Basset hounds strut their stuff

September 06, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE
  • Skylar, a basset hound, pants after her walk Sunday at Antietam National Battlefield. Skylar's blue eyes are rare, says companion Yolanda Reyes of Fredericksburg, Va.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer,



Those were some of the descriptions people used Sunday, with smiles on their faces and love in their hearts, to describe their basset hounds.

The love was returned Sunday as several of the short-legged, long-eared breed put up with wearing costumes, had their earspans measured, and had to turn around to show judges their back ends for the butt contest.

At least one person put herself in the basset hounds' place by getting down on her hands and knees to participate in the pie-eating contest, alongside about eight basset hounds.

"Anything for the hounds," said June Gravitte, as bits of apple pie fell off her face.

Gravitte is transport coordinator for Basset Hound Rescue of Old Dominion, which hosted a Ramble event Sunday in southern Washington County. After a walk at Antietam National Battlefield, there were vendors and activities at Washington County Agricultural Education Center, which is south of Hagerstown.


Approximately 250 people and 150 dogs, mostly basset hounds, attended the event, said Chris Williams, president of the group, which also is known as BROOD.

Williams said she was hoping the event would raise $30,000 to find homes for homeless basset hounds. Last year, the group placed about 170 dogs in homes, she said. The group covers Maryland, West Virginia, Washington, D.C., Delaware, southcentral Pennsylvania and most of Virginia.

In the pie-eating contest, Gravitte was bested by Prunella, 10, of Alexandria, Va. Prunella had some assistance from Shannon Harwell, who held Prunella's ears back and turned the pie pan occasionally to make the dog's licking more efficient.

Harwell said she was optimistic Prunella would win because the basset eats everything.

A few dogs were dressed up for the costume contest, including one fashioned as a poodle.

Pawtunia, 6, adopted the persona of Belle Waddling, who apparently was a southern belle, while her son, Cadbury, 3, was dressed in zebra-patterned formalwear.

"We're close friends. We've snuggled together," said Sharon Wilder, who was holding Pawtunia's leash.

Pawtunia's "slave" is Dawn Van Keuren of Absecon, N.J.

Van Keuren said she founded and has organized for years the Board Waddle in Ocean City, N.J. This past April's event attracted 601 basset hounds.

This is the second time BROOD's Ramble has been at the ag center, though it was in Thurmont, Md., last year, Williams said.

This was Fiddle's 11th Washington County ramble, said J.D. Carpenter of West Liberty, near Wheeling, W.Va.

Carpenter said he got Fiddle when she was 8 weeks old. It's "her fault" that he and his wife, Lisa, became involved in rescuing basset hounds, Carpenter said. The couple had up to five basset hounds at one time and also has fostered dogs.

Fiddle, who turns 15 on Tuesday, was the grand prize winner among senior basset hounds.

Carpenter said this was probably Fiddle's last trip to the ramble, as she has not been faring well.

After winning her prize, she laid down on a blanket next to Dulci, a rescue dog who is about 12 years old, Carpenter said. Dulci lost both her eyes to glaucoma, is a two-time cancer survivor and has a heart condition, Carpenter said.

Yet, she is resilient. Carpenter said he was terrified about how Dulci would handle it when the family moved recently, but within a week, she had adjusted to her new surroundings.

"A blind dog can teach people a whole lot about life," Carpenter said.

Nearby, dogs were lining up to get their ears measured.

The longest-ear contest resulted in a measure-off, which resulted in a second measure-off.

Toby, 2 1/2, and Wara, 3, had earspans of 25 inches. The first measure-off was of a single ear, with both having 9-inch-long ears.

The tie-breaker came with a measurement from the inside of the ear, and Wara beat Toby by about half an inch, said Cass Johnson, 50, of Washington, D.C.

Wara was with Timothy Hoffman and his son, Mario Escalera, 13, of Gaithersburg, Md.

"She's humble about (the victory)," Hoffman said.

Johnson said it will take him longer to recover from Toby's loss than it will Toby.

"I think his ego will recover once he sees how much goodies he got in his treat bag," Johnson said. "He's really in it for the treats."

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