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.