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Wednesday, 28 September 2011 10:43

Sixth annual Basset Waddle a howl of a good time

As the sun baked on Saturday, September 24th, 97 Basset Hounds and their owners got together for an annual gathering of slobbery mayhem.

The event, called the Basset Waddle, was hosted at the Trinity Christian Academy schoolyard in the South East community of Midnapore, attracting Basset Hound owners from all over Calgary because of their shared love of the droopy-eared, howling hounds.

Basset Hounds are very curious dogs, always following their nose and intrigued by their surroundings. Helen Nowlan-Walls of the Calgary Basset Rescue says that Basset Hounds are very intelligent, yet stubborn at the same time.
“Basset hounds are hilarious dogs. They’re stubborn and sometimes lazy, but they’re so affectionate and are essentially clowns. That’s why we love them,” said Helen Nowlan-Walls, Adoption and Transport Coordinator for the Calgary Basset Rescue.

“We have a large basset hound community in Calgary. Last year we had about 100 hounds show up to the waddle, and we’re seeing a lot of familiar faces show up year after year.”

Though the event is all in the name of fun, the annual event’s primary goal is to raise awareness for the Calgary Basset Rescue, a non-profit organization that rescues and fosters hounds from all over North America.

Dawn Korkie has been involved with the Calgary Basset Rescue as a foster parent in years past, but at this year’s event, she took a two-year-old Basset Hound named Ginger into foster care.

“A lot of hounds are in need of a loving home,” she said, holding Ginger by her side. “I’ve had Ginger for an hour now, and I already love her. But the real goal here it to find her a loving, forever home.”

Korkie has fostered hounds for the rescue before, and currently has three dogs of her own.

“The last one I fostered was in my care for three months, then we found someone who was looking to adopt,” she said. “They’re a unique breed, and you need to love them for who they are.”

Korkie says she will care for Ginger for as long as it takes to find her a family that will love her for the rest of her life.

Paul Tolaini’s pooch, Samers, was adopted last year through the Calgary Basset Rescue Society, but Samers’ story is a tale of its own.

Last November, the rescue was transporting a group of hounds from a puppy mill in Iowa back home to Calgary.

“A lot of our dogs come from the Southern United States where there are a lot of puppy mills and high-kill shelters,” Nowlan-Walls said.

“We’ve travelled as far as New Mexico to rescue a few dogs; in fact, we have a group of hounds coming in next week from a shelter in New Mexico that was going to kill them because they weren’t being adopted.”

A high-kill shelter is a shelter/pound that practices euthanasia on unwanted/excess animals.

Tolaini’s dog, Samers, escaped the transport vehicle, and after a week of running, he was hit by a train.

Though Samers survived, he needed to have his tail and front right paw amputated.

“It was heart-breaking,” Tolaini said. “Samers had already suffered a lifetime of pain and neglect, and I didn’t want him to suffer any more.”

Tolaini wondered if there was any way to salvage part of the leg, so that Samers could still function normally.

Samers now uses a prosthetic leg to help him walk, much like his owner, Tolaini, who lost part of his own leg in a motorcycle crash in 1992.

“They’re a perfect match,” said Janet Naclia, Foster Family and Volunteer Coordinator for Calgary Basset Rescue. “They get along so well together, and I’m so glad we found Samers a great home. That’s what we’re here to do.”

Naclia advocates for the well-being of Basset Hounds, which is why she and Nowlan-Walls work so hard to find these homeless hounds a loving home.

A day at the races:

For the past six years, Naclia and Nowlan-Walls, along with a group of dedicated volunteers, have put together an afternoon of festivities for everyone to enjoy.

The event takes on a different theme every year.

“Last year it was the Basset Hound Olympics, and that was hilarious to watch,” Naclia said. “So continuing with the idea of competition, we decided that this year would be the ‘Agile Hound Day.’”

Naclia says it’s so great to see so many familiar faces show up year after year.

“It’s funny because a lot of us recognize the dogs more than we do the owners,” she said. “Many of these dogs have been in our care before, and it’s like a big family reunion.”

The event, which brings the Basset Hound community together, has become more than just an event. It provides an opportunity for current and prospective hound owners to meet, discuss the unique traits of the breed, and seek the guidance of others, including a veterinarian, to better understand their own pet.

Though this year’s waddle was branded as the Agile Hound Day, it’s a not often that Basset Hounds and agility end up in the same sentence.

“It’s a joke really,” Naclia said with a smile. “Basset Hounds are not agile at all, in fact, they’re probably the least agile dog out there, but we have ramps, tunnels, a slalom course, and more. It is going to be hilarious to watch.”

In addition to the agility course, participants were invited to participate in the talent competition, where patient basset owners struggled with their stubborn pooches to roll over, give a high-five or sing.

“Basset Hounds are talented too,” Nowlan-Walls joked. “They have a sense of humour, and they like to be entertainers – though they often do need some motivation, usually food.”

The event also saw a Basset Hound race, where heats of five dogs attempted to make it to the finish line.

“Their attention span is so limited,” Nowlan-Walls said. “They like to follow their noses. Most of them don’t even make it half way down the course, but that’s the funny part. Basset Hounds are like little four-legged clowns. “

Funds raised at this year’s event help cover transportation, food, veterinary bills and other overhead costs relevant to the rescued dogs’ care. This year the rescue raised $3,000 from the event.

For more information about the Calgary Basset Rescue Society or the annual Basset Waddle event, visit