The Story of Emily – by Sharon I love dogs in general, but I have a preference for certain breeds of dog. I think I share that outlook with most dog lovers. For instance, some people prefer pugs, some bulldogs, some golden retrievers, and some, like me, prefer Basset hounds. Why? I have no logical idea. I think it is just in my nature to love Bassets: I mean, who can resist those long ears attached to a very short, low-riding dog. Sometimes the ears are the longest part of the dog, resulting in their sweeping the ground as she walks! Furthermore, the Basset’s eyes are windows to a very loving, faithful, and intelligent soul that will endure anything for the love of her owner.
A Basset is bred for determination in tracking a smell. Complete determination of purpose is in their blood, and in their noses, to never leave the scented trail. While this is a very valuable quality to anyone who hunts game, whether on foot, or on horses; the trait can pose quite a challenge to those of us who just want to go for walks with our dog. Emily (my Basset hound) could be trusted to come to me when I called her, as long as there wasn’t anything more important occupying her interest. My holding a piece of cheese out to her was a strong incentive to come to me. I even changed the command “come” to “cheese” for that added persuasion. Anyone who observed me calling my dog would wonder why I yelled “CHEESE” instead of “COME” but I accepted the chance of looking silly, in favor of being effective. When we went out for a walk, I tucked a piece of cheese in my pocket, just to be safe. Most of the time, it worked. The exception to this rule, of course, was Emily’s picking up the scent of something interesting, and following that scent with intense determination, cheese or no cheese. One very rainy night, as I was entertaining guests in my house, I suddenly got a funny feeling that I should check on Emily, who I thought was in my bedroom. She was not there. Once I determined that she was missing, I looked out the front door as the rain pelted me in the face, to see her hind-quarters disappear around the block. I immediately darted out the door, running as fast as I could while sheets of rain stung my face and hands. I could not let Emily out of my sight! I might never see her again if I couldn’t catch her! I ran through mud and puddles and debris in my desperation to catch up to her. Rounding the turn in the road, peering through intense rain for any sign of Emily, I vaguely identified a moving object; sure enough, there was Emily’s tail sticking out of a bush where she’d found something interesting. I called her, but to no avail, she was on the scent! I was lucky that she had found something interesting enough to linger, because that gave me enough time to catch up to her. My lungs felt about to burst, and my legs threatened to collapse, as I threw my arms around her with a tight, inescapable hug. I can tell you that I was not pleased. I told Emily I was not pleased, as I picked up all 50 pounds of her, slung her over my shoulder, and began the long walk home. The rain hammered my face and hands and the road’s asphalt was very slippery. I found that the middle of the road was safer than the sidewalk, so I walked down the middle of the street, with Emily hanging over my shoulder, long ears trailing over my back. The crisis over, I walked slowly, avoiding potholes and mud, when a car approached me from behind. Fully expecting the car to go around me, as I gave it plenty of room on the road to do so. I was surprised when the car pulled up beside me as I walked. It was a police officer! I can imagine the scene this officer was taking in: a mad woman drenched to the bone, walking down the middle of the residential road (near midnight) with a Basset hound, of all things, slung over her shoulder like a bag of horse feed. The officer asked me, “Are you all right?”, clearly alarmed at the spectacle he beheld. “Where you headed with that dog?” “We are going home” was my short answer (it was still raining!) “You know, you need to keep better control over your dog!”, he said, “You should get into a training class!” That said, I really hoped he’d consider his duty complete, and move on. Luck was certainly not with me that night; the officer continued to escort me home, to my great embarrassment. As I turned the corner, policeman still at my side, I perceived my dinner guests, assembled on the front porch, all laughing at the sight of me, Emily and the officer. Sometimes it’s too hard to explain my devotion to the Basset, with all their challenging traits. I simply came up the drive, passed through my assembled guests, and retired to my room with Emily. To Emily, the party was a great success!

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