Franklin: A Loveable But Quirky Old Basset Hound
Ready For New Years Eve!
Anyone who has never owned a Basset Hound has no idea just what they’re missing.
Bassets are wonderful dogs for home or hunters and it's guaranteed that they will provide you with plenty of your own dog stories for other pet lovers. They were originally bred in France to hunt and trail small game so that hunters could follow closely on foot. (this should be a hint as to their speed). A Basset Hound will hunt everything including larger animals, but they are especially excellent at hunting rabbits. They were bred to be low to the ground with long ears to compliment their highly sensitive sense of smell as their low hanging ears would help rustle up scents as they swung back and forth hitting leaves and foliage. They were evidently very popular during the time of Emperor Napoleon. Even Queen Alexandra kept Basset Hounds in the royal kennels. But Marquis de Lafayette should probably get the credit as the first to bring Bassets to America, as he gave President George Washington a pair of Basset Hounds as a gift for hunting purposes.
In case you hadn't noticed, a Basset Hound is one laid back family pet! When we purchased our puppy back in 2000 he had been somewhat shortchanged on the length of his ears as Bassets go. Unfortunately for “Franklin” (as we named him), as a puppy, his ears were still long enough to hang down in his bowl of water or milk! Sometimes those ears would swing freely as he ran towards a treat, and fling a small treat further away from him as we would scamper towards his treat. The blood shot and very sad eyes are a trademark of this hound, and I honestly believe one of the main reasons I love bassets so much. With eyes like this, it just makes you feel like you couldn't quite have it as bad as they look! They're also fun to watch swim, as their ears float on the top of the water like a couple of large pontoons or ballasts.
Those of you who haven’t had the pleasure and challenge of caring for a Basset need to understand that Basset Hounds have a very sweet disposition and are very loveable companions. However, they are extremely lazy and somewhat selectively stubborn! Yes, all dogs can be lazy, but we’re talking about a dog who is in a whole new league of laziness!
This Is Not A Dog You'll See In A Frisbee Contest
When I took him for a walk in the first weeks we had him, we would start out across our cul-de-sac and he would sit down in the middle of the street to rest. Dogs and especially puppies don’t sit down to rest in the middle of a street! We have tried to play fetch with him for years, however he just sits there and looks at us as if to say, “you don’t expect me to get up, move and go get that thing do you?” On the few occasions when he has actually gotten off his rear and slowly lumbered to the ball we’ve thrown, he immediately sits back down again next to the ball and ignores it.
For their size, bassets are the heaviest boned dog out there according to the American Kennel Club. And Franklin is no exception. While Franklin weighs in at the heavier end of the scale at between 60 and 65 lbs, his extremely short legs give him a very low center of gravity and allow him to stand fast if you’re trying to move him. He is literally like moving a bag of cement laying on the ground. Even a nudge with your foot has no effect! If Franklin doesn’t want to budge from wherever he is sitting or standing, he won’t be moved. He will just sit there and look at you like, “you’re not really trying to make me move are you?”
When you consider a loveable dog with a sweet disposition, I am convinced that if anyone ever broke into our home and confronted Franklin, he would immediately roll to his side or back with all four’s in the air as if to say, “I surrender, but please scratch my belly.”
After Opening His Christmas Presents
What A Dog Nose!
Basset Hounds are still valued for their highly sensitive nose as they have the second best nose for smelling and tracking of any dog next to their relative, the Blood Hound.
One cold winter night a few years ago, Franklin was sound to sleep in our great room sleeping and snoring near our fireplace. All of a sudden he jumped up and began barking wildly heading immediately for the front door which was closed and locked as it would be for any winter night. The ground outside was covered by fresh new fallen snow. I jumped up from my chair to see what the problem was. Just what was outside? I opened the door and ten feet away from the front porch was a rabbit sitting in the snow! Wow, what a nose!
We're Not Always Wild About His Nose!
His sense of smell is fantastic asset if you’re a hunter, but when you're taking him for a walk or just hanging out with him in the yard while washing your car, it’s a big problem. Franklin smells “everything”. Bassets miss nothing, and because of this they are very prone to following their nose wherever it takes them without regard for where they are or who’s calling them. Their nose WILL cause them to wonder off, no matter what is going on. Franklin is so focused with his nose he will even follow the trail of a rabbit with his nose to the ground and not even notice the rabbit sitting 20 feet away! One day, I let Franklin out in our front yard for a while. An hour later, I finally realized that I had totally forgotten about him. I looked out my front door and he was gone. I could not see him anywhere. He had obviously followed that nose somewhere once again. I instantly jumped in my car to go find him. A number of scary thoughts raced through my mind as I drove up and down the streets in my neighborhood. But there were no signs of Franklin. I knew I’d be in trouble with the entire family. Would they ever forgive me? I drove back towards my house on the cul-de-sac and spotted him just one house away smelling and very slowly meandering near the foundation of my neighbor. I called for him, but he was oblivious. His nose was once again in total control. Even when he is aware of your presence and you're calling him, he “may” obey and come, but it will be at the speed of a snail, all while keeping his nose to the ground as usual.
This Dog Has Issues!
Franklin, I guess like most dogs, has his issues or peculiarities. But his issues are a bit different from those of other dog owners. For one, Franklin has issues with walking on the grass, especially wet grass. He will walk at the street curb and on the driveway for well over 100 feet, just to come to the front door which is sometimes is 15 feet from where he started. He will take the long-way virtually everytime. At other times he will walk on our brick edging trying to balance himself carefully to avoid walking on grass. When it comes to emptying his bladder, quite often he will only get his front two feet on to the lawn while the rest of him hangs over the sidewalk (and yes the sidewalk gets quite a bit wet).
Franklin & My Son
Another peculiarity of Franklin is the fact that he would always go up a flight of stairs, but he would never go down. I don’t care if there was 10lbs of steak at the bottom of the stairs, he would just sit at the top of the stairs and look down at you with those sad blood shot eyes, as if to say, “not in a million years!” What is strange about this is that one year we left him for a week at some friends who owned a two-story house. Our friend had 3 beagles that had the run of the house, including a doggie door to the outside. Franklin went anywhere those dogs ran in the house including up and down the stairs. It was absolutely amazing to seem him coming down the stairs just like the other dogs when we arrived to pick him up! We were extremely thankful because now it would make things a lot easier for us at home. Upon returning home, he never did it again, and our stairs were easier to traverse as they were carpeted and not slick like those of our friends. Go figure!
Waiting For The Mailman
He's An Old Man Today
Today Franklin is an old dog and has slowed down quite a bit (even more slow than before) He’s on glucosamine, chondroitan and pain killer for his arthritis. He also takes fish oil for his joints and a pill for his thyroid. He no longer even thinks about going up or down anyone's stairs. He has weathered the disappointment and loss of watching our two children move away to school. He is generally very depressed whenever my daughter leaves after a visit. You may wonder how we can tell that a sad looking Basset Hound can look depressed, but believe me, "we can tell."
His days now are spent sleeping and waiting for the trash man twice a week, and the mailman everyday. Both of them are welcomed by howls of joy when he spots them up the street. The mailman gives him a dog biscuit, but Franklin has become more discriminating in the treats he will eat. He politely takes it from the mailman and then instantly drops it. All guests whether he knows them are not, are welcomed with his deep unmistakable bark. Those guests that he's familiar with get a special welcome as he carries on by aiming his head into the air and bellowing with a good number of excited howls. This is truly a special welcome as no dog howls like a basset hound.
It's Very Sad to Watch An Old Family Member Decline
Franklin is 11 1/2 years old now and has outlived the two other basset hounds I grew up with as a boy by about two (2) years. The white line down his snout has turned grey and black. His ears are now outlined with shades of grey. His eyes don't quite have the life in them they once did. His snoring can be unbelievable and with every move he makes while sleeping, there are the deep sounds of various groans and grunting noises that he makes now. He no longer chases rabbits or squirrels. The will is there to chase them, but the body just says "no". He just sits there and watches them intently, with a sad and pensive look until they gradually move away.
We don't quite know how much more time and pleasure he'll give us and we dread the thought of that day, but we all love him and he will truly be missed by the whole family.