Showsight Presents The Basenji

PROPORTIONALLY SPEAKING

For me, but I can never forget Olivia Burn’s vivid description written in May 1939: “...They have to hunt through long grass, for- est, undergrowth and often sand, so a short, strong back with good propelling power of quarters is important for the work required of them. What is required is a reachy-necked, short-backed, tireless, active little dog, really agile, alert, springy and quick, with a deep brisket. I have seen numbers of them at work dur- ing the past ten years and the best and most useful specimens all have the conformation described.” I have never heard or read a more accurate description of the ideal Basenji; really bringing these little native dogs alive in your mind as they dart through the deep grass, jumping straight up to sight their quarry, then dropping down to drive it into the nets of their native Pygmy owners! To reiterate, the proportions of the African Basenji should be truly square. Whether standing on a loose lead, standing up on his own feet in a line-up or as approached on an examination table, he should present an easily discerned, squarely con- structed dog. His movement, while swift and tire- less, is still a smoothly balanced, easy, and swinging stride. Moving or standing, the Basenji is the pic- ture of “springy poise and alertness!” Why all the yellow squares, you ask? Well, when judging the Basenji, if you cannot visualize a square as I have positioned it, the dog’s proportions are not cor- rect. Thus, the entire construction is incorrect. Just my humble opinion. –SLB The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, incorporating her forty-six years of extensive study and experience, and do not necessarily represent those of the Basenji Club of America, Inc., its Officers, Board or Membership. —SLB

Whelped 2016, Australian BIS Supreme Champion

Whelped 2018, AKC Major-Pointed (Dark Moon’s Supernatural)

These dogs show the level toplined, swift, balanced, and swinging stride of the square, agile Basenji.

So, that first appproved Basenji Standard was already once removed from the breed founders. In my study, I have found that every time the Standard under- went a revision, words—and even whole phrases—were omitted and much extra verbiage was added. The 1939 General Appearance paragraph read: “Smart and alert, with poise and stance rather resembling an antelope, and gait very like that of a thoroughbred horse.” Succinct, but this hits all the necessary points. Although the subsequent Standards used more words, I don’t think they were actually more descriptive.

She has judged Basenji Specialties and supported entries across the US and in Australia and Finland, including the still-record entry of 467 at the 1997 Basenji Club of America National Specialty. She felt honored to judge her second Specialty in Australia, fifteen years after the first; 2003 and 2018. She served the Basenji Club of America, first as Ad Manager for five years, then as Editor of its quarterly Bulletin for over ten years. She was, concurrently, President for two terms, Secretary for one, and a member of the Board for another six between 1987 and 1995. Mrs. Bridges was a member of the Basenji Club of America’s JEC in the ‘90s, creating and presenting the “Interactive Critique” at many National Specialty Judges’ Seminars. She also compiled and authored much of the JEC’s educational material at that time. Following a “break” during her husband’s illness, she is again a member of the BCOA’s Judges’ Education Committee. Her artwork has been presented at past Specialties and National Specialties. She is currently working on a book about the original Basenji from the heart of the rain forest, and the need for breeders and judges to re-focus on that small, short- backed, balanced, and agile jungle dog.

Sandy Bridges Meeting Dingos at the Zoo in Australia, 2018

ABOUT THE AUTHOR As JATO Basenjis since 1974, producing one litter per year until 1998, Mrs. Bridges has owned, bred and/or co-bred over fifty Champion Basenjis, most owner- and/or breeder-handled to their titles. These include six Top Producers, seven Specialty Winners, three National Specialty Winners (from her “last” Basenji litter, WB-BW at the 1999 BCOA National under Australian breeder-judge Lauris Hunt) and a Top Ten Group Winner. Her husband’s 12-year illness, resulting in his death in 2004, curtailed her dog activities for a time. She dove back in to judging and went ahead to attain AKC approval to judge fifteen Hounds and one Toy as well as all-breed Juniors.

212 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, SPRING EDITION

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