The Dog I've Always Wanted

Canine Behavior, Training and Photography

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Entries from December 2008

Cleo Comes to Stay — life with a middleaged Basenji

December 28th, 2008 · 1 Comment · Live From The Field, Living With Basenji

145_033_cropMy interest in sighthounds was certainly sparked by my contact with a couple of them at the daycare; greyhounds to be precise. Little did I know that I would soon be living with a basenji. It was the usual story, a dog needing to be rehomed came for the weekend and my daughter was smitten and it seemed to me that Cleo would be an interesting addition to our existing pack of two dogs.Her house training was impeccable. When she needed to go out she would begin running in circles at an increasing speed until someone took her outside. She has refined the form of this message. Now she taps on the door with her front claws for in and out.

Basenjis are an ancient race of dogs thought to have originated in the middle east and found their way to central Africa. They have  traditionally been used to hunt in packs their function being to chase small game into nets. During the chase basenjis wear large bells to intimidate their prey because they do not bark. It’s not hard to imagine Cleo avidly engaged in such a pursuit. Some people describe basenjis as cat-like. They are comfort seekers and they can seem aloof. They are extraordinarily clean; they neither shed nor smell. Perhaps most remarkable of all they do not bark. This is not to say that they are silent. Basenjis make an odd yodelling sound and they are also capable of a blood curdling scream when hurt or distraught. They can rightfully be described as a primitive breed which is to say that they are instinct driven dogs whose instinctive behaviour is more difficult to overcome with training than most other breeds. [Read more]

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A Trio of Books About Greyhounds

December 21st, 2008 · No Comments · Book Reviews, News From the Doggie Daycare

“The Reign of the Greyhound: a popular history of the oldest family of dogs”

“Adopting the Racing Greyhound”

“Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies”

I have recently developed a keen interest in greyhounds, particularly in the process by which greyhounds whose career at the track is over are integrated into a human family.  Initially  there was Mr Grey, a retired racer who had raced under the name Pilot, with whom I had daily contact at work.  Then there was a second retired racer at the daycare.  Observing them and interacting with them I quickly realized that greyhounds are, to use a cliche, a breed apart. I was charmed by their exotic appearance. I was surprised at their gentleness with people. In short, I wanted to learn more about them with a view to understanding them. Greyhounds are different. They are sighthounds also referred to as gazehounds. Other breeds in this group are borzois, whippets, salukis, afghan hounds and basenjis. These are fast dogs (up to 40 miles per hour) with remarkable vision (270 degrees) originally bred to pursue prey. A greyhound is not built like anything but a greyhound. Their ratio of body fat is a great deal lower than for other breeds of their size. They practically have their own blood group. There is no other dog that is built on such magnificent aerodynamic lines. Caring for a greyhound is a fairly specialized business and requires some education.
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