Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fia The Destructor

Did I mention that when we adopted Fia, we weren't sure what kind of dog she was? It was the vet that told us she was a Basenji. I've been a dog lover all my life, but had never heard of the breed. I didn't really give it much thought at the time. She was a beautiful dog, she was loving, playful, and good with children. That's all we really needed in a companion.

After noticing some peculiar behaviours, I've started researching the breed a bit. Everywhere I go there are tales of Basenji Destruction. DUN DUN DA! (evil sound effect added here). On every breeding site I went to there were multiple warnings about the breeds tendency to completely destroy everything you own, and turn it into really expensive trash. At first, I wasn't really worried. She's been a good girl, and had proven trustworthy. The only victim of her appetite for entertainment so far had been the front door mat, and I didn't really like it anyway. Although she did do a number on her crate when we first got her and thought that shutting a high energy dog away in a small confined space would be a good idea while we were at work. Not so much.

Yesterday I came home to a completely destroyed pair of shoes. My favourite work shoes. The ones I wear almost everyday. She looked so miserable about it too. Poor puppy. My suspicion is she's getting bored. Basenji's aren't supposed to be left alone. From what I've read, even 10 minutes is a risk. I found this yesterday while I was continuing my research:

23 Pounds of Trouble
Ya wanna hear a reality story? My first Basenji—whew—now that was a boy who taught me about Basenjis!

About 20 years ago, my son and I answered an ad for a Basenji for $75. When I walked into their house I saw a large pile of debris in one room and I thought at first that they were remodeling. Yeah, remodeling, right, Basenji-style!

We took home the youngster anyway and he was such a brat, although nothing I hadn't already experienced with the German Shorthairs. Besides, this guy was a little tiny thing, so what kind of damage could he do?

When I went to work, I didn't crate him. I was only going to be gone six hours and so I thought a little guy like this shouldn't need a crate. When I returned home I walked in to find about $10,000 worth of damage to the small rental house we lived in. The ball-feet were chewed off the still-standing pecan dining room table; the couches and chairs were down to the springs; drapes were down and shredded; door, window moldings, and sills were gone; the rug was torn up off the floor; and the little dear was in the process of digging through the wall to the outside. In fact, he was through the plaster, through the lathe, and had reached the cedar siding when I caught him.

Amazingly, I didn't get angry, I was just so stunned! I was quite impressed with this little Basenji's “abilities”. Needless to say, I bought him a crate.

Later that day I thought it best to take him with me when I went to pick up my paycheck. He wasn't crated in the car. I was gone five minutes at the most. When I returned (sigh) he had done a number to the inside of the car: Steering wheel chewed through and half gone; upholstery down to the springs—no piece of vinyl or cloth was where it had once been; he stripped the inside of the car. This made driving home quite uncomfortable and interesting. After that he rode in a crate.

These are just two of the multiple horror stories we went through with this little monkey. Still, I lived with and loved that little guy until the day he died at eight years old. And I thank him for teaching me his Basenji ways. Very good lessons learned, though I wish I had been more prepared for his homecoming.

Sam Anderson
Washington State

So far the destruction has been minimal. We're hoping it stays that way. My options are few but I'm looking into getting a dog walker to break up her day a bit and tire her out. It's really unfair of me to expect perfection, but she comes very close.

If you're thinking of getting a basenji, I would highly recommend them, but be prepared to make some accommodations for your new friend. I don't mind. She's worth it.


Mara said...

I think I will stick to the feline sort for now. Although coming home to find a lot of puke on the kitchen floor isn't my idea of fun either...

Jewels said...

LOL. I know. My favourite is when you step on it barefoot in the dark.

savage.spheniscus said...

Try kongs. Or any of the variety of kong like puzzle toys. You can make them quite difficult for the dogs to do. Stuff them with easy to get out treats in the beginning, then hard to get out things (big odd shaped treats, freeze them with peanut butter in them) all sorts of things.

Also, you might try taking a fun class with her like agility or rally-o, or just doing some clicker-training fun tricks stuff. Mentally stimulating them tuckers them out too.

Just a couple of ideas :)

Jewels said...

I looked into agility, because she'd be very good at it, but the closest one is in Windsor. The frozen peanut butter thing is an excellent idea.

K(Banterings of a Basketcase) said...

I had a basenji corgi mix. She looked basenji, could climb 6 foot walls, dig under anywhere and chew any pencil to sawdust. That was all she did destruction wise. I was sure lucky! she was so loyal!!!! The reason she'd climb a fence is to go meet "her kids" at the school.

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