When you need a smile…

The past few weeks have been full of down-right depressing news – from the hurricanes that wreaked havoc on the Caribbean and southern US states, to the events in Las Vegas, to the death of a music icon.  It’s so easy to get downhearted at times like these. Luckily, I live with one of the silliest dog breeds ever…a Basset Hound…who never ceases to bring a smile to my face on even the worst days.  If you need a smile, please check out some of my favourite pics of Wilbur…

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Autumn…Beach Days for Wilbur

Wilbur loves autumn.  The weather starts to cool down and the tourists start to clear out, and Wilbur gets to run free on the beach once again.

As soon as we near the beach, Wilbur gets excited. His head whips from side to side and the whining starts.

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When the car stops he bounds out and heads down the steps to the sand…

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Wilbur has to sniff every inch of sand…every clump of stinky seaweed…

When he finds just the right piece, he has to roll in it until his whole body is full of stink…

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Once in awhile he will meet a pal or two.  Some of his pals are very chatty!  Others just like to play “chase me”.

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Sometimes he just likes to saunter along and breathe in the salt air…

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But he never, ever goes near the water…even on a calm day.  Perhaps he thinks that the water melts puppy dogs.  Or maybe that there are hound-eating sea monsters in there!

The closest he will get is when his Dad is with him ’cause Dad will protect him!

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But his favourite part of visiting the beach?  Going home and crawling into bed.  Getting his wet, sandy fur all over the bedding.  And snuggling with Dad.

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Ouch! A Puppy Story

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Previously published – The Occasional Dragonfly Blog

When Wilbur was just a young pup, before his trip to the vet for that surgery that makes all male puppy dogs cross their legs in anticipation (IF they could anticipate that is)…he had a little incident.  An incident that my husband and I were not prepared for. I should mention that there are no descriptive photos to go along with this post…for obvious reasons when you read a little further.

One evening, my husband and I were upstairs in our old house getting ready for bed.  Note – our bedroom floor was covered with a low-pile carpet at the time.  We were chatting about our day when Wilbur slowly walked, or perhaps more accurately, limped into the room.  He would take a step, yelp and stop, take another step, yelp and stop, until he reached our bed.  We were immediately concerned and looked down at our stubby-legged little pup.  There was no apparent issue – no blood, no visible injuries.

But every time Wilbur took a step, another yelp.  He was clearly in distress!  My husband and I got down on the floor to examine our yelping pup further.  And we found the answer.  We looked at each other in stunned silence. Wilbur had gotten “excited” and the horse was out of the barn.  Wayyy out of the barn.  But to make matters worse…?  Basset Hounds have short, stubby legs; incredibly out of proportion with the rest of their body. Soooo, every time he took a step said horse would do a nose-dive into the carpet.  OUCH!

Just FYI – Wilbur was my husband’s and my first experience with a male dog.  We had never experienced anything quite like this.  Was it normal? Was it stuck like that?! We boosted Wilbur onto the bed where he rolled onto his back and groaned.  What would we do?! Should we get a cold compress?!  Should we call the vet?!  911?! My husband was frantic!

Before all-out panic ensued, I called a friend of mine who had a male dog.  After snickering for a minute or so, she assured us that this was normal and it should fix itself rather quickly.  If not, there were several things that could be done to help…one of which was to keep it lubricated to avoid drying out; another was to give the dog a helping “hand”.  Seriously?! Hells no!

Fortunately for Wilbur, and even more so for us, by the time I was off the phone, the situation had resolved itself, the horse was back in the barn, and no extra, ummmmm, attention was required.  Wilbur jumped off the bed and sashayed downstairs like nothing had ever happened, leaving my husband and me completely bewildered and yes, more than a little grossed out.

The (Not So) Helpful Hound

Previously published – The Occasional Dragonfly Blog

Anyone with pets knows that home improvement projects can come with an extra challenge.  I can’t tell you how many times one of the dogs has “helped” me paint the walls with a swish of their tail or the cat has decorated the house (and furniture) with paw prints made of paint or floor cement.  I had experienced it all.  Or so I thought.

Anybody who is familiar with the Basset Hound knows that they are considered to be one of the most good-natured, easy going and sociable of all breeds.  They are affectionate, loyal and can cheer you up with a goofy grin.  They are, for the most part, the most happy-go-lucky of all dog breeds.  For the most part.  For. The. Most. Part.

Wilbur has, for lack of a better word, a quirk.  An annoying little eccentricity.  A defect in his personality that can push even the most patient person over the edge.  He has what is referred to as Resource Guarding, where a dog feels the need to growl and/or snap to convince other dogs or humans to keep away from a particular “treasure”.

These treasures are normally food related, but can also be a favourite toy or bed.  If you read my earlier blog post The Basset Effect, you know that Wilbur has a particular fondness for food and will go to great lengths to steal it.  And when he does, there is no way you are getting it back, or at least not without a good fight and possible blood loss.

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Other than food, Wilbur has never exhibited any aggressive behaviour.  So imagine our surprise when he became fascinated with, protective of, a sanding sponge.  Yup.  A sanding sponge. For those of you non-DIYers out there, the sanding sponge is a small rectangular block that has a roughness or grit on both sides and edges.  It’s an awesome tool for sanding drywall and getting into nooks and crannies.  It is apparently also a treasure to the Basset Hound.  Or at least to Wilbur.

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When my Dad was working on the drywall for our new fireplace he purchased three new sanding sponges and set them on the coffee table.  When he was ready to use them only 2 sponges were there.  Now, my Dad is at that age where he is starting to question his memory.  Did he take the sponge out and put it somewhere?  He looked all around the room, the main floor, but no sponge.

He shrugged it off and used one of the two remaining sponges.  When it was time for a break he put the sponge down and left the room.  When he came back a little while later… yup, only one sponge remained.  You get where I’m going here right?  One by one the sanding sponges disappeared.

Later on, Dad located all three sponges – in the yard. One near the firepit, another by the garden, and the final one, under Wilbur’s favourite bush, with Wilbur on high alert beside it.  Dad went down into the yard to grab the first sponge.  Wilbur eyed him and immediately came running to protect his treasure.  There was no way Dad was getting close to that sponge.  Grrrrrrrrrrr…  Or the next one…or the next… Bassets can be lightning fast! Wilbur 3, Human 0.

The Basset Effect…

Welcome to The Wilbur Basset Blog! Let me introduce you to Wilbur with a story first published on my other blog – The Occasional Dragonfly.

With his droopy eyes, long ears and short, stumpy legs, most people who come into contact with Wilbur usually mistake him for an old, lazy dog that maybe found his way into the liquor cabinet a few too many times.  A reasonable assumption perhaps, but don’t let his appearance fool you.

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Wilbur, and every other Basset Hound I know, are professional con artists – thieves, hooligans, marauders – in disguise.  Bassets may have been originally bred way back in the 1500’s to track rabbits, fox, squirrels using their keen sense of smell, but in this new millennia, living in the lap of luxury, they have given into their true nature – pulling the life-long con.

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Wilbur – 6 Weeks Old

We adopted Wilbur when he was just 8 weeks old.  He was a handful from the get-go!  He would play non-stop until he dropped suddenly to sleep.  And when he woke, it started all over again.  Not a big deal – we were expecting this.  What we were not expecting was his obsession with all things food.  And his single-minded determination to eat everything in (and out of) sight.

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One of my first walks with Wilbur was around our city neighbourhood.  As with all puppies, Wilbur attracted a considerable amount of attention.  Everyone – young, old and in-between – had to stop to pet Wilbur.  They would ooh and ahh over his long silky ears, and his goofy grin; comment on his short little legs.  And then suddenly, in mid conversation, gasp in shock and dismay as the cookie or slice of pizza they were holding would disappear.

Wilbur was an embarrassment.  We took him to obedience school where he excelled at sit, stay, play dead and even recall, but the minute food was introduced he reverted to Wilbur, Super Thief.  Whenever we had people in for dinner they would have to be warned – “Whatever you do, protect your food!”  They would laugh.  Clearly they underestimated the stealth abilities of the hound, and the next thing you heard would be “He stole my burger!” Yup, told you.

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What’s that?!

The sad thing is, after six years of having Wilbur in our lives, we still fall victim to his larcenous behavior.  You cannot get cocky and turn away from the counter for one second if you hope to protect the sandwich you are making.  He could be on the other side of the room, the other side of the house even, and he will feel an opportunity and take it.  Wilbur 1, Human 0.

A couple years back I had decided to make a Gingerbread House for Christmas, from scratch mind you.  I baked all of the pieces, then my daughter and I spent hours putting it together and decorating it.  We had just put it up on the stovetop to set, when along came Wilbur.  The rest is history…or what we call The Basset Effect.

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