Buford - The Winter Wonder Dog
by Al Campbell
For fifteen years, this family was blessed with the friendship of a chubby
black lab for a canine companion. Midnight was playful, chasing sticks and
going for swims in the coldest water, right up to her last year of life. I
still keep her favorite fetching stick as a reminder of the hours we spent
playing in the front yard and at the lake.
As all good things go, this one eventually had an end. One evening in
November, four years ago, I arrived home from work to see my wife in the
front yard trying to pick Midnight up from where she lay on the cold
ground. Old dogs have strokes too, and this was the final one for the
family's best friend.
I'm not sure how I came to be blessed with a basset hound for a best
outdoor buddy. I had thought that Midnight might be the last dog this
family would have, but one December day I returned from work to find a
little puppy in a box. Not much more than a handful, he was a cute thing
but he had a problem; he didn't have legs. The feet were there, but
somehow the legs had been omitted. Poor little pooch, everywhere he went,
his ears swept the ground.
Nature calls to the outside world were traumatic. Three inches of snow
were enough to high-center the little pup. Two inches of snow were enough
to have his under-carriage dragging. Brrrr, no wonder he learned to howl
before he learned to bark.
We named him Buford Pusser after the sheriff in the movie Walking Tall.
He'll never walk tall, but sometimes it's nice to have goals. I suppose
his is just a little too lofty to achieve, but don't tell him that. He
thinks he's gaining on the goal every day.
During a recent snow storm that left big drifts in the yard, Buford
decided he had gained enough elevation to tackle the biggest drift in the
yard. Like a young man in a new four-wheel-drive truck, he edged up to the
drift and got stuck. No problem, he backed up and got a run at it. Got
stuck again. Backed out again. Tried again.
Eventually he managed to do what I did with my first four-wheel-drive
truck; he got high-centered. I'm not talking about a little high-centered
here, he had all four feet at least a foot off the ground and moving at a
high rate of speed, but he wasn't going anywhere. I had to remove him from
Now, dogs are like kids with a new toy, they just have to see how far they
can really go with it. Getting stuck only meant one thing to Buford; he
didn't get a good enough run at the drift. Maybe if he got a few more feet
of acceleration, he would be able to plow through that thing.
Have you ever watched a basset hound run? Their little legs are a blur,
their ears are flopping up and down, their lips and eye lids are flopping
up and down, but they aren't traveling very fast.
So it was with Buford. Sure, he had put a few more feet between him and
the drift before he started his final approach, but terminal velocity for a
running basset hound isn't very fast. He even made a mighty leap when he
reached the drift, but the results were the same; high-centered. Once
again, he had to be removed from the snow drift.
Just to prove he wasn't totally beat at this game, he plowed through a
lesser drift on his journey to the house and the warm wood stove that was
waiting to thaw his ears and under-carriage. Yup, just like a kid with a
new toy. "That mountain was too tall, but watch me destroy this one."
If you see me driving down the street, look in the passenger seat for
Buford. He likes to play the role of co-pilot. If you see me removing a
basset hound from a deep snow drift later this winter, you'll know Buford
just had to see if he could do it again. ~ Al Campbell