Basenji Companions

Devoted to Basenjis as Pets

Who Will Take Care of Your Dogs?

(Nominated for Dog Writer’s Association of America Award – 1999)
By Betsy Polglase, Massachusetts, updated 2013

If you suffered a stroke, were in a serious auto accident, or in some other major crisis which took you from your home, perhaps permanently, who would care for your Basenjis? I cannot imagine a scenario more tragic than dogs trapped in crates, or alone in a house with no food or water and no way to relieve themselves—and no one knowing they were there.

This scenario actually happened when I first started doing rescue/adoption work. A fellow who owned 5 Basenjis (who were crated) was rushed to the VA hospital. He had recently moved to Massachusetts from California with the five Basenjis, no money and no friends. His Basenjis had been in the crates alone for at least 48 hours in their own filth after his emergency hospitalization. In desperation, he called the Basenji club from the hospital for help. Several of us took shifts and went down to take care of these poor, sad dogs.

To prevent such an unthinkable possibility, here are some ideas:

Actions to take right now:

Tatoo Or Microchip Your Dog

If your dog were to get loose from your home, you have an excellent chance of getting him returned to you if you have him tattooed or microchipped. Watch for tattoo clinics at club matches, the Basenji REVELS and at fund-raisers—or have your veterinarian do it under anesthesia. Be sure to register your number with the national organization.

If you have more than one dog, make sure that each tattoo number has a different extension so someone besides you can tell the dogs apart. Make sure the numbers are prominently placed in your MASTER DOG INFORMATION BOOK under your dog’s name.

Tape Your Dog’s Name, Sex and Age to the Crate or Pen

This is so a rescuer will immediately know your dog’s information. If you have more than one dog, you might also note any dog/s with whom this dog fights and any major medical problems.

Silver duct tape and a black marker pens can be used for identification on crates, but good metal “recipe” card-holders can be purchased from places like Pet-Edge and others. These card-holders have tabs which can attach right onto the bars of any crate.

Give Emergency Telephone Numbers and a House Key to a Neighbor, Relative or a Friend (or preferably all three.)

Post CURRENT Feeding Instructions

Post on the refrigerator telling what to feed your dog/s; when; how much; and where the food is found in the house. Remind folks to give your dog/s water and to take them out on a leash to relieve themselves. Place leashes, with collars attached, in a prominent place.

Keep a Master Notebook of Information on Your Dog(s)

The spine of the book should be permanently marked with something like “My Dog(s)” and put where people would be likely to find it. Reference the book’s location in your “refrigerator note.” This notebook should include:

  1.  A Sheet of Paper Signed by You saying who should take legal possession and make decisions on behalf of the dog in the case of a serious crisis—include their name, address & telephone number. Be sure to OK this arrangement with the person named!! Dogs are legally considered “possessions,” and no one can find them a home unless you legally give them permission to do so. If you neglect to designate someone to make these decisions regarding your dogs and you should die without a will, your dogs might have to go through the probate process and could end up in shelters.
  2. Description and Optional Photograph of your dog, and a sheet mentioning tattoo numbers, emotional quirks, any training that your dog has had, and all commands learned. Write it as if someone were taking over the care of your dog—this is precisely what would probably have to happen.
  3. Health Information: Rabies certificate, neuter or spay certificate; when which shots were given and are due; when heartworm tests were done; what heartworm pills are being used and when they are due; when fecal test were done and outcome; when genetically tested (at any age) or glucose-strip-tested for Fanconi and outcome (if over age 3); copies of other health tests or exams that you might have done and results. Include any medications they take, any operations they’ve had, and any other health problems or allergies.
  4. Individaul AKC Registration, AKC Litter Resgistration, ILP Number (if available), bill of sale, or an adoption contract—anything saying you legally own the dog.
  5. Pedigree– the names of the dog’s parents and breeder—if available. (You may not have this information with an adopted Basenji.)

Things to do so that someone can find this information:

Post a Note on the Refrigerator

Post note next to the feeding instructions saying who to call in case of an emergency and telling the location of important papers for your dogs.

Make a WILL

Include Instructions for Legal Transfer of Your Dogs
Have an alternate person listed in case lighting strikes you both! If you have any money at all, leave some to these folks to pay for your dog’s kibble and shots until an adoptive home can be found. You might want to choose as your care-person a Basenji club rescue committee, group, veterinarian, or friend (Check to make sure this is OK with them!) If you have someone who has agreed to permanently take your dogs in a case where you couldn’t keep them, mention that in your will.

Hopefully we all will be in fine shape for the lives of our dogs, but it is a very good thing to provide for them if we are not. They are utterly dependent on us for their care and safety, and we certainly owe them that much.

Article copyright © 2013 by Betsy Polglase.

All rights reserved.

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