Obedience may not be the strongest characteristic of a basset hound but I still kid myself that as the pack leader in our household that I hold sway over my bassets hounds. Those moments of authority and control seem only to occur when I have food on my plate or a free hand offering the possibility of a vigorous neck rub.
The swing of the fridge door opening can wake a basset hound from a seemingly deep sleep when a series of calls finely tuned at puppy training school that get louder and closer to them doesn’t do the trick. Their low centre of gravity gives a basset the ability to hold their ground and give you the full experience of what behaving doggedly really means.
I’ve noticed over the five years of living with bassets that they develop new and ever more infuriating strategies for getting their own way. Whether it’s insisting on walking a particular path which takes twice as long or adopting the flat basset pose making it as hard as possible to put on a collar and lead. Mason is a past master at dreaming up new schemes and Fortnum is the adoring pupil who watches and learns from his brother making them a tight-knit team against the humans in the house.
Slowly but surely they are showing their true colours when it comes to being photographed. I’ve noticed of late that Fortnum, who has traditionally been my show-off basset, has like his brother started to avoid the camera. None of this stops me though although I have rather more photographs in 2012 taken with the spying eye of my Iphone than my DSLR camera as each of them perfect their looks away from the camera or disrupt a photo shoot.
I’m determined to match the hounds at their game in 2013 so it will be another battle of wills to add to the list we already share. But for now, I’ve uploaded the final photographs featured in the 2012 Basset Calendar. Creating the 2013 is going to be quite a challenge as there are not just fewer photographs taken this year but rare look me in the eye moments to pick from. I can see how much I have my work cut out in the coming year.
Fortnum hiding in the grass having caught sight of the camera
Fortnum still refusing to look me in the eye
For all the discombobulation of Christmas in the southern hemisphere, having a spot of good weather does seem to boost festivities. After much procrastination on the part of weather forecasters, they did in the end promise a sunny day for the Wellington region which was perfect for our Christmas ritual to rustle wrapping paper before giving the bassets a sprint on the beach. Such was the heat this morning it was more of a doddle and a waddle but nevertheless a stroll to be savoured.
We were pleased to reach Paekakariki before the crowds although there were a few families doing the kiwi equivalent of the towels on the loungers around the pool. People were carefully selecting their territories for family picnic and unloading trailers of gazebos, sun umbrellas and gas barbeques. Not to mention paddle pools, goal posts and cricket wickets for that most important and highly competitive family sports entertainment.
In the absence of our own families, we like our Christmas Day a little more laid back. Time to lounge around and truly be on holiday. With the temperatures heading to 28 degrees Celcius the bassets are done for and will spend their day searching for the coolest spot in the house. Although as I write this a stinky black cloud is passing over head sprinkling a few raindrops and a rumble of thunder.
It was a rare thing of beauty to be able to see the South Island so clearly at the coast. The Pohutukawa (also known as the NZ Christmas tree) were blooming scarlet red bringing a touch of bling to the beach on this special day. Otherwise it was business as usual. Fortnum paddling and Mason running away from the waves as they gently rolled across his path. Both bassets sniffing every grain of sand and seeking out nasty flotsam that they can roll in. Casual callings of Happy Christmas to fellow dog walkers. Mason was also particularly determined to avoid the camera either out-running me or completely disengaging. Although I did actually to sneek a closer view of him using one of my rather special Christmas presents.
Wherever you are, whatever the weather and whatever your plans for celebrating the holidays we hope you have a peaceful and relaxing time. Not to mention some special Christmas wining and dining.
If you’ve ever had a monster under the bed or wallpaper that came to life (The Diddy Men in a jam butty mine, if you’re interested) Halloween is not something you ponder on for long let alone celebrate. All those witches, ghoulish pumpkins and zombies at Halloween give those with a sensitive disposition sleepless nights. Not to mention the sugar overload from trick or treating.
Halloween would have passed us by here at Domestic Executive HQ if it wasn’t for a mysterious spooking event with our Basset, Mason on Halloween night itself. A real life strange happening that rendered our sensitive Little Basset incapable of settling down to sleep in his usual bed. Despite lifting up the bed so he could sniff out the demons and shaking out the ghosts from blankets he refused point blank to lie down and sleep. Instead he sat and squeaked at the door to escape the strange being that had seemingly invaded his canine sleeping space.
It was no joke tracking him down outside by torch light when he shot out the door when I let him outside to see if a moment in private might do the trick. No, instead our intrepid hound refused to come back instead favouring to lie outdoors on the front veranda away from the spooks. Knowing that left to his own devices he would eventually start to howl loud enough to wake the dead he was unceremoniously returned to his home base and ordered to lie down and sleep.
A basset hound does not take kindly being ordered around so the frantic circling, crying and increasingly worrying behaviour continued for a while. Or at least until I to build up his bed on the floor in another part of the laundry which had to be rebuilt again back on his usual bed around 3.30am.
Throughout this whole episode Fortnum was completely non plussed and getting rather agitated at the seemingly overly dramatic and attention seeking behaviour of his brother so clearly whatever was bothering Mason was not something he was seeing or feeling in the same way. Mason has always been the smartest yet most sensitive of our two bassets. The first to climb into your lap and cuddle in and the first to get up and come to say hello during a basset photoshoot and now the first of our bassets to have a monster under the bed episode.
Little did I know when I read this article last Friday evening that I would soon face the question of what I would do to save my dog. Within 24 hours it was no contest, I would have done whatever it took to make things better for Fortnum who was poorly like I had never seen him before.
I don’t want to get too graphic about what was going on but suffice to say it involved blood, guts and a conversation with the out of hours vet. In a state of mild hysteria I explained that no I wasn’t just “concerned” about his condition but I was freaking out and as neurotic dog owner needed to know if my dog might die imminently.
I could hear the vet’s eyeballs roll back and he take a deep breath before launching into his best reassuring spiel of what look for before deciding to cart my ailing basset to the animal hospital. Is he lethargic and sleeping a lot? “Of course not, that’s why I’m so worried.” I recall shrieking, “That’s the way a basset hound should be. He’s agitated, unsettled, pacing manically and performing bodily functions every two paces.” All this followed an earlier stressful visit to our local vet where Fortnum cut to the chase to demonstrate his symptoms first hand and put on a biological show of epic proportions all over the vet’s linoleum. After a swift anti-vomiting injection, I was bundled off with a pile of antibiotic medications to dose him up and instructions to call the out of hours vet if he got any worse.
This was like no ordinary gastro problem I’d encountered before and for several hours and I feared for the life of my Big Basset. Then suddenly the medicines kicked in, the relentless pacing stopped and he lay down on his beanbag on the veranda and went to sleep. We covered him up with a blanket and watched every breath he took and every shiver he made. After an hour or so he got up and wandered down the garden to find me as I put the chickens to bed. If I was a stronger person I would have scooped up all his 30 plus kg and carried him back to bed but instead I coaxed him back up the hill, refilled the water bowl for the umpteenth time and helped him back onto the sofa where he went back to sleep for 14 hours solid.
Either the magic of veterinary science, the conversation I had with my guardian angel or a bit of both delivered us a tired, sore and still weak basset hound the following morning. But at least it was a basset hound who ate something, drank heaps and finally wagged his tail back at us. Another 24 hours later he barked, stomped his foot when you rubbed his neck and ran a few paces up the drive. Four days on from the height of this canine crisis all the signs are that Fortnum is back to his normal self and wondering when I will stop ramming tablets down his throat and he can have his normal food reinstated.
Our beloved Big Basset suffered a nasty bout of Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis. It’s not the first time that I’ve felt like a neurotic pet owner at the vets but when it comes to the health and well-being of my fur family I’ll do what it takes to make sure they are taken care of. Had he not drunk so much water and finally settled to a restorative sleep we would undoubtedly have had him hospitalised but thankfully it didn’t come to that. Instead we watched him like a hawk and on Saturday night, the second night in a row, the bassets and I hunkered down together on the sofa for the night.
Sleeping with my hounds it’s not something I want to repeat often. Aside from the obvious preference for them to not be ill, Little Basset demands too much of the duvet and has a tendency to want to press his butt end too close to my face.
In celebration of Fortnum’s return to normality I’ve updated the basset gallery with the images from October’s Basset Calendar. Enjoy.
They don’t want for much in life, just food, a blanket on the sofa and a ready supply of sniffing walks. We’re blessed with the multitude of dog walking options available to us close to where we live and rarely do the same walk two days in a row. Or I should say did. For the next six months, walking the hounds around our neighbourhood is like playing the equivalent of canine russian roulette.
A major possum control programme has been carried out in the surrounding hills using the deadly 1080 poison. They spread the poison by air and hand into the forestry and hillside bush areas hoping to cull as many possums as they can as a preventative measure against the spread of bovine tuberculosis. Whilst I can understand the need for such measures morally I struggle with the methodology which is so punitive and wish they would stop 1080 as the preferred methodology. Aside from the inconvenience of losing the ability to walk out of our house and wander the neighbourhood we will have to be particularly vigilant on our own land and know where the bassets are at all times incase a poisoned possum strays into our bush area and dies providing a ready made basset snack to forage.
There have been at least three occasions when I have found wild pigs heads in my house brought in by the bassets. These were buried on our land by our neighbours hunting dogs who place them in the bush for safe keeping. Such is the power of a bassets nose that they pick up the scent of anything new and will search until they find it and bring it back to the house for a more comfortable place to chew on it. Yes, it’s gross. All I can do is glove up and destroy the offending article or lob it back over the fence for our neighbours pack to find it again.
It’s a worry. We heard from the a fellow Basset owner that someone they know had let their dog out of the car at the Kaitoke Regional Park (one of our regular walk spots) and hadn’t even left the car park but their dog had found poison and was dead within hours. We can’t take the risks so will be probably spend more time driving to walk the bassets over the coming months so that we can be in a safe place. The effort, cost and inconvenience will be worth the peace of mind we’ll have allowing the hounds to sniff and romp safely.
Here’s a few photographs I took whilst walking with the hounds at the local park in Upper Hutt where there are wide open grassed areas for them to run and play in relative safety. Little do they know how much effort we go for them. But they’re worth it.
It might be tempting fate but I think I’ve been forgiven by the bassets going away. They aren’t quite following my every move but still maintain a close eye from underneath those droopy lids just in case. In case I might open the fridge and feed them something tasty to eat. They are sorely disappointed time and time again but with so little else to live for but food, sniffing expeditions and neck rubs I can understand entirely the need to keep alert for those rare but special moments. Equilibrium was restored in their canine worlds with relative ease. For the humans in the household it’s take rather more effort than stretching out for another snooze.
Picking up life after a long adventure is harder than I remember. The rhythms and routines don’t seem to have returned with the ease that I would have expected. After three weeks I finally feel that I am on top of work that I get paid for and crawling towards the peak of effort domestically. The march of vegetation growing makes the garden look a fright but were slowly bringing order from horticultural chaos and almost to the point of being able to kick start plans for this growing season.
I’m afraid that as a result of all this effort blogging has slipped below the horizon of my to do list. I feel I have so much to write still from our trip away but where the spirit is willing the mind has lacked the brainpower to co-operate. To break myself back gently into a more regular blogging routine, I’ve updated my Basset Photo gallery with the photographs in July, August and September Bassets’ calendar which include some snow play from last Winter when Wellington was hit by a massive one in 50 year snowstorm and some snoozy shots of bassets hunkering down.
This last week has treated us to some beautiful Spring weather with light that is wetting my photographic appetite once again. The food blogging juices are starting to flow again with lots of thoughts on our new eating regime and reflections on a wonderful couple of days at the recent NZ Food Bloggers Conferences held in Wellington. I make no promises but good intentions are to get back a little more continuity on the blog and break my lazy micro blogging habits on Twitter and Instagram. Looking forward to it already.
It’s not a fantasy that walking a pair of bassets can be a time consuming affair. For all I might walk follow a direct path my hounds prefer something a little more meandering with occasional switch backs before concentrated sniffing effort in one place. The first photograph is evidence of such a walking pattern.
Seems strange to be so far away from home. Away from my hounds, the cold winter mornings and low lying dew. Instead I’m wandering San Francisco like a country bumpkin eyes bulging at the heights of buildings, choice of shops and raising my eye brows at the price of what the americans like to call coffee but bares no resemblance to Wellingtonian standards we have become accustomed to. It’s a balmy 60 degrees with a slight cooling sea breeze perfect weather for pounding the pavements and pathways.
Heavens knows what the bassets would have made of San Francisco and its dog fraternity. Aside from most of the dogs we’ve seen being miniature breeds they are trussed up and fussed up in ways that kiwi country dogs just aren’t. The most extreme canine fashion statement was a rainbow coiffure with fur dyed to create the multicolored effect. I didn’t give any approving looks.
I know that the hounds routine will stay pretty much as it always does with a determined charm offensive on the house sitters who undoubtedly will fall to their bassets ways either out of love or complete frustration!
Mason waiting patiently before he launches his basset attack
Fortnum as his regal finest
It is a common misconception that owning bassets means you’ll be fit from all the walking. Our bassets are the most sedentary animals you’ll meet. Unless there is a strong scent of something worth hunting down or a cyclist that should be chased to provide a neck rub. Basset walking is more akin to a long plod than a brisk walk. Except if you announce “let’s go home” when a basset seems to pick up the pace of almost indecent haste. Even in the company of other dogs who like to run the bassets will do their own thing unless it is to entertain themselves with a spot of canine play bullying.
Our friends have a wonderful labrador, Inca, who until the dark mornings spoiled our routine would be the bassets’ playmate first thing on a Friday morning. After initial squeals of delight there is always serious sniffing to be done until we reach the open grassed area where we can finally set them to run free safely. At first poor Inca was confused and a touch nervous about playing with bassets whose first instinct is to chase and bark, especially Fortnum who tends to shout loudly when he plays making deep barks that are more akin to a seal lion than a dog.
It didn’t take Inca long to work out the barks were not threatening and more importantly that a labrador can outrun bassets, especially if you apply a few sharp turns and changes in direction. A basset is easily fooled and although can run fast it is only in straight lines. The best way to think about a basset on the run is to imagine a full jumbo jet setting off down a runway to take off with the maneuverability of a large oil tanker. It doesn’t take long for them to tire physically tired if not intellectually bored when they will find something new and different to sniff at instead.
At a recent trip to the beach Inca most definitely had the upper hand since she was brave enough to venture in for a paddle and could outrun the incoming tide. Two things that Little Basset in particular hates. As the dogs played as a threesome, Mason soon tired of chasing Inca or seagulls and was happier scavenging amongst the driftwood and all manner of strong smelling and decomposing sea debris in search of something delightful to roll in instead.
Having a tin roof on your house is a serious disadvantage when you live nestled in a valley and a rain cloud seems to have lodged itself bringing a constant downpour. Together with a rain collection down pipe just outside your bedroom window it makes for entertaining insomnia. Add a meteorological cherry on top of gale force winds with a southerly ice and you can feel truly blessed.
Yes folks winter is her. Complete with it’s chilly, watery and windy cousin.
The bassets have been reluctant to venture off the veranda preferring instead to lie toasting their bellies in front of the fire. Who can blame them not wanting to wade down the garden with me herding chickens out of trees after their house door blew shut. But follow they must as it’s the perfect way to bathe their muddy paws and undercarriages after they’ve been frolicking in mud. Cruel but so efficient.
It hasn’t been the weather for being outdoors let alone dragging my camera out when we have been. Even my iPhone camera has seen little use. I just can’t seem the point in the gloomy light. Instead I’m enjoying the photographs that I’ve posted on my Fridge and office Gallery. It’s been a new experience living with the photographs rather than them being tucked away on my computer hard drive.
Mason takes centre stage on this month’s Fortnum and Mason calendar. I’ve updated the basset gallery if you like a spot of basset blogging. Enjoy!