The Basset Chronicles
How Could You?


How Could You? | German: Wie konntest Du nur? | French: Comment t'as pu? | Spanish: ¿Cómo pudiste? | Other languages | Beloved of Bast [Unter dem Schutze von Bast] | Christine's Magic Box | The meaning of m.u.t.t. | The Importance of Being Ernest | The Basset Chronicles | Jim's Prose/Poetry | We Are Their Heroes | A Letter to the Human Race | Sacrificial Offering | Inspiration and Comfort | Inspiration and Comfort II | Favorite Links | Our World - A Photo Album | September 11th Tribute Writings

* Your contributions help fund our work with animals. For the address of our veterinary care fund click on "Home" above. To make a contribution through Paypal's secure server click on the logo below. Thank you!

Click here to make a contribution through Paypal's secure server.


"Flash," currently our oldest Basset,
over 14 years old and still into convertibles.

The Reality of Relaying "Roscoe"
Copyright Jim Willis 2000

I had volunteered to be one of the relayers of "Roscoe" the Basset Hound to his new home in another state. I departed early Sunday morning to meet up with his first relayer in a Taco Bell parking lot. She and his foster mom from West Virginia were already there when I arrived, and Roscoe greeted me like an old friend. He's a pretty tri-color and his wonderful temperament certainly didn't show signs of his first three years of neglect. We humans traded the requisite half hour's worth of stories about how great our dogs are, illustrated with photos.
"By the way, how is he in the car?" I asked as they got ready to depart.
"Just fine!" they answered in unison, and sped away teary eyed. Were they crying or laughing?

I'd been warned that Roscoe gets carsick, that he hadn't been fed since the evening prior, and that he'd had a dose of Dramamine before they started out. I decided against giving him any of the dog biscuits I'd brought with me.
He regarded me calmly from the passenger side of my truck cab

I pulled out onto the interstate and reached cruising speed. Roscoe began to investigate the truck cab. He nosed and pawed all the storage receptacles, ashtray, and various parts of my anatomy. He was obviously hungry. I glanced back and forth between the road and Roscoe.
"Roscoe, spit that out! That's an air freshener, for crying out loud!"
I steered with my left hand and tried to remove anything that resembled food with my right. Roscoe drooled, long slings of drool, copious ropes of drool.

Roscoe sat back down and sized me up some more. All of the sudden, a look of rapture crossed his face. Not only was I his new best friend, but I had a truck, and for Roscoe from West Virginia, that made us kindred spirits. Even though he'd been neutered a few days earlier, I believe he had a sudden surge of hormones. He flung himself on me, slurping my glasses askew, his front paws locked around my neck in a choke hold. Then his hind paw flipped my travel cup of scalding hot coffee into my lap.

**Flashing blue lights behind me.**
"No, officer, I have NOT been drinking," I protested nervously.
"This blast...blessed dog just dumped a cup of hot coffee on me at 75 miles per hour. You don't say? 55 mph, huh? Well, that's certainly good to know!"

I negotiated three lanes of traffic on the Pittsburgh Parkway. My route had not included the parkway - in fact, we were traveling in the wrong direction - but Roscoe had chosen that exit with a well-timed poke of his muzzle through the spokes of the steering wheel.

I alternated lanes at high speed, trying to get back to the proper route, and noted some signage in bright orange. "Beware of D.U.I. drivers," said one. "Beware of aggressive drivers," said the next.
"What a ridiculous state of affairs," I muttered to myself.
Just then, Roscoe flopped over for a bellyrub in a state of excitement, and as I reached for the gear shift knob, I instead grabbed a part of Roscoe that he is evidently very proud of. Roscoe was even more surprised at such familiarity from someone he'd only known 45 minutes. I jerked the wheel hard to the right and forced off the road what appeared to be a van filled with church goers. I slowed long enough for them to brandish Bibles at me and mouth what I presumed to be some very un-Christian sentiments.

**Flashing blue lights behind me, again.**
"NO, officer, I am NOT drunk. No, I haven't been shot! The dog and I had an earlier altercation over a jelly-filled donut and he won."

I found my way back to the interstate, and was overcome by thirst. I took the next exit and pulled into a McDonald's drive-through.

"Oh, how cute," the woman at the pick-up window cooed. "Would the wittle doggie wike a fwench-fwy?"
"NO - carsick - no food!" I managed to stammer while wrestling a suddenly alert Roscoe. Then, using my groin as a springboard, Roscoe lunged for the drive-up window, and succeeded in getting his front half through it. Since I still had two of what Roscoe had recently lost to surgery, I was more preoccupied with my pain than I was in halting his maraudings through the window.
Roscoe got his slobbery mouth around the woman's microphone.
"BLABBA-WOOFA-BARFA-SLURPA-AROOOO!" Roscoe delivered into the microphone, and it arrived at about 100 decibels in the dining area of the restaurant, accompanied by the screams of children.
"Oh dear. Oh my!" the woman turned back toward me with an alarmed expression. "That's going to be difficult to clean up."
"What?" I asked, still gasping for breath.
"Happy Meals...frightened children throwing Happy Meals."
"Look - I'll leave you to your McDisaster...just gimme a Coke with extra ice please."

I edged onto the interstate again and checked the time. Late again, as usual. I was concentrating on trying to make up some time, weaving in and out around slower moving vehicles. My thigh still burned from the hot coffee and I felt a headache coming on.
"Dr. Roscoe," who must have been sensing my pain, had decided on a course of treatment, and my lap was suddenly awash with ice cold cola and extra ice.
"EEEK!" I shrieked and swerved. "EEEK!" the woman in the car next to me shrieked. Roscoe, with his superior hearing, probably noted several more EEEK!s in other cars behind us. Maybe his keen hound nose even detected other embarrassments.

**Those old familiar, flashing blue lights.**
"No, officer - as I have been telling your colleagues all morning long, I have NOT been drinking!"
As the officer wrote out yet another ticket, I recalled that Roscoe's former owner had threatened to shoot him, and I was suddenly feeling a teensy bit more forgiving of the man.

We met the cheerful family of three who would be relaying Roscoe on the next leg of his journey, in an Arby's parking lot. I got out of my truck, a sight to behold. My
hair glued in spikes by drool, multi-colored stains across my shirt, and the front of my pants made me look like the poster boy for "Attends." People had left the Titanic's lifeboats looking better groomed than I was. I took Roscoe out through the passenger side door, and he greeted his new victims with glee.
The couple kept shielding their young daughter behind them as we talked.

"Let's see, I think we have everything now, rabies tag, medical records, directions," the wife said.
"You didn't happen to pack a wet suit, did you?" I asked innocently.
She gave me another odd look.
"How is he in the car?" she asked.
"Him? Um, he's ah...definitely a one-of-a-kind dog!" I managed as truthfully as I could.
"Do you know if there's a bar around here?" I asked them. They exchanged glances and gave me a look of pity.

I made it home without further incident and my wife met me at the door. "How was your relay, dear?" she asked.
"Damp. Very damp and expensive, too. In fact, I think I may be facing some jail time." Nothing flusters my wife.
"Does the interior of the truck look as bad as you do?" she asked.
"Worse," I replied. "Sea World has fewer surprises."
"Honestly, why didn't you put him in a crate in the covered bed of the truck?" she suggested.
"A crate? In the back? Are you nuts? - it's cold back there!
Never mind. I'm going to take a nap now. I'm exhausted and I feel an attack of mildew coming on."

I hugged my pillow and thought of Roscoe, probably warm and dry in his new home by now. I realized I missed the big lug, but at least everything was finally right in his drool-covered world.


P.S. A big thank you to Roscoe's foster families and relayers, who saved his life and then transported him to the life he deserves.
Please consider being a volunteer relayer, it's some of the most fun you'll ever have.
Visit the link for the Basset relay effort, "Rides Across America," from in the "Rescue" section and sign up. For a few hours of your time and a tank of gas, you'll be providing indispensable help to the Basset Rescue effort.


"The Tale of the Telltale Tattletale"
Copyright Jim Willis 1998

[Starring the incomparable, opinionated Basset Hound "Alexis," our oldest Bassets, "Daphne" and "Flash," our Giant Schnauzer mix, "Amadeus," and a motley crew of various dogs and cats who we share our lives with.]

I was working furiously on deadline to edit a book manuscript and hoping that the biggest immediate threat to my sanity, Alexis, would stay otherwise occupied. Not likely - I heard the dog door swish and her sable Highness paraded into the living room, weaving her way around half a pack of sleeping dogs.

"You'd better go out and rescue Daphne," she said.

"Alexis, I have to have this manuscript to an express courier by 5 p.m. - what's the problem?"

"Well, she doesn't do reverse, so when she gets stuck in a corner of the yard she bounces back and forth between the two sides of the fence until she starts making that noise."

"Which noise?"

"You know - the one that sounds like Luciano Pavarotti got his pee-pee caught in his zipper."

"Fine - I'll take care of it, and then you must leave me alone for the rest of the day."

"While you are out there, how about giving her a new mantra?" Alexis suggested.

"Mantra? Daphne is Buddhist?"

"Might as well be. She walks around all day long mumbling 'lovedaddy, lovedaddy, lovedaddy.'"

I went out and pointed Daphne in the opposite direction and she waddled off happily, chanting as she went.

Once again, I took up my red pen and cursed this particular author. "This is not English! It's some alien language!," I groaned in frustration.

I heard Alexis shuffling along the hallway and making a siren noise.

"Wooo-wooo-wooo-double cat calamity in the bedroom," she warned, looking pleased with herself.

"What happened now?" I asked curtly.

"First, Jasper coughed up a hairball the size of a hamster - we're not missing a hamster are we? Then, Fleck must have eaten something baaad. He did one of his projectile numbers. Colorful, I must say - looks like a Disney film back there."

"THANK YOU ALEXIS, I'll take care of it."

Ten minutes later, smelling of pine cleaner, I returned to the impossible task at hand. "If I could track down this author's high school English teacher, I would slap her," I muttered to myself. "I'd like to dangle him and his participles over the edge of a cliff."

Alexis sat near me, pretending to focus her attention out the window, but occasionally glancing me at me out of the corner of her eye. She cleared her throat.

"Were you partial to that soap-on-a-rope you had in the bathroom?" she asked innocently.

"NO. Why?"

"Amadeus ate it," she announced, looking impressed.

"It doesn't matter, it was organic and Amadeus has been eating things larger than his head ever since he was a puppy without ill effects."

"I think you should come have a look out the window," she suggested. "It gave him gas and now it looks like the Lawrence Welk orchestra is out in the yard. Ooooo - look at the size of that bubble!"

"Puhleese, Alexis, go away - go visit the dogs in the back yard and let me work on this book!"

Alexis flounced off, trying to look deeply offended. I continued forcing tenses to agree, sweeping up commas and scattering them elsewhere, and sweating bullets as I watched the wall clock.

Alexis returned a few minutes later and sat down to stare at the back of my head. I ignored her as long as possible. Then, my concentration broken, I swung around in my chair.
"What is it this time?!"

"Apollo and Frasier have dug a HUGE hole in the back yard, and now they are filling it in again," she reported.

"It doesn't matter!" I croaked in exasperation. "The back yard already resembles an exploded minefield - now for the last time, will you please go away?!"

"Hmmph!" she sulked and sashayed through the front dog door.

I made a few more corrections before I heard the door flap creak open and saw her brown snout poking through the opening.


"...did I happen to mention that the Beagle Boys are at the bottom of the hole?" she asked demurely.


I ran out to the yard, extricated a livid Ernest & Julio, dusted them off and placated them with a handful of dog biscuits. I returned to my desk and glanced at the clock before giving Alexis a warning look. She stared at the ceiling unconcerned, backed up slowly and sat down on a sleeping cat.

"Rrrowww!" a startled Sergei sprang up and landed on what he thought was an ottoman, with ears. "Woof!" a furious Flash jumped to his feet, knocking over the end table. the table lamp hung in mid-air for a split second before diving into an easy chair, where Danny the Dachshund was snoring under an afghan (crocheted variety). I watched in horror as dogs and cats erupted into the Flying Walendas.

"QUIET!" Alexis shrieked. Involuntarily, my red pen snapped in half in my hand.
"Have you no decency?" she addressed the bewildered bunch. "DADDY IS TRYING TO WORK!"

She looked at me, my face buried in my arms on the desktop.

"And now look at what you've done," she continued, "you've made him cry!"



Olan Puppy Mills Studios
Copyright Jim Willis 2000

Watching for our rural mail carrier lately has been both a joyous occasion and a reason for dread. We had signed up for a Basset Hound owner Christmas card exchange, and the homemade cards that arrive daily, one cuter than the next, generate a lot of smiles around here. There are Bassets in holiday costume, groups of Bassets posed in front of fireplaces, impeccably groomed Bassets surrounded by immaculately dressed with stickers, cards with bows, cards with glitter.

I am a decent photographer, if I can remember where I put my camera. I have a computer and color printer ("Which one of you cats upchucked a hairball in my printer?!"). We have five Bassets in our household and the chance of getting all five into the same photo, in focus, properly lit, well-groomed and without bloodshed, is about the same as the Florida Supreme Court determining that I actually won the election. The chance of five individual photos being acceptable and ready for this Christmas...I wouldn't have time to do the math.

I walked my fingers through the yellow pages looking for a photography studio, found one with a national reputation, and made an appointment.

"Darling," I said to my wife, "I have decided to enlist professional help."

"Therapy is nothing to be ashamed of, dear," she replied with encouragement.

"No! I'm taking the Bassets to a photo studio for a holiday portrait. Want to come along?"

"No thank you. I think I'll go do something fun, like have my wisdom teeth extracted."

I got Flash, Alexis, Hyacinth, Gabriel and Gallagher as presentable as possible, which for a Basset means clean ears and neatly trimmed nails. This is not a quiet enterprise. "AAAAGH! Murderer! I'm calling the ASPCA. You cut that one too short, I'm bleeding to death. Mama! My ears, my ears, I'm now permanently deaf. HELP! You got ear cleaner in my eyes. I'm blind. I swallowed a Q-tip, I'm choking."
You get the idea.

Next, I had to get the truck ready with blankets, pillows, paper towels for accidents, and treats to keep everybody happy.
"Is everybody ready?" I asked as I came back in.
"Here, sign this - all three copies," Alexis answered, and laid a sheaf of papers at my feet.
"What is this?" I asked as I flipped through the pages.
"It's from my agent at the William Morris Agency. Photographic model releases."
"Cut the crap, Alexis, and get in the truck.."

The dogs and I drove to the studio in a festive mood, making up Christmas carols along the way. The Bassets particularly distinguished themselves on "Bark, the Herald Angels Sing" and "Oh, Howly Night."

A nervous looking photographer wearing a beret met us in the studio's reception area, Monsieur Lentille.

"It eez a plaisure to meet you," he shook my hand lightly. "And thees is zee little doggies - petite chiens!"

Alexis scowled.

"We will go in now. Please make l'arrrrangement of zee dogs on zee pedestal."

Alexis scowled deeper.

"We will take zees first film wizout flash," he explained.

Flash looked utterly dejected. Alexis smiled.

I figured out that he meant he'd be using natural light. I picked up the dogs, one at a time, and placed them on the different heights of the posing platform, in what I hoped was a suitable "l'arrrrangement." The dogs looked calm and thoughtful, always a dangerous sign.

"Eeez everybody ready?" Msr. Lentille asked, and I nodded.

"OO-ooo-OOO! Who cut the cheese?" Alexis coughed.
"Gabriel," said Gallagher.
"I did not!" protested Gabriel, "it was Flash."
"Hmmph! I vasn't me," Flash said and looked pointedly at Hyacinth. Hyacinth repeated her mistake.
"ACK! *Gag* Get me down from here, I'm suffocating," Alexis howled.

"What is zee problem?" asked Msr. Lentille, obviously not able to understand Basset, which doesn't explain his lack of olfactory sense.

"Whew!," I waved my hand in front of my nose. "That'll be enough of that, please. Now let's compose ourselves and get some good photos.

"Ready?" Msr. Lentille asked again, apprehensively. I nodded and Alexis squinted at Hyacinth suspiciously.

"OW!" Hyacinth howled.
"What now?" I asked.
"Somebody pinched me."
"Alexis!," I said accusingly.
"Not me, I - for pity's sake, wake him up before he....LOOK OUT!"

Old Flash had dosed off and leaned against Gallagher, creating a domino effect. Bassets pitched and rolled, and toppled off their perches. Umbrella lights swayed and dived. Msr. Lentille sidestepped and got tangled in his tripod, and the crash had an expensive ring to it. The mélange of "petite chiens" resembled British fans at a rugby match.

"OW! My tail! Somebody get off my tail. Arf! Get your big paw off my ear! MOVE. Get your muzzle out of my face, poop breath. How dare you. Dad! She bit me in the ear."

"ENOUGH!" I bellowed. Msr. Lentille extricated himself from the crash site, wiping his brow, and moaning over the state of his equipment.
"Mon Dieu! My equipment, she is ruined!" he wailed, wiping drool off his portrait lens.

"Oh, I am SO sorry," I comforted him.
"Sorry! You will get zee bill for all of zees. I am an arteest - zees is a travesty. You will pleeze remove theez monsters immediately. I am summoning zee gendarmes!"

"Yes sir."

We spent a complicated afternoon and drove home in a subdued mood, too worn out for even one stanza of the "AROOO-lujah Chorus."

"Goodness, you were gone a long time. How did the portraits turn out?" my wife asked as the criminal element filed back into the house.

"They are called 'mugshots.' It was the biggest pawprinting experience the local constabulary has ever seen. I used the holiday postage money to post bail, and nobody is going to believe why our Christmas cards are late."



"Deck the Halls and Alexis, Too!"
Copyright Jim Willis 1998

[Starring the irrepressible Basset Hound "Alexis" and her canine & feline brothers and sisters.]

I put the finishing touches on the Christmas tree and stood back with the animals to admire it. We all instinctively tilted our heads slightly to the right in order to "straighten" it.

"What do you think guys?" I asked.

"It's beeyoootiful!" they concluded.

"Are you sure Martha Stewart recommends attaching ornaments with duct tape?" Alexis asked.

"Martha Stewart does not have badly behaved cats and kittens," I replied.

"Let's follow her example," Alexis said.

"Let's not. Now, Alexis, why don't you entertain the troops with a Christmas story, while I make us some refreshments?"

I walked into the kitchen, from where I watched as a potpourri of cats and dogs gathered around Alexis and the tree. I wasn't exactly a Kodak Moment, but it would do.

"Please, Alexis," they chorused, "tell us about Christmas!"

"Well," Alexis began, pleased with the opportunity to share her encyclopedic knowledge, "Christmas is the birthday of Baby Jesus. Shortly before he was born a bright star appeared in the night sky and - "

"What's a star," Sassy the Yorkshire terrorist interrupted.

"I'm a star," said Alexis.

"Ohhh," the group nodded and pictured a glowing Basset in the sky.

"Anyway, these Three Wise Guys saw the star and decided to follow it so they could bring gifts to the Baby Jesus..."

"What kind of gifts?" Danny the Dachshund inquired.

"Errr, well a package of bacon, a side of beef and a couple of roadkills," Alexis answered.

Winnie nearly swooned at the thought of strangers bearing food.

"So," Alexis began again, "the Three Wise Guys rode their camels day and night and - "

"What's a camel?" Tina the Dalmatian asked.

"It's like a llama with humps," Alexis answered, beginning to look peeved.
Of course nobody had a clue what a llama is.

"Winnie and Daphne had surgery for bumps," someone else remembered.

"NOT bumps - humps," Alexis sputtered.

"Isn't that what Daddy says the Beagle Boys do to visitors' legs?" Sadie the Sheltie asked.

"NO!" Alexis fumed.

"Lovedaddy, lovedaddy, lovedaddy," Daphne announced.

"Dearie, someone will be along with your medication in a moment," Alexis patted Daphne's head. "Try to hold on. NOW, if I may was a really long journey, because the Three Wise Guys got lost - "

"Because they wouldn't ask anybody for directions, like Daddy?" Blaze the Labrador wondered.

"LOVEDADDY, LOVEDADDY, LOVEDADDY!" Daphne said emphatically, and then had to lie down from the effort.

Alexis gave her a very unChristmassy look and took a deep breath.

"Possibly. Finally, they got to the town where Baby Jesus and his mother the Virgin Mary - "

"What's a virgin?" the kitten asked in tandem.

"It's a lady who makes olive oil," Alexis explained. I glanced at the bottle of "extra virgin olive oil" on the kitchen counter and stuffed a dishtowel in my mouth.

"What's olive oil?" the kittens demanded.

"It keeps olives from squeaking," Alexis replied, " pay attention! So, the baby's mother and his father, Joseph - uh, well, Joseph wasn't really the baby's father - "

"Ahhh," the group exchanged knowing looks.

"Did AKC revoke their breeder's license?" Amadeus the Schnauzer asked logically.

"No!!" Alexis roared. "Now listen up. They had the baby in a barn, and he was wrapped in swaddling clothes - "

"What?" the group asked.

"It's some kind of flea protection," Alexis grumped. "IT'S NOT IMPORTANT!"

"It's Hard to Waddle When You're Swaddled," the Beagle Boys began to sing and do the 'Bump' with each other."

"Teeheehee," the kittens chortled.

"Stifle it!" Alexis yelled. "So, The Three Wise Guys got to town and went straight to the mall, where they bought a Christmas tree with decorations and - "

"Das ist nicht za vay vee do it in Deutschland," Winnie commented.

"Ja," Flash agreed. "Vee offen haf REAL candles on our Tannenbaum und -"

"Yeah, well you also drive without speed limits - an entire country with a deathwish," Alexis pronounced. "NOW, IF I MAY GO ON. Everyone arrived at the barn and began decorating - "

"Like Daddy!" Sergei the cat said, surveying the plastic splendor everywhere. Meanwhile the kittens figured they could bring the treetop angel down with one leap, Danny the Dachshund wondered if he'd be allowed to pee on the tree, and Amadeus - who had secretly eaten some of the strung popcorn - was contemplating a bowel movement worthy of the history books.

"...lovedaddy...lovedaddy..." Daphne sighed in her sleep.

"Whatever," Alexis snapped. "And when it was all decorated, they had a party, and this made the Baby Jesus very happy. It was then that he did something amazing..."

"What?!" the group gasped in unison.

Alexis drew herself up to her full height for the announcement:


"Ahhhhh," the crowd, especially the Bassets, murmured in appreciation.

It was then I realized how grateful the entire Semetic community must be that Alexis is not Jewish.



The incomparable "Alexis." Solid sable brown is not a
normal Basset color, but there's few things normal
about Alexis. (We think she might be an alien.)