Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Monday, 14 May 2012

Life according to Monty...

Ok I may be a bit smaller then Lewis ( actually he is only an inch longer then me), but trust me I am the brains of the outfit. Look I don't want to dwell on it but he is a 'ginger.' Apparently he is 'tri-colour.' What a load of old nonsense he's a ginger or 'ginga' as I like to call him. He would have you believe that he is the leader of the pack, the 'numero uno.' Let me enlighten you. Yes I love my brother or 'bruv' as I prefer. He is however a bit of a buffoon.He is always getting into trouble with other dogs. He just goes bowling in grinning like the big daft Gallah that he is, "Hello hello , hello." Usually to be met with a snarl or a "grrrrrrrrrrr." What would yo do if a 40 kilo ginger floppy eared dope like him came charging at you? He really has no etiquette at all. I like to stand off a bit, assess the situation. If they look friendly I'll have a mooch over and perhaps start with a bit of sniffing. If a tail wags then we may progress to a bit of face to face sniffing. If that goes well its full on bum in the air play fight stuff !

Recently the folks took us to a really nice place that had a sandy beach. Where we live the beaches are all shingle. People say shingle , I prefer to call it gravel. Whatever it is it plays havoc with me little legs and big paws so I try to avoid it at all costs. When the tide goes out a load of sand is eventually left but it is also really cold and wet. I don't do wet if I can help it. Dad took us onto the wet sand last week. I pretended I really liked it and when Dad wasn't looking I mooched off to the footpath where I lied in the sun waiting for 'Ginga' and Dad to join me. He wasn't very happy and called me a "stubborn summat." 

Anyway back to the real sandy beach. Usually us dogs aren't allowed on beaches after the 1st of May. This special sandy beach had a cordoned off area especially for dogs, how cool was that? Off we went, off the lead and free. We had the wind in our ears and the cool sand between our toes. Ginga (Lewis) made a beeline for one of them "chocolate Labradors." Now I think this is a bit strange because I have sniffed and licked a few of them and none of them tasted like chocolate. What a rip off.  Lewis in his own inimitable style ballooned over to Mr Choccy Woccy Lab grinning like a demented Cheshire cat." oo 'ello ello wanna play? wanna play?" Mr Choccy Lab did want to play but clearly not on the the big Ginger's terms. The Lab's response was to repeatedly kick sand in Lewis' face. He stood there all gooey eyed covered in sand. Anybody else would have moved. Not Lewis, great plonker stood there covered like some weird Basset sand sculpture. Sand kicked in his face by a less than 7 stone weakling. Frankly Lewis I was embarrassed.

We met loads of other dogs that afternoon and I would have been happy to stay there all day. Sadly Lewis found some particularly smelly sea weed which he though would add to his general body odour by rolling in it repeatedly. He spoils everything! It was nice to meet other dogs though. I met a lot of Chihuasuas,I think there was about seven hundred of them. It seemed like that anyway. They were all over the place shouting at us in Mexican. They all were very cross about something but I'm not sure what. There was a Highland Terrier who was Scottish. I couldn't really understand what he was saying either. He kept calling Lewis and I "see you Jimmy" which was odd.Finally we also met Jack Russell. I felt a bit miffed about this. How come he gets two names and I only get one, 'Monty.' All in all a pretty good day. Speak soon!!


Thursday, 22 March 2012

Life according to Lewis

We never get the chance to write anything. We get plenty written about us but nothing from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Look, life as a Basset is pretty tough you know. Take mornings for example. We are literally pushed off the sofa at the crack of dawn (usually about 7am). We have barely had about 10 hours sleep by then. Even if I don’t really fancy it, I am told, yes told, that I must go out in the garden, “for a wee.” Sometimes I don’t want one. I am quite happy to stay in bed and when I am good and ready will paw the back door. I am not a puppy now you know. All our protestations simply fall on deaf ears. Out we go. Last month we had frost and it was dark. Anything could have been in that garden. Just last week we saw a grey squirrel. Those things can be deadly, I’ve heard about them. They have got teeth like sharpened dominoes. Monty has begun little protests when we are forced out on a morning. He actually has a pee on the steps before he gets to the garden. Sadly they appear to have cottoned onto this and have taken to giving his bum a gentle shove so that he is forced onto that cold garden surface.

I have tried a new tact. I have found a hiding place round the back of the greenhouse. I wait till we are called in and completely ignore them. Its really funny how humans voices seem to get more high pitched the more stressed they become. I usually give it a good five minutes so that they put out a search party assuming (wrongly) that I have escaped. I then trot into the kitchen like nothing has happened. “what, what? I didn’t hear you shouting.” Monty is even better at this than me because he is a bit smaller. Because I am nearly 27 feet long hiding behind a plant pot 6 inches wide doesn’t really cut the mustard (we can but try).

The other garden pest at the moment is a ginger cat. Now shouldn’t these things be afraid of us? He gets on the swing chair outside and lies in the sun. I thought that this was a bit undermining. If my neighbour (the Staffie), saw this she would clearly think that Monty and I were pretty useless on the dog chasing cat front. Just yesterday he was out there. Yes out there lying in the sun like a giant ginger fluffy ball of wool. The back door was open so I thought I’d seize the moment. I’d show him.

I fluffed myself to my full height (about 9and a half inches) and put my best, “I’m very vicious” face on. I literally ran out of the back door making a beeline straight for him. I think I may even have let out a little growl. I screeched to halt in front of him and he opened one eye about a millimetre.

“Waddya want?”

“I’m a dog, get off my chair and run off.”


“Because that’s what cats do.” 

“This one doesn’t …....jog on.”

“Look I don’t want to get really nasty.”

“Ooooo, waddya gonna do, get the other daft Basset out?”

Lucky for him I was at that point, called in for a biscuit. Why won’t these felines take me seriously?

Whilst on the food front I have one or two issues there also. Aside from being man handled into the garden for a wee, we are also coerced into going for a morning walk. I say coerced because we only go on the promise of a biscuit on our return. The term ‘biscuit’ has a myriad of connotations. When they say ‘biscuit,’ I imagine a Boneo sort of size, You know a good three or four bites big and the sort of biscuit I can leave loads of crumbs behind on the carpet. They must have had an offer on down our local shops because the latest offerings are about the size of a grape and certainly not as tasty. Monty spits his out in total disgust (I eat it just to make sure there is no mess). These are the kind of issues that we have to live with you know.

We got a letter through this morning (or dad did), saying that we had to go the vets to ‘get some worms.’ (At least that’s what I thought it said). It seems pretty funny to me because, a) I don’t want any worms and b) why does a vet give you worms? Last time we were there the vet gave my dad some worms. Dad put the worms in a little bit of cheese and gave it to me. The cheese was lovely but the worms bit (which looked like a big white tablet) tasted horrible and I spat it out. So did Monty. We got more cheese then, but its’ funny because they must make that cheese with tablets in it as the next bit had one in as well. Dad seemed a bit cross that we kept spitting that bit out. We thought it was hilarious. We like the vet. We also do exactly what he says because it is then really funny watching Dad’s cross face as we invariably do very little of what he says. Dad also has to give him loads of money which is even funnier.

Life as a Basset really is pretty tough you know…….      

PS. Got the chair at last.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Clean sweep....

Why is it every time I update the hound' diary it inevitably  involves the very particular odour given off by basset Hounds. It can't just be my two can it? It seems that whenever I meet fellow Basset owners the discussion invariably ends up comparing pongs. I have decided to collate a few of the comments and post them (in no particular order). 

"My hound lies in front of our log burner. After about 15 minutes he begins to smell like cheese." (Presumably like Bavarian smoked cheese or similar?)

"***** smells a bit like road kill on a hot sunny day."

"They can't help it, its all the folds of skin, it kind of collects odours and keeps them. Keeps them until you have guests around and they move off the settee to greet them......."

"They seem to revel in giving off that 'special smell.' So special that I have shares in a perfumed candle company."

They can't help it. When you are twenty three feet long and six inches high, it is very easy to scoop up whatever has been deposited. I have tried several "pooch pampering" venues with mixed success. The hounds absolutely love it wherever they are taken but one or two members of staff have looked aghast when I have led them in. I have found a new outlet that I tried at the weekend. Determined that any perfumed hound odour must be retained as long a possible I created the correct environment with military precision. I collected freshly laundered bedding and ensured that it was suitably bagged and kept some distance from the hounds for the outward journey. The outward journey was the same old whiffy bedding and odours that they were very comfortable with ! They seem to revel in pongs that they have got used to.

Leading them into the parlour there were two poodles being coiffured on tables.The disdain on their long faces  was clear for all to see.

" Tarquin they appear to be letting anyone in here these days, what on earth are those two?"

"Darling I think they may be dwarf blood hounds Jeremy..."

"Oh yes I can see that now. Goodness they smell dreadful I think they may have being living rough."    

Undeterred Monty and Lewis mooched into the parlour like they owned the place. Owners were grabbing Foo Foo Trixie Belles type small dogs ensuring that they were well away from the hounds. Not through any fear of attack by the hounds ( which would never happen anyway), more through a fear that the hounds may get too close and a bit of whiff would rub off on their posh pooches. Lewis took a particular shine to a Yorkshire Terrier and sat all gooey eyed staring at her. I think it was the red ribbon tied in a bow on her head. She was about the same size of one of his ears but this clearly had not put him off.

I was instructed that it would take about an hour and a half and that I could leave the hounds. Leave them? I would have to drag them away. As usual they barely glanced at me when I left!

Two pints later (I mean an hour later), I returned to collect them. Lewis looked like a giant ginger ball of fluff. They both smelt wonderful. I mean it was hardly an Yves Saint Lauren Shampoo smell. It was more akin to a sort of recently cleaned carpet smell. You know, that stuff you spray on as a foam ,let it dry and hoover off. No matter! It was still a clean smell!

I placed my freshly laundered bedding in the back of the car so that I could ensure the maximum length of time before their old pongs returned. They mooched and shuffled about like they had no idea where they were. Their old pongs had gone and they simply could not 'compute' that this was their new world for as long as it may last. 

At this moment in time I am only walking the dogs on pavements and roads. They still smell so good at this time that they are mooching about like they don't recognise each other.............. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The morning after....

( Lewis , Monty and pal Madge. They know how to party)

I always seem to begin the Boys Blog with an apology. Well folks the latest edition is no different, ( at least we are consistent!).  A myriad of lost passwords and a collection of sausage shaped fingers has led to a drought on the update front. 

I have previously written at length about the Hounds ability to completely ignore me.Their ability to choose the routes they want to walk and to take as long as they like sniffing lampposts and other dogs. For those people owned by Bassets (yes that is the right way round) I am sure you are completely use to this. In recent weeks however they seemed to have turned a corner. Yes at three and a half years old they are nearly doing some things I say. Okay that doesn't sound much, but 'nearly' is massive leaps and bounds. There are of course exceptions to this:~

I have always asked the Hounds to "WAIT" when I fastening leads to their collars. Ordinarily Lewis would look at Monty and walk off just as I got the lead clasp to his collar. Monty had this off to a fine art. He would look around to make sure that he had an audience. The command would follow, "WAIT." Audience in place Monty would wait until I was close then simply walk off. He would stand about twelve feet from me and sit and stare. When I was completely red faced shouting for him to "come" he would simply walk straight past me. Of course this would result in the maximum impact from the "audience" which usually consisted of local kids who of course thought he was hilarious. Spurred on the comedy duo would carry on ignoring me and walking off to maximise the applause and general shouts of support. Laurel and Hardy of the Basset world. 

Other "hilarious gags" the Hounds have pulled off include:~
  • Completing a 5 mile walk through woodland and waiting till they got home to poo on the front lawn. 
  •  Hiding in the bedroom game whilst dad frantically searches streets for his "escaped Bassets." 
  • Waiting till Dad gets in the shower and stealing underwear that was neatly placed on warm radiator game. This includes the very helpful game of removing gloves from the radiator and hiding one game. ( I am currently wearing one grey one and one black one , thankfully they left me a left and right). I must look great. 
  • Oh yes, I nearly forget and they have a favourite. They have their own sofa in the kitchen dining area. By no means a shabby one at that. It is an 'L' shaped design and leather (yes I know...) and takes up enough room to seat six adults comfortably. Or it should.......What it actually seats is two Bassets that stretch out to about nine feet long each  and who both refuse flatly to move at the hint of anyone else getting a portion of that sofa. Lewis actively shuffles his body around so that he is flat on his back with his four legs akimbo like some some sort of Basset starfish. He is huge. Not fat huge because he isn't, just downright huge. He lies there like someone has just dropped him out of a helicopter and he landed like that when the 'chute opened. You could bring a fork lift in and it wouldn't budge him. Monty conversely manages to pile cushions and perch at the top like he is looking down at loyal subjects. He also moves for no man. That is unless....
Unless.... Dad nods off on the 'green sofa' in the living room. Yes the "green sofa." They know it's called that because that's how I refer to it. IE " NO NO NO you are NOT allowed on the GREEN SOFA." It is the last refuge of Basset immunity. The final resting place away from hairs and dribbling hounds. Under no circumstances are they allowed near it. Sit in front of it, stare at it, yes. Sit on it, NO WAY. They know this of course. They know this so much that it has become their life long ambition to get on it. The fact that they can't have it simply makes it that much more attractive. The scheme and plot between them. I wouldn't care it is not as comfortable as theirs and MUCH smaller. It isn't near a radiator and they can't see out of a window from it. All that doesn't matter. They can't have it so they must simply have it.  

Now perhaps its an age thing or perhaps it was the odd pint of ale that I had consumed but one night recently  ( or more likely the hopeless TV that was on), I nodded off on the green sofa. The hounds were already asleep on their sofa and it was quite late. I can only have been out for about 15 minutes when the Hounds launched Operation Take~ofa~Sofa. I'll sweat they must have been sleeping with one eye open each. Normally they flop off their sofa with a resounding "thwump" usually followed by a yawn and a bit of scratching. Not this night or no...they must have slipped off that sofa like a couple of Basset Ninjas.  I had dropped to one side on MY sofa and was fast asleep almost certainly dreaming of obedient dogs. The first I remember was a feeling of being very hot. The second was a tightness on my chest. There was also a particular odour. That particular Basset odour. Not really dirty, just a bit sweaty and a bit, well doggy and musty. The heat was a direct result of Lewis positioning himself on top of my chest. His nose was approximately 6mm from my mouth and he was snoring hot air directly onto me. They must have had a bit of a tussle between them because Monty (not to be outdone) had lain flt on the top of my head and curled his head around also to face me. It was like wearing some bizarre Basset hat. They had done it, they had finally made the green sofa. In fact they did get off it quite gracefully and without any objections. They didn't care. They had their fifteen minutes of fame. I had a sweaty head and smelt like a dog bed.

I may just sleep on their sofa ...just to annoy them!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Humbug hounds...

I always seem to begin blogs lately with "sorry about the delay in writing." It has been some time! 
We had a short stay in India which meant the hounds were at our wonderful dog boarder's house ( "Emmas Doghouse").  I always feel a sense of guilt leaving the hounds but I know that they are extremely well cared for. I do secretly hope that they might be a bit down in the dumps when they realise where they are going and that it may involve an over night stay. The reverse is in fact the case. Yes they are so sad to be leaving me that they are out of the car and pawing Emma's front door practically before we stop. Emma opens the front door to be met by the bungling buffoons charging their way into Emma's house to lay claim on the sofa. Sorry "Dad who?" 

Emma has her own basset "Madge" who is gorgeous. She is also a fraction of the size of  my two. I'm sure she sighs and thinks to herself  " there goes the sofa."

 Anyhow the mutts are now  back home currently enjoying the trappings of  Christmas. Monty appears to be reverting to puppy hood. He has begun to collect hats, gloves socks and anything he can grab and run off with. His most recent capture included some underwear. The most worrying aspect of his recent theft is that the offending pants are nothing to do with anyone in our house.We can only summise that they have blown from a neighbour's washing line. There is certainly no possibility of him having 'jumped up.' Given that his legs are about six inches long and his body is about twenty nine feet in length, he is not exactly built for high jumping. I did consider calling at our neighbour's houses, but the sight of a large chap holding some ( I think ladies) underwear asking "Excuse me are these yours?" may draw some adverse reactions. Monty has also developed an absolute obsession with cuddly toys. He waits until Lewis distracts small children and he gently withdraws and runs off with whatever he can get his teeth on. He is currently having staring competitions with a teddy that lives in the bedroom. 

Lewis is no angel either. He has always had an obsession with empty plastic bottles. If he finds one he carries it about for the rest of the walk like some plastic 'trophy.' Ordinarily this is fine and when he becomes bored with it I end up putting someone else's rubbish in  the bin. One of the 'boys' walks involves walking around a huge park that encompasses three or four football pitches ( soccer to our American cousins!). The football season in the UK is now at full tilt. Weekends in this park usually see at least two games on at once and usually young lads of about 10/11 years old. True to their idols they wear the same designer boots and tracksuits and all have 'designer' energy drinks. They casually discard these to the side line so that during breaks in play they can grab said expensive 'fitness' liquids and quench their thirst. Lewis recently discovered this. He was in basset bottle heaven. He had no idea that they weren't actually finished and decided he could wander off with whatever 'trophy' he saw fit in his slobbery basset mouth. I hadn't actually realised this until a recent walk. Both boys are always off the lead when I can and wander behind me at their own pace. The first I knew was a shrill "oi oi oi." Looking round saw Lewis charging toward me. I have to say that even he looked a little startled. His eyes were wide open and Lewis was actually running. Clasped  in Lewis's jaw's was a well known designer bottle drink that was a distinct yellow colour. I know that because it was half full. Behind Lewis I saw what I can only describe as a posse. A posse of 11 year old boys in tracksuits pursuing Lewis. Lewis who had just nicked their designer squash. Lewis stood his ground...well sort of. He actually stood behind me peering between my legs at his pursuers. If he could say "gulp" I'm sure he was. Eventually the 'posse' made it to where I was standing with my less than brave basset.
"Oi mister your dog nicked my drink." 
"And mine" said another squeaky boy's voice at the back.
"Boys I am so sorry he thinks that they have been thrown away."
I prised the bottle from Lewis ( who was still very reluctant to give it up). I held it out toward the posse and offered it back to the owner(s).
The offending article was now slightly squashed. It was also covered in basset slobber.If you had just emerged from the desert without water for seven days you would still have been reluctant to drink this. In fact if it was the last soft drink on earth you would have given it a wide berth...
"Nah he can keep it" said the posse leader.
"Sorry boys" I said again meekly.

Lewis picked up the bottle once again. I am sure I could here him laughing....

I PROMISE I will not leave it as long!  ,        

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Independence Day

If you are not owned by a Basset (yes I have got that the right way around), certain aspects of their behaviour you may find extremely frustrating to say the least. If you live with a Basset(s) you simply try and laugh it off and press on regardless. I have two sons, one studying at University some distance from me, the second works in finance and lives a lot closer. Consequently Nick my eldest often helps out as a Basset sitter. The hounds love Nick, he was one of the first humans they met. He is also 6’4” and loves nothing more than a play scrap with the hounds. They behave like forlorn love lost puppies when Nick arrives. They also do absolutely NOTHING he says. To them he is a mate, a pal someone who has a scrap with them gives them a biscuit. They are certainly not going to do anything he says because he is not in charge. He can’t be, he is Nick and he must ‘sort of’ be their brother. Life according to Bassets….

In the last couple of weeks a major rugby tournament in Twickenham, London   meant that I was away from home very early and arriving home very late. Nick obligingly stayed at my house and agreed to look after the Hounds. I left a comprehensive (typed) list to assist him during the day:~

“Dear Nick,

  • Please don’t walk the boys before 2pm if it is too hot as they simply won’t move.
  • If they tell you that they have biscuits every 30 minutes this is NOT true. Do not be fooled by gooey eyed looks and saggy ears.
  • They get dinner at 5pm. There is no variation on this. Do not believe any Basset watches they may refer to.
  • They have ONE crunchy biscuit/tripe stick after dinner. This referred to as ‘pudding.’ Ignore any protestations that they have more than one. NO, lying on the floor feigning starvation does not mean they can have two.
  • We have a large rear garden. YES, they are allowed in the garden despite any suggestion by them that they are not allowed off the sofa after dark. You may need to gently shove their more than substantial butts off the sofa in the general direction of the back garden. 
  • Any problems just call me on my mobile (‘cell’ to our cousins in the USA).

Lots of love, Dad.”

Leaving home ‘early doors’ nick was met by Lewis & Monty who began their usual celebratory play fight in the living room. Some time much later I arrived home having celebrated two games of rugby…well shall I say celebrated maybe a little too much!

The hounds were asleep on their sofa although Lewis managed to open his  left eye about 0.00005 of a millimetre. He also appeared to take a very deep gulp and nudged Monty with his nose. They both now raised their heads not more than an inch off the sofa but were now very wide eyed. Something was afoot, as they had not come to greet me. 

Me ~ “ Where did you take the boys for a walk then Nick?”

Nick ~ “ I didn’t Dad. They got to the front gate and just refused to move….”

Me ~ “WHAT? Refused to move??”

Nick ~ “ Yep, and I would swear that Lewis suddenly adopted a limp. Monty looked at me like he was telling me that they NEVER go out without travelling in the car. They both turned around got back on the sofa and would not budge. I thought they may be a bit unwell so I didn’t risk it. ”

At this point I turned to face the hounds, they had got down from the sofa and both looked a little unnerved.


If the hounds could have grabbed the car keys bleeped the fob and got in the back of the car they would have done. They had been found out. I have never seen two Bassets move SO quickly toward the front garden and a well trodden walk route. The moral of the story is this:~

  • Do not believe Bassets, they invariably are having you on.
  • Their motives are usually driven by food.
  • They all hold Basset Equity cards and can “out act,” most of Hollywood.
  •  Going slow on a walk does not mean they are tired. It means they do not like the route you have taken.
  • If you leave them in the care of others ensure a full briefing is given. Alternatively arrive home to find your Basset(s) on your favourite sofa eating a pizza whilst supping a beer in front of your TV.

We I change them for anything else? Of course not!

The hounds have also created a new sport. BMX. No nothing to do with bicycles and dirt paths. Well it should do, unfortunately Basset M X involves hounds invading a local track to play with the kids….more to follow soon!      


Saturday, 27 August 2011

Guard dogs.........

Lewis and Monty sleep a lot. I am fairly sure that most Basset owners will recognise this particular Basset character trait. Mornings are a bit of a lottery as to whether they will, a) get up and greet you, or b), even open an eye to see who is in the kitchen (where Lewis and Monty sleep overnight).  I am fairly convinced that if anyone broke into the house the boys would either not wake at all or simply help the burglars out with the flat screen TV and other valuables. They really are the worst guard dogs in the world.

Mooching about in the back garden recently I heard a “Hello, uhh, hello” from the front of the house. A deliveryman was standing in my hallway clutching a large parcel. Keen not to return to his depot with it, he had made his own way to the front of the house. I began to panic because I knew the hounds were in the front garden and assumed that they had been let out into the street by the deliveryman leaving the front gate open. 

“Oh crikey sorry, I will be with you in a minute I have to check on my dogs.”

Delivery man ~ “ Oh they are fine, although they were a bit awkward to step over carrying this parcel.”

Peering out to the front garden I saw the hounds prone on the warm concrete path soaking up a bit of sunshine. They had not been disturbed by the clank of the metal front gate, the deliveryman carrying a large box stepping over them OR him shouting to catch my attention. They did however, both wag their tails as he made his way back to the van.

Lewis never barks, he whinges occasionally although this is usually associated with a desire for his dinner and or some other morsel that has taken his eye. Monty conversely, has a wonderful resinous bark that rattles your windows. Sadly he uses it only to satisfy his own motives and never ‘strangers’ approaching the house.

“WWWWWOOOOOOFF” ~ (Lewis get off my side of the sofa)

“WWWWWOOOOOOFF” ~ (Dad I am staring at you and you are not paying me any attention!)

“WWWWWOOOOOOFF”  ~ (Dad I REALLY need one of them biscuits you hide in the kitchen cupboard and only bring out for special occasions)

Lewis does occasionally howl in his sleep (usually at about 3am) which results in Monty:~

“WWWWWOOOOOOFF” ~ (Lewis you are waking me up with your daft howling!)

Lewis and Monty love people. They don’t  mind who you are (burglar or not!). People are always cautious approaching dogs and rightly so. The question “ are your dogs okay to stroke?,” is usually met with Lewis sitting on the enquirers foot. He appears to have developed this tactic only recently. He realises that the longer he can keep the human with him the more tummy rubs and ear scratching he will receive. Monty loves small children. I think it is because they are nearer his eye level. Children are fascinated by Basset ears and love lifting them. Monty is fascinated by the noses of small children! He always greets small children by extending his long Basset tongue and has a good old slurp of the toddlers nose (runny or not!). I always make my apologies, but invariably the toddler is now in fits of laughter. The parent can’t reach the toddlers nose to wipe it because Lewis is still sitting on their foot. Nothing like Basset teamwork.

Home security, personal protection? Forget it. They are big soft lumps and I love them!   

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Follow my leader.

Whenever possible I walk the dogs in a ‘loop’ so that I can get to my start point without doubling back on the original route. Lewis & Monty for some reason refuse flatly to walk back the way they came. Trust me, I have tried several times but have always been met by two Bassets sitting down flatly refusing to move. I do not know what specifically it is, but I suspect that it relates to them having already ‘scented’ every part of that route and consequently do not want to go back over it.

I have tried everything. During a recent walk we walked along the beach but because of a rising tide were forced to walk back the way we had already come. The hounds looked at me like I had told them they were on half rations for a month. They settled themselves down onto a patch of sand and began a staring competition with me. Not to be outdone I continued walking further away from them, all the while having one of those conversations you have with yourself knowing that they dogs (or your kids!) are completely ignoring you. Everyone else on the beach on this occasion clearly thought that it was hilarious. 

“ Right I’m going. You two can stay there and find your own way home.”

I continue walking and saying “ I’m going, I really am, I am going….”

The hounds did not move a flicker.

“Right. I really am going this time. I mean it, I really mean it.”

Lewis moved slightly, I say moved, he actually just moved from a sitting position to a lying position.

Okay I thought. I will play them at their own little game. If they can’t see me, I am sure they will panic and come running. I am after all their pack leader. Just to make sure of this I hid behind a wooden beach groyne that was about 3 feet high and stretched from the high tide mark down to the waters edge. Peering over it slowly I strained to see what the Hounds were up to. Several families on the beach were now wondering why this large man was crouched on the beach periodically peeking over a bit of wood mumbling to himself. I imagined the strange conversation I would have if someone had approached me..

Excuse me are you okay?”

“ Yes thank you I am just hiding from my dogs.”

“Oh are they vicious?

“Oh no, they just don’t like walking the same routes twice.”

“Oh I see…..” (as they back away slowly).

Right that’s it! I leapt up marching toward the hounds, leashes in hand. Monty and Lewis were clearly concerned about where I was. They were so concerned that they had mooched off to join a family on their beach blanket and were being fussed and fed chips by several small children from their new adopted family.

Clicking their leads onto their collars I began to march them home. Monty and Lewis managed to give their new family the “please don’t let him take us,” look.

Occasionally, to avoid this type of scenario, I will walk the dogs on a long route and get a bus home. We have a very good bus service where I live and have never had a problem being allowed on. Bassets have a habit of making everyone smile and that can only be a good thing. The down side for me however, is that Monty & Lewis now assume every bus stop we pass is where they can stop and wait for a bus. They automatically assume that this is where they get their lift home. Even if it is the bus stop is two hundred feet from where we live. Passengers sitting reading their newspapers look down bemused that two Bassets have joined them waiting for a number 14!

I wonder if they can get their own Basset bus passes?!  

Monday, 1 August 2011

The only way is up.

I own an old Volvo estate. I often refer to this car as the Hound Mobile. Lewis and Monty have a soft bed and a few dog blankets folded neatly into the space at the rear. If I could, I would get in it curl up and go to sleep it looks that comfortable. The hounds usually fall asleep 27 seconds into any journey once they are on board. Therein however lies the problem. The level of the car is about two feet from  the road. It may as well be 252 feet. There is absolutely NO way Monty or Lewis will jump, climb or in any other way assist me in getting them into the hatch. They will stand near the hatch and look at me clearly saying, “ If you want me in there, you lift me in.” They have also mastered the art of making their bodies go completely limp just to make life a little bit more difficult. Given that they are both thirty kilos (plus) and are also 19 feet long, it is no easy task lifting the buffoons in and out of the car.

I watch in envy one of my neighbours who has a Collie. He whistles loudly (you know that sort of high pitched whistle between his teeth that only 12 people in the world can do), Collie dog bleeps the central locking on the key fob opens the boot and leaps in. He sets the Satnav for the journey and clicks his master’s seat belt in place. Okay, maybe I gilded the lily a bit, but suffice to say he certainly does no lifting. My hounds simply shrug their shoulders at this and wait at the back of the car for the usual hoist up.

Not to be outdone I recently purchased a ramp “designed specifically to help make your life easier for you and your dogs.” Apparently. The ramp folds neatly in half and has ‘grippy’ matting glued to the surface so that your mutt won’t slide off it into the road. I ripped it from the packaging desperate to try it out with the hounds. They followed me to the car I am sure out of curiosity rather than any desire to assist.

Monty ~ “What has he got?”

Lewis ~ “Dunno looks like some ladders or summat.”

Monty ~ “Shall we go and watch him?”

Lewis ~ “Yeah, why not, but if we get the chance lets just mooch off so he has to leave what he is doing and bring us back to the house.”

The ramp has a lip at one end that enables you to hook it safely into the boot of the car. It then lies at a very slight angle, onto the road surface. I had at this point, already begun to attract the attention of several of my friendly neighbours who are always keen to assist.

I turned to the Hounds:

“Waddaya think Boys? Cool eh? Should be easier for all of us.”

Lewis mooched off to chat to one of my neighbours; Monty fell asleep on the grass. Undeterred I knew that they are both motivated by food and this would be a key part of my cunning plan. I ran back to the house emerging with a bag of small snack sized dog biscuits that I knew Lewis & Monty would do almost anything for. Their ears pricked up as I held aloft the bag of munchies. I decided that I would hold these for the time being and I gently led Monty toward the ramp.

Gently pushing him toward the ramp I repeatedly said, “Good boy, get in the car, good boy.” I may as well have said “ Cheese shop lettuce leaf cardboard.” He looked at me like I was speaking a new language designed specifically to baffle Bassets. He placed one paw on the ramp, looked into the back of the car turned around and mooched off back onto the front lawn.

Lewis reacted in a similar fashion, although he cowered like I was placing him on some medieval torture machine. Net result? One ramp, one Volvo, NO Bassets inside it.

It was time for plan B. I laid a neat line of dog biscuits starting on the roadway behind the car, up the ramp and finally to the pot of gold inside the back of the car. The pot of gold consisting of three, yes three small doggie nuggets. I started with Monty. He devoured the biscuits on the road, climbed the ramp eating the two on that. He stopped at the top, looked at the pot of gold inside the car, turned around on the ramp and mooched back to the lawn. Part success at least, but definitely no cigar.

Time for Lewis, Lewis has always been the greediest hound. He will literally climb over Monty if he thinks there is a morsel in it for him. Laying the trail of biscuits on the road, ramp and into the car I decided to strengthen my plan. I climbed into the boot myself clutching the bag of biscuits and call Lewis. He munched the biscuits on the road, hovered the ones on the ramp and then stopped at the top of the ramp where he stared intently at me. 

Lewis was clearly thinking; “Dad what are you doing in our bit of the car and on our bed?”

Me ~ “ Yes I know just get in and have a biscuit.”

Lewis gingerly stepped into the back where I rewarded him with the pot of gold. I was then awarded a rapturous round of applause from my entire street. I had not realised that the ramp training had attracted considerable support from my neighbours keen to see my ‘obedience hounds’ at work. I am hoping NOT to appear on You Tube.

And the ramp? You guessed it, consigned to the garage.  

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Let them eat cake............

Yesterday we were taken to a local RSPCA dog show. We were bundled into the back of the old Volvo after a wash and brush up. I say wash and brush up, what actually happened is that we were sprayed with some bizarre smelling liquid that came out of a red bottle with a picture of a cartoon dog emblazoned upon it. We were then brushed and told “don’t we look nice.” Lewis smelt like a cross between a dishwashing tablet and a gent’s urinal (you know, them blue cube things). He also scratched continually during the journey making napping difficult. Just as I was nodding off a large paw would strike me repeatedly about 76 times on the back of the head. Shuffling as far as I could from him I curled into a corner of the Volvo boot. Lewis had decided at this point that he would rather sit up and look out of the back window. He seemed to enjoy small children pointing at him from passing cars. Lewis also enjoyed pulling faces at van drivers that came up behind us.

Arriving at the rain sodden field we were hoisted out of the car onto the grass. We marched (I think deliberately) past an open van with cages in the back. Two smug looking Collies gazed out at us from Rosette adorned doors. I actually felt quite embarrassed that the owner’s felt the need to display a myriad of rosettes when it was quite obvious their dogs were simply going to stay in their cells all day. To reinforce our thoughts Lewis and I pissed against their rear tyres. Rosettes………pah.

I am fairly confident that the only reason we were there was that the RSPCA programme suggested that Simon Cowell, ‘had turned up unexpectedly at previous events.’ Yeah right. Elvis Presley drove him there in a space ship. When will you humans learn? Hero worship. The only thing Lewis & I worship is roast chicken in a light ‘jus.’ If he was there I didn’t see him, I feel confident that if he had of been he would have stopped to talk to us. I’ve watched that X-Factor. The animal acts seem to consist of some old bird dancing really badly whilst their Collie dogs shag their leg. All this whilst wearing some sparkly top that was bought at Primark for £3.79. If that’s talent I’m a Dachshund.

Dad kept moaning about ‘having no breakie,’ and made a beeline for the BBQ stand. Lewis and I were keen to follow closely. We rarely get human nosh other than the odd cold pea mixed with the usual dog food. I was sure though that the old man would take pity on us both given the weather and hand down a morsel of ‘banger’ to us both. I could almost taste that local pork sausage cooked ‘en terrace’ with that sweet smoky flavour. Alternatively, a bit or burger, sizzling, yet slightly pink in the middle. I was drooling. Arriving at the stand dad stood motionless and in shock for about 3 hours He said summat about ‘effing veggies,’ and we were unceremoniously dragged away for a ’99.’ There were 979 dogs on that field. All of us being confirmed carnivores. In fact if it has blood in it we’ll it eat. I don’t care if it has a face or not. Chuck it my way and I’ll sort it. Can you imagine wolves tucking into a hunk of Tofu thrown to the starving pack? Have you ever heard of a Husky turning his or hers nose up at a frozen lump of seal blubber and opting for a nice nut crunch instead? Have you bollocks. My brother and me had to make do with some old biscuit dad found stuck to a boiled sweet in his coat pocket. Thanks very much RSPCA, Veggie BBQ stand? You were having a laugh. 

There were some positives though. Dad entered some tombola thing for about 97 quid and won a second hand Teddy that smelt like baby wee. Lewis and I ate it anyway much to the disgust of the small child who handed it over. I suspect that she thought it might have been some night-time bed toy.

We did have a good day despite the set backs meeting all manner of breeds. We met one of them Basset things. Funny looking bugger. It was about 6 inches high and had ears 9 feet long. Who on earth would want one of those?

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Home is where the Basset is…..

The front of the house had a small lawn that covered an area of about 5 metres square. I say ‘had,’ as I have recently removed it to replace it with shingle as part of my low maintenance design.  I had not anticipated that removing the lawn would involve digging up enough turf and soil to create a small island. As the lawn slowly diminished Lewis & Monty would move onto whatever patch of grass was left staring at me like I was involved in deliberate and wilful damage simply to spite them. I also learnt during four days hard labour, that the British are also masters of the bleedin’ obvious. Especially shall I say, our more ‘mature’ gentlemen? The sight of someone clearly not accomplished in manual labour was simply too tempting for them to ignore. Accordingly I had a queue of old gits only too keen to offer advice or pass comment. Some of their helpful little gems included:~

“ Why don’t you take the lawn up and put some shingle down.”

“ Hard work digging turf isn’t it?”

“ Are the dogs helping you?”

“ Bet them dogs aren’t much help!”

“ Those dogs your bosses then?”

My how I laughed (through gritted teeth).

Having removed 3700 tons of earth and turf I moved onto the second part of the operation. This meant rolling out and securing on the now exposed earth the ‘black out sheeting.’ This would hopefully stop weeds growing through the shingle. It also provided Lewis and Monty an excellent opportunity to lie down in the most unhelpful places possible. The sheeting comes on a roll rather like wallpaper. Rolling it out the length of the garden I would weight it at one end with a rock. Monty & Lewis would lie at this end. Flatly refusing to move I would release the role end to shove the hounds off. Sadly forgetting to secure the ‘roll end’ meant that as I released it the entire roll shot off towards Monty & Lewis who were then engulfed in the black sheeting. It was like a giant basset Taco. The first time this happened I found it quite funny. 173 repeats of this later…I did not.

The final stage of the operation involved wheel barrowing the shingle from the road at the front of the house where it had been delivered. I had of course used the most careful mathematics to ensure that I had just the right amount of gravel for the space I had to cover. I worked out the necessary depth multiplied by the area squared. Sadly I was 1700 kilos out. Yes, over a metric ton and a half out. The gravel was delivered in huge plastic woven bags each containing 850 kilos of the rock. After I had barrowed the first bag on it looked like a passer by had just chucked a couple of rocks on the garden for a laugh. I did however have some very helpful comments from the passing old gits:~

“Oh not enough gravel then?”

“ You wanna get some more of that gravel.”

“You will need to cover more of that sheeting mate.”

Both the hounds have their own characters. Lewis rarely leaves my side to the point that a visit to the loo involves gooey eyed Lewis resting his head on me whilst sat on the ‘throne.’ Without going into detail, this is very brave of him. Lewis is not interested in the fresh air and would given the choice, much rather be indoors on the settee as a pose to outside in the front or back garden. He is bone idle and literally has to be pushed out of the back door at night for his final pee of the day. Monty conversely, loves the outdoors. He likes nothing more than watching the world go past the front garden. I know he is safe there as neither he or Lewis are capable of climbing the small 4.5 inch high brick wall that separates the garden from the road. Monty has also taken to getting into dark places that he obviously feels safe. Under beds, settees and in large plants in the garden. So much so, that I am thinking of buying him a small kennel.

Having spread the gravel accordingly I was left with three of the large plastic woven bags that the rocks were delivered in. Apparently these are made in bulk in some third world country (child labour doesn’t mean bad quality eh? ~ sorry shouldn’t joke). Monty climbed into one of these bags and flatly refused to come out. Peering out of a gap in the top he would occasionally poke his nose out to sniff at a passing old git. It was like a hermit crab emerging to grab a passing meal. Even biscuits would not coach him out. Lewis was in the mean while inside watching Sky News from the settee.

Having completed the low maintenance gravel garden I now realise that I have created the world’s largest cat litter tray in the world. Every cat within a 57 mile radius now comes to shit on my shingle. I walked Lewis & Monty for about 2 hours the other day. They very helpfully waited till they got home before shitting on the shingle. I am hoping that passers by do not follow suit……

I am also wondering whether basset in a bag will catch on.   

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Meat and two veg..........

I have recently acquired a bit of an ‘allotment.’ To cut a long story short, I was offered part of an allotment, as it’s current owner was unable to maintain it. This is a rather British thing. Basically, you are allotted a piece of land by your local Council (usually Parish Council), where you plant vegetables, flowers or effectively whatever you like (within reason!). You then place a small shed on your ‘plot.’ What I have discovered recently is that the shed usually also contains, full cooking and tea making facilities, radio, small TV, magazines (ahem!) and a myriad of other home comforts that enable you to carry out all ‘gardening’ duties required. It is amazing how inventive some of the guys are. One shed has a full patio and covered area, another has a four-foot deep carp pond and all seem to have full seating and table areas. Most of which have been fashioned out of old wooden pallets. A small grass ‘path’ that is no more than about eighteen inches wide separates each allotment. Collectively all the allotments cover an area about half the size of a football pitch. It is also well away from houses and accordingly well away from wives and partners!

I introduced the hounds to the allotment recently. I was initially fearful that the buffoons would flatten some bloke’s prize leaks or mooch over some newly sewn flowerbed. Bizarrely they both stick rigidly to the small grass paths that criss-cross the whole area. Lewis is of course completely baffled by this. He wanders off making right angle turns till he finds himself at the perimeter fence of the allotments. He stares at the fence apparently unable to comprehend that he will have to turn around and manoeuvre himself somehow back to where I am.  Conversely, Monty has of course completely ‘sussed’ this and uses it completely to his advantage. He runs around the perimeters deliberately leading Lewis to dead ends. Lewis sits staring at the fence until he once again realises that he has to turn around. The constant right angle turns at speed is like watching a life size Basset Pac-Man. Thankfully neither tries to eat the other, although Lewis does stop occasionally to lick a dead mouse or fox poo.

Lewis and Monty are of course very friendly ‘happy go lucky’ hounds. In my head this makes up for their complete lack of obedience. People wander in and out of the allotments all day long. Lewis and Monty greet them all usually followed by both hounds exploring each new shed as they are opened. They do of course respond immediately when I call them back to me. They respond immediately by completely ignoring me:~

Me ~ “Oi, you two HERE NOW.”

L ~ “ What did he say?

M ~ “ Summat like, oi, you two, have a mooch in this blokes shed.”

L ~ “ That’s all right then…”

Me ~ “HERE ……NOW”

L ~ “ What’s he shouting now?”

M ~ “ He said. Sit in this blokes shed and look gooey eyed at him, make him think we are regularly underfed and mistreated and we will get a biscuit….”

L  ~ “ No problemo for me……”

The hounds have quickly calculated who has what and react accordingly. Two charming old ladies speak to the hounds but do not stroke or otherwise move toward them. I think they are worried about being physically bowled over by them. They never offer the hounds biscuits or indeed any foodstuff.

The only entrance to the allotments is via a metal gate that closes under its own momentum. It makes a distinctive ‘clang.’ Lewis and Monty treat this like a school dinner bell. Every ‘clang’ may mean food and they will immediately turn wherever they are, to see who has come in.

“ Clang.” The two charming old ladies enter…

Lewis ~ “Who is it Monty?”

Monty ~ “ Its them two old birds who never have biscuits…” 

Lewis ~ “Oh yeah I see them now. Shall we run toward them and scare them?”

Monty ~ “ Nah, can’t be bovvered somebody will be in with biscuits soon.”

That somebody is usually ‘Bob.’ Bob is a wonderful man in his late eighties that looks about 65. He is on his allotment everyday and has been there longer than any other allotment holder. I call him “The Don.” Whatever Bob says goes and I for one will not argue with him! Bob has always had dogs and although does not currently have one , he regularly cares for his daughter’s. Bob also always has pockets full of tasty small dog biscuits. The hounds sense Bob approaching from about 17 miles away. Forget the ‘clang,’ they have a sixth sense for Bob. They also become Crufts obedience champions whenever Bob is about. They sit, lie, turn around three times, make tea and effectively do anything at Bob’s bidding. Flippin’ mutts. 

Lewis ~ “ Monty, its Bob….!”

Monty ~ “ Quick walk over there with me and sit at his feet in perfect unison.”

Lewis ~ “ Shall we do that thing where we take a bow at his feet?

Monty ~ “ Yeah deffo… every time.”

Lewis ~ “ What about Dad?”

Monty ~ “ Just do what we normally do….”

Lewis ~  “Ignore him?”

Monty ~ “Yep.”  

I am however, looking forward to fresh vegetables in the Autumn. Lewis and Monty are looking forward to fresh biscuits. I have to go…the Hounds have just finished washing up for Bob….. 

Monday, 4 July 2011

Life in the fast lane.

I am often told that Lewis and Monty are ‘real characters.’ They definitely have minds of their own and like to do their own thing. I try and take them on different walks as they are interested in new scents and are not particularly fussed whether it is the countryside or an ‘urban mooch.’ Invariably they will dictate the direction and any attempt to change that direction results in a Basset sit in. They lie fully prone (usually together) and basically refuse to move. A gentle shove on their rear end with the flat of my foot occasionally prompts a restart, but nine times out of ten I relent and follow meekly their chosen path. Bearing in mind they are four stone each and about 17 feet long, this is the only way I can get home at a reasonable hour.  

I actually like this. I like the fact that they think for themselves and stick stubbornly to their plans. They do their own thing and express themselves in their own way.

I watched a Collie the other day. It continually fetched a tennis ball launched by it’s owner from one of those plastic ball slingers. Running flat out it retrieved the ball returning to it’s master’s feet at exactly the same spot. It would sit looking adorably at her waiting for the next launch. This was roughly at about the same time that Lewis and Monty had mooched off to look at some fox poo, glancing back at me shouting red faced for them to return. Collie’s owner and master was dressed in combat pants (with those big pockets on the thighs), hiking boots, a green fleece and carried a small leather bum bag that probably carried all possible canine related items. Conversely, I was wearing a T shirt that said on the front “ who the F*** is Harry Potter?” (It was the only clean one I could find at the time), shorts and flip-flops. My dog poo collection bags were a variety of old carrier bags that were bulging and flapping from my back pocket and Lewis and Monty’s new collars were emblazoned with skull and crossbones (I loved the irony of this, given how wimpy they both are).

I paused for a moment and thought to myself  ‘what on earth must she think?’ I carried on watching Collie dog. Yes, he or she was impeccably trained. It probably drove it’s owner home, stopping on the way to buy organic eggs for the soufflĂ© it would make for her when they got home. It was a very clever dog. It was also a very BORING dog! I looked at my two completely ignoring me. They were ecstatic they had found the fox poo. Lewis had an extra bonus, he also found an old plastic drinks bottle that he defiantly refused to bring to me.

I thought about all those other breeds that drive cars, fly helicopters and the like. Boring, boring boring. I don’t care that you’re Labrador can swim seventeen miles to retrieve a rubber ball that it delivers to you’re feet after a back flip followed by a triple camel jump, its boring! 

Other boring breeds include:~

Spaniels – yes they can scent a ping pong ball concealed somewhere in a South American rain forest and return to you after finding it’s own way home after a 1500 mile trek. Sadly they are also boring.

Retrievers – their name says it all. Boring.

This takes me nicely onto the latest fad. ‘Marrying’ two breeds to become a wholly new breed, a la:-
Labradoodle, Cairnoodle etc. These are often referred to as ‘Mixed breed’ or ‘Hybrid breeds.’ The correct terminology is in fact MONGREL! Mongrels are NOT boring. They are great dogs full of character and no two look the same. By giving your MONGREL a made up name you have immediately fallen into the boring trap. 

I think we have generally entered a period of world boredom. We actively discourage anything that might be out of the ordinary or different and positively encourage the safe and indifferent. I was forced to watch some of Wimbledon recently. The bits with that Scottish/British bloke (has he decided yet?) played tennis. Murray I think his name is. He is so boring he couldn’t even think of things to say by himself. He basically cut and paste comments made by others from Twitter (yawn), which he glued on his PE bag. Crikey, he is MAD eh?  A regular loony….AND… for two or three days he didn’t even shave. He is the Retriever of the sports world.

In 2010 they made a jockey a ‘Sports’ personality of the year. Horse racing is not a sport. It is just really small blokes hanging onto a horse for as long as they can. All this whilst really fat blokes bet money on which nag will come first. How on earth as a nation did we make one of these really small people a ‘personality?’ He is not. He and the entire ‘sport’ is boring. All jockeys are really small and really boring. They are like Shih Tzus. Small and boring.

We do not like people who are different and outspoken. They might upset the boredom applecart. Lewis Hamilton has won 52 Grand Prix. He drives at about a million miles an hour and he and the other drivers are milliseconds from death at every race. Lewis overtakes everyone and in 2008 he was a world champion. He does an Ali G impression and we as a nation decide he is a nasty man. He is not. He is a character who occasionally says daft things. So what. My Lewis is named after him. 

Lewis is a character and may just be a Basset Hound. He does his own thing but we love him! 

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Outward bound......

During a recent moment of madness I decided to spend three hours walking in February with the Hounds. Couple of issues here. I walk the hounds for a least an hour everyday. They also go out for 15 minutes every morning for a short walk. In our house we refer to this as going for a "piss n' sniff." You cannot really describe it as a 'walk' as, a) we have to drag the hounds off the settee to go out and b) they spend the entire 15 minutes looking for reasons why they should not complete the 200 yard yomp. These include feigning illness and or a limp to simply lying down on the pavement hoping someone will call the RSPCA. 

Undeterred I decided to go the whole hog and packed a rucksack with a flask, water and a couple of biscuits for the hounds. Waterproof leggings, coat, hat and gloves completed the natty ensemble. Driving to a particularly secluded area of the South Downs I released the hounds into the wilderness. Well, the car park initially. It was wet, it was foggy and it was bloody freezing.  They looked at me like I had just told them they were going without biscuits for a week. Lewis tried unsuccessfully to join a family in their marvellously clean and posh Audi, Monty walked back to our car and began pawing the rear doors. I could see they were keen. After apologising to Mr Audi for Lewis leaving dirty paw marks on his small child secured safely on the back seat of the Audi, I ushered both hounds toward the unknown. taking confidently to a well worn path we all set off into the unknown. The fog got thicker, the rain got heavier. I stopped for a coffee from the flask.The hounds got a couple of dog biscuits and we were all happy.

Having the hounds off the lead makes for a much happier and adventurous walk.I don;t have to worry about 17 year olds with Staffies called 'Rambo' (see earlier episode) and or gormless pet owners who have no control at all over their mutts. It also allows the hounds a degree of freedom on which route we take. This usually involves them following anything that looks like a well trodden route and would not result in them receiving dirty paws and or nasty thistles. Wandering off into the wilderness I realised after about an hour that I may not actually be on a footpath. What my hounds were actually following was a cattle path. The local herd wandered down to the water hole via the straightest route usually followed meekly by the rest of the herd. On this occasion followed meekly by two Bassets and me. I knew this for two reasons. Firstly it was quite clear this 'path' led to a fence without 'styles,' secondly as the mist cleared 73 cows were staring at us. I knew that there was some statistic in the UK that said X amount of people were killed by cows every year. It was the staring that got me. The staring and the sweat coming off them, oh and the coughing. That coughing,it sounded like the old drunk in your local. My dad is a retired Policeman. In his early detective days they targeted a local arsonist setting fire to barns. Surrounding a local barn following a tip off ( undoubtedlty disguised as hay bales or trees) they were drawn to someone coughing in the vicinity of the building. A charge was mounted and a dozen suit wearing detectives pounced on the suspect. Or should I say suspects. All 27 of them. All Fresian cows.
This lot looked at the hounds. There was also a leader...oh yes the big brown one. He was the leader. He (or in fact she) looked at the hounds.
" We must sniff them."
"Yes master we must sniff them."
73 cows approach us on mass. Me and the two Bassets leg it. I tried to remember when you are chased by a bear whether to run or stop and make yourself really big. I know ..these aren't bears. Sadly it was the only thing I could remember from Discovery Channel. I decided that you should run. The Bassets had other ideas. yes we would run, then walk then stop then look at the pursuing cows. Exhausted we reached a barbed wire fence where I hauled nine stone of Basset over and onto safe ground. Hauling myself over I collapsed panting onto the wet grass. My bovine posse stopped pausing briefly to drop a few pats and wander off.

Lewis was by now completely knackered. His head was dropped and he adopted his slow plod that I knew meant he was beat. I allowed them to follow what was clearly a public path back to civilisation. Some while later I realised that my twenty five quid (each) extend-able dog leads were still lying in the wet grass where I had made good my escape. I looked at Lewis & Monty. There was simply no way that I could make them walk back to get them. They were on their chin straps.

This did however present some problems. They were not exactly Crufts obedience champions. If I called them to me they would probably ignore me and mooch off to eat some horse poo they had found. If I came across Staffie brigade and or other nasty canine, they would just be eaten. Finally they have absolutely NO road sense and would walk out in front of the first car they saw. What would Ray Mears do?

Armed with my machete ( well I say machete I actually mean small pen knife), I found a length of bailing plastic wrapped around an old fence post. Hacking it off  I fashioned a 'double dog lead' which I duly attached to the hounds. We emerged in the car park. All soaked, all muddy. I had cow pat on my jacket and the hounds were actually emitting steam. They were tied to what was effectively bright orange string and were tied together. I could see people snatching their kids up and locking car doors. We  walked on tarmac routes for the next week.........

PS. If anyone finds my dog leads .....!         

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Hunt

Believe it or not Bassets were bred for hunting. Allegedly, several centuries ago they would hunt ground game, whilst their larger, faster cousins would hunt deer and the like. I have often wondered at which point in the breeds genetic make up did they lose any and all trace of being actually able to 'hunt.' The closest my two have got to this is finding a hedgehog in the back garden. It snuffled and grunted resulting in my two running off and watching it from the safety of the kitchen. A ginger tom cat has also taken up residence in the garden. It is so scared of my two that it sits at the base of a tree about 16 inches from the kitchen back door. It farts, scratches it's arse and generally ignores the Bassets. They wag their tails and generally watch it...again from the safety of the kitchen.

They are not the most adventurous of hounds either. No matter where we walk they stick rigidly to the path. When I say path, I mean generally any route that does not involve deviating from the driest or flattest part of the walk.  I regularly walk on a large stretch of grassland. I unleash the hounds knowing they can run freely with the wind in their ears. What actually happens is that they sniff each other's arses and mooch along a faded path trodden by cattle the year before on the way home to their barn. On more than one occasion I have run past them  shouting 'come on get me boys' a la a convict escaping the bloodhounds in some deep southern state of the USA.  The  result ?.....nothing, not a flicker, not even a distant faded memory locked somewhere in their DNA of 'hunting.'

 I'll swear that they do however look at me thinking,  " wanker."  

I am  wondering whether Monty has unlocked an old hound instinct. During a recent tour of the deep southern grasslands (sort of), Monty sensed movement in the longer grass. The movement was the 978 rabbits that were about (as usual) three feet from him. Ordinarily they scarper until their rabbit recognition kicks in.......

"Shit.... dogs.... burrow it lads..."

" Nah, sorry lads leave it..only them bleedin' Bassets..pair of wankers."

Only things were about to change. Monty glanced over at the Watership Down Crew. His ears picked up and his hackles prickled. I'll swear he licked his lips. Monty then lunged toward The Bunny Boys. Missing them all entirely of course. That wasn't the point. He had progressed from Basset wanker to hunter(nearly). Be afraid Bunny Boys be very afraid. Lewes had been very helpful during all of this. He had managed to break the crust on a recently 'laid' cow pat, he was by now eagerly tucking into the soft centre of his cow shit brulee. I could forgive him this, I had a hound that 'hunted.' A killer, a tool for keeping the larder filled when times were hard. I imagined racks of game dangling from my garage and me leaning on a thumb stick with the 'kills' in the background.  I was practically a gamekeeper.

Then (as usual) I wondered about laws that the Politburo had introduced prior to The Dunc  and Cleggy Show. There would undoubtedly  be a Council official dug in somewhere waiting to jump out and issue me with a fixed penalty notice for 'rabbit worrying' and other serious criminal offences such as not wearing a high vis vest whilst in possession of a sense of humour. Given my association with law enforcement ( lets leave it at that for the time being, I could probably be arrested under another Politburo law for even saying that), I remembered that they had  " a new "law abart 'unting wiv dogs guvenor."

It goes like this:-

Hunting Act 2004

Hunting wild mammals with dogs

"A person commits an offence if he hunts a wild mammal with a dog, unless his hunting is exempt."

I got bored reading about the exemptions, but basically you are exempt if 

a)you can pretend you weren't hunting for animals, b) the Police are too busy giving out ASBO's to pensioners to attend, or c) you have loads of money and influence.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines 'hunt' as ~ 

 "pursue and kill (a wild animal) for sport or food." 

I was in the clear. He had pursued, but definitely not killed. I would have to put me 'ands up' to the rabbit worrying and high vis offences. With luck I would be out in 16 years. I read on however, yes this fine bit of legislation comes with it's own 'power of search.' ( yes I do I have a girlfriend and no, there was nowt on telly):-

"If the constable reasonably believes that evidence of the offence is likely to be found on or in a vehicle, animal or other thing of which the suspect appears to be in possession or control, the constable may stop and search the vehicle, animal or other thing."

That was it... 

"Lewes, Monty up against the gorse bush. You are being searched for evidence of rabbits."

"Police state..."

"Just empty your pockets and less of it..."


"Look I am just doing my job, please lift up your ears.."

" I want a lawyer"

"You'll be lucky to get a biscuit, never mind lawyer... "

Suffice to say I found nothing and had to let them go on their way. I am off out to buy a high vis vest. I intend to have the words "INNOCENT BYSTANDER" emblazoned on the back in reflective letters. Well...every other buggers got one, why shouldn't I have one ??? PS. watch out you pesky pensioners....

( Dedicated  to Pete. One of the few left with a sense of humour, now sadly gone. RIP mate)