Our friends from the Basset list "The Daily Drool" know that the Basset
Chronicles are my continuing saga of life with Basset Hounds. This one
was inspired by yesterday's travels with a rescue dog, "Roscoe."
You are welcome to send it to your friends, or use it in any way that
will encourage more volunteers for relay efforts. Just please retain the
copyright notice, and the end note about "Rides Across America." Thanks!
- Jim Willis & Nicole Valentin-Willis/Tiergarten Sanctuary Trust
THE BASSET CHRONICLES:
The Reality of Relaying "Roscoe"
Copyright Jim Willis 2000
I had volunteered to be one of the relayers of "Roscoe" the Basset
Hound to his new home in another state. I departed early Sunday morning
to meet up with his first relayer in a Taco Bell parking lot. She and
his foster mom from West Virginia were already there when I arrived, and
Roscoe greeted me like an old friend. He's a pretty tri-color and his
wonderful temperament certainly didn't show signs of his first three
years of neglect. We humans traded the requisite half hour's worth of
stories about how great our dogs are, illustrated with photos.
"By the way, how is he in the car?" I asked as they got ready to depart.
"Just fine!" they answered in unison, and sped away teary eyed. Were
they crying or laughing?
I'd been warned that Roscoe gets carsick, that he hadn't been fed since
the evening prior, and that he'd had a dose of Dramamine before they
started out. I decided against giving him any of the dog biscuits I'd
brought with me.
He regarded me calmly from the passenger side of my truck cab
I pulled out onto the interstate and reached cruising speed. Roscoe
began to investigate the truck cab. He nosed and pawed all the storage
receptacles, ashtray, and various parts of my anatomy. He was obviously
hungry. I glanced back and forth between the road and Roscoe.
"Roscoe, spit that out! That's an air freshener, for crying out loud!"
I steered with my left hand and tried to remove anything that resembled
food with my right. Roscoe drooled, long slings of drool, copious ropes
Roscoe sat back down and sized me up some more. All of the sudden, a
look of rapture crossed his face. Not only was I his new best friend,
but I had a truck, and for Roscoe from West Virginia, that made us
kindred spirits. Even though he'd been neutered a few days earlier, I
believe he had a sudden surge of hormones. He flung himself on me,
slurping my glasses askew, his front paws locked around my neck in a
choke hold. Then his hind paw flipped my travel cup of scalding hot
coffee into my lap.
**Flashing blue lights behind me.**
"No, officer, I have NOT been drinking," I protested nervously.
"This blast...blessed dog just dumped a cup of hot coffee on me at 75
miles per hour. You don't say? 55 mph, huh? Well, that's certainly good
I negotiated three lanes of traffic on the Pittsburgh Parkway. My route
had not included the parkway - in fact, we were traveling in the wrong
direction - but Roscoe had chosen that exit with a well-timed poke of
his muzzle through the spokes of the steering wheel.
I alternated lanes at high speed, trying to get back to the proper
route, and noted some signage in bright orange. "Beware of D.U.I.
drivers," said one. "Beware of aggressive drivers," said the next.
"What a ridiculous state of affairs," I muttered to myself.
Just then, Roscoe flopped over for a bellyrub in a state of excitement,
and as I reached for the gear shift knob, I instead grabbed a part of
Roscoe that he is evidently very proud of. Roscoe was even more
surprised at such familiarity from someone he'd only known 45 minutes. I
jerked the wheel hard to the right and forced off the road what appeared
to be a van filled with church goers. I slowed long enough for them to
brandish Bibles at me and mouth what I presumed to be some very
**Flashing blue lights behind me, again.**
"NO, officer, I am NOT drunk. No, I haven't been shot! The dog and I had
> an earlier altercation over a jelly-filled donut and he won."
I found my way back to the interstate, and was overcome by thirst. I
took the next exit and pulled into a McDonald's drive-through.
"Oh, how cute," the woman at the pick-up window cooed. "Would the wittle
>doggie wike a fwench-fwy?"
"NO - carsick - no food!" I managed to stammer while wrestling a
suddenly alert Roscoe. Then, using my groin as a springboard, Roscoe
lunged for the drive-up window, and succeeded in getting his front half
through it. Since I still had two of what Roscoe had recently lost to
surgery, I was more preoccupied with my pain than I was in halting his
maraudings through the window.
Roscoe got his slobbery mouth around the woman's microphone.
"BLABBA-WOOFA-BARFA-SLURPA-AROOOO!" Roscoe delivered into the
microphone, and it arrived at about 100 decibels in the dining area of
the restaurant, accompanied by the screams of children.
"Oh dear. Oh my!" the woman turned back toward me with an alarmed
expression. "That's going to be difficult to clean up."
"What?" I asked, still gasping for breath.
"Happy Meals...frightened children throwing Happy Meals."
"Look - I'll leave you to your McDisaster...just gimme a Coke with extra
I edged onto the interstate again and checked the time. Late again, as
usual. I was concentrating on trying to make up some time, weaving in
and out around slower moving vehicles. My thigh still burned from the
hot coffee and I felt a headache coming on.
"Dr. Roscoe," who must have been sensing my pain, had decided on a
course of treatment, and my lap was suddenly awash with ice cold cola
and extra ice.
"EEEK!" I shrieked and swerved. "EEEK!" the woman in the car next to me
shrieked. Roscoe, with his superior hearing, probably noted several more
EEEK!s in other cars behind us. Maybe his keen hound nose even detected
**Those old familiar, flashing blue lights.**
"No, officer - as I have been telling your colleagues all morning long,
I have NOT been drinking!"
As the officer wrote out yet another ticket, I recalled that Roscoe's
former owner had threatened to shoot him, and I was suddenly feeling a
teensy bit more forgiving of the man.
We met the cheerful family of three who would be relaying Roscoe on the
next leg of his journey, in an Arby's parking lot. I got out of my
> truck, a sight to behold. My
hair glued in spikes by drool, multi-colored stains across my shirt, and
the front of my pants made me look like the poster boy for "Attends."
People had left the Titanic's lifeboats looking better groomed than I
was. I took Roscoe out through the passenger side door, and he greeted
his new victims with glee.
The couple kept shielding their young daughter behind them as we talked.
"Let's see, I think we have everything now, rabies tag, medical records,
directions," the wife said.
"You didn't happen to pack a wet suit, did you?" I asked innocently.
She gave me another odd look.
"How is he in the car?" she asked.
"Him? Um, he's ah...definitely a one-of-a-kind dog!" I managed as
truthfully as I could.
"Do you know if there's a bar around here?" I asked them. They exchanged
glances and gave me a look of pity.
I made it home without further incident and my wife met me at the door.
"How was your relay, dear?" she asked.
"Damp. Very damp and expensive, too. In fact, I think I may be facing
some jail time." Nothing flusters my wife.
"Does the interior of the truck look as bad as you do?" she asked.
"Worse," I replied. "Sea World has fewer surprises."
"Honestly, why didn't you put him in a crate in the covered bed of the
truck?" she suggested.
"A crate? In the back? Are you nuts? - it's cold back there!
Never mind. I'm going to take a nap now. I'm exhausted and I feel an
attack of mildew coming on."
I hugged my pillow and thought of Roscoe, probably warm and dry in his
new home by now. I realized I missed the big lug, but at least
everything was finally right in his drool-covered world.
P.S. A big thank you to Roscoe's foster families and who saved
his life and then transported him to the life he deserves.
Please consider being a volunteer it's some of the most fun
you'll ever have.