Saturday, March 31, 2012

Payback for LEO

It never fails, LEO is always under foot. No matter where I am, he can be found right under me.  It's a testament to his love, I suppose. Especially when I'm cooking, he likes to sprawl out beneath the stove, so I have to keep stepping over him. Poor thing gets stepped on a lot, mostly his toes, but lots of times it's his long basset ears. He yelps and we always feel bad. The other day, I was walking up the step from the living room to the kitchen when he got under my feet. I've gotten pretty skilled at navigating his long torso and even manage to hop over him many times; this time, I was not so lucky and I hit the floor hard. I was mad because it really hurt when my knees hit the tile, but more mad because I almost spilled my beer.  Being a good Catholic girl, I try to never take the Lord's name in vain, but inevitablty it slipped out. (Guess I better get to Confession soon) My knee started to feel better on Friday, so we decided to take a walk through the woods. This time when I fell, it really wasn't LEO's fault.  Although, he did take off running, I was doing my best to keep up with him.  It was 100% my fault, when I tripped over a prickly bush and fell right down on my knees. I thought for sure my knee was broken or at least bloody.. My jeans were so dirty and I had all I could do to dust off and pick myself back up. The kids had friends with them and I was embarrassed to have practically fallen on my face so the first thing that came to mind was to yell at LEO. I blamed him because it made sense.  After all, he was attached to the leash that I was carrying and he WAS running.  Nobody saw how it happened, and God knows anytime I've ever fallen in the past 6 years, it's been because of him. Since I'm heading to confession anyway, I may as well throw a little white lie into the mix. Maybe just this once, it was a little payback for LEO!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


2 nights ago, we were out with the kids searching for molds for melting crayons. It was an impossible mission, everywhere we went, we had no luck. To take the edge off, (or to bribe the kids to stop whining about it) we decided to drive thru McDonald's to get them icecreams. My husband is drive thru CHALLENGED, for some reason, he can't listen to what I am saying and repeat it to the speaker accurately. I have grown used to this and now I do things on purpose just to make him mess up more (mean, I know but it's really FUN) so, as he was trying to order 2 softserves one on a cone and one in a cup, I said, "Oh and can you get a double cheeseburger for LEO" (who was practically climbing out the back window inhaling all the good smells with that big basset nose of his). Well, instead of ordering the burger, my husband just glared at me, as if to say, "Yah, right, I'm gonna get the DOG a burger when I am prohibited from red meat because of cholestorol)
He must've thought I was messing around so he started to drive up to the pay window. This time I was serious, so as he was driving,  I yelled into the speaker, "and a double cheeseburger please." The kids got their icecreams and my poor meat deprived husband watched in horror as LEO polished that double cheeseburger in LITERALLY 2 gulps! I had to grab a napkin (not because he made a mess, he ate every last morsel & licked my hand clean) but to wipe the drool from my husbands chin) LEO was in doggie Heaven! He thanked me with a big wet slobbery kiss as if to say, "Who's the best basset in the world?" In hindsight I'm thinking maybe my SPOILING of this neurotic little Basset could be adding to the reasons why my husband claims to dislike him so much. This may just be a clear cut case of Jealousy :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Caught in the Act!

I knew it all along! I have argued with my husband for years about his secret LOVE of LEO! He tells me over and over that he can't stand the dog! "The dog is a menace, he should move out, pack his bags, GET RID OF HIM, he says, take his collar off and open the door, let him run away, give him back to the basset rescue, do whatever you want with him, just get him out of my house!"These are just some of the mean and nasty things I have heard come out of my husband's mouth. I find these words so beyond OFFENSIVE. How can anyone be so mean? I always come back at him with, "I know you don't really  mean it, deep down, you really love LEO and you would be heart broken if anything ever happened to him." he just laughs and says, "Nope, I'd have clean carpets and no basset jowl stink on my pillows) At this point I usually give him a dirty look and walk out of the room. Well, the other day, I walked into the living room and CAUGHT the self professed dog loather RED HANDED giving LEO a little lovin! A sweet & generous head patting and just look at the SMILE on LEO's face. LEO is no dummy and DOGS have incredible instincts; He knows what I've known all along, Daddy can pretend, but LEO has stolen his heart too!!!

Monday, March 26, 2012


 I have been giving LEO daily doses of St.John's wort to try to treat his severe & chronic anxiety. (He's anxious about absolutely EVERYTHING) He has destroyed thousands of dollars worth of carpet by peeing all over it, but I have to laugh when I think of what the carpet cleaning man said to LEO the other day, "You're a DOG, what do YOU have to be anxious about?" Good question I thought but JUST like HUMANS, dogs get anxiety too. Poor Leo has PTSD (Post tramatic stress disorder) and we would too, if we had a shotgun pointed at our heads. His previous owner was ready to shoot him because he BARKED too much (well why was he barking you jerk? because he NEEDED love!) well thankfully a concerned brother rescued him from the man on the brink AND relinquished LEO to the Basset Rescue! I've tried a million different things to help poor LEO with his anxiety but nothing so far has worked. Currently we are doing the all natural St. John's Wort.  He is never thrilled about swallowing the pills but he always gets a treat when he does it successfully. Several times he has spit the pills back out on the kitchen floor. I have tried opening them and sprinkling into food, wrapping them in cheese, placing them way down in his throat, giving him one at a time, etc etc. it's always a struggle. Lately I have had to stand there, as much as I hate it, and hold his nose while stroking his throat. I have to watch him like a hawk and check his mouth to make sure he's not "cheeking the pills" (I feel like Nurse Wratchet on "One flew over the Cukoo's nest" Well, last night, as usual, we did the routine. He finally swallowed, I checked his mouth, pills were gone, so off he ran with his snickerdoodle (yes homemade cookies for LEO) he carried his cookie into the living room. Suddenly my daughter started yelling, "Hey, Leo spit his pills out!" I didn't believe it, I saw him swallow. That LITTLE BASSET faked me out. He pretended to swallow, yet somehow still grabbed the cookie, ran into the other room, dropped the cookie just long enough to spit the wet slimy pills on the (newly cleaned carpet) picked the cookie back up and ATE IT! followed by a BIG BASSET SMIRK!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Morning Score

Leo and my 8 yr old daughter had a battle this morning. She is no longer speaking to him. (he appears unphased) She left a 1/2 bag of donut holes on the coffee table and went upstairs for a minute. Naturally being a hound dog, he followed his NOSE. I watched him casually stroll into the living room, very nonchalent about his mission. I had no idea what he was up to.  Before anyone realized what he had done, all the donut holes were GONE and the bag was left on the floor torn to shreds. Suddenly, I heard my daughter screaming "LEO" at the top of her lungs. Leo on the other hand was already busy SNOOZING GUILT FREE on the kitchen floor. For once, my husband actually sided with LEO, as he scolded our daughter for leaving food ungaurded! It's not as if this hasn't happened a thousand times before! He congratulated LEO on his score!!!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Even though you're NOT a dog lover,
I know you love ME (from a distance)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Doggie Drool

Unseasonably gorgous and hot weather here in New England for March 23rd.  Yesterday it was in the 80's. My kids have worn shorts to school all week. Last night I decided to take Mr. Leo for a ride to get an iced coffee. He isn't a good car rider. He drools buckets and pants a lot but I hate leaving him home with his seperation anxiety so I tend to give in to the guilt and take him with me when I can. Last night's adventure was to drop the kids off at gramma's house. When we got there, I went in to say Hello and since Gramma is not a dog lover, LEO has to stay outside. He barked his everlovin head off obnoxiously for the entire 10 minutes that I was in there. Guess I don't blame him, he was tied outside but wow is he LOUD. On our way back home, I stopped for an iced coffee. I had just taken a sip when he leaned over and DROOLED two big slime puddles right on top of the cup. He really is such a little Basset sometimes! (and yes I drank it anyway, for me, it's like kid slime, I'm immune! I pretty much live my life as the human napkin anyway.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Silly Basset

I always crack up when anyone in our family gets out the can of whipped cream whether it be for hot cocoa, milkshakes, or icecream sundaes, all LEO has to do is hear that squirting sound, and he comes RUNNING. He's got his tongue out as soon as the can points his way. He is a master at catching the cream as it squirts out and hardly ever misses a drop!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


WELCOME SPRING!! Looking forward to the blue skies, blooming flowers, and bursting sunshine, not looking forward to the return of the SUPER FLEAS! Although, I think I'm ready for them after last fall's fiasco. When I say SUPER FLEAS, I mean, this new mutation of fleas that simply refuse to die. Just like humans have become resistant to many antibiotics from overuse, the same thing has happened with these nasty little creatures. They are no longer succumbing to death by battle with the typical flea remedies and we've been forced to step it up. Leo had never had a flea since the day we adopted him (6 yrs ago) until this past fall. God knows I have been patient with all of Leo's issues, I have put up with his phobias, anxieties, doggie insomnia, peeing on my rugs, drool, I've dealt with just about everything but one thing I draw the line at is BUGS! I nearly fainted one day, when I was giving him a good old belly rub, and spotted a little black bug running for cover. Upon further examination much to my horror, my poor basset had fleas. Granted, I only found 3, but I figured those 3 would soon turn into 33 then 333, and I needed to get rid of them fast.  I bathed him with the vet recommended flea shampoo and even mixed in some tea tree oil. I applied the Frontline and did everything the Vet told me to do, except to flea bomb. I hate chemicals and tried to remain optimistic that those fleas hadn't laid their gross little eggs in my house (ya right). Leo never smelled better, never shined so silky and I crossed my fingers thinking I might be home free. Until just a couple of days later, the fleas returned, stronger and ANGRIER than ever. Again more baths and more flea treatments, a homemade citrus lemon spray, some vinegar on the coat, even some garlic in the food. Now I was out of my mind. Meanwhile,we vacuumed our entire house twice a day, every corner every crevice.  We washed every pillow, throw blanket, all the bedding and scrubbed all the couches inside and out. We treated the carpets with flea powder and did a lot of praying. Low and behold the SUPER FLEAS returned again and now the cat had them too. I quickly found out how much cats hate water. There I stood holding the drenched rat by the neck while his claws were out and he was GROWLING (yes cat's can GROWL) and hissing like a snake. His claw caught on to the towel and it was only a matter of minutes before it too, was submerged in the soapy water. It was a couple of grueling weeks for me and I'm not sure how I survived besides lots of breathing exercises and several glasses of wine.  As I sat there watching both my dog and my cat get bitten by these super fleas while wearing their Frontline, it infuriated me. I began to research like a mad scientist. Before long I was armed with more knowledge than an Entomologist. I knew way more about the life cycle of a flea than I ever cared to know in a lifetime. I lied awake many nights analyzing how I could fight to win. I was so grossed out when I heard that they laid little salt like particles (eggs) that were designed to not stick but roll right off the animal and into my couches and carpets. I also learned that the pupae stage could be immune to flea bombing because they had a hard shell coating that could live under your carpet fibers for up to 9 months in the right temperatures. Just when I was at the point where I thought I might burn my house to the ground, I discovered the wonder pill Capstar. I got the pills from my Vet. All I had to do was give each pet a pill and within 24 hours every stage of the flea would be dead. This however would not take care of the carpets. I applied Borax and Sea Salt to all my carpets, rubbed it into the fibers and let it sit overnight. This is supposed to dry out the flea eggs and prevent them from hatching. It is also said to penetrate the flea pupae, dehydrate and kill it.  24 hours after the Capstar, I treated each pet with Vectra topical ointment which I got from my vet. Again, I hate chemicals but I was truly at my wits end and felt so bad for my pets. In the end, I won the battle and I believe I owe it all to the Capstar.  Once they had it in their system, even if a flea jumped on them, they would die upon contact. It was MAGIC! I wouldn't use the Vectra again as both my pets got chemical burns on the site.  I did decide to try Advantage and I got it from 1-800 Pet Meds. It was very inexpensive, for a 6 month supply for each pet, I think it was around $70 total. This is their 5th month on it, and both have been fine, knock on wood. No burns, no issues and most importantly NO SUPER FLEAS!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Coconut Oil Touted as Alzheimers Remedy

Coconut Oil Touted as Alzheimers Remedy

Beware of Squirrels

One beautiful afternoon, I decided to take LEO to the Stadium to walk around the trails. Just at the mere mention of the word "walk" he is out of his mind! He jumps all over me and practically wags his tail right off.  He was so happy to be someplace new. All the amazing smells permeated that famous basset nose of his. Everything was going along just fine, too good actually. Until he spotted a squirrel. He took off running like a crazed man and for a little short dog, he is stronger than 10 giants. He caught me off gaurd and knocked me right to the ground. I am proud to say I never let go of the leash. Not so proud to say he dragged me 20 or 30 yards on my back while my shirt was inevitably yanked up and almost wrapped around my neck. We both survived but I was a little embarrassed when I noticed that the high school football team had shown up for practice and witnessed our seemingly entertaining ordeal. There was more than a little laughter going on at my expense but in the end I guess I'd say it was worth it because I never let go of that leash! :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Melatonin for dog anxiety

It seems that every night Leo is waking up between 2 and 3am with random panic attacks.
His usual sleeping place is at the bottom of my bed on top of my feet. I've gotten used to having him sprawled out down there by now and I've even managed to tune out his fairly loud snoring. He used to only wake up in the night if there was a thunder storm or lightening. Even before the storm started, he would sense it and suddenly jump on top of my head panting hard, shaking, and drooling profusely.
I've tried a million things over the years to deal with the storm anxiety. I used to be up in the middle of the night fighting to put drops of rescue remedy into his mouth, he hated it. Sometimes I would put him into his crate thinking he would feel safe and confined. That didn't work. He would drool and pee so much that he would be drenched all the way up to his belly and ears. What a mess that was to clean up. I gave him all natural tablets bought at the local pet shop guaranteed to work. As mean as it sounds, I've tried putting him in the basement (it's dark down there, I figured he wouldn't see or hear the storm) that also didn't work. He peed all over the floors and barked at the top of his basset lungs until I gave in and got him out. Then it was back on top of my head, panting, shaking, he even drooled inside my ear once-gross! One night it got so bad and after exhausting all of the above methods, I was dead tired half asleep and decided to try putting him in the garage which is attached to our kitchen. I opened the door and much to my HORROR someone had left the garage door open to the driveway and out he went running down the street in sheer panic. It was 1am and there I am chasing him in my pajamas, crying at this point. For some strange reason there were 4 young guys playing hacky sack out in the street and all I remember seeing is Leo in the middle of their game while they all tried to catch him. He was running from one to the other and than the other as lightening decorated the sky. Poor Leo he was so terrified, he was delirious. I felt so lucky when he spotted me running toward him he turned and came straight to me and let me take him home. Usually on a good day, when he runs away, if he sees me coming, he will only run that much faster to get away. Leo's storm anxiety has gotten worse, not better over the years and it has expanded to not only thunder and lightening but to raindrops, wind, and loud noises in the dark. I believe I have added to his anxiety by putting him into the crate, cellar, or garage when he is in panic mode. I feel like the worst basset mom in the world, but I have to draw the line at DOG DROOL in my ear. This past month he has been waking up in the middle of the night for no reason. No wind, no rain, no storm, nothing. I figure he must wake up now expecting to be suddenly thwarted to the dungeon. (being a dog, how would he know that this only happens when he has panic attacks.  This kills me. :(  So now I've really created a monster.  This past month I have tried giving him Melatonin a half hour before bed. He has grown to like pill time because he knows he gets a good treat after he swallows it. I have also given him daily doses of St. John's Wort. What I have noticed is, his panic attacks in the night, have decreased and when he does experience one like he did last night. He is able to calm himself back down in about 5 minutes time and fall back asleep. I can feel him shaking on top of my legs but he is not panting heavily or drooling. The shaking doesn't bother me, except that I feel bad for him but at least he is snoring while shaking so I know he's not too bad off. So overall, so far, my consensus is the Melatonin/St. John's Wort combo is working fairly well for now.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Jade the puggle defeats and exhausts Leo again!

POOR LEO! His best friend Jade (a crazy but sweet little puggle came over tonight for a family birthday party. Jade has tons of energy and loves to tackle Leo. She dominates him in every way. Her entire body is only about the size of his head but she is full of fury. She is non-stop and doesn't let poor Leo get a minute's rest.
I am hoping he will sleep well tonight. I debated whether or not to give him his nightly dose of Melatonin, but why risk it? I need sleep too! Just incase, better to be safe than sorry when it comes to Leo.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Green beer would have been good today if I hadn't given up alcohol for Lent. Oh well, I had enough excitement to keep me from missing it too much today. Took a little road trip to Epping NH to meet my sister so I could take my IRISH TWIN nieces for a sleepover with my daughter who is the same age. All 3 girls were born in 11 month's time. I still don't know how my sister and I did that! Well most of the credit goes to her because she's the one who had two babies in 11 months, not me. She knew they were both girls ahead by ultrasound, I wasn't so lucky, my little girl had her hand in the way. It was a long wait but so happy it was a girl. This is the year they all turn 9! They look like triplets and they are always together. Today when we returned from the ride, we tried to take LEO for a walk, but he broke FREE and took off running so fast with the leash attached that he was gone before we could blink an eye. He ran across the street like lightening. His little legs were nothing but a blur. Anyone who thinks Bassets aren't fast, is mistaken, they are ridiculously FAST! He was gone. The girls decided they needed their sneakers for this mission. They wanted to run as fast as him so they'd have a chance to catch him. He looked so funny with the long retractable leash dragging behind him. My daughter opened my front door to grab her sneakers and OUT went the INDOOR cat! Oh my god, and did he RUN. He took off in the opposite direction! Now we had two runaways. The girls went one way after LEO and I went the other after BOO.  The girls came back a few minutes later with LEO in tow and I on the other hand found myself up a tree with an open can of tuna in hand.  We have coyotes in our neighborhood and my cat is fat and lazy and would never survive a minute out in the wild. I dragged his sorry butt out of that tree and brought him back in the house. The girls brought Leo in and we all breathed a sigh of relief! This probably would have been the time I would have had my green beer but cranberry lime seltza with a lemon had to suffice :) just another day in my crazy house!

Friday, March 16, 2012

LEO gets his first Shiatzu Massage


Happy 22nd Birthday & Huge Congratulations to our oldest daughter, Danielle for her successful completion of her Esthetician's License from Catherine Hinds. She has decided to continue on for the extended program because she loves it so much she wants to do it all! Danielle was very upset to see LEO suffering from a random panic attack a few Saturdays ago. She decided to put her newly aquired skills to use! She sat down on the floor right beside poor LEO and began what she called, "The Shiatzu Massage".  She demonstrated to all of us how to find his pressure points and apply just enough pressure with her fingers at each point along his body. I was afraid this might take forever since he is an extra long basset, but she seemed fine with it. She was so calm, and she strongly reinforced that whoever gives him these massages in the future would have to be sure to be calm. Well, I guess that means I'm out!  She continued the massage and slowly but surely the crazy hyper panting, drooling and intense shaking subsided. LEO really seemed to enjoy this treatment and he did calm down. The only downfall is: As soon as she stopped, he started panicking again and who has time to give Shiatzu massages  to anxiety ridden basset hounds all day long? Once in awhile, sure, but 10x a day, I don't think so!
I wonder what will be next?  Acupuncture or doggie yoga? Stay Tuned!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

LEO LOVES NANA AND NANA LOVES LEO! Nana has been struggling with Altzheimmer's Disease for a few years now. Life has been incredibly difficult for her. She came to the United States from Calabria Italy when she was just 18 years old. She was brought here by the man she fell in love with. He traveled all the way from Haverhill Ma to Southern Italy to meet his future bride. It was a whirlwind romance and they would spend the next 55 years as husband and wife. She lost her beloved husband last March just after losing her 2nd daughter to Cancer 22 days earlier. Nana's heart is broken but she does enjoy the family and an abudance of love that continues to surround her. One source of this great love is LEO and even though she forgets his name and calls him Pepe, he doesn't care. He just wags his tail, gives her a big smile, and sheds his unconditional love (and dog hair) all over her! He loves nothing more than to curl up on the loveseat and snuggle with her! Leo comforts her in her time of distress and despite her debilitating memory loss, one thing that she IS able to remember is the LOVE that LEO gives her. She is always happy to see him when she walks through our door and she always makes sure that he has a seat right beside her.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Thunder Coat

So, Leo has always had major anxiety over thunder & lightening. I know this is very common for lots of dogs. We have been dealing with this issue for years. I have tried everything from all natural Valerian Root, Rescue Remedy, Ativan, Crate confining, basement time, tight body hugging,St. John's Wort, Melatonin, and now low and behold the latest greatest invention: "The Thunder Coat". Naturally I was skeptical but in desperation one will try almost anything. I ordered the coat from Amazon and did my first trial run with it by turning on my camera! (Leo thinks my camera flash is lightening) the minute he hears the little zoom sound when the camera turns on, he goes into panic mode. He pants heavily, drools buckets and shakes uncontrollably, its so sad to watch him suffer :(   He had a full blown panic attack while wearing the Thunder Coat during the flash of my camera so I figured it wasn't going to work on him. Nonetheless, I waited for the first Real Live Thunderstorm. Well, it came last night. At the first dull boom of thunder, I ran and got his Thunder Coat. I swaddled him tightly and prayed for the best. Two minutes after putting it on him, he dove up on the loveseat where I was sitting, he began shaking horribly and started with the panting. He drooled a huge puddle and it splattered right on my laptop as I was typing. He was so out of control, that I eventually had to put him in my bathroom to contain the huge drool puddles. He practically panted himself into dehydration and refused to drink water because he was so nervous. The storm seemed to last forever and I spent yet another sleepless night on the couch listening to my anxiety ridden basset pant and drool the night away. The only thing that got me through was picturing LEO on the Thunder Coat commercial wearing the Thunder Coat while having severe anxiety.I had to laugh at the PURE IRONY! It reminds me of the commercials for the drugs advertised on tv. Like the one for the pill for depression but some may experience more depression or suicidal thoughts when taking it
Maybe they need to give a little warning on the Thunder Commercial for dogs who may experience MORE anxiety from wearing this anxiety coat! Oh well, so much for the Thunder Coat! At least we can say we tried. Poor Leo!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My poor LEO has suffered from anxiety ever since he came to us. He has severe separation anxiety, generalized anxiety, and your typical dog anxieties such as weather and fireworks. He also suffers from multiple phobias: He is afraid of balloons, fast sudden movement,washing machines,loud snoring, cameras, halloween costumes (on him) and probably several more things that I can't recall at the moment.  I understand the root of this problem because the Basset Rescue told us that when they rescued him, he was about to be shot by his owner! How horrifying for me to hear this disturbing story! He was a puppy at the time, just a year old and I bet he was the cutest little Basset puppy in the world. (I always wished I saw him when he was a baby) The people who owned him were getting a divorce and neither of them could keep him but somehow he ended up with the husband at the time. He was working long hours and would leave this poor dog outside all day long and into the night. Naturally Leo would bark non-stop because he wanted to be brought in, he wanted some love, some attention but instead all he got was YELLED at! The owner's brother stopped by for a visit one day and found him just about ready to get out his shotgun. He asked him what the he** he was doing and he said, "I'm gonna shoot the damn dog, he won't shut up!" Thankfully at that point, the brother knew enough and cared enough to get Leo out of there. He took him to New England Basset Hound Rescue and got him into a foster home. From that point forward, Leo lived with a very nice couple who had four "geriatric" bassets in their home. Leo was a young and energetic pup who wanted to play all day long. Given his past miserable life being chained outside day and night, he must have thought he was in heaven. He loved all the toys they had in their doggie toy box and he loved his new elderly basset friends. He would jump on them and initiate play all day long! Those poor old bassets were so tired and had trouble understanding this little mischievous basset pup who was so ready to have some fun. He spent a lot of time in the crate to keep him from annoying the old dogs and this made him very sad :(  After going through his physical exams, he was found to be in perfect health. He was neutered and put on their website for adoption.  As I mentioned before, we were searching their website for a potential adoptee and came across his biography. His name at the time was "Diego". My son used to make fun of the show "Dora the Explorer" when his little sister would watch it every morning and Dora's cousin was named "Diego". The first thing my son said was, "We are NOT keeping that name!" We didn't even know if we would be approved to adopt yet but we were busy trying to figure out the perfect name. I was so excited the day I filled out the on line application. We did all that we could do and then it was time to sit patiently and wait. We hung his picture on the fridge In the photo, he was sitting down posing perfectly by a pumpkin and he looked dashing in his red collar.  I will always remember the night the phone call came. I was bathing my children upstairs and my husband picked up the phone downstairs. He yelled up to me that "Diego" was on the phone. I was so excited, I almost forgot that I had kids in the tub. Thankfully, my husband came up to finish bathing the kids and I went to the phone as fast as I could. The woman told me that we were approved and that she would be setting up a home visit. We spent weeks preparing our home and getting ready to be checked out. It was just as if we were adopting a real live baby. We were so eager with excitement and anticipation. She told me that someone would be calling us to set up the home check and sure enough that phone call came and they wanted to come out the day after Thanksgiving. They explained to us that they were volunteers for the agency and they were going to come out and interview us in person and check our home to see if it was safe for doggie adoption! They told us that sometimes when they came out for the visit, they would bring one of their foster bassets to see how he or she reacted to the family. The morning after Thanksgiving, we got the call from the people that were heading over and we were so surprised to find out that it was "Diego's" foster parents and that they had decided (against usual circumstances) to bring the real live "Diego" to the home visit and if all went well, they would leave him! Wow! This was a complete surprise. We ran to Walmart and picked up a crate, some food, doggie toys and anything else we could think of to prepare us for his big arrival. None of us slept very much that night. When the time came, we were all glued to the bay window in the front of our house. We watched eagerly as the blue van pulled in and the back door opened. And out he came, nose straight to the ground sniffing up all the good smells of our yard. My first thought, Oh my God is he long! Since he was sitting in his picture, I had no idea that he was extra long, it seemed that his body went on and on and on. He was ridiculously short, extra skinny, and his torso was so loooong that it was almost odd. But then I saw that face and I fell in love. We all fell in love. He came running into our house and jumped on all the furniture and he even squirted a drop of pee right on the floor. He was insanely hyper and my four year old son immediately jumped to the top of the couch and refused to come down. We ended up keeping "Diego" that day and looking back on it, I can see why those foster parents decided to do the home visit themselves and against usual routine, brought and left the potential adoptee at our house. He was driving their other dogs crazy and since they enlightened us on his nickname being, "The Mental Midget", I think their time with "Diego" was done! It could have been my imagination but I think they drove off rather fast! We decided to rename him LEO after Leonardo Di Vinci because we knew he was going to do great things for our family. My poor son spent the first 4 days up on the top of the couch. He was just so afraid of Leo's incessant energy but thankfully he soon adjusted. Leo just turned 7 this past fall and we have had many trials and tribulations with him. He still suffers from anxiety and as much as we have tried to wipe out his traumatic past with tons of love, his scars remain with him today. We continue to look for new ways to help him but it has been increasingly difficult to deal with him especially when my husband is not a dog lover to begin with. Living with Leo requires an incredible amount of patience and lots of tender love and care. His anxiety makes life with him a constant test,  but I have not and will not give up on this little guy. And so the adventure continues.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

IT IS NO COINCIDENCE: LEO may act like he doesn't know that NOBODY but DAD is allowed to sit in dad's recliner, but his expression says something different doesn't it? When it comes to being a dog lover, you either are one or you're not. Well, my husband, John falls into the later category. I still can't quite believe I'm married to a self professed dog loather. After six long years of putting up with Leo the Basset,(or maybe the bastard, as he lovingly refers to him) he's had enough. Leo has destroyed our home, kept everyone up all night on so many occasions and if we're not constantly watching the door when the kids open it, he'll take off running, nose to the ground. He doesn't return on his own, we have to chase him up and down the streets and usually if he gets away from us, it's not an easy task to get him back. He might have short little legs but when he runs it's like a blur and I swear those long ears flapping in the wind give him extra momentum. Although me and the kids cry and pray for his safe return, their dad is praying for him to keep right on running. I don't understand this type of thinking. I would be devastated if anything happened to Leo but not John, he actually has an urn on our mantel with Leo's name on it. He gets excited each year when Leo has a birthday, not for the homemade dog bone shaped birthday cake that I bake, but because he says it's one year closer to being in the urn. And I know how horribly mean this all sounds but in his defense, of all the dogs I've ever had in my life, Leo is by far the most difficult. And I will admit, that even me, the biggest dog lover in the world have found myself at Witt's end on many occasions with this high maintenance little basset! My husband's theory on dog's is that if they can't earn their keep, they don't belong in the house. I tell him that our kids don't earn their keep but we let them live here? Maybe saying he "loathes" dogs isn't really fair. He doesn't mind dogs, he just doesn't want them living under his roof. He says "All they are is work, they ruin your house, they pee on everything and you can never take a vacation again without worrying about them." The cat on the other hand seems to be his best friend. He loves our cat because our cat earns his keep. He catches mice.  When I asked my husband if we could get a dog, right from the beginning, his answer was "NO!" No two ways about it, plain and simple: NO! And then the quest began. I went from shelter to shelter in search of the perfect rescue dog. I wanted to get a dog that needed a second chance in life. I didn't want to just go out and get a new dog or a puppy from a breeder. I wanted to save a dog that needed extra special love that I knew I was capable of giving. We had two small children by this time in our marriage and in my opinion, no family was complete without a dog. My husband begged me to stop, but I was on a mission and it didn't matter what he said, I was bound and determined to get a dog. Deep down, he knew I would win in the end (I always do) so eventually he came around and decided that he had to accept it was going to happen. I will never forget the night he finally gave in. He said, "If I'm not winning this battle, and we absolutely have to get a dog, then I will only allow one type of a dog in this house." At that moment, I remember feeling pure joy because I knew I had broken him down. I was bubbling over with curiosity. What breed of dog could he possibly be referring to? What did he know about dogs? He never had one growing up and he has never even mentioned anything about a dog except his profound aversion to having one in his home. I could not believe my ears when he said the breed was a Basset Hound. "Why?" I asked.  His response was, he loved the basset hound on the show "Coach", the dog was fat, lazy and all he did was sleep at the foot of the man's recliner. At that point I swear, I would not have cared if he had said anything from a Yorkie to a Great Dane. Quite simply, I needed a dog. Just a few hours of searching on the New England Basset Hound Rescue website and we had found our boy! Some agencies will paint a glorious picture of a future adoptee, they will rave about how wonderful the dog is and how he will bring so much joy to your home, and you can't wait to get the dog home only to find out he's a menace. This was NOT the case with NEBHR, they were brutally honest. Leo's biography read something like this: This is a dog that needs a lot of attention, he may benefit from obedience training, he likes to jump up on counters and steal sandwiches, he hates to ride in cars, he gets car sick, and he has tons of energy.  I read this brutally honest description under the most adorable picture of the world's cutest basset hound and truly felt that he was the perfect dog for us.  I remember telling John that since he too, gets car sick, and since our children had tons of energy, Leo would surely be the perfect match for us. And so what if he steals the occasion sandwich off the counter, who couldn't stand to lose a couple of pounds.  He was not so sure, especially about the sandwich stealing part, but he did agree that based on the photo, he was the most beautiful Basset Hound he'd ever seen.  I remember promising that I would have this little guy turned around and trained to be the most perfect mannered Basset you ever saw in just a few short weeks. I believed that LOVE could cure all. I should have woken up from that dream the day the foster parents delivered him to us. They practically dropped him and RAN but not before they told us their nickname for him was "The Mental Midget" and how their 4 geriatric Bassets were happy to see him pack his bags and get out of there.  Well, 6 years this past Thanksgiving later and I'm still trying to turn him into the most perfect mannered little Basset you ever saw. And it's no wonder John is so frustrated, of all the qualities he looked forward to with this breed; Leo's got none.  He is far from fat, matter of fact, he might be the skinniest Basset I've ever seen. He's far from lazy, he's too busy worrying about all of his phobias and anxieties, and instead of sleeping by the foot of the recliner, he is more apt to be peeing behind it or sprawled out sleeping in it despite the "stay out of my damn recliner" rule!

Singing Bassets

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