Tag Archives: basset hound

Sunday in the Park

1 Mar

These days, I generally avoid the park on weekends because I know it will be busy – and avoiding people has been my norm for the last year. But yesterday was so beautiful and Spring-like, I couldn’t stay away.

I usually take Richard to the park after my last class ends. As we walk, I see the regulars: the woman with the burnt orange tam, the man whose shirt stretched tight across his torso revealing he has no six pack, the elderly gentleman in the green puffy coat. We went a little earlier yesterday and, as I suspected the park was packed with interlopers.

There’s a strategy for navigating the park in COVID times. My eyes continually scan what is happening in front. My ears are attuned to anyone approaching from behind. Richard helps a lot with what is going on behind, frequently turning as someone approaches, hoping to meet a friend. Richard is really the wild card. He mostly trots along my left side, but is prone to veering off the path, into the underbrush looking for treasures. In these post storm days, he has become obsessed with sniffing downed branches, analyzing each fir needle for important details and messages. I often step off the path with him. back turned to any maskless person approaching.

Yesterday’s sunshine put a spring in Richard’s step and generosity in my heart. Even before we got to the park, he had admirers. Three young women walked parallel to us on the opposite side of the street and, despite their masks, I heard giggles and the word “cute”. I smiled behind my mask, knowing they were talking about Richard. It happened again and again as we walked the loop around the pond. Most just oohed and ahed from afar, but as we approached the junction where four paths met, we met a superfan.

We had walked past a cluster of masked people, moving onto the path that would lead us home. I knew someone was behind us because, although he was moving forward, Richard kept looking behind. I stopped to let the person pass, but the little girl stopped, too.

“He is so cute!” she enthused from behind her mask.

“Yes he is,” I replied, looking for a parent. “Would you like to say hello?”

She put out a tentative hand and started chatting, “We have a dog. She’s a lab.”

“What is your dog’s name?” I asked.

“Lily,” she replied. “He is soft and his ears are so long!”

“This is Richard. You can touch his ears ears if you like.”

“Oh, They are very soft!” she replied.

Usually, this is the extent of a conversation with a Richard stan, and I started to move away, but she followed. Still no sign of a parent. I didn’t want to keep moving without knowing her parent was near. Time seemed to stand still as I scanned the area. Then, her dad appeared, almost apologetically. He and I chatted for a moment and then they turned to go back the way we had just come. Richard and I continued on our way home.

As we walked, I thought about that small girl, so unafraid of strangers, so at ease with conversation. So unlike me at her age.

An unlimited tale

20 Nov

I wanted to read Jane, Unlimited before I knew there was a basset hound in it.


When I realized the basset hound was a very important character, I was ecstatic. I looked at Lucy, and wondered.

Let me also say that this one works way better in print than audio. There are a lot of details at the beginning that become important. If, like me, you sometimes listen to audiobooks while doing other things, you might miss something important. The audiobook is excellent, I am simply saying that you need to pay attention if you listen.

Publisher’s Summary: An instant New York Times bestseller—from the award-winning author of the Graceling Realm series—a kaleidoscopic novel about grief, adventure, storytelling, and finding yourself in a world of seemingly infinite choices.

Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.

Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family’s island mansion called Tu Reviens.

Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.” With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn’t know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.


Veni, Vidi, Vomit

25 Jul

Nothing makes me move faster than that URP URP URP sound of a dog about to vomit.

Louie used to find and eat all sorts of nasty things. He vomited often and help speed up my reaction time.

Fiona was less opportunistic.

Lucy, like my first basset Clara, rarely vomits. And yet, it happened yesterday.

There we were, curled up on the sofa on a hot summer afternoon, enjoying the cool of the air-conditioned house. I was engrossed in the book I was reading. Lucy was curled up sleeping deeply – until she wasn’t.

In a flash she was off the sofa and the URP URP URP began.

I threw aside my book (Posted by John David Anderson) and leapt to action. I grabbed the paper towels, a trash can, and the Nature’s Miracle spray. By the time I returned, Lucy had finished, but had not yet begun the canine “ritual” that often follows. I was that quick.

Although I am a gagger, I have mastered the art of cleaning dog vomit without gagging. It mostly involves lots of paper towels and turning my head to one side. And lots of breath holding.

Within a few moments, Lucy was curled up again, none the worse for wear. I washed my hands a few times, changed out the paper towels covering “the spot”, and washed my hands a few more times. Then, I, too, was curled up on the sofa, reading as if nothing had happened.



Lucy by Randy Cecil

29 Sep


My Lucy is a funny girl who loves to burrow in bedding. She was never homeless,in fact, she had two homes before me. One kept her in the bathroom, too busy to pay attention to their new puppy. The other fell apart and Lucy became a canine victim of divorce. It took three tries to find her “furever” home with me.

The eponymous Lucy of Randy Cecil’s Lucy is a homeless dog.


Publisher’s Summary:A tiny dog, a kindhearted girl, and a nervous juggler converge in a cinematic book in four acts — a unique children’s literature experience.

Lucy is a small dog without a home. She had one once, but she remembers it only in her dreams. Eleanor is a little girl who looks forward to feeding the stray dog that appears faithfully beneath her window each day. Eleanor’s father is a juggler with stage fright. The overlapping stories of three delightful characters, offering a slightly different perspective each time, come together in a truly original, beautifully illustrated book for dog (and underdog) lovers of all ages.

Lucy touched my heart. Told in three acts, the book feels like a silent movie,  the circular illustrations reminiscent of their openings and closing.


Act one lays down the groundwork of the story. Act two follows the same pattern, with some variations. Act three had me worried, even though I knew a happy ending was inevitable.

I’d like to think this one is a Caldecott contender.

MLK Day thoughts

18 Jan

On Friday, I talked to the kids about an unpopular opinion I hold. As much as I love getting an extra day off school, I think it is a shame that we aren’t in school on MLK Day or Veteran’s Day. Because we aren’t in school, I don’t think kids think about WHY they get the days off. If we were in school, there might be an assembly, an announcement, something I could do in class to make kids mindful of the holiday and why we celebrate it.The President has called to make MLK Day a day of service. It would be a great day to take kids out of the school to serve the community in some way.

Today, I will be doing the second of two Oregon Basset Hound Rescue home visits for new adoption applicants. We haven’t had a lot of dogs or many applicants over the last year. In fact, my last home visit was in January 2015! But , we have a couple of dogs that have generated some interest.

ShermanThis is Sherman. He’s 2 and loves to chew on things he shouldn’t. He also loves to play hard.

1This is Ellie. She’s 7 or 8 and her family is moving and can’t take her with them.

Other than the home visit, the day will be quiet. I started a new knitting project and a new book yesterday. The book is All American Boys  by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely.


It seems to be a good book to read on this day, when we should be thinking about how we treat other people.

Publisher’s Summary A 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor book.

In an unforgettable new novel from award-winning authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.

A bag of chips. That’s all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galluzzo, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad’s pleadings that he’s stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad’s resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest, mistakes Rashad’s every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement?

But there were witnesses: Quinn Collins—a varsity basketball player and Rashad’s classmate who has been raised by Paul since his own father died in Afghanistan—and a video camera. Soon the beating is all over the news and Paul is getting threatened with accusations of prejudice and racial brutality. Quinn refuses to believe that the man who has basically been his savior could possibly be guilty. But then Rashad is absent. And absent again. And again. And the basketball team—half of whom are Rashad’s best friends—start to take sides. As does the school. And the town. Simmering tensions threaten to explode as Rashad and Quinn are forced to face decisions and consequences they had never considered before.

Written in tandem by two award-winning authors, this tour de force shares the alternating perspectives of Rashad and Quinn as the complications from that single violent moment, the type taken from the headlines, unfold and reverberate to highlight an unwelcome truth. – See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/All-American-Boys/Jason-Reynolds/9781481463331#sthash.e7o6NgFG.dpuf


Happy birthday, Sherlock Holmes

6 Jan

I discovered Sherlock Holmes around grade 8 and become something of a fanatic. I watched all the old 20th Century Fox movies featuring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.


When I think of Sherlock and Watson, theirs are the faces I see.

I believe my first real encounter was reading a dramatic version of The Red Headed League  in our 6th grade reading textbook. Then, maybe in the summer after grade 7, I chose The Hounds of the Baskervilles as my summer reading program prize at the public library. Sometime in 8th grade, I got my own copy of one of the story collections that had the famous Sidney Paget illustrations.


I became a fan. I could quote passages of text well enough that, when I sat down to read Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, a very popular book in 1980,


I recognized that certain passages seem lifted right from Holmes stories and decried it to all who would listen. There were not many. In high school, the quirky teen that I was wrote a biography of Holmes for an English class. I can still tell you that Holmes, who was rather a good musician, wrote a  monograph entitle The Polyphonic Motets of Lassus.

Holmes has been an inspiration to many authors for young people and continues to be so. here are some recent entries into Holmesian inspired literature for young people.

images-1 The Every series by Ellie Marney

Unknown-2 Lock and Mori by Heather W. Petty

Unknown-3 The  Enola Holmes  series by Nancy Springer

images-2 The Young Sherlock Holmes  series by Andrew Lane

Even Disney has been inspired by Sherlock Holmes and released The Great Mouse Detective in 1999. It has the special distinction of also including a basset hound!


Finding your métier

28 Dec

I’ve been teaching since 1988. That’s 27 years of teaching and I finally feel like I’m good at it. It took me a long time to feel that way. Since the elimination of my library job, I felt like I was floundering a bit, so I took a risk and changed jobs, and four months into it, I feel like I’ve found my footing again.

Métier is a French word that is often translated as your job, trade, profession, or occupation, but it carries more weight than those English words. The French word implies that you are good at it. You’ve probably seen some versions of these

Unknown-1 Unknown

Whatever you would insert in front of  “is my Superpower” is probably your métier.

In looking for books about basset hounds, I came a cross two books that show two very similar characters and their very similar métiers. They could, in fact, almost be before and after books.

In Job Wanted,  written by Teresa Bateman and illustrated by Chris Sheban,


a homeless dog arrives on a farm, looking for a job, but is turned away by the farmer , who does not need a dog. The dog offers to be a cow, horse, and chicken. He shows up each morning to demonstrate his talents, but the farmer always says no. It isn’t until the dog scares off a fox that the farmer realizes how valuable the dog can be. It is a little bittersweet, but ends on a hopeful note.

In Ragweed’s Farm DogHandbook written and illustrated by Anne Vittur Kennedy,


it seems that we are meeting the evolved dog from Job Wanted. Ragweed, a farm dog, explains the jobs that roosters, pigs, chickens, sheep, and cows do. Each explanation is followed by the refrain, “That’s their job. That’s not your job.” Ragweed then tells you what happens if you do their job and the biscuits that eventually result. Because that is the farm dog’s job: TO GET BISCUITS! This book is funny and, living with a basset hound who can manipulate me into giving her treats with just a look, I assure you it is very realistic.



Fiona’s 7th Gotcha Day

9 Aug


Seven years ago today, I drove down to the rest area south of Wilsonville where I met a volunteer with Oregon Basset Hound Rescue who would introduce me to Fiona for the very first time and then let me take her home.

It wasn’t an immediate match made in heaven moment. Fiona didn’t make eye contact. She didn’t try to run away and she wasn’t aggressive; she was just pretending it wasn’t happening. She paid attention to a flower stem nearby, but totally ignored me. She gave a little more attention to Louie, who I’d brought along to make sure they’d get along. They didn’t romp and play, but they were civil.

So, I packed both dogs into the backseat of my car and drove home.

Fiona spent the first three days sitting behind a chair in the living room. She peed, but didn’t poop. I was starting to worry.

And then magic happened on the third day.

At some point that day, she pooped. I’d already sent off a worried email to the OBHR folks wondering if I should take her to the vet. She pooped before I got a response. The real magic happened at bedtime. Although she had followed Louie & I into the bedroom for the first two nights, she chose to sleep on the floor. On the third night she jumped up into bed with us and I cried tears of joy. I knew everything was going to work out just fine.

So, here we are, seven years later. Fiona sleeps on the floor most nights now. She is arthritic and likes to stretch out and sleeping on my bed doesn’t allow for that.  We spend days on the sofa together, though. There is enough room there for her to stretch out on my left and Lucy to curl up on my right. Sometimes the space in between for me is tight, but I take it.

She is old now: 14-1/2. That is very old for a basset hound, whose average lifespan is about 9-12 years. Her back end is wobbly and most walks are only around the block. If she is really perky, we’ll go two blocks. She sleeps a lot and sometimes she sleeps so deeply, I check to make sure she is still breathing. So far, so good.



She was at the vet yesterday because she has a bit of a skin issue right now and I was worried it might be ringworm. It was a new vet because Fiona’s vet of seven years has moved. Dr Klau did a thorough exam, since it was his first time seeing her. She was down a few more pounds. One eye is cloudy, but she can still see out of it. Her heart and lungs sounded good and her abdomen felt just like it should. Fortunately, the skin thing isn’t ringworm, but a bacterial skin infection, so she is on an antibiotic that I hope does the trick to make her feel a little less itchy.

I often joke that she is so stubborn and so expensive that she will live to be 20. May it be so.

Happy Gotcha Day, Miss Fiona!




2015 Oregon Basset Hound Games

21 Jul

July brings the dog days of summer. Literally. The Oregon Basset Hound Games is always held on the third Sunday in July.

The planning team was a little short-handed this year and the weather was hot, which Oregonians fear and loathe, but the show must go on, and it did with gusto.


As always, the Games opened with the limbo. Although bassets are low riders, their tails prove to be their downfall in this event.


There are several highlights. Everyone  loves the costume contest. Everyone of the two-leggers that is; the results are inconclusive for the four-leggers.


The poor lithe dalmatian in the middle kept trying to remove her hat. Others were more cooperative.





Aside from their sad faces and stubbornness, basset hounds are infamous for two things: laziness and howling. Naturally, there is a Marathon Napping contest.


IMG_1983 IMG_1984 IMG_1985 IMG_1986 IMG_1987 IMG_1988

Some years, there seem to be more barkers than howlers. This was not one of them.

My favorite event is the last event: Synchronized Swimming. The concept is simple. Lead your basset to the kiddie pool. Convince him/her to get all four paws in the pool. Get out on the other side and cross the finish line. Unfortunately, base hounds hate water and most refuse to get into the pool. Watching the owners try to convince their dog to get on the pool is hilarious.





Waking the Neighbors

14 Jul


My normal summer routine begins by getting up around 4 a. m. to air the house out and cool it down. The girls, Fiona and Lucy, both basset hounds, usually get up with me. They get potted and have breakfast, then go back to sleep while I read or knit and watch the internal temperature of the house drop.

Somewhere between 6 and 7 a.m., the girls will wake up and we go for a walk. Fiona is old,  slow and sometimes tippy, so, depending on how well she is walking that morning, we will either do the one block loop or the two block loop.

We are a comical  sight to behold. Each girl is on 6 foot leash. Lucy, younger by 6 years,  is usually way out front. I call Fiona my back seat driver because she is stretched way out back of me. I am in the middle, arms outstretched, scanning the ground. You would be surprised, and possibly horrified, at what two bassets can find to eat on a walk around one or two blocks.

Last Sunday, we were out for a typical mosey. It was earlier, closer to six that to seven, and we were doing the two block walk. We hadn’t done it for a few days, so I was being very attentive to what was on the ground. Fiona was way back, but Lucy was rather close to me, snuffling along the sidewalk as if she were on the trail of something.

My mind often wanders as I walk, and this morning was no exception, so, when I saw the tabby camouflaged in the brown grass, I was surprised and screamed, “AGH!” It was loud enough to wake neighbors sleeping with their windows open, but not so shrill they would get up and call the police. I pulled the girls hard to the left and we successfully circumnavigated the tabby. The funny thing is, both girls usually go crazy when they see a cat and bark and lunge. This time, I was the only one to react. I guess I was loud enough for the three of  us.

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