Nuthin’ But a Hound Dog

You’ve seen the statistics. Random violence and sarcastic outbursts are way down in Los Angeles this year. Yes, I’ve had to make some changes. You see, I now answer to a Higher Authority.

You probably think it’s easy to become a member of the Basset Hound Club of Southern California. Au contraire, my frére! First you have to fill out an application and take the oath. The oath basically says that you will do all in your power to further the interests of the Breed, and that you will not, by your actions or behavior, do anything to embarrass the Breed. Note that the dog is not required to take this oath–after all, they’re Bassets and public embarrassment is pretty much part of the package.

After your sponsor presents your application, your name is published in the Newsletter and they wait two months to see if anyone objects. If not, the Board votes on whether or not you’re in. You get decals (two), and a membership card. Somehow I survived this rigorous process, and this year I’m a proud, card-carrying, decal-wearing member. I was determined not to blow it at the annual Basset Hound Picnic.

Which is why I had to have a talk with JoAnn and Chris on the way. If you’ve read the hiking story, you know that JoAnn and Chris are no longer allowed to navigate. (Hint: if you’re going somewhere with them, even just around the corner, carry a road map of the entire United States. You never know.) So I wasn’t worried about us getting lost on the way. I was, however, a little concerned about their attitude. First Chris showed up with a ceramic squirrel on a leash. Now Chris is a fine musician and philosopher, but frankly he spends a little too much time in the back yard feeding the neighborhood squirrels. I explained that we were about to go see several hundred squirrel-hunting dogs, and persuaded him to leave his little friend at home.

JoAnn didn’t bring any ersatz pets, but I just had a feeling she wasn’t taking this seriously. Perhaps it was the paper hat from a Memphis barbecue palace she was wearing. I myself was tastefully attired in a Hawaiian shirt and leopard-skin headband (to match Hennessy’s leopard-skin leash). I tried to impress on them the gravity of the situation, but I wasn’t successful. I decided if worst came to worst I could lose them in the crowd. Though it might be difficult–Chris is well over six feet tall, and Bassets are, well, vertically challenged. Or, as they prefer to think of it, extremely grounded.

The picnic is held the third Sunday in August in Arcadia Park. It’s a big park, but it’s easy to find us–just follow the waddling throngs. Several hundred Bassets together can create quite a stir. There’s howling. You get your ankles kissed a lot. And then there’s the drool. Hennessy is a social dog, and she kept whipping her head around to greet someone–the drool would flip across her nose and she would slime herself. Fortunately she has those big ears to wipe it off with.

You might think it would be fun to enter the costume contests. Forget it–these people are pros. You wouldn’t stand a chance. There was the bride with the ten-foot train on her dress. The “Men in Black” complete with personalized baseball caps. The Wicked Witch of the West had a green face. A centipede in sneakers. A Hershey’s kiss. A hot dog. I Dream of Jeannie won Most Elaborate, though I liked the Vegas showgirl with the feathered headdress.

We took some pictures. A man told me all about recessive hound genes and how the women’s fashion industry was ruined in the sixties. Genes/jeans? I’m sure there’s a connection somewhere. We bought a CD by Jim Self that was supposed to feature his Basset, Stanley, but Stanley was only on two tracks. We felt gypped–the rest of the CD was just this really good jazz music. (Jim has since pointed out to me that he never promised the Basset was on the entire CD, and anyway he could never afford an artist of Stanley’s talents for the whole thing. I guess in the festive picnic atmosphere we just got our hopes up.)

We ate hot dogs, which seemed somehow inappropriate. Hennessy managed to get a taste of almost everyone’s food. She can look mournful when food is around. But then, so could all the other dogs–you didn’t want to hold that hot dog down too low. The picnic benefits Basset Rescue, which is a wonderful organization. That’s where I got Hennessy, though she doesn’t like to admit it. She thinks she’s descended from royalty and only temporarily reduced to the meager lifestyle I offer her.

A fine time was had by all, and we almost made it to the parking lot without incident. Then Hennessy’s collar slipped off. When JoAnn reached to put it back on, Ness flopped on her back and cringed, with that “Please don’t beat me like you do at home!” look on her face. We fled. I haven’t heard from the Club yet, so I don’t think I’m in trouble.

Come to the next Basset Picnic, which will be in October in Arcadia Park, in Arcadia, California. Save the date! See pictures from this year’s picnic. The picnic is run by the Basset Hound Club of Southern California.

Learn more about Basset Hound Rescue of Southern California. For more information about Bassets, including a calendar of Basset events around the country, visit The Daily Drool.

More Basset stories? Try the class, the olympics, bowling, or the psychic. Or look for more Basset links!

Copyright 1997 by Jzine. Not to be reproduced or distributed without permission