My introduction to the Basset Hound breed was pet sitting for a friend of mine. She had 4 dogs all total. I agreed to babysit the four legged kids while their ‘Mama’ went on a vacation. The way it would end is not something I saw coming.
Heidi was a Black and Tan dachshund and a pig at heart. Honey was a mixed terrier little sweet soul. Chi-Chi was a chihuahua. Then there was Spike the Basset. This is where my heart really started to melt. I’ve been a dog lover all of my life. I can honestly say this was the sweetest dog I have ever met. He was about seven years old and, I soon realized, pretty much a clown on four legs. Over the next 5 or 6 days I was so impressed with this breed of dog by the time my friend got back from vacation I told her, “I’m having one of those dogs!” I researched as much as I could about this loyal, stubborn, full of emotion ‘but the eyes don’t show it’ breed.
A GIFT FROM GOD ………….
The year was 2007. The ad in The Tennessean read ….”Basset Hound puppies for sale” with a Camden, Tennessee phone number. I Googled the phone number and it belonged to some people I had known all of my life. I had not seen or heard from them in years and didn’t know they bred Basset Hounds. The familiar voice on the other end of the phone asked about my Daddy and Mama. She told me she would send me pictures of the puppies that she would have for adoption.
Dottie West was born on Thursday, April 26, 2007. Her daddy’s name was Cunning Cletus
and her mamas name was Leaping Lena.
I picked Dottie
out from the pictures that the breeder had sent me. For some reason I picked her out immediately. I just knew from that picture she was the one. Dottie was 3 or 4 weeks old whenever I first got to go see her. She was perfect! She was a tri-colored female and her back was black except for a white patch in a diamond shape. She came from West Tennessee, had a spot on her back, and that’s where her name came from…….”Dottie West”. A lot of people thought I named her Dottie West on purpose, knowing how much I love music but that wasn’t true. I was thankful the name came together like it did. I don’t know, but I believe Dottie West herself would’ve been proud of “Dottie West”.
At 8:00 on Friday morning, June 08, 2007, I went to pick up my best friend. I drove from Camden to Dickson with her on my shoulder. I had to work that day but I was off the weekend I could not get finished with work fast enough. Anyone that’s ever bonded with a dog will understand when I say we immediately bonded. At the time on the IAMS dog food website, you could search for what your dogs name meant. “Dottie” meant, “a gift from God”, and that she absolutely was!
Dottie taught me a deeper meaning of patience than I had ever known. A ‘test of the wills’. Bassets are thought to be lazy and not so smart. Not so. They’re just very stubborn and live on ‘Basset Standard Time’ which means “whenever the hell they get ready”.
She was a blessing from the word go. Like any ‘parent’ I thought she was the smartest and cutest thing there was. Bassets have an expression on their face that only a Basset owner could ever relate to. They have a look most of the time like they could care less if the sun ever shines when actually they don’t miss a trick. She had the eye rolling down to a science!
The Basset Shuffle
There’s an art and an act that goes into giving one of these ‘Clown on four legs’ a bath. Try keeping a sixty pound dog in the tub stopping every chance they get from sliding out and calling an end to the to torture of soap and water!
After the spit and shine the Basset Shuffle is ON! Running wide open through the house at 100 miles an hour knocking over God knows what, and ears flying in the air with each lap. I laughed everytime the bath was over.
One thing she loved was getting her teeth brushed with chicken flavored toothpaste! You wanna see something funny try that sometime! It’ll only take about thirty minutes and you’ll be worn out.
It’s In The Books……
“Bassets are notoriously hard to housebreak”…… was in every book, website and discussion board that I read. I cannot stress to you enough, whoever made that statement knew exactly what they were talking about!
Dog Years are not fair…….
On Sunday, June 2, 2013 around 4:30 pm, I was out in the yard with Dottie. We walked around a little longer than usual but I never gave any thought to it since the one thing I can tell you is Bassets do teach you one thing……patience! As we were coming back to the steps to go inside I noticed she was having trouble going up. As I leaned down to say ‘uppy’, a cue for going inside, her back legs had given out. By the time I carried her inside she quickly got worse. In my gut I knew this was not good but I was sure not prepared for what lay ahead.
When Dottie was about 2-3 months old, I woke up one night and couldn’t find her anywhere in the bed with me. I jumped up out of bed and there at the foot of the bed, on the floor, was Dottie spread eagle on her belly. I was sure she was dead. She seemed fine and unharmed and I never gave it another thought. (This would prove to be a detriment to her I’m sure.).
I rushed her to the vet scared to death. The vet that met me at the office said in the span of 30-45 seconds that what had happened was her spine had been affected either by genetics or at some point probably from an old injury. Right then my gut sank I knew this was not good but something wasn’t right, the vet never offered to do an X-ray, and I was in no state of mind to think to ask for one. Then she told me this happened with long bodied dogs like Bassets and came on very suddenly just as this and my best bet was to put Dottie to sleep. To say that I refused was an understatement.
This ‘Vet’ had no bedside manner and not a drop of compassion. I immediately took Dottie to another vet for a second opinion. The second vet actually did x-rays that showed bone growth on Dottie’s spine where extra bone spurs were growing on her vertebrae and pushing up into her spinal column which is why she was paralyzed.
The second vet gave me hope and a plan for treatment that she hoped would work. Dr Lindsey prescribed steroids to reverse the pressure on her spinal cord. I gave Dottie her medicine as I was told, around the clock. I absolutely refused for her to be in any pain at all. My cousin would come down during the day and give Dottie her medicine and sit with her. That meant the world to me. By the end of July she had not improved at all. I don’t believe Dottie was ever in pain but bless her heart she didn’t understand why she couldn’t stand up. I could also see signs that told me she was not going to have any quality of life.
Dottie had been right there for me and her loyalty never wavered, nor mine. I would’ve taken a bullet for her with no thought at all. Now the day had come for me to love her enough to let her go. I’d always said that if she ever got to where there was no quality of life, then I owed it to her to give her the peace that she deserved. I just never expected to have to face that decision in just six years. I still stand by that today because I sincerely believe, if the tables were turned she would’ve done it for me.
On Saturday, July 27, 2013 I went to find Dottie a grave. I knew I had to give her PEACE. My cousin helped me pick out and dig a gravesite for my best friend. The place was perfect and one of the most serene places I’ve ever been. There are those places, smells, people, etcetera when you find them you don’t have to be told you’re witnessing peace, resolve and ease. I call those places and things “God moments”. Perfect stillness………..
On Monday morning July 29, 2013, I gave my best friend and soulmate the eternal peace she would have given me. Six years, three months and three days is nowhere near the age I thought she would have lived to be.
There will never be another one like her and I don’t intend to try to look for one. She was God sent I know without a doubt.
It is my belief that if we as human beings could ever learn to love as purely as a dog loves us, there wouldn’t be any hate left in this world.