Book debunks myths about basset hounds

March 03, 1998|By LISA GRAYBEAL

by Ric Dugan / staff photographer

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Diane Morgan and BassetsBook debunks myths about basset hounds

WILLIAMSPORT - Don't be fooled by those big, droopy brown eyes that look as if tears are going to begin flowing at any minute.

It's that sad, please-take-me-home-with-you quality in basset hounds that lures people into thinking they'd be the perfect pet.

Think again.

"They're like having perpetual 2-year-olds," said Diane Morgan, of Williamsport, stepping over Ruby as she fills a bowl full with fresh water for Freddie, two of her four basset hounds.

An experienced basset hound owner, Morgan got the idea of writing a book about handling the breed, including how to care for them, what to feed them and other tips for owners or those who are thinking of becoming owners.


But through her own experiences and by talking to other basset hound owners all over the country on the Internet, Morgan decided it's not a basic guidebook that's needed but, as her title suggests, "The Basset Hound Owner's Survival Guide."

"People don't realize how big they get and they smell funny. They have a hound smell," Morgan said.

To own them also means to love drool, she said.

The dogs' signature short, stocky build and big feet that lend themselves more to waddling than walking, can fool anyone into believing they're slow, lazy animals.

"You must have a fenced-in yard or they have to be on a leash at all times. They're bred to be very independent. They find a scent and they're gone," Morgan said.

There's no calling a basset hound back if it's tracking a scent, and the breed's reputation for being stubborn is well-founded because bassets are difficult to train, she said.

The hidden qualities of basset hounds are what put them at risk of being abandoned, abused, or given up by owners who can't handle them, said Morgan, who adopted three of her four basset hounds from animal shelters.

"They're not a good first-time dog," she said.

Filled with colorful photos and illustrations, Morgan's 200-page hardcover book contains the basic elements of any dog reference mixed with real-life stories, advice and humorous accounts from basset hound owners.

"Most books tell you what to feed them. This book also says what they like to eat," which is just about everything they can get their paws on, Morgan said.

Her basset hounds have eaten disposable razors and entire chocolate cakes.

The dogs also have been known to chow down on aluminum foil, Christmas tree lights, grapefruit rinds, men's ties and zippers, according to a list in the book compiled from the experiences of other basset hound owners.

The book is published by Howell Book House, a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster. It can be purchased for $24.95 at Cumberland Valley Veterinary Clinic, 17747 Virginia Ave., Hagerstown.

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