WHAT IS A BASSET?

By Jean Sheehy

Technically, he is a long, low dog of the scent-hound category, known for his pensive expression and easy-going manner, bred to hunt small game.

"We must not forget however that it is the Basset's versatility that brought him fame. He is perhaps best known for the lovable nature which led him to be dubbed "the armchair clown". Do not be fooled when you see him sound asleep on his back or sprawled on his favorite chair (which he has taken away from you). Put a lead on this same dog, take him to a show, and he can give a polished performance with a "Don't you love me, Mr. Judge?" attitude that will command applause from the ringside. Take him to the field and he can show you how a scent-hound should perform - over, under, and through rough ground, never tiring all day long.

At home, the Basset will assume his subtle manner of "ruling the roost." He refuses to accept the fact that he is a dog by devious methods. He can affect poor hearing when he doesn't want to obey or pretend to sleep so soundly that you do not have the heart to disturb him. But his alertness miraculously returns if you open the refrigerator door ever so stealthily. He is a built-in baby sitter, an ideal family pet. A Basset needs firm convincing that his big, brown eyes will get him nowhere. But first convince yourself of this, if you can. He is smart enough to be very adept at playing dumb. He will do his best to outmaneuver you to gain his own way, and he will make you like it. You need only one Basset to fill the house with laughter, the woods with beautiful music, and the show with an approving ovation. Small wonder the breed has attained such popularity and owners readily admit I am owned by a Basset'."

Mercedes Braun's sensitive word portrait of the Basset Hound, quoted above, can be found in The New Complete Basset Hound by the late Mercedes Braun, copyright 1979, 1969, 1967 and 1965 by Howell Book House. This book is currently out of print.

Appearances through the years in shows were infrequent, but fanciers had begun to take greater interest in serious breeding. The February 1928 issue of Time carried a picture of a Basset puppy, the youngest creature ever to appear on its cover up to that time. The puppy, from Gerald Livingston's Kilsyth kennel, bred from Int. Am. & Eng. Ch. Walhampton Andrew and Walhampton Dainty, helped to bring the breed before the public.

And, in 1936 the Basset Hound Club of America was formed.

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