Northwest NEWS

March 26, 2001

Front Page

Woodinville goes to the dogs

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Grace (l.) and Geaorge celebrate their birthdays with hamburgers and hot dogs. The two will take part in the Basset Brigade and the Basset Bash March 31.
Photo by Gary Greene.

by Bronwyn Wilson
   Senior Staff Reporter
   Why basset hounds? There are many other breeds of dogs that the City of Woodinville could recognize in the Celebrate Woodinville event this Saturday. Why not poodles or pugs, Chihuahuas or chows? But poodles or pugs were not the type of dogs that Gary Greene always wanted while growing up.
   "We never had dogs while I was growing up and I always wanted one," said Greene, Basset Bash co-founder along with his wife Patti, Carol Edwards and Barbara Orr.
   As a kid, there was only one type of dog that Gary Greene wanted after watching a TV show called "The People's Choice." The show's star was a Basset named Cleo.
   Greene remembered saying, "That's the kind of dog I want."
   The '50s sitcom allowed the viewing audience to hear the dog's thoughts. "The dog was facetious and flippant," recalled Greene. An example, he said, might be when Cleo watched humans and the female voice-over would remark, "Oh brother! What a bunch of idiots!"
   Today, Gary Greene has two beloved bassets of his own, George and Grace.
   Greene also collects anything and everything that is Basset-related. His collection is so enormous and unusual, it was on display at the Woodinville Library some time ago.
   From basset statues to basset greeting cards to basset boxer shorts and a basset light switch plate, his menagerie highlights his love for the dog with the forlorn eyes and long ears. What is it about bassets that he likes?
   "I like the independent nature of the dog. It matches my kind of personality," said Greene. Before moving to the Northwest, Greene had taken part in basset hound picnics in Southern California. He decided to bring the idea to Woodinville and helped found the Basset Bash and Brigade 18 years ago. Parade go-ers have been getting a kick out of the dogs ever since.
   With owners in tow, bassets strut along 175th Street each year during the Basset Brigade in the All Fools' Day parade, sponsored this year by Banner Bank. Last year, over 300 bassets showed up. The Basset Bash, similar to an Olympics for dogs, begins after the parade. The dogs are judged on "best waddle" or "best trick" or "longest ears." A coronation honors a King and Queen Basset. "Oh, yes, they get a crown," said Greene.
   The royal canines have the honor of leading next year's parade and are presented basset-shaped pizzas courtesy of Round Table Pizza.
   As the King and Queen bask in the glory of their subjects, they don't always like to wait for picture taking. Said Greene, "One time the Queen didn't want to wait for pictures, she just started gobbling the pizza."
   But the other bassets have fun too. The Great Wienie Race sends bassets charging, trying to be the first to chow down on the hot dog their owner has waiting for them.
   But of course, the dogs don't always follow the rules. "Sometimes the dog goes to the wrong person, sometimes they go the other way," Greene laughed.
   There's also a howling contest. Kids will play their clarinets or their violins. "The dog hears that awful sound and the dog starts howling," said Greene.
   The funniest sight, though, was a few years ago at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. A couple had outfitted their Bassets as Bill Clinton and Monica. "The male dog had an old shower cap painted gray and the female had a beret," said Greene. Not to be outdone by their dogs, the owners dressed as secret service agents.
   Most Bassets, Greene said, don't come to the event in an outfit. Even so, he has seen some amazing dog fashions at past events. One dog came dressed as an Orca, another as the Easter Bunny riding in a baby carriage.
   And Bassets are cute and that's the reason people get one. Greene remarked that when he and Patti take their dogs out for a walk, "We can't walk twenty
   feet without people 'oohing' and 'ahhing.'" But Greene would like people to
   know that Bassets have a mind of their own, "They're not always obedient." He
   went on to explain, "People expect dogs to want to please their owners. But
   Basset Hounds say, 'to heck with you, I don't have to do this,'" For an
   illustration, Greene mentioned his own Basset, George. At last year's parade,
   George decided to exercise the 'flat Basset syndrome' before the parade was
   over. George plopped his body onto the pavement and refused to go further.
   Parade or not, George was done. According to Greene, most Basset owners have
   a good sense of humor in dealing with their "I've gotta be me" Basset.
   Sometimes, though, new dog owners will abandon a Basset after the dog's
   stubborn streak becomes too much of a challenge.
   But Gary Greene has a great time with his Bassets. "We have birthday parties
   for our dogs," he said. "We have a party every year. The dogs get hamburgers
   and hot dogs, no mustard." The dog's relatives come to the party to
   celebrate. And when not partying, the dogs like to sleep. Nothing disturbs
   them, unless there's a 6.8 earthquake. During last month's quake, Greene
   discovered his dogs were not slumbering as usual. "They're always zoned out
   on the couch, having siesta number 52," said Greene. It took the force of the
   earthquake to get the Bassets up and running to the backyard.
   Lounging on the couch appears to be a cover. Bassets are born hunters and
   once on the scent of the trail, they refuse to be diverted. When needed, the
   short-legged dog can easily keep its nose to the ground in pursuit of game.
   "They have the second best nose to any dog," said Greene. "The Blood Hound is
   first."
   For Basset owners who would like their cute, sometimes stubborn, companion to
   take part in the Basset Bash, sign up at the Sorenson ball field before 1
   p.m. on Saturday, March 31. No sign up is necessary for participation in the
   Basset Brigade beginning at 11 a.m. This dog day of spring is for Bassets
   only.