I never know when to quit. I just had to have another basset hound. I’d lost bassets number two, three, and four in the span of only 10 months to various maladies that left me emotionally bankrupt. I suddenly found myself dogless and lonelier than I ever thought possible. I lasted three whole months before beginning the quest for basset #5.
Despite my heart-felt desire for another puppy, the prospect of sleepless nights, shredded shoes and late night walks have all lost appeal over the years. Daily I searched the local pounds and shelters for adult bassets but to no avail. Then one Sunday, I spotted this ad: basset hound, female, one year old, $150. Patience and Dolly, my second and third bassets were both a year old when I had adopted them. Both were wonderful dogs, and the house training was a snap. I called immediately.
When I walked up to the front door and rang the bell, I heard the baritone bark of a basset, music to my ears. Ah, a good watch dog. Score a point in favor of this candidate. Our former couch spud, Patience, could never have been mistaken for a watchdog. A doorstop, perhaps. The people introductions were brief. We got straight to the matter at hand, that is to say, paw.
“This is Daisy,” said the lady who held the glossy tri-color female firmly in check with a choke collar. The dog was clearly healthy. Two points … Daisy strained at her collar as though she was in training for the Iditerod. Perhaps this dog was too healthy.
“You can release her now,” I instructed. In an instant, she was all over me like lint on a lollipop. I retreated to the couch and sat. Good human! Daisy catapulted from the floor and planted her paws squarely on my chest. The breath being expelled from my lungs made a sound like a stomped-on squeaky toy. By no stretch of the imagination is a basset a lap dog, but Daisy wasn’t at all clear on this or any other points of acceptable canine conduct. Left alone every day since puppyhood while her owners worked, Queen Daisy reigned supreme, and the sofa was her throne.
She upturned to have her belly scratched, gazing at me with Hershey’s Kisses eyes as though I were the long-lost furry bitch that had whelped her. When she played “stick ‘em up” with her massive paws like a cuddly pup, I was hooked. The scales tipped further in her favor when I was assured that I could have her for free; the $150 mentioned in the ad was only to deter any Cruella De Vil looking for Victim #102. Apparently, I had passed muster and been deemed worthy of adopting their darling Daisy. Why, she even came with her own leash, bed, and sky kennel. Barbie™’s Basset Hound!
“She’ll try to dominate you,” they said. The warning fell on deaf ears. The sight of their battle-torn family room should have served as clear enough portent of my fate. Ah, but budding puppy love is blind.
“Is her a dominatrix?” I cooed to the 50 pounds of trouble draped across my lap. I should have bolted for the door. Instead, I asked, “Do you mind if I take her for a walk?”
“Sure, go ahead.” They probably wouldn’t have minded if I took her for a walk on a Tennessee highway at suppertime. Still, they followed me outside to be sure I wasn’t going to abduct Daisy, even though they were clearly eager to be rid of her, if only for a few minutes. She had never been on the end of a leash in her life, but by the time she dragged me halfway down the street I was heeling perfectly.
I didn’t take her with me that Sunday afternoon. I drove home and thought it over for a whole hour. I called and asked Daisy’s soon-to-be ex-mom to drop her off on the way to work the next morning for a one-day trial. After three months we still had her, and Miss Daisy was driving me crazy.
Every night the first month she woke me hourly until 6:00 a.m. for the morning feeding. At least I didn’t have to toss her over my shoulder and burp her. I began to imagine I could hear her whining at my bedroom door, even when she wasn’t.
She was as snappish as a crocodile in a Sushi bar. The first time I came too near her food bowl, I was nearly a double amputee. I should have sent her back to her former owners before I grew too attached. I’ve had her for three years now, and in spite of everything, we’ve bonded like peanut butter and jelly. I’m the jelly. Truth is, after having received the love and attention from me that she never got from her first owners, Daisy has become a good dog. Well, sort of.
Several weeks after I adopted Daisy, I drove to the local S.P.C.A. to donate the last of Patience’s senior diet kibble and her battered wicker bed. Daisy rode beside me in the same seat Patience had for 10 years. If I squinted hard enough, I could see my sweet old girl sitting there next to me. I’d been through a lot with Daisy the Doggie Disaster. She was nothing like our Patience. For two cents, which is more than Crazy Daisy cost me, I would have left her there at the shelter, as would anyone in her right mind or less determined to make this canine/human relationship work.
I felt a moist nose nudge my hand. I stroked Daisy’s silky fur as she sat beside me in Patience’s old co-pilot’s seat. Then her chocolate eyes met mine. In them I clearly saw the unflagging trust and devotion I’ve read only in the eyes of my dogs. In that instant, we both understood she would be sitting beside me when we returned home that day and years hence I’d still be driving Miss Daisy.
For more information on animal welfare and pet tips check out Premier Pet Lifestyle Expert and Animal Rescue Advocate Wendy Diamond at www.wendydiamond.com and www.animalfair.com.