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I was alerted to a scheduled episode of Animal Planet’s Dogs 101 that would feature the Basenji, to air on October 2nd. However, we don’t have a television at home, so I was happy to see that the clip was uploaded in advance of the show.

Click here for a 3 minute 45 second introduction to Basenjis.

I’m certainly no expert on the breed, but even I registered giant question marks over my head at 00:22 when informed that “This breed is still used today by the Pygmies in Central Africa to hunt lions.” Uhm, really…? I understand that African Basenjis are a little larger than the average pet Basenji in the Western world, but even then, I think these lithe little guys would get batted around and mauled much too easily by a lion, even if it was a pack vs. cat. The producers must have gotten their Ridgebacks and Basenjis mixed up…

1:10 to 1:20 had me chuckling at all the squirmy, barely-behaved adult Basenjis, especially the last second when the woman cues her dog to “stay” and he immediately picks himself off the floor and trots away.

Finally, I’m glad that they mentioned Fanconi Syndrome, as too many generic breed profiles don’t mention this inheritable kidney disease at all. Even the woman that we got Bowpi from was in the dark about it. I’m pretty sure it’s an exaggeration to claim that the population was “almost wiped out” by the disease in the 1980s, but the point is that it’s serious business. They could have underscored this even more boldly, not just through the vague suggestion to “know the lineage” of the Basenji you purchase (and to get one from a “reputable” breeder, which could be a show unto itself). They might have taken a couple more seconds to say that it’s now possible to screen for this very specific disease by way of a genetic marker test. A good breeder will make no excuses for not having registered their breeding Basenjis with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. This level of detail would probably derail the uptempo pace of the show, and granted, the clip is less than four minutes long. But I’m grateful that they went through the trouble of mentioning the disease at all.

Incidentally, we did get Bowpi tested when we adopted her. She came back Probably Clear/Normal. I’m not sure what we would have done if she came back as Probably Affected. It’s a What if that’s in the past for us, and one I’d like to see eliminated within my lifetime…

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Photo taken 28 September 2010

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