I received a very special engagement gift from my fiancee, Gary, many years ago. She had a curly tail, sported a red and white coat, and wore four white socks with a white-tipped curly tail. Sound familiar? Yep, you guessed right. My hubby-to-be gave me my first purebred basenji girl. I named her Petite Seraph and sent her registration paper in to the AKC. I thought of her as my "little angel" and she was so very cute at 3 months old; all wrinkles and loose skin and bouncy energy. As you can tell from the name I selected, I was a classic novice basenji owner with so very much to learn about this unique breed.
At this time, Ginger, my first dog, still lived with me. She was about 10 years old when Seraph arrived and the two of them became friends immediately.
|Ginger watching the road|
So I had gone through tough dog training with Ginger, but couldn't have been more unprepared for a new marriage, in a new town, with a new husband AND a purebred basenji! By the time we married in July, Seraph turned 6 months old and had decided opinions about how she planned to spend her days. We moved to Lakeside in San Diego County and began rehabbing the house we rented while living there. Construction materials rested beside dog food and boxes containing all our possessions. The fighting about Seraph and her bad behavior started before we celebrated one month being married.
We spent one month living on our savings and wedding gifts working daily to put our one bedroom house into good order. Ginger and Seraph watched from the couch while Gary and I tore down layer after layer of wallpaper, repaired and painted walls, hung a new ceiling in the living room and redecorated both the bathroom and kitchen. Soon our little house shone like a new penny and we began to look for jobs. This is when the trouble started.
Fast approaching her first birthday, Seraph's hormones began stirring. Basenjis come into season only one time per year, typically in October. So our girl needed to be protected from getting bred by one of the local male dogs roving the neighborhood. I planned on taking our basenji girl to dog shows and competing, so I took this responsibility very seriously.
While we were away at work, we confined Seraph to the bathroom with the door shut tight. She didn't like this limitation and when I got home from work that afternoon, found our newly repaired and painted bathroom wall shredded by Seraph's iron hard teeth. I sat on the bathroom throne, held my head and cried until Gary got home. When he saw the mess, he roared.
He already had erected a chicken coop on the side of our property and filled it with several hens and a rooster. He decided the solution was to build a dog run and to save on materials connected it to the side of the coop. With no fence around the property, our girls could be safe all day in nice, new kennels while we worked. Yes, the basenji girls were safe, but we could not anticipate what Seraph would come up with next. While we worked, she did too. When I arrived home that afternoon, she had dug a nice, neat tunnel from her kennel into the coop. I found feathers flying, the dog chasing the hens, and half of our hens deceased from Seraph's attack.
This was the last straw, I had to find a solution to getting her behavior under control. This dog, my engagement gift, caused almost all the disagreements Gary and I had in our married life. I wondered whether she was worth all the trouble and strife she was causing. While discussing it with my friend, Mary Jo, she told me of a dog obedience class led by her friend Sam at a nearby mall. A solution to our problem, my iron hard will up against our "little angel's." Our basenji girl would soon be marching off to school!
(see Part 2 for the continuing story)