Sunday, February 20, 2011

Nurse the Hate: The Dog Decision

The search for the new basset hound began last October. There is something about having this particular breed of dog around me that helps keep me in possession of being "myself". I have always found that when the world around you tumbles down, these dogs will keep you together. It's a very calming influence on me. I have had three basset hounds now, and Dexter, my last one, was the best dog I ever had. I loved that dog so much. Losing him was a much tougher blow than I could have imagined. I was more crushed when I lost him than almost anything I have ever been through. I felt responsible somehow. He depended on us for everything, and there was certainly nothing more we could have done to improve his time with us. Still, it felt like I had failed him.

Time has passed, and I felt ready for a new basset. I miss the rhythms of having a dog in the house. Frankly, I need one. But why the basset you ask? These dogs are unlike any other breed. As I have noted before, the basset considers himself to be someone that is equal to you, but is in no real hurry to actually press for being the one that handles any projects in the house. It's like having the weird Uncle living in your house that offers everyone advice on how to handle everything, but has been living in the basement unemployed since the Carter Administration. Throw in the fact that bassets are kinda crazy looking, and are very loving, and you have a winner of a dog.

One of the real plus sides of the Internet is to be able to check out dogs and breeders online, instead of driving three hours to discover that the "basset breeder" you were going to see was in fact a hillbilly with some inbred beagle/basset mixes. It's actually sort of amazing what some people are trying to pass off as "pure bred basset hounds". Having had a long history with the breed, I know what the dog is supposed to look like. It didn't take long to narrow the field down to two potential breeders. As luck would have it, one of the two breeders was scheduled to have a litter in late December. After being vetted by the breeder and her extended family, it was agreed that I could get the first choice of the boys. The litter arrived, and it was a huge one. There were 13 puppies in total with 7 of them being boys.

Selecting a dog isn't like picking an item from the Extra Value Menu at Wendy's. This decision will effect you for the next 10-14 years. You better make sure and not blow it. We've all been to friend's homes with lousy dogs. Nobody wants to have the dog that humps everyone's leg while the guests nervously laugh "Heh-heh-heh" while hoping someone stops the spectacle immediately. Or how about the skittish dog that barks at guests from the other room, while the owner yells "Rosie! Stop!" to no effect? You want a dog that is interesting, and can hang out. A dog that greets guests, gets a pat on the head, and then chills the fuck out.

I made the seven and a half hour journey to select the basset last Thursday. The seven boys had been narrowed down to three for serious consideration. My plan was to sit in a room with just those three, interact with them, and make the call based on what I saw.

This is JJ. JJ is the best looking of the three. He already looks like an old man with a membership to an Old Guard social club like The Union Club. He seems like he would be at home in a place with high backed leather chairs, where he would sip expensive scotch brought to him by starched white jacketed waiters that would call him "Mr. JJ". Something about this guy seemed a little too aloof for me. He wasn't as engaged by me as I would hope an 8 week old puppy should have been. For God's sake, I've been around the world and done a few things in my time, you know? His biggest accomplishment was going outside to the backyard one time (1) where he searched out kibbles. Maybe he should cut the attitude a bit, huh?

This guy is Smiley. Smiley isn't for everyone. His coat has been designed by Salvador Dali, and makes him seem crooked. On top of that, he has a birth defect which is an underbite which makes his snout look small. However, he has an absolutely HUGE frame. His father was 75 lbs of muscle, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him top that. He also has a great attitude. He's like the Patrick Swayze character in Point Break, that all time great cinematic achievement. He is a confident surfer dude that would love to kick whatever "Johnny Utah's" ass he comes in contact with. (By the way, how did the character name "Johnny Utah" ever get past the first couple script meetings for that shitty little movie?) Smiley knocked both of the other dogs out of the way to get attention, or chew on my pant legs/Chuck Taylors/hands/etc... Great dog, but ultimately, that snout was his undoing. If you go to the trouble of going 500 miles for a dog, you really shouldn't take one from the "Scratch N Dent" bin.

This is the dog. He is currently known as Jamal, but since I am not a fan of the late 1980s Lakers or The Bill Cosby Show, I sense the name will change. I liked him for a few reasons. He looks like a basset is supposed to look. The face is very expressive. His frame looks nice and big, like he will also approach his father's considerable stature. Look at the mitts on him for God's sake. He's 8 weeks old, and those paws are bigger than your common Golden Retriever. Most importantly though, he kicked to crap out of JJ when the two were fighting it out on the carpet. I want a dog that thinks he's in charge, despite the fact there is no evidence to that point at all. He gave me the big sell job, felt confident he won me over, and then stretched out for a nice nap. TCB 24/7 just like Elvis.

The nightmare of house training begins when I pick him up next week. It is hard to believe that I will willingly bring an animal into the home that will be focused almost exclusively on destroying anything he can get his teeth on. Let's not even get into the urinatation and defication thing. I am hoping to have him not only house trained, but also grasping the basics of rolling over, getting the paper, and search and rescue operations by March 1st. I will devise breakthrough dog training techniques until I pick him up. The new basset is on the way...


At February 21, 2011 at 1:13:00 AM EST , Blogger Cindy said...

That's a fine looking dog!

At February 21, 2011 at 12:35:00 PM EST , Blogger Field Marshal Rommel said...

Congratulations! Life without a dog is hardly worth living.

At February 21, 2011 at 5:53:00 PM EST , Blogger Josh said...

Congratulations on the new puppy, remember what Marx said, "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

At February 27, 2011 at 9:12:00 PM EST , Blogger Dave L. said...

I like the looks of Jamaal Wilkes. I think you picked a good one. Get ready for breaking in a puppy. Hide the Day of the Dead figurines.


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