Here is the picture of Walter that I remember best - being a watchdog in Long Beach.
My daughter and her husband bought Walter in April 2000 as a basset hound puppy, and he was really cute. James and I would take him up to the 7th Avenue shopping area in Long Beach and he was a really great chick magnet - young ladies couldn't help but stop and pet him. James even had offers to rent him out from single guys.
Walter was their first "baby" and they doted on him. They loved the walks, the enthusiastic chowdowns, and the humorous escapades that Walter took them on. Walter and his parents joined the Basset Hound Rescue of Southern California (BHRSC) organization, and participated in many of their activities. Tami became editor of the BHRSC quarterly newsletter and wrote the "Walter's Whimsies" column that was the Page 1 article in every issue - written from Walter's view, of course.
Walter is easily the most memorable dog in my lifetime. As I thought about this post, the memories flooded in:
* The dog could leap, even as a 70 pounder. Up on the couch. Up on the bed. And what inevitably followed was a belly rub for Walter thoroughly enjoyed by the rubber and the rubbee, especially the rubbee! He could take it for hours, it seemed.
* The doleful look. Walter was the happiest dog in the world with the saddest looking face. If only he could have smiled and laughed, we would all be even richer.
* The howling. The dog could howl with the best of them. Arrroooouuuuuu. He always got dressed up for the Howlalujah Chorus at the Basset Hound games every year. And looked embarrassed about it.
* The walks around the neighborhood. Walter knew where all the cats lived, and made sure that he visited all of their front yards in hopes of cat sh!t delicacies. It was really hard to pull him along when he had a whiff of the really good stuff.
* The slobber. Walter always made it a point to energetically shake his head every so often and of course the built-up jowl slobber would fly all over the place - usually onto my face, arms and legs.
* The nuzzler and nudger. Basset hounds love to nuzzle their family and friends, and I almost always got a dose of jowl slobber on my pants or arms. He would nudge my arm when he wanted attention.
* The eater. Everything was good for Walter. He was the primary cleanup machine when Lolo was a baby - drop it and Walter got it before it hit the floor. Lolo figured out that this was good fun and she was Walter's favorite person.
* The sniffer. Walter had a wonderful nose. It was always moist and always moving. It was fascinating to watch this hound take full advantage of all of his senses.
* The ears. Ah, the floppy ears. The ends were always wet it seemed from drinking in his water dish, the toilets or the gutter. He didn't like to have his ears blown into. He could hear the fire engines before I could.
* The sleeper. Walter could fall asleep anywhere he lay down, it seemed. We napped together on the couch frequently. My space always seemed to get smaller - I wonder why?
* The visitor. Walter came to our house fairly often, and seemed to enjoy the new smells, new sounds, new food caches, etc. It always took him a good half hour to stake out his claim to our back yard.
* The male partner. Lucy was a dominant female and Walter was a submissive male. It was interesting to see the relationship develop. Walter never really complained - he was happy to have a playmate and someone to nap with.
* The patient. Because Walter was keen on sampling everything, he sometimes ate things that he should not have had. After too many peach pits (great for teeth, bad for tummies) his intestines were blocked and he needed an expensive operation. We picked him up from the pet hospital one morning before Christmas and took him home.
Walter's last column in The Basseteer was published in December 2008. He wraps it up with:
"Final thoughts: As I write this, the cancer is ravaging my body and I only have days to live. But that hasn't stopped me from enjoying every moment I have with my beloved family. We still walk together at night and smell all the sweet scents. I still wag my tail when my mom gives me chicken and rice to fatten me up a bit. I still greet them at the door when they come home from an adventure. When I am gone, I hope they will remember what I have taught them about living life to the fullest. To my faithful readers and loved ones, please remember to party like a basset hound. I will miss you all."
Walter went over the Rainbow Bridge on 23 October 2008. I hope that he is running free in doggie heaven, chasing cats, eating what he wants, and enjoying being a Forever Pet. He deserves it.
What a wonderful dog, basset hound, companion, friend, lover, visitor, slobberer, listener, sniffer, sleeper and eater. Walter rocked!