The Dog I've Always Wanted

Canine Behavior, Training and Photography

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Entries Tagged as 'Live From The Field'

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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Live From The Field

May 26th, 2008 · No Comments · Book Reviews, Live From The Field

A recent email from a friend….

princess.jpgI’m having a hard time NOT getting this dog that’s free at the Toronto Humane Society. She looks perfect. It’s a puggle [pug beagle mix].

How do i make sure that i don’t go downtown tomorrow and pick her up?

My best advice to you is to pick up a copy of Sue Sternberg’s book “Successful Dog Adoption”. It is a very comprehensive guide to adopting a shelter dog. There is lots of very useful and interesting information available to the would-be dog adopter. In the first place you should ask yourself: is this really something that is going to work out for you and for the dog? Sue Sternberg’s book outlines all the steps in the process of finding the right dog to adopt and ensuring that the dog makes a successful transition into its new home.

This is a book for the serious owner who is prepared to make a substantial commitment of time and effort to the entire process. Impulse should not play any part in the adopting of a dog. There are ways to be almost certain that the dog that you bring into your home will be a pleasure not a nuisance or a danger to yourself, your children, or your neighbours.

Sue Sternberg is well known in the shelter world as the inventor of the Assess-a-Hand. This device consists of a fake rubber hand attached to a stick and is used in the temperament testing of dogs to screen them for adoption. Her original temperament test which is known as Assess-a-Pet is outlined in her chapter “How Do I Meet the Dogs?”. She offers plenty of detailed advice on how to evaluate a shelter dog. And she makes a clear distinction between the parts of the test that anyone could manage to do and those that are best left to the animal professional.

This book is an excellent resource. I particularly like the fact that it contains information on so many topics; there is a lot about play and different styles of play, about basic training practices, and about socialization. She addresses some of the thornier issues that face the contemporary dog adopter. For example there is a chapter entitled, “To Pit Bull or Not To Pit Bull?”

If you are considering adopting a dog and only want to read one book it should be this one.

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