by Sally & Marvin Wallis - Zande Basenjis
VISITORS and the EARLIEST DAYS :
Future owners are notified on the birth of the pups and encouraged to come and see them several times so that they feel involved from the word 'go'. We often make a video film of the pups from the moment they are born and this is edited to a blank VHS cassette for the new owners interest and enjoyment.
The pups are born in an alcove beside the Aga of our farmhouse kitchen. They stay in the kitchen with access to the garden for as long as they remain with us. Usual kitchen noises, dropping of saucepan lids, food mixer, vacuum cleaners, the radio - are all part of daily life and the puppies pay no heed to them later.
BEDDING and DEW CLAWS :
We use torn up newspaper under the new-born babes until they can support their own weight, when they get their snug-rug. This permits the continued natural 'swimming' motion for the first few days and avoids unnatural development which could be detrimental to good movement.
This is Ziggy with some very new babes .....
.....and in this remarkable scene, Grandmother Tuppy has decided to take over and 'help' with the babies. She has taken on two, leaving the young mother with just one to nurse.
Some breeders remove the dew claws themselves but we prefer to wait 3 or 4 days and call in the Vet. Bleeding may be profuse and the Vet is better equipped to cope than the average household. Some people actually take the pups to the Vet but we always avoid this ordeal for pups and prefer a house-call in view of the extreme youth of the babes and possible trauma for the new mother.
WEANING, FIRST FEEDING & CRATE TRAINING:
We commence weaning at three weeks along with socialising and training the pups to feel at home in a crate. Feed, pulverised in a blender, is put into individual pate dishes in a large crate-like enclosure. The puppies are released, the pen opened and the thundering herd finds its way with increasing accuracy to a bowl. We can lean into the enclosure to make sure each gets its fair share. After a few days we put the bowls into actual crates. Sometimes they are all fed from one bowl and sometimes they have individual bowls. They therefore learn to 'share' and we do not anticipate fights over food when they leave here. Neither do they have problems adjusting to a crate for traveling or short periods at their new home.
Donner and Deedles are perfectly happy, crated together in the kitchen. They are obviously both interested in whatever is going on - probably the reason for their temporary incarceration.
The kibble is ground less and less fine as time goes by and meat is added until they are on the same diet as our grown-up Basenjis. Following weaning, loose stools caused by an over-rich diet (self-imposed !), enthusiasm for 'J' cloths or idle chewing of unsuitable material, can be firmed up with boiled unwashed rice and bland foods like chicken or poached white fish. We keep the water the meat or fish was cooked in, cool it and remove any grease and use it as a moistener for the rice, thereby catching all the goodness. Properly supervised, this situation is rare although it can occur after traveling - when you first take your puppy home.
TOILET TRAINING :
For toilet training we find cat-litter 'walks' all over the house and use newspaper (the Financial Times doesn't ink off on tiny paws) and Sherley's "Swiftie". As soon as pups wake up they get dumped into a tray of newspaper and praised when they perform. Of course, a wee boy with his front feet firmly in the tray looking up at you as he pees enthusiastically over the floor is also deserving of praise because he has the right idea. The tray is moved further and further away from the nest-box in the direction of the great outdoors. If the weather is at all clement the pups are taken outside and they are encouraged to 'ask' to go out. Basenjis prefer to empty well away from their bed and so are easy to train.
From the time they open their eyes our pups are SOCIALISED ! We pick them up, cuddle and handle them from birth but once they can stagger around we waste hours sitting on the floor and letting the babes crawl over us. Everyone coming to this house gets a puppy to cuddle. The postman has to inspect teeth (on the table) and the milk-delivery boy has to handle them. The entire village takes an interest and visits regularly, sitting on the floor and playing with puppies.
Merlin wasn't too sure about stacking and even less certain about the walnut being used to encourage him.
By the time they leave here there is one thing we are absolutely
sure of - our pups are friendly, out-going lap-dogs who will let
people handle them and who will greet anyone they are formally
introduced to with a wagging back-side. There is a reason for
the use of the words 'formally introduced' - our dogs tell us
of strangers approaching the house and were I a potential evil-doer,
the growls emanating from our pack would be far more off-putting
than the yapping of a terrier.
COLLAR TRAINING :
At three weeks of age, Zande Basenjis have a loose crochet wool collar with an end hanging from it put around their necks. When they begin rough housing in sibling games, they pull each other around by the tags and become accustomed to the feel of pressure on the neck.
As soon as possible their crochet wool collar is replaced with a very soft leather one - this is done late one evening and by next morning the puppies are accustomed to a collar. During their last week here we walk them several times daily. They go, one at a time and in pairs, 'around the block'. Out the back gate, the length of the drive-way, around the corner and down the grass verge to our front gate. We stop to watch passing cars, horses and bicycles so that, as well as becoming accustomed to walking on a lead, the puppies are not frightened by normal country life.
We take the puppies singly, as a pack, with Mum (or one of the Aunts) in the car so that their first journey is never the one which takes them to their new home.
MAKING THE TRANSITION EASIER :
New owners are encouraged to supply a piece of bedding which we put down for the last couple of nights before the puppy leaves here. It smells nice and familiarly of Mum, Dad and all the family when the puppy takes it to his new home (together with a 'rabbit' and a favourite bone). This can make a great difference for that first lonely night away from the nearest and dearest - our Aga.
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