Tag Archives: basset hound

An unlimited tale

20 Nov

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

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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.

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Lucy by Randy Cecil

29 Sep

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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,

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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

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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,

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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,

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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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

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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.

Watkins: A story of hope

7 Jun

The online basset world has been buzzing lately with the story of Watkins.

About a month ago, the president of the Buchanan County (Virginia) Humane Society, Stephanie,  was contacted by a neighbor about an abused and abandoned dog who had been dumped in a ditch. Stephanie and her husband went out looking and, when they finally found him, rushed him to their vet.

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Although this picture looks idyllic, the dog was in terrible shape and the vet, Dr. Rasnake, felt he might be near death. She estimated the puppy to be approximately 4 months old and a  basset- walker hound mix. They got him on an IV and admitted him to the Buchanan County Humane Society’s ICU. They named him Watkins, after the street where he was found

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and started sharing his story. Law enforcement was contacted and the investigation is ongoing.

Watkins has not had an easy time. He had to have emergency surgery for a twisted bowel. He is still on a feeding tube because he is not yet interested in food. But he continues to heal. His FB fans all over the world celebrated when he finally pooped. He spent a few days at the Virginia Tech vet hospital, but has returned to the Buchanan County Humane Society’s ICU. People are finally starting to use the words “full recovery”, though he still has a long road of healing ahead of him.

 Here he is yesterday, with Stephanie.

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I deliberately chose to post few pictures of Watkins. You can click on his name above to see his FB page that show pictures of his progress. You might be horrified at how he looks today, but know that he looks so very much better than he did a month ago.

Watkins has FB friends all over the world now. He also has huge vet bills. Fortunately the vets looking after him are not talking about the bills. They are more concerned with saving this little man. If you would like to follow Watkin’s story, you can do so through his FB page, which Stephanie updates regularly.  You can also help by making a donation online HERE or you can donate directly by mail:  Buchanan Co. Humane Society C/O Watkins PO Box 2611 Grundy, Va 24614.

With all the horrible things going on in the world the life of one puppy might not seem like much. I often worry that my dogs have better health care than many people around the world. Watkins is certainly getting more help than many people. Some people might question why so many people care about Watkins when so many people suffer. It is true that many problems in the world deserve our time and energy. Maybe by reaching out to help a puppy we can soften our hearts to the point where we reach out and help humans as well as animals.

So think about it. If you can’t help Watkins, what can you do to help someone, or something that needs help closer to home. What time, talents or treasures do you have that you can use to help alleviate suffering somewhere in this world.

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

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