Join 3,520 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


If you hum a few bars, I can bark it
August 2, 2007 8:51 PM   Subscribe

A Basenji dog can't bark but man; they sure can sing.
posted by KevinSkomsvold (40 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
There is absolutely no good reason that watching that video made me as happy as it did.

I particularly like that at some point, it gives up on laying there and stands up so that it can really belt out the notes.

Beautiful dog and fantastic video.
posted by quin at 9:01 PM on August 2, 2007


Can they sing the blues?
posted by waxboy at 9:02 PM on August 2, 2007


singhowl
posted by jouke at 9:13 PM on August 2, 2007


Oof, I smiled too, but I felt bad. Little dude looks and sounds so baleful!
posted by grobstein at 9:14 PM on August 2, 2007


Our family schnauzer used to do this when I would break out the harmonica. Dogs don't sing along as they don't have the developed cerebral structures to recognize and respond to that level of harmony; the idea of a singing dog is in all but the most exceptional cases an anthropomorphic projection. They're just trying to release the discomfort caused by atonal vibrations.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:20 PM on August 2, 2007


that would drive me crazy if the dog did it regularly. no wonder the link says that sometimes they have to be de-barked
posted by Flood at 9:25 PM on August 2, 2007


Enjoyed that rascal's singing. Adding talking dogs and I love you Otie to the mix.
posted by nickyskye at 9:31 PM on August 2, 2007


Are you gonna bark, little doggie, or are you gonna croon?
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:36 PM on August 2, 2007


We had two basenjis when I was growing up (a tan one like that one, and a black one). They're a funny little dog, no bark, no smell and they will climb trees. They have a curly tail and a wrinkled forehead (Topsy used to look concerned all the time). Thanks for the post. Although I'm sad now, Topsy passed away a couple of years ago :(
posted by theothersteve at 9:38 PM on August 2, 2007


Ooh, I missed that Flood. Debarking is really not cool. I understand that it is a 'well, it's either that or we get rid of the dog' but I still don't like the idea.

Your dog is family. You picked it, you train it, you deal with it when it does things you don't like. You shouldn't operate to get rid of a behavior...

And I really don't want to derail, so ignore all that.


Little dude looks and sounds so baleful!


That's what made me smile. It's like he was dealing with work; like, 'damn it, I'm hearing his, and I now have to say OOOOH here. Fuck.'

One thing I've always liked about Basenjis is how much like cats they sound when they aren't howling.
posted by quin at 9:44 PM on August 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dingos don't bark either.

Just thought I'd throw that in. Nice video.

posted by kisch mokusch at 9:53 PM on August 2, 2007


Bravo.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:57 PM on August 2, 2007


Dingos don't bark either.

However Australian Cattle Dogs (aka Blue Heelers) who are famously AKA recognized and are quite a bit dingo, bark way too fucking much.

(For the record, one is sitting on my foot right now, and wondering why I am glaring at her.)
posted by quin at 10:18 PM on August 2, 2007


We have a basenji - aussie cattle dog mix.

We get a mixture of barking, usually only sings when he's talking to us about throwing his ball for him.
posted by iamabot at 10:33 PM on August 2, 2007


Friends in the industry tell me there's a bidding war currently underway between several of the major labels to sign this dog. Hey, he's got better pitch than Madonna, and look how much money she made for everybody!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:46 PM on August 2, 2007


However Australian Cattle Dogs (aka Blue Heelers) who are famously AKA recognized and are quite a bit dingo, bark way too fucking much.

Well, of course. How else is a 30 pound dog going to get the attention of a 1200 pound cow?
posted by kisch mokusch at 11:06 PM on August 2, 2007


Kinda pitchy, dawg.
posted by rob511 at 11:11 PM on August 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


Kevin can't grok punctuation but man; that semicolon almost threw me.
posted by pmbuko at 11:45 PM on August 2, 2007


A friend of mine and his wife breeds Basenjis at a little farm they have near Port Townsend, WA. He has all sorts of great stories about the people who show up and try to buy them because they are cute, knowing nothing else about the breed. One thing you should know is that while Basenjis aren't exactly untrainable, they are pretty close to it. They are fiercely independent, territorial, self-groomers that hate water (a bit like cats). They are also very intelligent, almost conniving and manipulative. If the owner is inexperienced in obedience training or else doesn't get it quite right, they can be incredibly destructive to house and home.

He tells a story that a hipster couple made the trip out from Seattle to buy a Basenji. They saw the mother and the cute little puppies and just had to have one, there and then, despite their never having been dog owners before. My buddy queried them a bit on their experience and gave them the spiel: they are not really for first-time dog owners, you have to be very serious about behavioral training or else you are opening yourself up to all kinds of trouble, and that they should read up on the breed, read up on others that might be more suitable, and think very seriously about getting one before they do.

They said, ok, and decided to go to a local tavern to talk it over. They came back a couple of hours and quite a few beers later and said "we'll take two".

Sez my friend, "get the fuck off of my property."
posted by psmealey at 2:48 AM on August 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


How else is a 30 pound dog going to get the attention of a 1200 pound cow?

By nipping at it's heels. Seriously. That's how they herd, it's really effective.
posted by quin at 2:52 AM on August 3, 2007


Tone-deaf.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:06 AM on August 3, 2007


I don't see much difference between this Basenji listening to a piano and normal dogs listening to a siren.

I think he's protesting, not singing.
posted by Malor at 4:53 AM on August 3, 2007


I remember reading a book, or a short story in elementary school about a boy who finds a basenji...

Just looked it up.. it's called Good-Bye My Lady by James Street
posted by splatta at 6:29 AM on August 3, 2007


psmealey: no kidding. A friend of my family ended up adopting a Basenji and four of her pups. The mother was, while head-strong, a fairly well-behaved dog. Her children were the same, but in their youth were some of the proudest and most obstinate dogs I ever met. The one that we adopted ourselves (a mix between his Basenji mother and a Rottweiler) was like a philosopher king until the end of his days. Fiercely loyal, assertive of his dominance over our other dogs only in the face of insolence, and very wary of all strangers (in the 'I'll kill them if I need to' kind of way). It was as if some great and terrible spirit had condescended for a time to live among us. What a dog.
posted by invitapriore at 6:48 AM on August 3, 2007


Burhanistan, can you substantiate? Like Malor, I've always thought that, but don't know the studies.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 6:59 AM on August 3, 2007


gorgor_balabala: no, my comment was just an amateur hunch based on observation. Dogs' hearing is many degrees sharper than most humans, so it's not much of leap to surmise that some music can be just as unpleasant to them as nails on a chalkboard is to people. Further, the dog really doesn't know what the source of the music is or how to make it stop, it just is something that is suddenly in his environment so he wails to try to counter it. University studies complete with listening booths, dog EEGs and dissection are forthcoming.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:04 AM on August 3, 2007


We had a shih-tzu when I was growing up -- I practiced classical piano about 3 hours a day, and the entire time the dog would sit either right next to me on the bench, or at my feet. There was this one particular piece by Liszt that really got her going. Wherever she was -- sleeping next to me or snoozing under the piano -- she'd raise her little head and sing along. It was very cute, and it turned into a kind of party trick ("Play that tinkly kinda song that makes the dog howl!"), but we never did get it on tape...
posted by mothershock at 7:38 AM on August 3, 2007


I played the last link for my parents' 110 pound bloodhound (over the phone). When the basenji started, the bloodhound starting howling so loud that my mother had to go outside to hear me.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:10 AM on August 3, 2007


No problem on your guess, burhanistan. I made the mistake of thinking it was more. Nix dissection studies, the rest welcome. I couldn't find any pages specifically devoted to it, but the scientific consensus (I think) is that rather than a response to discomfort, the howling is just a pack response. The dog (or coyote) hears a 'howl' and returns it, thus ensuring unity in the pack.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:15 AM on August 3, 2007


rather than a response to discomfort, the howling is just a pack response.

That sounds a bit more plausible. Maybe some sounds/music trigger that response more than others for a number of reasons. It would make an interesting study, sans autopsy, of course. But my childhood dog still probably was in pain from my awful harmonica playing!
posted by Burhanistan at 8:23 AM on August 3, 2007


More stuff: here, here. Second link's a bit wordy but has a nice graph on the second page. I do not pretend to know what it all means - please don't take me to task on it.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:29 AM on August 3, 2007


Flood wrote:
"no wonder the link says that sometimes they have to be de-barked"

Only if owned by people who had no idea what they were getting themselves into.

I also vote for pack response/howl.

Basenjis fascinate me (I read that same book, splatta), so I watched raptly. The part at the end where he starts tapering off sounds almost regretful for a minute, but that really is anthropomorphising.
posted by batmonkey at 8:47 AM on August 3, 2007


We have a dog in our band. His name is Jake and he's really just a mutt. He lives with another dog who's a bluetick and we think she maybe taught him how to sing. Anyway, when we play the breweries we bring a floormic and Jake lies on the stage in front of it (he's really, really old. He lies wherever you put him). He sings along with the harmonica parts. He has a profile on the myspace page (horrible self-link to myspace band page), and if you listen to Muddy Water you can hear him singing along about halfway through.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:14 AM on August 3, 2007


He's got that high and lonesome hound.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 9:21 AM on August 3, 2007


By nipping at it's heels. Seriously. That's how they herd, it's really effective.

Yeah, I know. I was being facetious (I grew up on a property, though I'm used to seeing kelpies dealing with cattle, not heelers). The nipping at the heels thing makes them more likely to get kicked in the head, but it doesn't detract them, gutsy buggers.
posted by kisch mokusch at 9:41 AM on August 3, 2007


By nipping at it's heels. Seriously. That's how they herd, it's really effective.

Most herding dogs use their voices as well, which is (part of) why most herding dogs (at least heelers) are barky.
posted by biscotti at 11:11 AM on August 3, 2007


My greyhound only howls along with sirens once in a while, and only when she's sleeping. It's so funny, she'll wake herself up with her own howl (or "roo", for some reason greyhound people call it rooing - I guess it is a little different sounding than a regular howl.)
posted by misskaz at 12:13 PM on August 3, 2007


My greyhound only howls along with sirens once in a while, and only when she's sleeping.

I've always been curious as to why sight and scent hounds howl, and most other breeds seem not to. A friend of mine had a basset hound that made a terrible (but endearing) racket when a fire engine could be heard in the distance.

I am a bulldog owner, and my dog barks only rarely. This is good, as when she does it's a high-pitched, wimpy bark that undermines her gruff presence. More often, she makes grunting and snorting noises. More swine than hound, actually.
posted by psmealey at 2:53 PM on August 3, 2007


Goddamn, that was some great singing, that dog seemed to be absolutely feeling the emotion of the music, I really wasn't expecting that.
posted by vito90 at 4:20 PM on August 3, 2007


My friends Robb and Jaason have a Basenji named Topher. He doesn't sing very often, but he can walk backwards up stairs!
posted by chuq at 5:39 PM on August 3, 2007


« Older Green Buddhas On the fruit stand. We eat the smi...  |  We've discussed ways to win th... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments