Storytime: Tears and Cheers

Originally published in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Basset Hounds.

Tears and Cheers

Pecos

What can you say about a five-year-old Basset Hound who died? That she was beautiful and brave?  That she loved belly rubs, baby feet, ice cream, and a Red Flyer wagon?  That her life was ending when we came together, but in those six remaining months, she would move many to tears and to cheers?  She was amazing.

With less than a week remaining until Christmas, I was elated when my foster Basset Hound Abby was adopted into her forever home. Woohoo! I would spend Christmas with family and upon returning to my cozy little townhome in Dumfries, Virginia, would request another foster Basset Hound. Having become a foster home for BROOD (Basset Rescue of the Old Dominion) earlier that year, I found that both I and my kind-hearted Basset Hound, Hoover, enjoyed our temporary house guests.  We both had more than enough love and nurturing to share as each sad-eyed Basset Hound, wounded in numerous ways, slipped into our routine, our bed, and our hearts.

December 23rd brought a phone call about a staggering Basset Hound dropped off at the overflowing holding kennel.  She was a confused, frightened, and severely impaired little girl, who desperately needed to be in a quiet and attentive home. So while everyone else was in the countdown to the final 24 hours of Christmas, we were on the countdown to getting our new foster dog, Pecos, and before day’s end, she was whisked from the kennel chaos to the warm bath and bed our home could provide. Hoover, with his welcoming watchful eye, undoubtedly was happy that Christmas would now be spent at home with a new foster.

Pecos’ affliction was a mystery, and her relinquishing family provided little historical information.  Her saving grace was the apparent lack of pain. She wobbled when she walked, with an odd, over-reaching step, and any movement appeared to be a challenge. She valiantly staggered toward the door when responding to nature’s call, but outdoor potty runs were impossible in her condition. I quickly learned to express her bladder, stimulate bowel movement, and carefully time her meals. Pecos adapted to saucy, padded denim britches, and we seemed to have things under control.

The search for a diagnosis and a plan of treatment took us to several specialists. Pecos had blood tests, X-rays, a spinal tap, an MRI, rehab therapy, acupuncture, and holistic treatments. Then we received the devastating diagnosis: Her brain and spine were affected by neurological distemper, undoubtedly having been latent in her body from earlier survival of the disease, which, by the way, is easily preventable.

Without a cure, we pushed on with living, with making the most of every day, with meds and therapy, and with prayers raised from the Basilica of Baltimore to the Grotto of Lourdes. Together we learned how to master movement with doggie carts supporting her rear legs. The day she came through her neurologist’s clinic door in her cart, the entire staff came into the lobby and cheered with smiles and tears as they watched her proudly roll forward to the treatment room under her own power.

Pecos became an ambassador for BROOD, attending doggie events and participating in fundraising walks. She alternated between her doggie cart and her Red Flyer wagon, which was known as her chariot. People applauded her effort to walk and asked to have their pictures taken with her. She adored the attention and gave a kiss to anyone who wanted one. She had a special fondness for licking the feet of squealing, excited babies.

Five months into our journey, Pecos lost the use of her front legs. Still happy with Hoover’s companionship, good food, and her pile of quilts with a view to outdoor activity and TV shows, we were now in hospice mode. At least Pecos was pain-free and reveling in outings with the Red Flyer wagon.

One month later Pecos let me know it was time to let her go.  I gave her a final ride in the Red Flyer wagon, embraced her with our love, and then helped her on a peaceful transition from wheels to wings.

Pecos may be one of the few dogs in rescue history to be adopted after her passing. Some may think it a moot point; she was in foster care and considered unadoptable because of her terminal prognosis. But it did not seem quite right to close the books without making it official. She was part of our family. She was treasured. She was loved. To this day I think of her with that infamous question put forth by many a foster parent: “Who rescued whom?” She was so amazing.

Diane McManus

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In Memoriam: The Wonderful Mr. Rigby

Sadly, another one of our Lost Souls: FOUND! superstars passed on recently. We’d like to honor him today by sharing his story with you, which appeared in Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Basset Hounds.

In the words of his “dad,” David Posner, Mr. Rigby “found a way to captivate by being nothing but himself and not much seeming to seek approval. Perhaps, a lesson for us all.”

The Wonderful Mr. Rigby 

Basset Hound Rescue Dog

Mr. Rigby is approximately nine years old. This tri-colored Basset Hound came into my life during a cold November five years ago. Back then I had just moved to the Washington, DC area and was not looking for a dog, but it was hard not to be drawn to Mr. Rigby when I saw him at an adoption show in front of a local pet store.

For a large Basset Hound, he was horribly malnourished. Stretched out on the sidewalk, his handsome head seemed unsupportable by an emaciated body whose every rib was visible. I spoke with his handler and learned that this poor boy, Rigby, had been found wandering in the woods in even worse shape. After several weeks of care, he still weighed in at only 38 pounds, which is 12 pounds less than what he carries today while looking trim. 

I went into the pet store and bought him the biggest bone I could find. He picked himself up off the concrete, and within minutes he’d cracked the bone into pieces. I knew I had to leave soon, or I’d be taking this fella home.

One week later at the same time, I returned to the same pet store, and to my secret delight, Mr. Rigby was again in attendance, slightly heavier and more animated.  I bought him another bone and watched him make short work of it. But once again, I left without taking the plunge.

Another week lapsed, and I was drawn back to yet another adoption show. As you may have guessed, Rigby was there. But there was another twist to his story.  He had spent a few days of the last week in a new home, only to be returned for stealing food off a kitchen counter. I was amazed that a Basset Hound could pull off such a feat, surprised that his new family would have rejected him for it, and secretly relieved that I had not missed my chance to rescue Rigby. I filled out the paperwork right then and there. In keeping with his proud appearance, I added the “Mr.” to his name, and thus commenced my life with Mr. Rigby.

No doubt, nearly everyone who has a dog loves to gush about how wonderful his or her particular pet is. Forgive me my bias, but Mr. Rigby is the most wonderful dog in the world (aside from his brother, a 10-year-old rescued Cocker Spaniel named Duke). He is wonderfully willful, for instance, demanding 10-minute belly rubs whenever he wakes from his 12-hour naps. He’s wonderfully stubborn, like when he routinely digs in his heels while we’re attempting to cross busy thoroughfares. He is wonderfully self-absorbed, staring for hours at nothing, or at least nothing that I or even Duke find worthy of a moment’s notice. And he’s wonderfully assertive. He barks out his requests to be carried downstairs (for the last year arthritis has curtailed his ability to descend on his own but hasn’t weakened his conviction that the mattress in the second-floor bedroom is the most comfortable spot in the house for dozing). But most of all, he is wonderfully loved by just about everyone (human and canine) who crosses his path.

On our many walks, slowed to an aging Basset Hound’s pace while Duke strains for more speed, nearly every passerby smiles after they’ve gazed down at Mr. Rigby in his contentment. That’s his gift to us: his gentle nature and the smiles it evokes. It is wonderful indeed. –David Posner

Rescue SPOTlight: Arizona Basset Hound Rescue

Today’s Rescue SPOTlight shines on Arizona Basset Hound Rescue, an outstanding organization in Arizona and participant not only in our upcoming book, Lost Souls: FOUND! Inspiring Stories About Basset Hounds but also in Up For Pups’ Rescue Best Practices Manual.

  • Mission: As a non-profit 501 (c) (3) animal welfare organization, Arizona Basset Hound Rescue, Inc. provides veterinary care, food, support, and shelter to Basset Hounds, Bloodhounds and Basset Hound mixes needing assistance in Arizona. We treat these animals as our own, with the utmost care and respect and make decisions based on compassion for the quality of life these Basset Hounds, Bloodhounds and Basset Hound mixes will enjoy while in our care. We provide necessary support for the dogs while in the care of the foster home using the dogs’ personalities, behaviors, and special needs as a guide. We work in cooperation with local and state shelters to reduce euthanasia of Basset Hounds, Blood Hounds, and Basset Hound mixes.
  • Date founded: 1999
  • Types of animals you take in: Basset Hounds and Bloodhounds
  • Size of Rescue (Small=less than 50 animals, Mid=51-200 animals, Large=201+ animals): Mid
  • Your name: Robin Martin
  • Your position in the rescue: Currently, Vice President – Intake
  • How long you’ve been with the rescue: 7 years
  • What you like best about animal rescue: Making a difference in the lives of animals that have come upon hard times.  Helping them find new forever loving homes.
  • What you think is hardest about animal rescue: Dealing with people and making people understand the plight on the animals in need
  • Share one quick story about a rescue experience: There are so many, but my boy Shammy came into Rescue at 43 pounds and totally hairless.  He had been deemed unadoptable by the local humane society, and they asked that AZBHR take him.  Shammy is now 75 pounds, and I have to Furminate him weekly.  Without the Rescue, Shammy would be gone and my life would be a little less full.