought Angie and Kevin in the house. Benny was all over the house exploring while we talked with Angie and Kevin. Then we made the introductions with Willow and Mr. Bear. There were a few minutes of Basenji butt sniffing and Mr. Bear posturing, then Benny did a Basenji play bow and the race was on. Angie and Kevin must have felt he was going to be fine, as they made their apologies for having to leave, and left for home. Benny slowly helped Willow come out of her depression. He would play bow and then run the B500 all the while keeping an eye on Willow. About two months after Benny blasted into our lives, he did his play bow and then begun his B500, when all of a sudden Willow blasted past him and the race was on.

The next year on December 5th, 2011, I drove to Lexington, Kentucky to pick up an 8-week-old puppy who's mother had come into a BRAT foster home in Kentucky. She was the only surviving pup from a litter born under highly stressful conditions. This was Tess, the miracle puppy. She had been handfed and raised since shortly after she was born. Along with Willow, Benny helped Tess learn how to be a Basenji. Willow raised her as any good mother would and Benny was the best brother any puppy could ask for. The hard days for Tess were behind her.

Now, Benny's story could end here, but actually, this is just the beginning. Turns out, Benny is a rock star when it comes to working with other dogs who have been abused and neglected. To date, Terrie and I have had four fosters – Skittles (Rilo), Mr. Fox, Anubis and Vincent Van Goah (VVG) – and Benny has been a big part of the recovery for each of these broken Basenjis.

Skittles came to us in July of 2011. She was a six-year-old female PB Basenji who came into rescue due to the death of her elderly human. Skittles did not get along with our resident alpha female, but Benny didn't give up on her and helped her integrate with a pack. Skittles stayed with us until September 4, 2011, when Terrie and I drove the Memphis, Tennessee to meet her new forever family, who were coming from Texas to pick her up.

Mr. Fox
Mr. Fox came to us in March 2012. He was a BRAT re-tread. This means he came into BRAT and was placed into a forever home, then came back into BRAT because he was being abused at his adopted home. Mr. Fox was slightly underweight and didn't really know how to be a Basenji. Benny and Tess taught him how to play again and how to be part of a pack. Mr. Fox stayed with us until July 2012, when we drove to Lexington, Kentucky to meet his forever family, Kristen Blazer, who came from Knoxville, Tennessee, to pick him up. A year later, in October 2013,Terrie and I stopped to visit Mr. Fox and meet his new sister, Saavik,. He recognized us immediately and was very happy to see us. We had a lovely visit with Mr. Fox, Saavik, Zak, and Kristen.

Anubis came to us in February 2013. He came from another rescue group who could no longer adequately care for him. He was overweight and skittish. Even though Anubis didn't know how to play, Benny played with him anyway, until Anubis learned what it was to be a Basenji again. Anubis lost weight and began to get good exercise. Anubis went to his forever family of Bryan Bodkin and his kids June 15th, 2013, when they drove to our house from the outside of Evansville, Indiana to pick him up. Anubis has adjusted quite well to life with his forever family.
Vincent Van Gogh
VVG came to us 6 November 2013. Like Mr. Fox, VVG is BRAT re-tread. He initially came into rescue when the dynamics of his family of 9 years changed so drastically he was given up. He spent three months within a foster-to-adopt home and was sent back to BRAT due to suspected abuse. As of today, VVG is still with us, and with the help of Benny, he is learning how to be a Basenji.

Benny will continue to help us rehabilitate and integrate Basenjis in need back into happy forever families and to indoctrinate humans into the world of the Basenji. We have had many visitors from the Basenji world, both four and two legged, come to our house to meet Benny and the jesters. Benny greets everyone like his long lost friends. The four legged visitors are subjected to immediate play bows and then a B500. Benny saves the best for his four legged visitors, he rubs his entire body in their hair and rolls on their head.  Benny also enjoys singing for the camera and has developed quite a following of both Basenji and non-Basenji people alike. Benny continues to amaze and delight us with his personality and antics. Benny has become the epitome of the perfect ambassador for the Basenji in need, and for the humans who care for them. 

~Dean Sigler

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for taking the time to share their stories with us, Dean. It helps the rest of us BRaT adoptive parents know that no matter what the situation 'may' look like, it's worth keeping at it cuz there's always hope.