A few years ago, I was chatting with a Dog Show Judge who asked me what kind of dogs I had. Her smile turned to a frown and her next words were, “Oh, what horrible little bush dogs.” I took no offence.Long ago, I learned that the Basenji is a polarizing breed, one you’ll either love with a passion or want absolutely nothing to do with.When flushing their quarry in the tall elephant grass, their hunting strategy is to leap straight up in the air, and take a quick look around for their prey when airborne.Thus one of the names they are known by to the natives is M'bwa m'kube M'bwa wamwitu which translates as the jumping up and down dog.The Basenji Club of America (BCOA) notes that cave paintings in Libya dating back to 6000 BC feature pariah dogs that bear strong resemblance to the Basenji.In recent years, DNA testing has identified the Basenji as an early example of canine development.Amusing stories, cleverly written, but surely not real! That night, I dreamed about a Basenji with teeth like an alligator, biting through his lead as I held it, chewing a hole in my chain link fence and escaping to Iowa during a brief moment of inattention while I sneezed. Can you imagine my pleasure (and relief) when I actually got to visit my new girl and the first thing she did was lick my face then poke her nose in my jacket pocket looking for treats? Her name is Katie and I think we probably met in a past life.She's sweet, friendly, and she even tolerates the cats. All the dogs were “happy as clams” to meet someone new and I had a great time.
Their distinctive gait, which adds to their appeal, is a straight-legged lope, which enables them to run at a steady pace for hours.My impression was: “What a beautiful breed, how spirited; they must be so quiet to have around ... ” (Of course, that was before I heard my first yodel.) I decided I wanted to add one of these wonderful little dogs to my family of two rescue cats. It was only then that I began doing my homework and researching the breed. Dogs that eat mini blinds and chew everything in sight!?!Excited and full of hope, I contacted the Basenji rescue folks and found that a dog was available ... I bumped into these reality stories on BRAT's Web page. Surely the owners of these animals are the most loving, patient, easy-going people on earth. Naturally, I began to think twice about this rescue business.No doubt, a large part of the breed’s survival over the centuries stems from the value it has consistently brought to a tribe’s table.Efforts to bring the breed from the Congo to Europe and beyond began in the 1880s, but weren’t successful until the mid-1930s.