Stowaway Basenji from West Africa


Stowaway Basenji from West Africa

Arrived on the freighter West Lashaway

Saturday, April 5, 1941

Stowaway found on Ship

On April 5, 1941, the American-West African Line freighter West Lashaway docked in Boston after arriving from Freetown, Sierra Leone with a load of cocoa beans. When the hold was opened more than cocoa beans where found down below.A female Basenji was discovered half-starved after surviving twenty-one days in the hold.


According to the ship's crew, while they were loading cocoa beans in Monrovia, Liberia two barkless dogs played about the ship. The crew thought all the animals had been chased down the loading runways. Apparently, she had stowed away in the hold of the ship and when the hatches were battened down could not escape. During the rest of the journey the hatches were not removed. She was able to get water by licking condensation and some food by nibbling on cocoa beans.


DOG STOWAWAY- Joe Williams, fireman aboard steamer West Lashaway, now at Army Base, with "Congo," a stowaway found on ship en route here from African ports



















Boston Animal Rescue League Called In

 Animal Rescue agent Archie McDonald was sent to investigate. He found a sharp-eared dog shivering with fright in the hold of the ship and in critical condition. Because of her critical condition, Agent McDonald was able to get permission from customs officers to remove her from the ship and take to the Boston Animal Rescue League. When she was weighed she was found to be only nine pounds. Through feeding of special solution and placement in a heated box , doctors at the Animal Rescue League successfully saved her life. Vets estimated that she was nine to ten months old. She was docile and evidently pleased to see humans. According to the League this was the first Basenji to be treated by them. She was given the name Congo.


Congo at the Animal Rescue League.
(Transcript Photo-Smith)
Malnutrition and homesickness are her troubles, says Joseph
Connaughton of the Animal Rescue League about the barkless
Basenji, a West African stowaway.1
(She's held by Fred Barrett of the Animal Rescue League)










Congo Finds a Home


Following press coverage of the story, Mr. Alexander Phemister, a noted Obedience trainer, went to see her. She was almost all-white, with brindle on her ears, a brindle patch on right side and a docked tail, but he pronounced her to be a Basenji. The natives in Gambia and Sierra Leone used to dock their Basenjis' tails so that their prey, gorillas, could not get a hold on the dog and rip them apart.2 She was adopted by the
Phemisters who continued nursing her. Later she was bred and produced a litter. Because of Congo, the Phemisters went on to be one of the earliest Basenji breeders in the United States.


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