In Memoriam: Mr. Basset

posted at 6:19 pm on May 11, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

Warning: Non-political content.

A long expected and dreaded day came to our household today with the loss of our oldest dog, Mr. Basset. He was approximately nineteen years old. His proper name on his papers was Rascal, and we still called him that from time to time, but mostly he answered to and was known to the world as just Mr. Basset. I would also frequently just refer to him as “Sir” when speaking to him, as he was quite the gentleman. As I’ve done at similar times in the past, I find it somewhat cathartic to share his life story and some pictures with the rest of the world so that, in some small way, he lives on in the memory of others and out on the web. Thanks to his background and records we know a lot more about his entire story than some other shelter rescues we have welcomed into our family.

The following picture is one of my all time favorites of Mr. Basset, taken up at the family camp in the mountains by the lake. He really loved it there, and the profile makes him look, I think, extremely noble. And that he was.
Mr. Basset at the lake

Mr. Basset wasn’t with us as long as some of our other furry friends, coming to us from a breed rescue service when he was already past ten years old. An A.K.C. registered Basset Hound, he was a show dog in his youth, but like so many in that “industry” he lost his place around the age of seven when he was considered “too old” to compete any more and was rather unceremoniously dumped. He was more fortunate than some, in that he quickly found a new home with an elderly, retired gentleman who also had a miniature dachshund. The two dogs quickly became inseparable friends and, by all accounts, had a great time together, traveling around and sleeping with their new owner. It was during that time that Mr. Basset was first diagnosed with cancer, had to have an operation and some follow-up treatment, but was showing tremendous signs of recovery.

Unfortunately, that wonderful owner, who saved many pictures of the pair and got rave reviews from the rescue groups, passed away less than three years later, leaving both dogs in search of yet another home. Sadly, they couldn’t be placed together, as a younger and healthier “wiener dog” was much more adoptable, and the dachshund was off to a new family, leaving Mr. Basset in the care of the Basset rescue group. That’s when he crossed paths with us and came to his permanent home.

Mr. Basset’s medical records were something of a mess and our doctor was afraid that the cancer had returned in his face and behind his eye. Surgery was under consideration, but thought to be risky as the dog was already ten years old. It was decided that we would “monitor the situation” to see what developed. Amazingly, in the first six months, all symptoms effectively disappeared as he settled into his new domain. The vet was rather amazed, though saying that it did *sometimes* just happen. I found it miraculous.

When we once again became a single dog household upon the passing of our last dog, Kenya, the basset was very distraught, which led us to acquire Max, our miniature Schnauzer. (Also an abuse rescue case.) The two bonded immediately and became the best of friends. (A photo of Rascal and Max together up at our camp on the lake.)

The dogs went for a walk each and every morning that the weather would allow with my wife and I, and I think that the one sentence I said to her more often than any other was, “Everyone loves the basset.” And they did. It seemed to be almost impossible for anyone, male or female, old or young, to not immediately be drawn to Mr. Basset. I still remember one walk just recently when we were out strolling with them and two cars pulled up at the corner and stopped, with each driver pausing to stare and to smile. That’s probably what I will remember most about Mr. Basset. He brought a smile to the face of everyone he met. He was a fat old hound dog, so the guys always seemed to like him. And while he weighed nearly 80 pounds, he was low to the ground with those big floppy ears, watery eyes and short legs, so ladies and children did not find him threatening.

(A picture of the basset with some of my nieces and nephews up at camp. )

One elderly grandmother up the street from us did not even own a dog, but took to buying boxes of dog biscuits and knew when we went for walks, and would hurry out to give him a treat and pet him. I’ve long since lost count of how many people I’ve met in this town simply because they would approach to ask questions about Mr. Basset and pet him.

We’ve had some other dogs who came from abusive backgrounds and tended to be a bit overprotective and snappish. Some could not be trusted around children. Not the basset, though. He simply didn’t have a mean bone in his body. Kids could run up and hug him, stroke his ears, and the smallest could even try to ride him, and he bore it all with dignity and without complaint. I can say without reservation that Mr. Basset was the most gentle animal it has ever been my pleasure to know. And, as I said, everyone who saw him smiled. He brightened the days of many people who never came into his life again.

Perhaps more than any of our other pets, Mr. Basset really loved going up to the mountains to the family camp on the lake. He didn’t care all that much for the car ride, but once there, he loved riding in the boat with his long ears flapping in the breeze and wandering around by the lake, napping on the rocks in the summer sun. He actually got to go twice last year, and I’m now very, very happy that we made the extra trip with him. A rare photo of the basset and I lounging around.
Jazz and Mr. Basset

After coming to live with us, Mr. Basset’s fortunes changed for the better and his fame grew far beyond the neighborhood. We were worried that he had “gone Hollywood” on us when he landed a starring role in a short horror film as a police dog who helped officers hunt zombies. Sadly, that career was cut short when he turned up passed out drunk at the cast Christmas party.
Mr. Basset as Bad Santa

Later, Mr. Basset briefly flirted with a career in politics when Liz Mair and I pushed a short lived, but very popular Twitter campaign to get him elected as the next Chairman of the RNC. Unfortunately, we came up a few votes short in the third round and Mr. Basset had to withdraw.

Mr. Basset for RNC Chairman

Rascal had a long road and, I think, a very full life. Upon arriving here my wife sewed and crafted two large dog beds for him with thick cushions and a pillow – one in the living room and one in our bedroom where he slept each night. He always ate well… sometimes too well, living up to his original name of “Rascal” by stealing snacks or even slices of pizza if they were left unattended.

Mr. Basset in his bed

But perhaps the most unexpected and humorous reminder I will have of him comes in the form of our little schnauzer, Max. He came from a badly abused background, seized by the police from a puppy mill. Apparently the abusive operator would punish the animals for making noise and they had virtually no human contact. As a result, when he came to live with us, he never barked at all. I didn’t even know if he had vocal chords. It’s as if he was afraid to raise his voice. But the basset had no such restrictions. When it was time for his daily walk, both before and after, he was very excited and would let out that stereotypical and somewhat unique basset bay. BAAROOOOOOOO! And then one day, when we returned home from the walk, he broke into that same song and suddenly little Max rose up on his back legs and bayed in a thin, high pitched sound! (baaroooooooooo!) We’ve dealt with many dogs over the years and I’ve never heard such a sound from one of these little ones who typically yip and yap. Since then he’s had a lot more practice, doing it every day at walk time. And in the future, whenever I hear Max rise up and bay, I will think of Mr. Basset, who taught the little dog how to sing.

We had our first serious health scare with Mr. Basset in 2009. While out for his morning walk, he suddenly began coughing, wheezing, hacking and then collapsed on the sidewalk with foam coming out of his mouth. It was a major seizure. It was also a Sunday and we had to load his mostly inert frame into the truck and rush him to a veterinary emergency clinic, as our doctor’s office was close. He looked like a goner, but by the time we got there and the vet finished an initial exam, Mr. Basset suddenly woke up, got up, and began sniffing around the office. It was as if nothing had happened. The vet scheduled a follow-up with our normal office and said to keep an eye on him.

Later that same year, another seizure came, but this one was even worse. By the time Mr. Basset awoke, he could not get up on his own, walk or even stand for more than a minute or so. He was effectively paralyzed. Being already nearly 17 years old and far beyond the point where any further surgery could be risked, the doctors were suggesting that he had lived a long, full life, and it might be time to let go. My wife and I discussed it not only with each other, but with Mr. Basset as well. Yes, at this point, I will confess in public that I always talk to the dogs in an audible voice. I think they understand most of what I say and I’m frequently home alone, so they are great conversational companions.

In as close as it could possibly come to being in an audible voice, as God is my witness, I swear the basset gave me a clear message. “Not yet,” he said. “I’m not done.”

My wife and I agreed that Mr. Basset would indeed let us know when he was done and we took him home. For a couple of days I had to carry Mr. Basset everywhere… up the stairs to the bedroom at night, down the stairs in the morning, outside and down the steps to the lawn for his bathroom time. Weighing in at over 70 pounds at the time this was no mean feat, but he always remained a gentleman and waited until I took him outside to tend to “his business.” He never made a mess inside. We had to move his food and water dishes next to his bed. By the time the second night rolled around and I had lugged Mr. Basset’s fat frame up to bed, my wife and I began discussing the possibility that perhaps we had overestimated the heroic hound’s amazing powers of recovery and, just perhaps, the doctors had been right about throwing in the towel.

On the morning of the third day, Mr. Basset stood up.

Within hours he was walking, albeit with a bizarre, ungainly, rolling shuffle which I don’t think any basset had ever used before. He was learning to walk all over again, all by himself, and teaching himself to use his remaining functional muscles in new ways. He fell down a lot (and continued to do so occasionally to the end of his days) but, damn it, HE WAS WALKING. He returned to his normal routine within a week.

Over the last two years, Mr. Basset had several more seizures, though none as bad as the one that paralyzed him. Each time he was up and around again within the day, back to his usual rounds, patrolling the neighborhood and keeping it safe, inspecting every phone pole, fire hydrant and street sign for scents of intruding canines.

Which brings us to today.

Mr. Basset got up as usual, but around 7 o’clock I found him standing in the kitchen, his head hanging down with his nose touching the floor, eyes close and breathing erratically. He could only walk slowly, with difficulty, and could not manage the steps going outside. He would slowly make his way back and forth between water dishes, lapping up a small amount of liquid and would not eat anything. I even made his favorite breakfast food, eggs over easy in butter, and he wouldn’t touch it. We had to consult with the Vet and the news was not good.

My wife and I had a tearful discussion and it became clear that, at long last, after roughly 19 years, Mr. Basset was letting us know that he was, indeed, done.

We took him back over to the office. Our Vet is a remarkable woman, a consummate professional, but also a very caring human being. As they did with our last dog, Kenya, it was agreed that they would take Mr. Basset inside for prep work and getting an IV put in his arm, but then, given the excellent weather, they would bring Mr. Basset back outside on to the small hill by their office. He would end his days on his favorite blanket, laid out on the grass in the warm sunshine, and not on some cold metal table in an office he did not recognize as home. She first gave him a general anesthetic and medicine to have him fall asleep on his blanket. Then in the second stage of the procedure, just as with Kenya before him, he was sent on his way to whatever eternal reward good dogs have waiting for them. And he was a very, very, very good dog.

So there you have it… the story of Rascal, a.k.a. Mr. Basset. He was a gentle soul in a world too often cruel to his kind. He will be missed, but also always remembered with love. And by launching this story out into the web, perhaps it will live on far beyond both me and the hound in question, and people will know of his goodness and the amazing life he lived. And just maybe that bastard, the original breeder, who dumped him at the age of seven for being “too old” will one day become curious as to what happened to his charge and, searching, stumble upon this story. And he’ll find that he abandoned that magnificent creature when he wasn’t even half way through his life, and how much joy and wonder he brought to so many people in the many years to come.

And that’s the story of Mr. Basset. A couple more photos follow for you to enjoy as I say goodbye to my very good friend.

Mr. Basset as Judge Dread
Mr. Basset as Judge Dread

Mr. Basset with a heating pad and a squishy pillow in his final days.
Basset with pillow and heating pad

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R.I.P. Mr. Basset And condolences to his family & friends. I hope the great memories of him ease the pain of loss your going through now.

Fynxbell on May 11, 2011 at 8:32 PM

My heart aches for your family. What a wonderful tribute to your loving companion. Thank you for sharing. As an owner of 4 rescue dogs, I have to say they are so loving and unassuming. I’ve owned many dogs from many backgrounds, and I will never have anything but a rescue.

Perhaps your tribute will inspire some of the readers to rescue, as well. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful tribute to a fine, old dog.


sheesh on May 11, 2011 at 8:39 PM

My condolences to you and your wife on your loss of not only a wonderful friend but a beloved part of your family. May he rest in peace, and may you rest in the comfort that while he was with you, you gave him a warm home and a loving family. A dog couldn’t want more than that.

Desert Gardens on May 11, 2011 at 8:50 PM

What a lovely tribute!

May time help heal the Mr. Basset-sized hole in your heart.

fgh on May 11, 2011 at 8:53 PM

sorry to hear this man, loved your tweets about what he was up to :)

trailortrash on May 11, 2011 at 8:54 PM


CBarker on May 11, 2011 at 8:58 PM

When you tweeted your concern this morning I was afraid this day had come…

We get so much more from our four legged friends than we give them. The pain is different but not less when we lose one.

RIP Mr. Basset

darkpixel on May 11, 2011 at 9:12 PM

I’m fighting back tears (and losing the fight). I recently reached the end of life’s road with my little Jasmine, an 18-year-old Shihtzu. Our experiences were very different, and yet not in any way that matters. I could write at some length, but let me just say how sorry I am for the pain of loss you must be going through.

I will tell you the comfort I found — and it appears you may be finding as well — was in digging out the old photos, and reliving the wonderful years when she was young, vital, and healthy. Those memories had faded during her years of declining health; now they are, again, my primary memories of her, and they give me great comfort. I pray you’ll find similar comfort.

And while no dog could “replace” Jasmine in our hearts, she did leave a vacancy in our household; one that has now been filled with Julio, a 3-year-old, 8-lb. chihuahua that was headed for the pound. And a very, very good dog.

RegularJoe on May 11, 2011 at 9:18 PM

Mr. Basset’s spirit lives on in all the cherished memories he leaves behind.

So sorry for your loss.

redridinghood on May 11, 2011 at 9:23 PM

Oh, they tear your heart out, don’t they? And 19 years old! What a fabulous, grand old man.

My heart goes out to you both, Jazz.

Good boy, Mr. Basset. Schweet dreams.

tree hugging sister on May 11, 2011 at 9:57 PM

I’m sorry for your loss. My own “Old Man”…Fred Bassett… is on the downhill run to his end days and we hope that he will let us know as Mr. Bassett did for you and your wife.

Do a search…read up on “The Rainbow Bridge”.
You and Rascal WILL meet again.

TexasEngineer on May 11, 2011 at 10:35 PM


justltl on May 11, 2011 at 10:46 PM

I’ve had discussions with loved ones about having pets and they ask me how can you deal with their loss when they’re gone. I tell them they give me so much joy and happiness. I tell them that there is no guarantee that I will outlive them, and that while we are on the earth, that to give up their love because of the probability of loss is to give up on life.

God bless you and good Mr. Basset. St. Francis of Assisi said all of God’s creatures has a place in his kingdom, and Mr. Basset is waiting for you, braying now, ready for his walk.

itsspideyman on May 11, 2011 at 10:52 PM

Thank you for sharing Mr. Basset’s story.

I’m reading a book called “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn. Scripture teaches that one day this Earth and all creation will be redeemed- like Eden before The Fall. Alcorn poses that if all of creation will one day be redeemed, animals included, why not animals we have loved? Indeed, would it really be Heaven without them?
It’s not hard to imagine Mr. Basset there to one day welcome you Home once again.

parteagirl on May 11, 2011 at 10:54 PM

Thank you so very much, Jazz, for bringing Mr. Basset alive and into my life in this beautiful tribute.

What a great dog!!! He let you know he had more to accomplish here. . . and I’m so glad you understood and allowed that to happen. Thanks for the fabulous photos and stories you shared, breakfast of over easy eggs in butter :), making people smile everywhere he went, and helping your little dog to ‘sing’. .

When he was sitting on your lap, Jazz, he looked really happy, and utterly at peace.

My heart hurts for you and your wife. I know that my own wonderful pets in this life – my Earth angels and teachers of unconditional love – will welcome me home. I take great comfort in that knowledge and hope you will, too.

Sending hugs and love to you and your wife.

Opinionator on May 11, 2011 at 10:56 PM

Jazz, so sorry for the loss of your beloved companion. Anyone who has ever had to make that ultimate life or death decision for their pet shares an ache in their heart for you & your wife. It is a relief to hear of the peaceful end on that grassy hill that your wonderful vet provided for Mr. Bassett. Every animal who has to be euthanized deserves to have such a peaceful end.
Ten years ago, my husband & I made the heart wrenching decision to put our dog down due to cancer and she went peacefully to sleep before her heart stopped. A few years later we found ourselves in the same position with our other dog, but (for reasons I won’t go into) with a vet we had never gone to. It was a nightmare & there was nothing peaceful or merciful about what she did. Our dog was a pound or so short of needing a second dose/syringe and she opted to use just one. I know this because I was there as she weighed him and actually thought it through out loud! If I’d been in my right mind, it would have registered and I would have run from that office. Halfway through the process, with my poor dog yelping and pleading with his big brown eyes, the vet just stood there waiting for the medicine to take effect. I cannot put into words what that was like for my sweet animal to die in such a horrible way while I, weeping uncontrollably, held his face and kept saying “I’m so sorry…” over and over again, finally screaming, “DO SOMETHING!!” at the vet. She then left the room to get another syringe full of medicine. Time stood still as we waited for her to come back and complete the process. I know I will never, ever get over the guilt and grief of that day. Sharing this ordeal is not meant to make a sad day even worse. I do so only as a cautionary tale to all those who love their pets with all their heart.
Please everyone, when or if the time comes where your pet is suffering and beyond hope, make sure you know the vet well. Hearing Jazz’s story is sad enough, but knowing there are vets out there willing to go that extra mile and bring the animal outside to a lovely hill… it both heartwarming and heartbreaking to me.
God bless you and your wife for loving Mr. Bassett and all the other dogs you have given the gift of a second chance to. Indeed there will be a special place in heaven for you all. And I hope one day that God and my dog will forgive me for the pain and terror I made him go through those last few minutes of his life.
Till we meet again…

NightmareOnKStreet on May 11, 2011 at 11:39 PM

Better than so many people.

Thank you for sharing the Mr. Basset travails.

Schadenfreude on May 11, 2011 at 11:39 PM

I knew I had to wait to read this until after dog training tonight. Jazz my heart is breaking for you and Georg. I still have not gotten over losing our dear Jessie dog 10 years ago and we are now faced with the though of saying good bye to our darling Lucky dog. Mr. Basset was indeed a grand old man – grand like his loving humans who made his life as grand as it was…..


Lady Logician on May 12, 2011 at 12:26 AM

We just lost our Dalmatian, (16 years and 9 months old) this March.

Know exactly how you feel about watching the “ups and downs” of their condition—and praying for a miracle while knowing things will never be as before.

Reading Hot Air, and other blogs daily reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw that rings very true.

“The more I know about people, the better I like my dog”

thegeneral on May 12, 2011 at 12:33 AM

Jazz: I’m so sorry to hear about your buddy’s passing. I have a Basset/Corgi mix and like your dog, he is adored by everyone he meets. He is the friendliest, most outgoing (when it comes to meet-and-greet situations, both with humans and other canines) dog I’ve ever had…he is just a treasure, and if I allow myself to think about it, I absolutely dread the day that he’s no longer with me.

Why, oh why, didn’t God make dogs live as long as we do?

Well, I think Mr. Basset is in heaven, running and playing and meeting all kinds of people and other animals.

I hope I have the pleasure of meeting him myself one day.

capitalist piglet on May 12, 2011 at 1:37 AM

Thank you for sharing Rascals life story. What a great part of the family he was. I try to stop and smell the roses every day with my vizsla Lucky because I know how much I’m going to miss him when he goes to the rainbow bridge.

shanimal on May 12, 2011 at 6:39 AM

So sorry to hear of your loss. My dog Mini Me died suddenly in December at age 11. I still cry, and will for a long long time, probably forever. He is deeply, terribly missed. :(

Urban Infidel on May 12, 2011 at 6:51 AM

Godspeed, Mr. Basset, good sir – may you rest in much-deserved peace.

Thanks for the post, even though it made me cry. No doubt it will hit a nerve for everyone who has loved and lost a cherished four-legged friend.

Excuse me while I go give my “Chowfoundland” Koko, a big hug and belly rub.

Logic on May 12, 2011 at 7:20 AM

Thanks for your dog story, Jazz Shaw, on behalf of all dog lovers, especially those of us who have adopted older dogs.

My own spaniel was rescued by the SPCA from a cruelty situation and then transferred to the Humane Association, where it required three months of treatment to get him to an “adoptable” stage. When we took him, they told us he was about 9; however, it turns out they mis-estimated. Four years later, the vet estimates that today he is about 10, and happy and healthy as any dog could be.

DaydreamBeliever on May 12, 2011 at 7:37 AM

So sorry for your loss. Hard to cry so early in the morning. I need to straighten a few things out. Your dog was wonderful and had a great temperment because he was breed by a reputable breeder who took great pains and expense to breed a great dog. There is no money being made by hobby breedists they do it for love of the breed and for some breeds to stop it from becoming extinct) He was not cast out at seven from showing because he was too old. Conformation is expensive and very time consumimg and once a dog has become an AKC champion it is done. Though a number of Westminister champs have come out of retirement to win being over 9 or 10. If there was not great reputable breeders Mr Bassett would not have existed. These are the wonderful dogs that become great pets with rarely behaviorial or medical problems. It is too bad that PETA and other animal nuts have cast a bad light on these wonderful people who breed the dogs we love.

Ricki on May 12, 2011 at 7:53 AM

Perhaps your tribute will inspire some of the readers to rescue, as well. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful tribute to a fine, old dog.


sheesh on May 11, 2011 at 8:39 PM

Done! I was actually inspired by Mark Levin to rescue our first dog last November- a tiny ten pound five year old Cavalier King Charles who was severely neglected. It took less than 24 hours for her to crawl inside our hearts. She is the most grateful, sweet, patient little thing- so affectionate and snuggly. Rescue dogs for me from now on! In memory of Mr. Basset!

parteagirl on May 12, 2011 at 8:03 AM

“The creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth…We ourselves…groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for…the redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8:21-23

“Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:5

Can’t wait!

(A shorter version of Randy Alcorn’s “Heaven” is called “50 Days of Heaven- Reflections That Bring Eternity to Light”. Highly recommended!)

parteagirl on May 12, 2011 at 8:21 AM

Been there, done that, and I hate starting the day with tears in my eyes.

Sounds like one remarkable pooch.

bob53186 on May 12, 2011 at 8:26 AM

I bought my dog from a wonderful loving breeder. I know exactly what i was getting. No surprises. It is great you want to rescue but dont make me feel bad that i want to support my breed. It is amazing how these animal rescue places con you people into thinking every dog was abused.

Ricki on May 12, 2011 at 8:30 AM

Mr Basset lived to be 19 because he was breed from great stock thanks to his breeding.

Ricki on May 12, 2011 at 8:33 AM

It is amazing how these animal rescue places con you people into thinking every dog was abused.

Ricki on May 12, 2011 at 8:30 AM

That’s right, Ricki, you are smarter than Obama even and we’re all just dumb and gullible. I’m sure that all of our dogs are stupid compared to yours, and that your breeder is/was pure as the wind-driven snow.

DaydreamBeliever on May 12, 2011 at 8:47 AM

You daydreamer are nasty. My breeder is a good woman who does everything for her dogs. I said nothing about the intelligence of my dog. And my point is still that these shelters tug on your heartstrings to get you to BUY a dog from them. We know they dont give them away for free.

Ricki on May 12, 2011 at 8:53 AM

Thank you for giving this little fellow a home when most will turn away an older dog. Your tribute is a testament to how they love unconditionally.

nor on May 12, 2011 at 9:36 AM

RIP schweet boy.

Mr. Bingley on May 12, 2011 at 9:45 AM

And I hope one day that God and my dog will forgive me for the pain and terror I made him go through those last few minutes of his life.
Till we meet again…

NightmareOnKStreet on May 11, 2011 at 11:39 PM

God and your dog have already forgiven you. They know you loved him and did the best you could for him.

With time – possibly a lot of time – you may be able to forgive yourself. It was such a horrible and traumatic thing for you as well as the dog that it will be hard, I know.

Alana on May 12, 2011 at 10:12 AM

So sorry for your loss. As someone who has done this more than once, I know the pain you feel. RIP Mr. Basset and have fun up there with my sweet Freckles, Saint, Spot and Shi Shi.

jewells45 on May 12, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Just wanted you all to know that I’ve been going through the many comments with my wife and we very much appreciate the outpouring of support. It helps during dark times like this. I know we all don’t always agree on some of the political issues of the day, but it’s good sometimes to remember that we can all come together over something like the loss of a loved one, human or otherwise. You’ve brought us a lot of comfort, and we thank you for your thoughts.

On a related note, I didn’t mean to imply that all breeders abandon dogs, or that they are all ‘bad’ in any way. But there are some who give up on animals too easily, and Mr. Basset got caught up in that category.



Jazz Shaw on May 12, 2011 at 10:32 AM

My condolences for your loss, he seemed like a very special dog and it is a testament to you and yours that he lived so long and so happily.

Thank you for such a nice testamonial, I feel like I know him.

(Being a huge Columbo fan, I have a soft spot for Bassets anyway) ;)

DrAllecon on May 12, 2011 at 10:42 AM

Ain’t but three things in this world that’s worth a solitary dime, but old dogs and children and watermelon wine.

My sincere condolences.

GalosGann on May 12, 2011 at 10:48 AM

He seemed like an amazing dog who lived a long but really good life in the end. RIP Mr. Basset. I sure do miss my dog who passed away 7 months ago.

gatorfanatic on May 12, 2011 at 11:23 AM

So saddened to hear of the loss of your beloved pet.

We lost our Sable in February. She was a 12 year old black Lab, a sweet, sweet soul and we miss her terribly.

Thank you for sharing his story.

Jvette on May 12, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Reading your post was heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. It brings me sharply to mind of my Sunny dog, who at 15, was very old for a Golden Retriever. When I had to take her to the emergency vet, they were kind and helped me through the decision to let her go safely over the rainbow bridge. I wept for her that day and again today. Your friend, Mr. Basset, lived a grand, long life, and was well loved by your family. It doesn’t lessen the grief, but it helps to make it a little more tolerable to know that, to the end, he loved you and cared for you as much as you did for him.

My condolences for your grief.

Tennman on May 12, 2011 at 11:36 AM

Some of you might have heard of, or read the speech (court room summation, actually) from which the phrase “A man’s best friend” was derived but I doubt many have the full story of how the summation came about.

I have posted a long post below, but dog lovers will love it.

CAUTION: This is really emotional stuff. I’ve read it many times since 1975 when I got the first copy of “The People’s Almanac” and I still get choked up – dogs do that to me. If you’re at work and you don’t want people in the other cubicles to think you’re nuts, wait till you get home before you read this!!!!!

You have been warned!!!!


On that fall day in 1870 when country lawyer George Graham Vest stood up in Judge Foster Wright’s courtroom in Warrensburg, Mo., to defend a dog, few present could have imagined that what they were about to hear would become the most memorable tribute in modern history to man’s best friend.

But first, the series of events that brought George Graham Vest into the courtroom as counsel on behalf of a dog’s good name.

The canine in question was not an unknown mongrel. He was a foxhound named Old Drum, and around Johnson County he was held in high regard for his speed and dependability. Old Drum’s proud owner was Charles Burden.

One summer’s morning in 1870, Old Drum was found dead from a bullet wound on or near the property of Leonidas Hornsby, who was one of Burden’s neighbors. Investigating the untimely death of his hunter, the distressed Burden decided that circumstantial evidence clearly indicated Hornsby had killed the dog.

Seeking some kind of redress for his loss, Burden went to the Justice of Peace Court in Warrensburg to file suit. Informed that $150 was the maximum amount for which he could sue in this kind of case. Burden immediately filed against Hornsby for that sum.

The case of Burden v. Hornsby was tried, and after a verdict was given for Hornsby, it was appealed, and then appealed again, until it reached the State Circuit Court for final judgment.

On the day of the last trial—a jury trial— Judge Wright presided. Considering that the issue was the value of one foxhound, a formidable array of legal talent had been assembled. Appearing upon behalf of the defendant, Hornsby, were 2 attorneys who would one day become national figures. One was Francis Cockrell, who would later be elected to the U.S. Senate from Missouri, and the other was Thomas Crittenden, who would later become governor of Missouri. Appearing on behalf of Charles Burden and the deceased Old Drum was Col. Wells Blodgett, a well-known local attorney.

As the court convened, Colonel Blodgett felt the odds were against his client and his client’s dog. The opposition had more manpower. The opposing lawyers had bigger reputations than his own. Even worse, Cockrell and Crittenden knew every member of the jury personally. The opposition exuded confidence.

Then, quite by accident, Colonel Blodgett learned that the only attorney in the area equal to the opposition in forensic skill happened to be in the courthouse that very afternoon. This was George Graham Vest, a onetime senator in the Confederacy who, 8 years hence, would be elected to the U.S. Senate from Missouri and serve in the Senate as one of its leading debaters from 1879 to 1903. Vest, who practiced in nearby Sedalia, happened to be visiting the courthouse on another legal matter. Colonel Blodgett went to Vest at once and implored him to come aboard as special counsel. Apparently because the elements in the case appealed to him, or perhaps because he was a dog fancier. Vest consented to assist in the case.

Judge Wright had a crowded calendar, and he did not get to Burden v. Hornsby until late in the afternoon. Determined to get the case to the jury that very day. Judge Wright recessed the court for supper, and announced that the pleading would begin in the evening.

That night, when the court was called to order, the kerosene lamps revealed a gallery thick with people. Not an empty seat could be found. The word had gone out that George Graham Vest had joined Colonel Blodgett against Cockrell and Crittenden, and a real donnybrook was in the offing.

Judge Wright’s gavel rapped, and Burden v. Hornsby, with the ghost of Old Drum in the wings, was under way.

Colonel Blodgett spoke first. No record exists of the effectiveness of his appeal to the jury.

Then it was the turn of the defendant’s lawyers. Thomas Crittenden addressed the jury, followed by Francis Cockrell. Both spoke flippantly of the monetary worth of Burden’s property loss, and they “said it was ridiculous to make so much ado about a dog of small value.”

Confidently, they concluded their pleas, not realizing that they had given George Graham Vest exactly the opening he wanted.

Vest was on his feet for the final argument. The courtroom was hushed as he fixed his attention on the jurors. He was not interested in the evidence previously presented. He was not interested in the legalisms surrounding a $150 property loss. He was interested in only one thing. A man’s beloved pet and companion, a dog, had been maligned.

Vest began to speak, addressing himself only to the subject of dogs and to all the Old Drums in history.

Even years after, when he had become governor of Missouri, Crittenden could not forget Vest’s speech. Remembering it, he said:

“I have often heard him, but never had I heard from his lips, nor from the lips of any other man, so graceful, so impetuous and so eloquent a speech as this before the jury in that dog case. He seemed to recall from history all the instances where dogs had displayed intelligence and fidelity to man. He quoted more lines of history and poetry about dogs than I had supposed had been written. He capped the monument he had erected by quoting from the Bible about the dog which soothed the sores of the beggar Lazarus as he sat at the rich man’s gate, and by giving Motley’s graphic description of how the fidelity of a dog kept William of Orange from falling into the hands of the Duke of Alva.

“It was as perfect a piece of oratory as was ever heard from pulpit or bar. Court, jury, lawyers, and audience were entranced. I looked at the jury and saw all were in tears. The foreman wept like one who had just lost his dearest friend. The victory for the other side was complete. I said to Cockrell that we were defeated; that the dog, though dead, had won,and that we had better get out of the court-house with our client or we would be hanged.”

When Vest had finished, the jury was so mesmerized that it returned a unanimous judgment of $550 in damages instead of $150 for Charles Burden — actually, for Old Drum. When Judge Wright collected his wits, he reduced the judgment to the Court’s legal limit of $150.

While no record was kept of the last half of George Graham Vest’s tribute to a dog, the first portion has fortunately been preserved. It was this speech that originated the saying, “A man’s best friend is his dog.”

George Graham Vest speaking:

“Gentlemen of the jury, the best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter whom he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us — those whom we trust with our happiness and good name —may become traitors in their faith. The money that a man has he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the 1st to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world—the one that never proves un-grateful or treacherous—is his dog.”

“Gentlemen of the jury, a man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and poverty, in health and sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow, and the snow drives fiercely, if only he can be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer; he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.”

“If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace, and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death.”

E9RET on May 12, 2011 at 11:39 AM

(Being a huge Columbo fan, I have a soft spot for Bassets anyway) ;)

DrAllecon on May 12, 2011 at 10:42 AM

Ha! Maybe we’ll get a Columbo thread someday.

DaydreamBeliever on May 12, 2011 at 11:45 AM

God Bless the furry wonder. Thank you for being the people you and your wife are, people who have love and long life to a wonderful furry being who likely had more ‘humanity’ in him than many, many of the two legged creatures roaming the big blue ball we call home.

I too talk aloud to my furry wonders and I know the eldest understands me. The little one is less of an ‘intellectual’, he learned the words he needed and wags at us and acts doggy for love. The eldest had a real scare, her red blood cell count tanked and we almost lost her.

Took her to a specialist and she finally had 2 different rounds of blood transfusions and was put on prednisone and something else to stimulate red blood cells and hold off white ones.

Vet says this sometimes happens to dogs in middle age. I think she was sad, my eldest ‘two leg’ had gone away to school, and that was her girl.

We flew in the girl to spend extra time with the furry wonder, and after 2 rounds of transfusions, my baby’s bone marrow is once again producing baby red blood cells, hooray!

Both the furry ones are rescue dogs, black lab mixes. Eldest found dumped in a box on side of road in the desert, youngest rescued by a wonderful group called Best Friends.

I watch them dozing in the sun (eldest dozing, youngest rolling in the grass in happy, doggy style) and they really make me tear up with just how incredibly awesome they are.

As Jonah on NRO says, the only animals born with the instinct to love humans.

Of course there is a God, he gave us dogs.

Thank you for sharing Mr Basset with us. God Bless his furry soul.

ginaswo on May 12, 2011 at 11:48 AM

Ah sheez Jazz-I don’t need to tear up in school!
Wonderful story.
We had an old rope horse sorta like your Mr Basset:Wheezy.
I swear he was a hundred years old whne we got him.
Hubby roped on him for maybe a year.
He did OK. Still knew how to do it.
Then he became a kid horse.
He never did complain, though he wasn’t an affectionate horse.
All our other horses chased him around & picked on him.
Then we got Whistler. He loved her from the get go.
After a month, she started going down & couldn’t hardly get up & he stayed by her side for days, refusing to go eat or water.
I had to take her to the vet & later that day, put her down.
Wheezy was so lonely.
Until Dunny. He & Dunny became fast friends for a year until Dunny died in a tragic accident.
Then Wheezy was along again.
Wheezy palled around a little with a little kid horse, Tucker, but it wasn’t the same for him.
After another year, Wheezy was really starting to go down hill.
His bones were really showing & he had no appetite.
I bought a blanket for him to wear in the ND cold & it helped some.
And then one morning Hubby came out to find Wheezy dead in the pasture yard. So we buried him with the tractor in the side hill facing south, where the sun shines.
I still miss riding Wheezy. He wasn’t a cow horse at all, didn’t really have a lot of fire in him, but he was a gentle old soul.

Badger40 on May 12, 2011 at 12:03 PM

That you so much for sharing such a sweet personal story. My heart goes out to you all. Mr. Basset couldn’t have asked for a better home!

Aggie85 on May 12, 2011 at 12:26 PM

Is it dusty in here? I think something is getting in my eyes. :-(

RIP Mr. Bassett

KeepOhioRed on May 12, 2011 at 12:32 PM

I don’t even shed tears, most of the time, for human tragedy. But animals, especially dogs, get me. Every. Damn. Time.

Vyce on May 11, 2011 at 6:37 PM

I concour as i look upon my loved to no end baby, my Condolences for your loss Jazz.

heshtesh on May 12, 2011 at 12:46 PM

Mr. Basset undoubtedly would have helped make American politics happier, friendlier and all-around better.

There is a wonderful dog who is mayor of a tiny Kentucky town. Lucy Lou, a Scottish border collie, is mayor of Rabbit Hash, KY, southwest of Cincinnati. If you ever happen to visit Rabbit Hash, you may find Mayor Lucy Lou greeting her constituents.

Check her out online as well (

Rest in peace, Mr. Basset. Together, you and Lucy Lou could have changed the world.

KyMouse on May 12, 2011 at 1:45 PM

Thank you for the beautiful eulogy, Jazz.

Our dog is a puppy rescue animal too. He’s had a wonderful life with us, but I consider myself the lucky one.

bonnie_ on May 12, 2011 at 1:47 PM

I am crying as I write this, we just had to put down our Sheltie of 15 years. Mr. Basset is now with God in Heaven with my beautiful Macala!

RIP!! and I am so sorry for your loss.

Repubtallygirl on May 12, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Thanks, and condolences.

My old gentleman, Benny, has days, perhaps a couple weeks, left. Just went in and we did a big cuddle and a couple dog biscuits. So grateful the world has dogs in it.

jodetoad on May 12, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Thank you so much for your wonderful eulogy for Mr. Bassett. I feel I know him now and love him as one of my own. My sympathies for your loss… and a hearty “barooooooo!” for Mr. Bassett!

Our family are Shih Tzu people and we’ve had the most incredible family of them – Father, mother, son and uncle.

The father, Tai, was 15 when he passed away – No more loving dog you’ll ever have met. 17 champions in his bloodline, but you’d never have known it from his laid back and friendly demeanor. My grandparents loved him so much we had to go out and find them one of their own. We purchased two that day…one for them and one for me.

My sweet Michi left us two years ago at 14 yrs. My little prancing princess was a wonderful friend and I miss her tons.

Michi’s brother, Tai Too, lived with my grandparents. He was also 14 when he passed away. A totally unique guy, with the most unusual bark of any shih tzu. Legs like a giraffe – but the cutest face. And totally beloved by my grandparents.

Tai and Michi’s son, Lucky, living with my parents, is now 13 and experiencing seizures. It breaks my heart to think that he won’t be around much longer. This little boy has looked like a puppy all his life. And it’s even harder to realize that he’ll soon be gone, when he still looks like a youngster.

I’ve been contemplating getting a dog again…but it hurts even now to think of going through the loss of another furry friend. But as folks have said here, the time with them makes it all worth while. Knowing that you give friendship, love and comfort to an animal that returns it ten-fold.

Here’s to all the wonderful animals in our lives.

tickleddragon on May 12, 2011 at 2:16 PM

Jazz, a wonderful eulogy. As an aside, I would add that Charles Krauthammer was likewise moved to deliver a eulogy in mourning of the death of his 8 yr old labrador retriever, Chester. You might find it of interest.

Wolf Howling on May 12, 2011 at 2:17 PM

I am quite sure that Mr. Basset was greeted by Kenya at the Rainbow Bridge where he shall have eggs over easy with butter every day.

What a beautiful tribute to a remarkable member of your family. Thank you for sharing Mr. Basset with us.

KrisinNE on May 12, 2011 at 2:17 PM

What a beautiful story, about a wonderful animal, and so well told! I am sitting in my office visibly crying, because your story is so touching. It makes me think about our sweet Boston Terrier, Domino, who died of cancer several years ago. Pets really do become a big part of peoples lives, and when we lose them, it’s like losing a member of our family. Thanks for the heartfelt story!

Susanboo on May 12, 2011 at 2:26 PM

This was a wonderful story. There is no love as pure and as unconditional as that given by a faithful dog. Every day when I get home from work, my own dog greets me with great enthusiasm, as if we were long-lost friends finally reunited after an eternity apart.

Vic on May 12, 2011 at 4:30 PM

And I hope one day that God and my dog will forgive me for the pain and terror I made him go through those last few minutes of his life.
Till we meet again…
NightmareOnKStreet on May 11, 2011 at 11:39 PM

God and your dog have already forgiven you. They know you loved him and did the best you could for him.
With time – possibly a lot of time – you may be able to forgive yourself. It was such a horrible and traumatic thing for you as well as the dog that it will be hard, I know.
Alana on May 12, 2011 at 10:12 AM

Alana, thank you for your kindness. After what that vet put my sweet dog through, even though 99.99% of euthanasia is a painless, merciful, loving & selfless act, I will never again take that for granted. I am grateful to read how Jazz & others here have had a much better experience. Hopefully that will help them as they grieve their deep loss. Someday, I hope to get past the guilt so my grieving process can begin.

NightmareOnKStreet on May 12, 2011 at 4:52 PM

I’m a basset guy myself, Jazz. I’ve owned (or been owned by) five of them in the last 22 years. My sympathies.

abcurtis on May 12, 2011 at 5:06 PM

God bless Mr. Bassett. What an adorable dog. My sincerest sympathies. May God bless Mr. Bassett and comfort you.

American Elephant on May 12, 2011 at 5:39 PM

I’m a basset guy myself, Jazz. I’ve owned (or been owned by) five of them in the last 22 years. My sympathies.
abcurtis on May 12, 2011 at 5:06 PM

abcurtis, so true! Thanks for the much needed laugh.

NightmareOnKStreet on May 12, 2011 at 5:55 PM

Well done, good and faithful servant. May you rest in peace.

Thank you for sharing Mr. Bassett’s life with us.
Prayers and good thoughts are being sent your family’s way.

TeresainFortWorth on May 12, 2011 at 6:08 PM

Jazz, thank you for a very moving tale eulogizing Mr. Basset. I have lost 2 of my furbabies in the past 5 months, one to seizures like you described Mr. Basset had. Unfortunately, Bruno only lived for 4 years and 2 months, but I value every second of that time like it was gold. Mr. Basset and Bruno are chasing rabbits at the Rainbow Bridge, awaiting us in a land without pain. Like someone else said, there must be a God, he gave us dogs. I’m not ashamed to admit, I’m bawling like a little baby. Your vet shows a rare empathy to send him home in such a fitting manner rather than a cold stainless steel table in a sterile room. Rest in Peace Mr. Basset, your work here is done, and done well.

Mini-14 on May 12, 2011 at 6:37 PM

Aw, I’m sorry for your loss. My loving cat was 18 when I had to put her down. She looked right in my eyes. I cried uncontrollably for days, then weeped for weeks afterwards.

SouthernGent on May 13, 2011 at 12:35 AM

Our sympathies, Jazz; what a great loss for your family. And thank you, thank you for this wonderfully written and very moving piece. (*remembers Penny and Munson*)

inviolet on May 13, 2011 at 12:55 AM

So there you have it… the story of Rascal, a.k.a. Mr. Basset. He was a gentle soul in a world too often cruel to his kind. He will be missed, but also always remembered with love.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Basset.

This is a beautiful memorial for a wonderful dog. Dog, one of God’s best gifts to us humans. I am convinced that domesticating dogs domesticated man.

Lourdes on May 13, 2011 at 4:00 AM

Happy Trails Mr. Basset!

We recently lost our 23 and a half year old cat, so we understand your loss. Thanks for such a warm and touching article of remembrance.

devolvingtowardsidiocracy on May 13, 2011 at 9:20 AM

What a wonderful tribute to a very handsome dog, rest in peace Mr. Basset. I truly believe that when our days on this earth are through, we will be reunited with our furry friends in a far better place. In this spirit, I would like to share my family tribute to our beloved pet, Indiana Jones. He was an almost 10 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who lost his brave fight with heart disease on January 31, 2011. I miss him every day. Here is the link the blogpost:

leapsandbounds on May 13, 2011 at 8:49 PM

Jazz – as an owner of two wonderful, loving bassets (honey and larry) – i deeply offer my condolences. As my mother once told me – God needs good dogs in Heaven.


jcampbell on May 13, 2011 at 10:51 PM

Thanks Jazz. I’m pretty cynical and wizened by all of the political warfare I read daily. But this was something different. An excellent and touching piece. Thanks for making my day. Godspeed to Mr. Basset. And you will always have his memories. There’s nothing more loving and devoted in life than a good dog.

JeffB. on May 14, 2011 at 1:47 AM


I am so sorry for your loss. We had a rescue dog (a black doberman) named Molly who died of the same cancer that Mr. Basset had (she had a highly aggressive fibrosarcoma of her lower jaw). We had only had her for less than a year when she was diagnosed. We brought her to a veterinary oncologist and he gave her four months to live, but she survived for two (the doctor was shocked). She was brave until the very end. Dogs truly are amazing creatures.

I’m sure that Molly and Mr. Basset are in Heaven together right now. Take care. I promise, it will get easier.

Sincerely, Susannah

Susannah Fleetwood on May 14, 2011 at 2:58 AM

Godspeed, Mr. Basset, Godspeed.

Doctor B on May 15, 2011 at 4:57 PM