06 September 2006

Baroo like an Egyptian

Strangely enough, my two favorite breeds of dogs share a lot in common. Big.... heck, make that enormous ears, short stature, and plenty of attitude. Personality wise, they couldn't be further apart.

Twelve years ago, I got a Basenji. Her name was Tutu, short for Tutankhamun's Princess Something Something. We figured Tutu was really 2-2, or twenty two miles an hour, the slowest speed she raced around the house doing what is popularily called "the B-500, or Basenji 500"

If I had known what they were like, I would have been afraid. Very afraid. But being naive and in love with the little Egyptian monsters, when the oportunity to own one came up, I took it. I didn't read the fine print in the doggie contract. You don't own a Basenji, they own you. It may have something to do with them being one of the oldest dog breeds.

From Wikipedia article:
The Basenji is one of the most ancient dog breeds. Originating on the continent of Africa, it has been venerated by humans for thousands of years. Basenjis can be seen on steles in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs, sitting at the feet of their masters, looking just as they do today, with erect ears and tightly curled tail.

You can read all about their weird, cat-like traits in the article. It explains a lot about their attitude. "Worship me, I've communed with gods." You can't win an argument with a Basenji, so I did. Worship her. Despite the fact that the dogs name translated from an African word that meant "bush thing" or "wild thing." Despite the fact that Basenjis are often marketed in the US as being barkless, as if it is an advantage. They are by no means mute. Tutu would chortle, yodel happy greetings, or scream like a scalded baby. She had special 'bar-roos' for her people, and after a while you learned their meanings. My least favorite was the one that meant, "You should have secured the paper towels better, because I was forced to shred an entire roll to protect my family from harm".

I've been a member of Basenji Rescue and Transport, known as BRAT since Tutu went to the great pyramid in the sky. People don't realize what they are getting into when they get a dog advertised as barkless and hypoallergetic, get it home, and find out they purchased a toilet paper shredding escape artist that can climb chain link like a monkey, run like an antelope, and squeeze through small openings like a cat. If you aren't prepared to be ever vigilant, and at times stern and unyeilding, then Basenjis aren't for you. On the other hand, if you can find the mischievious nature of the animal endearing, remember their origin as the hunting dogs of Pharaohs, (Who were smart enough to keep them on leashes if they wanted them to stick around), and give them the worship they deem necessary... Basenjis will steal your heart. They are a glimpse into the past, and for a history buff, that's no small thing.


Gabriele C. said...

I'd like to get an Irish Wolf Hound, but considering their size, a 60 square metre two room flat stuffed with books is not a place to keep them.

Constance said...

But they are very laid back. Just get them a couch to lounge on, and they would be happy to take it easy and watch you write. :)

I have a nifty picture of my tri Corgi as a baby sitting under an Irish for shade during a dog show. The Wolfhound was very accomodating, and a little perplexed, but he was careful not to step on the wee Corgi.


KC Heath said...

This is fascinating information. I didn't know about this breed until I read this. Makes me think of my cat who thinks he's a dog. Kinda the same story as yours except in reverse --ha--