Hi, everyone. Yet
another six months have quickly elapsed since our last LOWDOWN
edition and we are fast approaching a new year.
On reflection, 2009 has been quite a sad twelve months. Just a few weeks following the publication of our summer issue we heard of the death of BHC president, George Johnston.
Many of you will have heard of this very eminent and respected hounds’ man. He owned what I think is the oldest existing Basset Hound kennel, Skyemoor. This was started by his father (also named George) and was responsible for breeding several champions. He was a respected hound judge - when he was the Hound Group judge at Crufts, his winner - a whippet - went on to be Best in Show. He knew his stuff.
You may also know him as the author of the definitive book on our breed, The Basset Hound. Published in 1968, I bought this book when we got our first Basset, Sigmund and learned so much about the breed. It went on to be published in four further editions. George kindly signed all my copies, which have pride of place on our bookshelves. He also wrote The Hounds of France, which was a very handsomely illustrated work.
Just a few weeks before his death, he judged Basset Hounds at the National Championship Show at Stafford. It was the mark of the man that he took time to sit and have a chat with me at the ringside before the commencement of his classes. He told me of his Trail Hounds - his beloved native Cumbrian breed - and his promising ‘young un’. We spoke of the South East Branch and he was delighted by our recent revival. He asked me to send him LOWDOWN which, of course, I did. The letter which he wrote to me only days before his sudden death was extremely generous in its praise and I treasure this final contact with the great man. (Please see Michael's tribute to George on page 7).
Only weeks later, came news of the death of Roy Metcalfe. He was this year’s Basset Hound judge at Crufts, who ironically, replaced our own, Michael Errey, himself having withdrawn on health grounds.
Following on from dear Dusty, this has been a very sad year for the Basset fraternity.
Helping to leaven this sadness, it is good to report that our branch Fun Day in August was a great success. We had returned to a former venue and everyone enjoyed the company of friends and hounds on a lovely hot summer afternoon.
I encourage all members who have not attended this event to come along next year. Indeed, this also applies to our walks. You and your hounds will have great fun mixing with like-minded Basset Hound aficionados.
In this issue of LOWDOWN, I am very pleased to introduce what I hope will be a regular feature, ‘A Few Lines From Sheila’. Many of you will know Sheila Williams and her sweet hound, Bessie - a regular house guest here at Hounds Lodge - but you may not know about her charming drawings. I am sure that LOWDOWN will be all the brighter for their inclusion. Thank you, Sheila, for agreeing to do these for us all to enjoy.
In this issue, you can read some further adventures of Rolf and Clara, as always, cleverly written by Sally King. As editor, I am lucky to have such high quality pieces submitted for inclusion.
I would like to thank everyone who has taken the trouble to send me articles, poems and photos for our newsletter in 2009. I love your input - please keep them coming!
Actually, one thing that I would like your opinions and theories on, is this:
Do dogs sleepwalk?
This question was posed by our young and very imaginative granddaughter, Amy, when returning home after a branch walk. Neither I, nor Frankie or Trudy Allen - who was with us at the time - could give her a definitive answer. Of course, we know dogs dream - but sleepwalk? Anyhow, I would like to hear what you think. Please help me on this one.
You will notice that the branch has included a short survey with this issue for you to complete. This is anonymous and we would be grateful if you would take a few moments out of your busy Christmas schedule to fill it out and return it. The committee is eager to continually improve the branch where needed, and make it relevant as possible to the needs of the membership. The survey form includes spaces where you can add any further comments. I thank you in anticipation of your participation.
The findings of the survey will appear in the next summer LOWDOWN.
Finally, I, together with all the officers and committee members, wish you, your families and of course, your wonderful hounds, a very Happy Christmas and New Year.
We greatly look forward to seeing you in 2010
I spotted this handmade sign in the window of a hardware store in Norfolk.