Dedicated to all things outdoors in the Southern Sierra and beyond.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Ocoee Copper: 1996-2011
Earlier this year we lost our Basset Hound Lucy after 15 wonderful years; Her brother and best friend (at least with four legs) Copper was left as the only dog in the family as we waited for the birth of our first child. As sad as Copper was to not have Lucy around any more, I do think he enjoyed the extra attention.
But try as you might, you can't stop time and 15 years is a long time for a Basset. But what a fantastic 15 years they were.
Copper and Lucy were doomed from the time we took them home. They were not going to get the standard Basset Life of leisure. Nope, they were tortured from the start. I remember one day, not long after we got them, we were at a race in Tennessee; we had discovered how cute it was when they tripped on their ears. So, of course, the first thing we did was take them to the top of a giant grassy hill and run down with them over and over - they would step on their ears and then tumble the rest of the way down.
From then on, they pretty much went wherever we did, and we were often shocked at the places they could go...
The way it worked most of the time was that Lucy was the brains of the outfit and Copper was the brawn. This was evident the first time we discovered hide-and-seek. We were at the Perception house at the Ocoee when we realized that they would naturally track us by our scent on hikes. We went out behind the house in the woods and one of us would run through the woods while the other held them back then let them loose. What ensued was the classic hunting howl followed by flapping ears and sniffing noses. Lucy was far better at figuring out when we looped back over our scent, but when it came to crossing a log or a creek, Copper was the first across.
And so it went on for years, each of them with their very distinct personalities, but always a great team.
It was always funny when people would adventure with them for the first time. At first they would have these apprehensions that these silly looking dogs would get stuck or have to turn back. Then there would be shock and amazement (and a fair bit if laughter) as they witnessed their determination and surprising stamina. Finally there would be respect for these little dogs and their great, big hearts.
One time, in particular, I remember hiking to the top of Olancha with them, a peak at over 12,000 ft elevation. As we got close to the top the boulder piles were getting bigger and bigger and a storm started getting close. It was clear that we were not going to be able to make it in time if we had to lift them up over each boulder, but they had no intention of being left behind. So we did the only thing we could think of, we tied them together with a pair of rain pants and poncho and then put a rock on them so that we could summit quickly before the storm.
Of course it wasn't always go-time; they had plenty of relaxing Basset time. It was always funny how copper used to like to take breaks in flower patches - we just assumed he was posing for pictures...
He was also the nap-time snuggler extraordinaire; great for sick days (or hangovers).
If he couldn't snuggle with you, he would find Lucy and pile on top of her...
As far as he was concerned, any attention was good attention, even if it meant having his mom dress him up in funny outfits or put peanut butter on the roof of his mouth...
We always made fun of Copper because he was a bit of a sissy, especially compared to his sister who was amazingly tough. It was pretty much the end of the world if he had sap in his paws or if nobody would let him up on the couch. Of course he had that look that would just melt your heart...
But when it came down to it, he was as brave as they come. No fear of heights and certainly no intention of not being there at the end of the adventure...
And in the end, they don't come with hearts any bigger than these two dogs.
They were the first members of our family and taught us so much about love. It was very special to us that Copper stuck around long enough to meet Maggie.
They will be missed always, but we were so lucky to have them and I would like to think they were lucky to have us.
So now our lives have forever changed, we no longer hear their paws on the hardwood floor or their bark at the door to be let in. We no longer have their stinky smells or their warm kisses. The last of the Wild Sierra Bassets are gone.
What we do have is a wonderful baby girl a basset lifetime full of memories. We will tell her about you often.
Thank you so much for your time here and your love. You opened our hearts and created a family for Rebecca and I to share, and for that, and so much more, you will always be remembered.