“I Had Me a Dog” (And it Was a Basenji)

Most people who went to see the movie, “Goodbye, My lady” in 1956 had never heard of a Basenji before. By the film’s end, they know plenty.

The movie based on a book James H. Street tells the tale of a boy, “Young Skeeter,” who experiences adulthood by finding, befriending and training a stray dog, only to have to return her to its rightful owner. It starts out innocently enough. Young Skeeter hears strange noises in the night, “like a ghost laughing.” The “ghost” is a small, strange dog that can laugh and cry, and outrun the fastest hounds in the county. Skeeter names the dog, “Lady.”

“Lady” was played by a six month old Basenji named, “My Lady of the Congo,” owned by Veronica Tudor-Williams of Molesey, England. “My Lady” was flown to Hollywood, later to be followed by four other young Basenjis to act as doubles including her sibling, “My Lord of the Congo,” and “Flageolet of the Congo,” (who would go on to become an International Champion). “My Lady,” however, did most of the scenes.

If you chose to watch the movie (and the entire film is available on You Tube) spoiler alert ahead:

The dog and “Young Skeeter” are separated in the movie, but in real life, a written agreement drawn up when “My Lady” was chosen for the film stipulated that upon completion of filming, Brandon deWilde, the boy who played “Young Skeeter,” would get to keep the dog. Good thing. When not filming, “My Lady” spent all her time with the 13-year-old, and a strong attachment developed between them.

“My Lady’s” breeder wrote a wonderful account about the experience of suppling a Basejni for the movie. Read it here.


3 thoughts on ““I Had Me a Dog” (And it Was a Basenji)”

  1. I saw the movie when it came out and never thought much about the dog until one day in 1982. We were at the mall and my wife dragged me into a pet store to look at fish. I love dogs so I scanned the cages an lo and behold there was MY dog. The store manager said she was hard to handle and wanted rid of her. He said $149 “papers” and all. and I said SOLD! There was no doubt that she was the product of a puppy mill as she was as wild as the wind. She had me for 14 years and she definitely was my dog, she only listened to me and would cry and scream when I left her ….. she hated the crate but she tore the house up If I left her free. We named her Tami and her whining led us to calling her Tami Whinet. Over the years we’ve been owned by 3 Basenjis and we miss them all.

    • Jim, it sounds like fate had a hand in getting “Tami Whinet” (bwaaaaa) into your life, and after having had three in a lifetime, it sounds like you found “your” breed. We love hearing personal accounts of how we (the collective “we”) are drawn to certain breeds, and needless to say, appreciate the time you took to share yours with us. Are you dogless now?

  2. I rescued a four year-old female Basenji 10 (ten) years ago. Not only is she the only beautiful, amazing creature to which I am not allergic, but after sharing my life with her, I will NEVER EVER want another breed. This breed is amazingly beautiful, clean, warm & unpredictable – but what I love about them. I have been aware of them for more than 20 years & have studied them in-depth. I had to surrender her back to my Basenji Rescue due to advanced kidney disease which dramatically altered her behaviour. I cry every day looking @ her photos & missing holding her. She was even more beautiful than the Basenji in this movie. Her full name in Swahili was Muwana wa Bakagi Mulenga. Translated into English: Pretty Girl & she IS a very Pretty Girl. Please pray I will be able to rescue or obtain another Basenji SOON as my BP has gone up 30 points since giving her up.

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