Robin Becker, a Professor of English and Women's Studies at Penn State, touched our heart on both fronts. [Hat tip to Jim Hauze, Class of 1974!]
We've had two basset hounds, both were rescue dogs. Max was a true watch dog — he liked to lay on the couch and watch.
Maggie, however, was a dog of action. She earned an American Kennel Club Tracking Dog (TD) title and several titles from The North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC).
Maggie also competed in rabbit hunts sponsored by the American Hunting Basset Association.
Robin Becker's poem "In Praise of the Basset Hound" appeared in her book The Horse Fair. We're not ashamed to say it made us cry...
Text courtesy of Penn State University...
In Praise of the Basset HoundRobin Becker will be appearing from 7.9 p.m. tonight at Robb Hall at the Hintz Family Alumni Center on the University Park campus.
This unlovely dog, with warts, and a terrible stink
common to the breed, legless as walrus, teaches me
to pursue my life with devotion. Steadfast enthusiast
of fisher cat and vole, she relies now almost entirely on scent
and sings her hound’s song of pleasure when we come
close enough for her to hear her name.
In snow above her shoulder, she tracks our skis,
when all we can see is her metronome tail
tipped in black, sweeping the horizon a mile back.
We keep her, incontinent, in an old shed behind the farmhouse,
a wire fence around her run. Warm days, nose in the air,
she sits like an old retiree in the sun, listening
to warblers build their spring nests.
Her warts ooze, her eyes rain green phlegm. Still,
I kiss her and hold her against my breast,
she who whelped twelve litters before someone
took pity and bought her from the breeder.
Never permitted to lick hand or face, she will not
disgrace her training and extend her tongue in play,
though I offer my cheek. Daily, she shows me
the meaning of character, loping painfully
on swollen paws. I apply salve to her scaly folds,
croon over her. Who among us has not been
moved by the magnificence of mute
creatures in their abundant, dying skin?