The Rip Van Wrinkler, XXIII, Issue 4, November 2019

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"The basenji is one half cat & three quarters monkey" ~ Nicholas Marsicano

Susan Chuvala illustration

S K-M: While it is true that basenjis don't bark, they are not mute, and they are not stuffed animals. They are exotic, always choreographed, brilliant imps. Basenjis are bed dogs.

Threr is a story I often tell to folks inquiring about getting a Basenji. It was told to me 45 or more years ago by a Pharaoh Hound person. It's a lovely test of sorts & goes like this:

This handler raised a Basenji puppy for a client & her husband, she said, absolutely hated this puppy.

One of the things that made him most angry was that the pup always stole the stick of butter from the table.

So he, fiendishly, added a liberal amount of jalapeno peppers to some butter, reshaped it into a bar, placed this bar on the table & waited.

Sure enough, said puppy grabbed it, and got the whole bar in her mouth, bowed down on her elbows and DID NOT REACT.

She only glared at him...

Then she dropped the butter & ran up the stairs AND PEED on HIS BED! The handler told me that she didn't know who would survive the chase that followed; around and around the house. Her husband finally cornered the little devil and said, "Gotcha!" and she marched past him and peed in his bedroom slipper..

Folks who laugh at this story pass the test for future Basenji households....

19 OCTOBER 2019
by Eva Pianfetti

Am I a suitable human for a basenji?

The basenji is a particular dog and before buying or adopting one it is important to read up and study all the features, not just the positive ones, in order not to risk regretting your choice sooner or later.

The basenji is not a dog for everyone; this means, as a logical consequence, that not all people are suited to basenji.

Do you think you are?

If you started reading this article, I can imagine that you are thinking of taking a dog and that basenji is one of the breeds you are considering. What do you know about this breed? Which of its features fascinate you to the point of thinking of enriching your own life with a basenji dog?

Is it the fact that they don't smell, that they don't bark, that they wash themselves like cats? Or have you seen photos on facebook or instagram, in which theyare often portrayed in funny attitudes, and you are in love with them?

These are not good reasons to get a basenji, and I hope you already know that.

It is true that the basenji has an odorless hair and is very clean, as I explain in this article . The legs usually have a particular smell, so they are not totally odorless. Like all dogs, it can happen that they suffer from inflammation of the anal glands, and at that point the smell, even if rather unpleasant, is inevitable.

It is also true that basenji does not bark, but this does not mean that they mute: they emit many different types of vocalizations and some sounds can be very noisy! To learn more, read these two articles: “Basenji: is it true that he doesn't bark?"And "Basenji and bark."

(Basenji Chorus)

That being said - why do you want to have a basenji?

If you've already had dogs of this breed in the past, or if you currently have them, you already know what to expect. The selection made by excellent breeders, aimed at improving the temperament of these dogs, makes it possible to reduce the risk of finding oneself with aggressive subjects, but it must not be forgotten that they are still primitive type dogs, descendants of semi-wild dogs of Africa.

The basenji is a real dog, not a toy.

If you want a little dog who spends his days at home, quietly nestled in his kennel waiting for your return, or having your children handle and manipulate them like a toy, I would advise you to choose another type of dog.

I read somewhere that in Africa basenji females were also used as nurses for children, and I don't hesitate to believe it. After all, it seems that at the beginning of the 20th century in Europe the pit dogs were the pit bulls. Basenjis, however, are extremely sensitive dogs and, above all puppies, very impetuous. Even a little crazy, sometimes! So you can very well take a basenji if you have children, but first teach your children to treat the dog with respect.

As for waiting for you at home quietly in his bed, yes, he can also do it, but as long as you are with him, you devote so much attention to him and make him walk a lot so that he drains his energy.

On the internet, on facebook and on instagram in particular, you often see photos of basenji wearing the most outlandish garments. Some dogs may accept passively - I doubt with pleasure, but you never know - this treatment, but not everyone agrees to wear clothing. Some basenjis just can't stand them. Many females, for example, are literally shredding the panties that someone tries to make them wear in the first period of heat, during blood loss. My first basenji didn't even accept the little coat in the middle of winter. I would slip it on, of course, but then he would remain motionless like a statue of salt until I took it off him.

So: if you are looking for a little dog to be decorated like a Christmas tree, perhaps the basenji is not the most suitable for the purpose. Moreover, if you think of the noble origins of the basenji as a Pharaohs' dog, as well as of the seriousness and importance, adult and mature, of his role in Africa as a hunter alongside indigenous tribes, reduce him today to a mere clown for your and our amusement, doesn't it make you very sad? To me yes.

Back to you, reader: are you convinced that dogs are all the same? That all are equally trainable and that they can become obedient like radio-controlled drones? Already you are imagining yourself walking the streets of the city with your beautiful and very elegant basenji, who walks at your foot without a leash?

Ok, so please do me and that basenji a favor: don't take it with you. Someone tells you that she had a very good and obedient first basenji. A few months Biagio already knew how to walk at the foot and respond to the call. I left him free in the area where I lived, where there were then many meadows and little traffic. Until one day he decided that a semi-stray dog that was trotting nearby was more interesting than me and, like a lightning bolt, ran after him, even crossing a road. I found it right away, for my and its luck. We ran into each other as if in a scene of a bad romantic movie, with open arms and lots of background music. But the point is that: basenjis are unpredictable dogs. You can't know what's on his mind. If they decide to do something, they do it, yours and in spite of yourself. And only once can it be enough. As well as fatal. In these years I have heard of many dead basenji hit by cars or trucks, or escaped and no longer found. Sometimes the collar or harness is removed and they run away. It happened to me with Biagio. Other times, already free, they run after something and ... often it's okay, fortunately. But not always. Unfortunately accidents can happen despite all our precautions. The important thing is, however, to take the necessary precautions, in order not to have remorse for the fact occurred.

If you dream of a dog that walks freely by your side in the city center, don't try to prove anything to anyone and choose another type of dog.

The unpredictability of basenjis can reach heights "that you humans could not imagine"!
Basenjis climb like cats and can climb over certain types of fences.
In recent years I have also heard of basenjis being blown from windows and balconies. Not once, but several times. You're right: not everything is predictable and not all basenjis would break from a window without warning. My first basenji, for example, suffered from vertigo, so he would never have dreamed of climbing over a fence or jumping off a balcony. The girl I have now is rather reckless and fearless, so she could do it if you weren't careful.
These are events that happened to other basenji owners, and it could also happen to your future basenji, if you decide to take one, with more or less nefarious results. You can't know in advance what kind of basenji will happen to you: one who suffers from vertigo or a fearless and reckless one? One who will always fall on his feet or one who will hurt the first tumble? So: if you are a person who has no intention of taking any extra precautions to ensure the safety of your basenji crazy dog, then: you are not a suitable human for this breed.

Are you one of those people who hold their objects so strongly that they become hysterical if the guest on duty spills a drop of coffee on their sofa? Then try to imagine a soft, furry puppy that amiably crunches the legs of the chairs, scratches and scratches the aforementioned sofa, spreads the cushions, sprinkling the padding everywhere, reduces the curtains in confetti ... Many basenjis are dedicated to these and other lovely play activities, in the downtime of the day, perhaps out of boredom, perhaps to relieve stress. This activity, in addition to being able to make you get upset if you are the kind of person we identified above, can also be dangerous for the dog, who may not only injure himself with some UO (unidentified object), seeing himself immediately after landing on the backside, if caught in the act.

This is not a characteristic of basenjis alone. Many dogs, especially puppies, but often also in adulthood, crunch and destroy objects and furniture. Of course: we can go back to the source of the problem to correct it and solve it, if and when it is a problem, but it is necessary to have a lot of patience and perseverance, and accept the fact that some objects will end up in landfills, while others will be better hidden in places inaccessible to the dog. Are you ready to face this kind of problem, in case it should show up? Consider that it appears to occur with extreme frequency and, as mentioned, not only in basenji. Perhaps the Basengi put more effort into it. If you keep too much of your objects and their disposition in your apartment, you might want to consider adopting or buying another type of animal.

Are you by any chance the kind of person who would never let the dog climb, I don't say on the bed, but not even on the couch or on a small, miserable, sad armchair? Do you think dogs have to sleep on the floor, perhaps at your feet, because you are the master, you are the one who commands, while they have to occupy the lowest positions both physically and socially? Basenjis love elevated positions, and their love for them increases if they are warm, soft and comfortable. And if you prevent him from getting on it. In addition, basenjis love to roll up between their master's legs when they are cold or to sit behind their back, ie between the back and the back of an armchair or sofa. With a basenji a person like you would really have a hard life. Many, especially trainers, believe that what I'm about to tell you is not true, but I tell you the same because I am convinced that it is: the basenji will not consider you as his master, but as an equal. The relationship with a basenji is not the typical one between man and dog, in which the former dominates and commands and the latter submits and obeys, but it is more a relationship of friendship and trust. If you oblige it, if you want to dominate it, basenji will hardly obey you. In order for you to pay attention, you must establish a relationship with him based on mutual trust and esteem. I call the basenji the "anarchist dog", where the term anarchy has no negative meaning given to our days of confusion and chaos. I call it an anarchist dog because basenji does not recognize an authority and does not follow the rules that apply to other dogs. He does his own thing and sees you as a life partner.

I could continue this article indefinitely, there would still be a lot to write, but for the moment I will stop here.
The point is already made, isn't it?

I have to make a necessary clarification: I am not a breeder, but a simple and passionate owner of basenji. My first basenji, a boy, lived more than 14 years, and when he left I dedicated a photo slide that you can see on youtube, if you like.

I currently have a female who is just 9 months old. As you can understand, dear reader, my knowledge of the breed derives mainly from having read and studied, as a passionate, the basenji in its infinite facets, and very little from the direct experience. I have reported my knowledge in this article, but perhaps also and above all my opinions about this magnificent and particular dog. It is likely that people with much more experience than me disagree on some - or maybe everyone! - the points I dealt with here, so please: before making any decision, contact serious breeders - to know how to recognize serious breeders you can read this article in which I also briefly deal with this topic - breeders with many years of experience; talk to them. Go see them, look and know their basenjis, if you can. Don't rely on the internet or hearsay! Don't rely solely on the opinion of people who have or have had only one or two basenjis.

The basenji is not a dog for everyone; this means, as a logical consequence, that not all people are suited to basenji. Are you?

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