hannah, land shark

My mother grew up with basset hounds and dachshunds, and always hoped to end up with one or both in the family. But when she and my dad lived in Puerto Rico, he gave her a little terrier puppy named Regan – not after the President, but after the little girl in The Exorcist (because Regan was a very difficult puppy). Shortly thereafter, they got a little white shelter cat with the very clever and original name of Kitty. Regan and Kitty were a great team, and for a long time they were our only pets.

Our next-door neighbors in Colorado had a red miniature dachshund named Katy. One day, Vanessa saw an adopt-a-pet profile in the local newspaper for a red basset hound that matched Katy exactly. She went and got the basset, and within a day the basset had pooped all over their floor, chewed up some furniture, and terrorized little Katy. My mom, with the soft spot for animals in general and basset hounds in particular, saw an opportunity and agreed to take the dog. We named her Hannah.

Hannah lived outside at first because of her lack of house training, but it only took her a day or so to chew the handles off of a wheelbarrow and every single corner on a picnic table my dad built. That’s 12 corners, in case you’re wondering. We had a fenced-in yard and my parents hated the idea of chaining her up anywhere, but they weren’t sure what else to do and ended up chaining her out in the yard for a few days.

Between her near-constant howling and the dirt path she’d paced into the formerly pristine back yard lawn, they finally decided to bring her in the house.

The only room in our house with a tile floor was the kitchen, so Mom thought it would be a good idea to contain Hannah there for a few days until they could get her settled and housebroken. Problem was, bassets are strong dogs, and she knew a baby gate wouldn’t hold and wasn’t sure how best to keep Hannah in the kitchen. She decided she’d attach a leash to the dishwasher so Hannah could have free room in the kitchen, but couldn’t go to other rooms.

Minor detail: the dishwasher was on casters. It didn’t take long for Hannah to drag herself halfway down the stairs, and the only reason the dishwasher didn’t come along was because it got wedged in the kitchen doorway.

My parents figured that the only thing to do was to let her loose in the house and watch her closely. So they watched her closely as she proceeded to destroy our house from top to bottom.

Hannah ate a pair of roller skates. She ate My Little Ponies. Hannah ate the heads off of every single one of my Barbies, earning her the nickname “Land Shark.” We loved her, and she loved us, but I was pretty pissed about the roller skates (which were brand-new) and the Barbies (and I was a spoiled little girl with a LOT of Barbies). Oh, and she HATED Regan and Kitty.

Regan had grown into a pretty laid-back dog. Kitty was a bitch. Kitty was such a bitch that she got jealous when I was born and jumped into my mother’s lap and proceeded to pee on her while she was nursing me once. Regan, on the other hand, got lost for an entire day because she was so meek we couldn’t find her. We eventually discovered her sitting in a closet with the door cracked open. She’d never barked when we were calling her, and she never so much as nudged the closet door. Crazy-ass Hannah was smart enough to stay away from Kitty, but she picked fights with Regan almost every day.

Hannah attacked Regan under the dining room table one night. Hannah was winning the fight and had gashed Regan’s eyelid, and things were looking bad and we weren’t sure how to get the two apart without getting hurt or making things worse. All of a sudden, Kitty, who was declawed, came streaking out of nowhere. She pounced on Hannah’s back end, ran up her long basset hound back to her head, and proceeded to hiss and spit and box the hell out of Hannah’s ears. And though Hannah wasn’t hurt a bit, it scared the hell out her and she let Regan go.

The next day, my parents put an ad in the paper to try to find a new home for Hannah – preferably somewhere with a lot of room to run, and no Barbies or other pets.

Soon, some people answered the ad. They seemed like good people, so we said our goodbyes and they took Hannah to live with them.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Someone who lived near the new family had heard that they were mistreating our crazy Land Shark. Mom and Vanessa, partners in crime on many other occasions, decided to head out to the new home and see how things were going.

The new owners were at a picnic in a nearby park, and no one was at home. That didn’t deter Mom and Vanessa, who went creeping around the house, looking in windows until they found her. Sure enough, Hannah was closed up in a bedroom without air conditioning, with no food or water, and it was obvious that she’d been in there for a while. Mom and Vanessa conferred briefly about what to do and ultimately decided to officially embrace their roles as petty criminals. They entered the house through an unlocked door, dognapped Hannah, and brought her back home. They never heard a word from those owners, and never saw any evidence that they were even looking for Hannah.

We were glad to have her back and begged our parents to let her stay with us, but Hannah was too destructive and too hostile toward other animals and she could not stay with us. Eventually, my parents found another family through friends (I think) and this family lived on a dairy farm. They used to have a basset hound who died, and were hoping to find another one. They said Hannah could have the run of the farm if she wanted it, and they promised to take good care of her and give her tons of love.

And as far as we know, Hannah lived happily ever after.

I love dogs, but between our short time with Hannah and the whole basset hound slobber thng, I’m guessing that when I do end up with a dog, it won’t be a basset. The end.

9 Replies to “hannah, land shark”

  1. Outstanding tale. That dog reminds me of the old “Billy goat goat goat” cartoon. That goat eats everything: cans, railroad tracks, even the sun (or was it the moon?), as I recall.

    Your mother doesn’t seem like the thieving type, even a thievery of kindness, as in this incidence. Egged on by Vanessa? Creeping around the house seems totally like her, but not actually entering. That’s interesting. Maybe I should revisit the episodes of this blog in which she appears. Your mom is an intriguing figure. Difficult to read.

    Perhaps all mischief that lurks within the Hoover Sisters has descended from your mother.

  2. For the record, I called Mom to do some fact-checking on this story and she says that she can’t believe she would have dognapped Hannah, but she also cannot remember any confrontation with the owners. She actually didn’t even remember the recovery effort until I said, “Hey, didn’t you have to steal her from somewhere or something?”

    My mom’s a weird one. She believes in parking lot cops and mattress tag cops but is also a bit of a petite revolutionary and is totally willing to break rules for a cause. Dad, on the other hand, is a prankster through-and-through.

  3. This reminds me of my first dog, a Basset Hound. His name was Buster Brown, and I was the only family member who loved him. The neighbors threatened to shoot him because he howled so much. Eventually, we had to take him to the pound because he tried to attack my sister.

    I wonder if most Bassets have behavior problems.

  4. You DO know that when your mom and dad tell you the dog is going to live on a dairy farm, that she’s being put down, right? I’m just saying…

  5. My old old cat recently disappeared, and none of us know what happened to her. She was shy so we didn’t see her out too often, but we searched the entire house when we noticed she hadn’t been around in a few days. It’s a well known fact that Dad didn’t like her, though, so we can’t help but wonder. He claims if he really wanted her to be gone, he would have done it years ago.

  6. The people from the dairy farm picked up Hannah and no……..that was not a nice way to say she was put down. She really did go to a dairy farm. What the cows did to her when she tried to chew their legs off since there were no “my little ponies” around I can’t say.

  7. i just saw this.

    while i can attest that bassets can sometimes chew, and they can be alternately awesomely smart and remarkably stupid, the experience you had with hannah can in no way be seen as The Basset Experience.

    I mean, Wrigs doesn’t slobber, never howls, and stopped eating his poop at least 1.5 years ago….

    he is much happier with his fenced yard and partner in crime, to be sure. but also, i just think that it made me realize that i never want a PUPPY again. 3 year olds from here on out!

  8. Also, basset hound people would say that it isn’t that they have behavior problems, it is that people don’t realize what they are in for.

    wrigley can learn a new trick in a few hours, but man, if he is interested in something in the yard, fuck off if you think he will come when you call him. they take time for commands like that, but really, they are just…well, kinda emo. if you ignore your basset he’s gonna be sad, and maybe tear up his bed. if you give him some time, he will fall asleep curled up next to you and make it seem like you are the best thing ever to happen to anyone ever every time you come home.

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