Brooklyn Basset Hounds Take Slope by Storm

By Elizabeth Hagen on October 14, 2012 5:55pm 

BROOKLYN — Prospect Park's sunny expansive Long Meadow saw some long-eared dogs and their fans on Sunday as the North Slope Basset Association had a second annual meeting of the furry friends and their owners in the park.

Dog parents met near Grand Army Plaza and, with the hounds waddling alongside, made their way down to the meadow for socializing and refreshments, whether reminiscing on special moments with the sweet beasts or chatting about their best friends' barely tolerable quirks.

Co-founder Andy Newman said the association began with just two dogs, Barnaby and Baxter. They formed a group they called the "NBA," or North Slope Basset Association, "which was just two dogs who kept running into each other," says Newman.

When he met fellow Basset-owner, local blogger Erica Reitman, the two decided to take the association beyond just a funny name.

"I used to see other people going to these dog meetups and silently make fun of them as I walked by. Now I'm one of those people," said Reitman, while 11-year-old Oliver barked at her side. Reitman writes the F'D in Park Slope blog, which routinely lambasts the neighborhood's expressions of snobbery.

"It's a little bit of a difficult dog to have," said Reitman. "So, I feel like if someone else has a basset hound, we immediately have something in common."

The dogs are notoriously stubborn and have a tendency to howl, "which doesn't sound great bouncing off the walls of your apartment," said Reitman.

Floppy-eared, long-torsoed, but short with stubby feet, the unique dogs are easy to spot. Bassets are scent-driven dogs, bred for their ability to chase down rabbits, noted Reitman. Tex Avery's cartoon character, 'Droopy,' is based on the breed. 

"There's something a little comical about them. The way they were bred, to go into holes for hunting. There's just something so sweet and adorable and hilarious about them," said Suzanne, who didn't want her last name used, a basset admirer who'd come out just to see the dogs.

Though not an owner herself, Suzanne has family and friends with hounds, a condition she dubbed "surround hound." 

One standout in the crowd was Chris Parow's dog, Myrtle, a rescue who sat sweetly sniffing the air as other dogs tangled their leashes nearby. 

"Someone had tied her up outside a no-kill shelter in Puerto Rico with eye infections. They took her eyeballs out, brought her out of pain, and brought her here to me," said Parow, 32.  

He heard about Myrtle on the internet about a year-and-a-half ago and decided his older hound, Harriet, would make a good older sister to the blind dog, who often plays by having him throw her toys around while she tries to find them.

"She bangs into things all the time. Usually if I'm around, I say the word 'bump' if she's getting close to something, so she knows if she's going to hit something and she gets to trust me more," said Parrow.

As the crowd of owners and onlookers began to break up, organizer Andy Newman announced another party was about to start up. His daughter, Violet, was turning eight.  

"So any dogs who want to go to her party, as long as they don't eat the cupcakes, are perfectly welcome," said Newman.

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