2017 BRAT Convention

Article by Janet Pace, courtesy of BRAT


This year, 47 Basenjis and more than 70 rescue volunteers gathered for two-and-a-half days of fellowship and a packed agenda for the 14th annual Basenji Rescue and Transport (BRAT) Convention June 15-17.  It was an appropriate venue; Missouri is one of the busiest Basenji rescue states. 



BRAT was founded in 1999 and operates throughout the US and Canada with the help of 1,550 volunteers.  Its mission is “to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home dogs of the Basenji breed; to educate and support owners, potential adopters, and admirers of the breed; to rescue and foster Basenjis in safe and nurturing environments; to provide the care that each dog needs; and to work hard to educate ourselves so that we can confidently place adoptable dogs in the best homes possible for a happy and harmonious outcome.”


The convention provides an opportunity once a year for volunteers who only work together via email, transport runs or Facebook to meet for the first time or to catch up on the past year.  The conference also brings in experts about Basenjis to host workshops to help volunteers expand their knowledge about the breed.  Its value is proven by the distances people traveled to attend this year: as far away as Canada, New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, Louisiana, and Texas.


Attendees celebrated some impressive statistics about BRAT. Since it began issuing BRAT ID tags, the organization has rescued 3,598 Basenjis and helped to counsel owners of at least 1,000 who remained in their homes. Since 2015, 158 dogs have been DNA Fanconi tested, with 100 being Fanconi Clear and only 14 testing as Fanconi Affected. Because of this early detection, the 2015 Gonto Fanconi Protocol can begin immediately to give the affected animals a bright future.


This year, workshop topics were Fostering: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, presented by Dean and Terrie Sigler; Goldie, the Miracle Basenji, by Melinda, Joy and Goldie Lauffenburger; Holistic Veterinary Care, by Cathy King, DVM; Caring for a Dog with Fanconi, by Barbara and Dennis Narehood and Mary Mann; Walking a Dog through BRAT, by Liz Newton; The African Import Expeditions, by Jon Curby; Training Your Basenji, by Suzee Aff and Puck; and Baking for Your Basenjis, by Mike Robinson and Deb Hughes.




Fostering: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was an honest look at the challenges involved in fostering Basenjis who have been surrendered by their owners or come from unknown circumstances. Dean and Terrie Sigler used photos and told personal stories of their many fosters through BRAT. Liz Newton gave a presentation, Walking a Dog Through BRAT, on the steps and numerous volunteers involved in ensuring that each Basenji is tracked and ultimately placed in the right forever home.


Goldie, the Miracle Basenji is the story of Joy Lauffenburger, who has autism, and Goldie, her Basenji mix service dog.  Joy’s mother Melinda shared Joy’s journey and the role Goldie has played in her progress.  Joy shared ways that Goldie has helped her interact in different situations, including walking through crowds and meeting new people. As Joy noted in the presentation, “Goldie and I are unique. Goldie is a mutt. I have autism. We are both timid.  Goldie and I are one of a kind. Because Goldie is special, I know I am special too!”


Dr. Cathy King shared the role that holistic medicine can play with sick animals. She talked about diet and natural remedies. Sharma, owned by Mike Robinson and Deb Hughes, was used as an example. Sharma has mast cell cancer and was given just months to live, but by using a holistic approach to her veterinary care, she has outlived expectations and has maintained a good quality of life. While Sharma is not clear of her cancer, she is doing extremely well.


Barbara and Dennis Narehood and Mary Mann shared personal experiences of caring for Basenjis with Fanconi Syndrome using the 2015 Gonto protocol. While it is challenging to care for these Basenjis, it is worth the effort. Because of the protocol, all Fanconi Affected dogs have a brighter future.


Convention goers were enthralled with the presentation on African Import Expeditions by Jon Curby. He shared the stories of his trips to Sudan and the Congo Democratic Republic and showed videos of the puppies and dogs they brought back to improve genetic diversity in the Basenji breed.



And Suzee Aff and her Basenji, Puck, proved many wrong. You can train a Basenji! She discussed training methods to increase the bond between humans and their Basenjis.



One of the highlights of every convention are the Friday evening contests. Winners this year:

Best Costume: 1st boy: Bill (Pete Sheyko), 2nd boy: Chewwey (Leah Ernst), 3rd boy: Puck (Suzee Aff)

1st girl: Eve (Janice Suerth and Jason Smith), 2nd girl: Brie (Schlitz Family), 3rd girl: Daisy & Ellie (Betty Jensen)

Best Baroo: Benny (Terrie and Dean Sigler)

Largest: Nala (Alex Fenton/Susy Teves) and Etsy (Barbara and Dennis Narehood)

Smallest: (tie) Blaze (Liz and Bill Newton) and Tinker (Donna LaFornia)

Oldest: Telli (Janice Suerth and Jason Smith)

Youngest: Lena (Jennifer Ihns)

Most Freckles: Ellie May (Betty Jensen)

Most Wrinkles: Kafi (Kaylea Schauer)

Best Trick: Goldie (Joy Lauffenberger)

Fastest Seek and Find: 1st Place: Abraham (Kate Moore); 2nd Place: Angel (Kate Moore); 3rd Place:

(tie) Lulu (Robert and Ann Kleve) and Riley (Dotty and Mark Wadsworth)


Beyonce Costume Contest Winner

Saturday evening’s banquet provided a time to recognize outstanding BRAT volunteers. Awards were given to Rebeca Best, Mike Robinson, Mary Mann, Sabina Knight, Sherry Genet, Janet Ketz, Betty Jensen, Rhonda Lowe, Jeff and Joanne Anderson, Chris Reid, Janette Hughes, Jackie Kuhwarth, Jacque Holdaway, Don Kuhwarth, Mary Gregory, Alex Fenton, Oren Will, Karen Holcomb, Joanne Free, Maria Millares, Anthony Toreson and Andrea Houstoun, and Adam Hindson. Convention organizer, Deb Hughes, was given a special recognition for her leadership in organizing a successful convention. The raffle, silent auction and live auction were a great success and will provide needed funds for medical care and DNA Fanconi testing.  Bill Newton was, once again, our outstanding live auctioneer.



Treasurer Debbi Johnson also announced the results of the Brave Beautiful Basenji Challenge, which was issued by a friend of BRAT, Sharon Hill. Sharon shared that she wanted to give a living bequest to BRAT so that the money could be used now, rather than after her passing. She challenged BRAT volunteers to match up to $10,000. And volunteers responded. Her challenge was matched with $10,873. Sharon was present when the total was announced, and she was given a plaque in appreciation for her efforts.


The BRAT Convention would not be possible without our generous donors and sponsors: Dog Tag Art; Earth Rated Poop Bags; Harness Lead; The Cleaning Authority – St. Charles, MO; Little Dog Brewing Company; Rai-Tei Basenji Dresses; Mutts by Patrick McDonnell; K9Tag.com; Picture it Digital Designs; Blue Dog Bakery; Total Basenjis; Hemopet; Algonquin Sewing Centre; Precious Pets Grooming Salon; A Barkery Unleashed; Matthew Petty Illustrations; Dolls by Jackie Billings; Sherry Agee; Michelle Barker; Lisa Bragg; Valerie Brown; Colleen Casey; Susan Chuvala; Sara and Denis Cole; Denise Cooper; Heidi Compton; Joanne and John Costello; Leah Ernst; Michele Evans; Ann Fath; Alex Fenton; Kelly Friesen; Marilyn Green; Toni Halle; Deb Hughes; Debbi Johnson; Nelson Kahler; Allison Kelly; Janet Ketz; Cathy King, DVM; Roberta Kosek; Barb Kunze; Melissa Lambert; Carol Lange; Kath Long; Janice McCoy; Maribeth McKinnon; Nicole Mertens; Chey Miller; Pam Mounts; Mark Murphy; Barbara and Dennis Narehood; Tracy Neumann; Nancy Newman; Liz and Bill Newton; Tammy Noragan; Janice Olson; Margaret O’Reilly; Elizabeth Pulcini; Janet Pace; Missy Price; Lisa Putnam; Rolena Dan; Kaylea Schauer; Gretchen Schmidhausler; Beth Schmidt; Margie and Vic Schmille; Dawn and Duane Schroedter; Linda Siekert; Dean and Terrie Sigler; Chris and Linda Thelan; Donna Troyna; Dotty Wadsworth; Linda Webb-Hilliard; and Peggi Welker.


Until the next convention, there is always a need for more volunteers during the year. There are many opportunities: assisting with owner surrenders, fostering, transporting, checking shelters and Craigslist postings, conducting home visits for prospective adopters, fundraising, and assisting with administrative tasks.  Before any Basenji is rehomed, it is fostered, vetted, trained, temperament-tested, and rehabilitated, if necessary. When a dog is ready for placement, applications are reviewed to find the best home for that particular dog. The adoption application process includes an online application, vet references, and home visit. Transportation to the Basenji’s new home may be accomplished through a Basenji Underground Railroad (BUR) run. BUR transporters ensure that distance does not often prevent the best applicant from providing a loving home to a dog in need.  BRAT also offers post-adoption care to help the owner and dog adjust to their new life together. This after-care is available for the life of the dog to help correct behavior problems or other concerns that may arise.



Learn more about BRAT at www.Basenjirescue.org, follow BRAT on Facebook at Basenji Rescue and Transport and follow the blog at http://Basenjirescue.blogspot.com/