"We" are Dave & Lynda Patten of North Curry, near Taunton.
Nearly forty years ago my new wife Lynda and I spent a few days in the Wasdale Head Hotel in Cumbria. At breakfast the door from the kitchen burst open and a basset hound lolloped down the wooden floor, to be recalled by a bellow Huntress! She skidded to a stop, slewed round and belted back to the amusement of us all. We looked at each other and it was love. (Looking back we thought it may have been one of George Johnston’s, but perhaps not: we have some photos).
A couple of years on Lynda emerged from the doctors to tell me she was expecting. My first words were alleged to be “Oh good now we can have a basset.” And it came to pass.
Living in Kent our nearest litter seemed to be from the late Mildred Seiffert, Hon Sec of the Basset Hound Club for many years, and having endured a rigorous examination, perhaps with some reluctance, a sale was agreed at the princely sum of £25 + 4 guineas for the jabs (happy days). And of course she was called . . . . Huntress. We joined the South Eastern branch and while showing held no attractions for us, then or now, we much enjoyed the walks usually on Ashdown Forest, often with a hunt. Perhaps it was The Albany, though there were I think six hunts in the country at that time.
I seem to remember the whippers-in were somewhat disparaging about non-hunt dogs in terms of fitness, but I do recall they all had legs. Real legs that could carry a hound twenty miles a day if necessary, and if their owner had the stamina. While I think all of us were unhappy about chasing hares – one hunt chap said he’d give up if they ever caught one – it was a glorious sight, and sound, to see forty hounds, sorry twenty couple, tearing along the skyline in a line giving tongue. The S-E branch had a lively membership then and we can fondly recall walks with Heather Freeman, Chloe and Cassius. And garden parties.
Over the years we have been fortunate in acquiring some excellent hounds from Dr Liz Andrews and Marianne and Jim Nixon at Plymouth. They’ve all been sound specimens and capable of walking 12-14 miles a day up mountains in Scotland and over Exmoor near where we live now.
If you've only one Basset, rush out and get another. Now.
Here is Moppet greeting Matilda on her first day with us. And below Melody and Matilda in 2013 (breeder Samantha Yarwood).
Matilda (right) and the late Miss Moppet,
a devoted pair
Table clearer: Matilda was a great climber in younger days. And here she is below: the best eyes of any Basset I've seen.