By Nancy Carlson • Columnist • 

It's time for Basset Hound Games

Mark your calendars and tone up your smile muscles, folks. A week from Sunday on July 21 that bastion of canine athleticism will be held once again at Legion Park in Woodburn. I refer, of course, to the Basset Hound Games.

Seems like I write about this every year, so if you are a faithful reader of this column, please bear with me. This event is just too unique, too worthwhile, and just too darn much fun to take for granted. I’ve lost track of how many years Oregon Basset Hound Rescue has been doing this — something like 20, I think — and though it’s the same joke every year, it is still hilarious.

One basset hound is a ridiculous looking creature — humongous feet, sagging skin, pendulous lips, short legs, long body and, of course, the droopy ears. Two hundred bassets gathered together are simply hilarious. Because they don’t just look funny. They are funny.

They howl, they drool, they plod along at speeds that barely exceed inertia, and always with the tail wagging. And I hope I don’t sound too prideful when I say that we basset hound owners are a hoot to hang out with as well, if your dog doesn’t take you seriously it’s hard to take yourself seriously, and we easily laugh at ourselves and most days at life in general. In other words, we’re fun.

Not that the competitions at the games aren’t rigorous! Au contraire! The Marathon Nap, for example, which thankfully is held in the morning rather than the afternoon, when all the bassets are napping anyway. Whose dog can sleep the longest? Whose dog can sleep the soundest? And amid all this breathtaking suspense those rascal judges have been known to rattle their car keys or make mewing sounds, just to shake the contenders up a bit. The longest napper is awarded the gold medal, which last year was actually a biscuit shape piece of cardboard painted gold. But the glory was there and the crowd cheered nevertheless.

Basset Limbo offers similar suspense. Competitors must walk under an ever lowering, precariously balanced bar. One would think low would not be a problem for a basset, given their physique, but the challenge comes from the tail, which is held high and with most bassets is perpetually in motion while they happily plod through life, which, of course, knocks the bar down and eliminates the competition pretty rapidly.

Other thrills include the 11-Yard Dash (Snuffleupagus would have nailed this one last year, except that he ran in the wrong direction), the Endurance Sit, and the Synchronized Swimming competition (which consists of begging or bribing your basset into stepping into a plastic swimming pool filled with about one inch of water. Bassets are not fond of water outside of their drinking bowl.

Also listed in the day’s events are the Basset-Child Look Alike contest (The first year John and I attended, we were horrified that this might be about kids who look like basset hounds, something you would never wish on any child. But, indeed, it is a dress up contest.) and the completely hilarious costume contest, where you might see scuba-diving bassets, bandito bassets, clown bassets, belly dancing bassets, and who knows what else this year. This event always harkens me back to when my own dearly departed Menehune took first prize for her Sister Mary Basset of the Little Sisters of Slobber costume, one of the proudest moments of my life.

Which brings me to my own moral doggy dilemma. Last year Snuffleupagus won first place in both the Longest Dog competition and the Longest Ears competition, and I have proudly displayed his ‘medals’ all year. But this year shall I let him defend his championship or allow some other basset to bask in the glory? Your opinion on this is welcome.

At the end of the day all this silliness does raise funds and awareness for Oregon Basset Hound Rescue, which keeps dedicated hound lovers fairly busy all the rest of the year. Bassets are adorable puppies, but they are not always easy to live with.

Their somewhat skewed sense of humor often clashes with your own if you value your property, your dignity and sometimes your sanity—-and many of them end up in rescue. Few of them stay there, though, thanks to the hard working folks of Oregon Basset Hound Rescue and those of us who will be at the Basset Hound Games on Sunday, July 21.

A few logistics: Attendance is free, but if you want your hound to compete in the many events there’s a $10 entry fee. The games start at 10:30 a.m. and last till they’re finished, which is usually mid-afternoon. Human food is available, but we usually bring a picnic. All dogs must be leashed and current with their vaccinations. To get to Legion Park in Woodburn take exit 271 off of I-5. Head east on OR214 for about two miles. Turn right on Park St., just past the police station. Legion Park is on the right. Hope Snuffleupagus and I see you there!

Nancy Carlson can be reached at

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