A Hound Dog

Hank Mattimore
Reproduced with Permission

Ten O'clock at night. I hobble to my bed nursing a sore ankle from a tennis injury. Oh! Finally getting in bed never felt so good. Then, I hear the sound of Penny, my basset hound at her water dish. Her collar rattles the metal container, letting me know that she is out of water. I groan. "No, I don't want to get up again. Penny, can't you suck it up for a night without water?" No response except another rattle of the water dish.

It's a hot night. I can't let the poor dog go without water. So, uttering an expletive not fit for a family newspaper, I limp to the kitchen and fill her dish with water. As I put the dish back on the floor, Penny rewards me by licking my hand. I could almost hear her mind focus on Rule two, section one of the dog's "Training Your Master Manual." Make sure to give positive reinforcement to your master when he behaves appropriately.

Good grief! I never even wanted a dog but living as I do in the Children's Village, pets are almost a requirement for grandparents. So, here I am with this "sausage on mini legs" sharing my little one bedroom apartment. She made me laugh when I first saw her. Hells bells! With her ears that practically touch the ground and those big sad eyes, and the way she waddles when she runs, Penny could make an undertaker giggle. And she is friendly. Omigosh! Is she friendly. A friend to humanity is what she is. Penny loves anyone with two legs. She is a perfect match for a children's village.

The kids love her but, I must admit, it has taken this Grandpa a little more time.

How can I put this? Penny is not a low maintenance pooch. She howls rather than barks; barely tolerates other dogs. She enjoys rolling on the ground wherever she happens to be which explains how she manages to retain a strong doggy smell no matter how often she is given a bath. Penny is legendary for the mount of excrement she produces. One of the kids gave her what he calls her Indian name, "Penny Poops a Lot." My hound dog is not much for playing "fetch." That's way too much work. She will only occasionally come when called and has a stubborn streak that would make a mule look like a patsy. One of her favorite tricks is dragging leaves and various detritus into the apartment. Oh, and she snores, snores like a 400 lb. man with sleep apnea. So, for the first few months, I seriously considered trading Penny in for a stuffed teddy bear.

But, the old gal has won me over. She wooed me, as dogs have been doing for hundreds of years, by their loyalty and affection and unconditional love. Whenever I come home, she has a comical way of crawling several feet across the carpet (on her considerable stomach) to welcome me. Then she rolls over on her back for a belly rub. She taught me that trick early on. Then, she brings me a squeaky toy, which she loves to play with, and, if I let her, will join me on the couch (all 55 lbs. of her) for a little snuggle. She'd lay a wet sloppy kiss on me if I'd let her but, knowing some of the places she has visited with her tongue, I draw the line there.

I always knew that kids and dogs go together but I hadn't realized how an old hound dog could steal the heart of a grandpa. For better or worse, this odd couple has found one another. We are one family now, a passel of kids, Grandpa Hank and a basset hound named Penny. Hey God, stop laughing.