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Owners, hounds ramble on bassets' behalf

May 31, 2004|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

WILLIAMSPORT - "I always worried I would begin to look like a basset hound," said Jane Loeffler, 57, of Washington, D.C. "They say people start to look like their dogs."

The dogs' sad, droopy, watery eyes, big noses, long, flopping ears and squat bodies are not features typically considered attractive or desirable.

Yet, Loeffler and more than 200 others proved they are undaunted in their affections for their glum-looking pets at the Basset Ramble Saturday in Williamsport.

The Basset Ramble is an annual fund-raiser for Basset Rescue of Old Dominion - known as BROOD. Diane Morgan of Williamsport, a charter member and current treasurer of BROOD, was the chairwoman of the event. She said last year, the group spent about $47,000 on veterinary bills for homeless basset hounds.

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Pet owners began registering for the event at 9 a.m., and by 10 a.m. they were out with their beloved hounds for a 3-mile ramble along the C&O Canal.

Why is it called a "ramble"?

"Watch them. It explains the whole thing," said J.D. Carpenter of Bluefield, W.Va., indicating the ponderous, waddling movement of the dogs.

Carpenter said he has five basset hounds.

"I rented a van from Enterprise, took out the seats, turned it into a big mobile crate and up the road we come," Carpenter beamed.

Charlie Cosgrove, 58, and his son, John Cosgrove, 25, of Springfield, Va., were volunteers for the event. The Cosgroves said their basset hound was unable to attend.

"My furry brother," John Cosgrove said. "He's home making sure his bed stays warm, the old guy."

"He doesn't take to heat well. He's pushing 12," Charlie explained.

Sam Sculerati, 11, of Herndon, Va., rambled along with his dog, Grumble, as well as his mother, Jill, 40, and his sister, Sophia, 8.

"I'm pretty sure he had fun," Sam said of Grumble. "I think his favorite thing was meeting the other dogs."

One hound wobbled around sluggishly yanking at his leash, which was closed in the door of a portable potty, when his owner, Zoltan Nagy of Bethesda, Md., at last emerged.

"He always wants to be on the other side of whatever is blocking him," Nagy said, patting his pal.

Georgia Maclean, 12, of Silver Spring, Md., was at the event with her basset hound, Lilly, soon to be 3, her parents, Donna and Don, both 46, and her brother, Ellis, 4. Georgia pointed out that Lilly's meticulous grooming set her apart from the crowd.

"People loved her (Lilly's) painted toenails," Georgia Maclean said, indicating her hound's fuchsia-tipped paws.

"OPI makes a special nail polish for dogs, but I just use mine," Georgia said. "Sometimes pink, sometimes purple."

"Bassets are the least aggressive dog ever," Don Maclean said. (They're) "terrible guard dogs, but they're great with kids."

Loeffler saw it another way.

"You can feel air move when a basset barks," she said. "They are wonderful watchdogs for that reason."

Following their stroll along the canal, Basset Ramble participants headed back to their vehicles, which were adorned with bumper stickers the likes of "Drool Rules!" and "Bassetmobile." At least one hound was helped by a step stool as he clumsily dragged his body into a vehicle.

The fund-raiser continued with a "Basset Luau" several miles down the road on the sprawling grounds of Morgan's home. Attractions included paw reading, beach basset photos, a basset calendar contest, dog show, and food and merchandise vendors.

Morgan said BROOD hoped to raise approximately $20,000 from the event through pledges and luau attractions. All proceeds will benefit homeless basset hounds.

For information about adopting basset hounds, go to www.brood-va.org on the Web.

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