HiCotn has both the Avongara lines (above) and a line of domestic Basenjis (below). I was looking for a healthy stud dog and had thought of looking at the full African Avongara imports. In my search I met Bev Bland (an easy-going, but no-nonsense breeder) who had developed a viable healthy line of the Avongaras. After briefly speaking with her about her dogs, I decided I had to find out more about the health and gene diversity of these Avongaras.
I never expected to become wholly absorbed in the Avongara project. And I never thought Bev would end up being a guerrilla leader of sorts for me. Come to think of it, who would ever have expected that re-injecting African genetics into an African breed would be considered counter-culture and revolutionary? And yet, the mainstream Basenji community has often branded her as a radical of sorts.
Until recently, the genetic problems that surfaced in the domestic Basenji bloodline were treated like a dirty little secret. When faced with the awful reality that their Basenjis were either carriers of or plagued by severe genetic weakness, few breeders acknowledged their epidemic proportions, while still fewer actually resolved to do something about it. Bringing over the 87-88 imports was an innovative step towards gene diversity. Bev is one of those few who sought a creative method to replenish the breed’s stagnant gene pool in the hopes of making a more robust and healthy breed. Bev’s experiences with the full Africans might help you realize that full Africans may be a bit different from show Basenjis, but that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
A perusal of the BCOA’s African Stock Project website illustrates how Bev has emerged with some pretty outstanding conformation examples of selective breeding – including my Avongara MBobi of Brushy Run who took Reserve Winners Dog to a major at the 2003 Canfield Ohio AKC show. Bev is one of the most thought provoking people I’ve ever met. If you’d like to contact Bev and find out about her Avongara Basenjis, her website is: brushyrun.com
If you would like to learn more about the full African imports of the late 1980s, please visit the Basenji Club of America’s website for the African Stock Project at: www.basenji.org/african/ There you can see full African descendants and learn more about the reasons for such an unprecedented effort to open the AKC stud book and admit the imports that were brought back from the remotest parts of the jungle by a group of Basenji breeders. The BCOA website explains it better than I can and is a very interesting read.