Maybe it was The Hush Puppies commercials or the fact my Dad's eyes and neck began to sag as he got longer in the tooth, as they say. In any event, Pop had a fixation with Basset Hounds. Any place we would go in the family car, you had to be prepared for a sudden stop if Dad spotted a Basset. He always had to ask the owner questions and pet the dog, regardless of how the dog felt about the idea.
The Christmas of 1966, Mom gave Dad a Basset Hound Bank that he adored. She told him to open it at the bottom, which he did. Inside was a note wrapped around a roll of money. The note told Dad where to pick up his Basset Puppy. The money was the exact cost of the Pup that Mom had Squirreled away through many months of saving. The tears flowed from my Father's eyes. You'd think she gave him a new Cadillac! I never saw tears of joy from my Dad. We had no idea what we were in for when he got his new Bundle of Joy!
Candy was the chosen name of Dad's Basset Hound Pup. A Red and White female who's AKC Name was Princess Candy Of Creed.(Creed being the street we lived on.) He was so proud when he got her Papers, he framed the certificate! Dad just doted over the dog! A special diet recommended by the breeder, Daily Vitamins, and a bath once a week. I started to become jealous of the dog, She spent more time with my Dad than I did. Nothing is cuter than a Basset Puppy, always tripping over their long ears, I was afraid Candy was slowly replacing me as the Apple of my Father's Eye.
Candy quickly became The Star of the Neighborhood. She made her rounds everyday to people's houses she knew that would give her a treat. She helped herself to snacks from garbage cans she happened to knock over, while walking by. Middle School Boys would hide their lunches in The Pine Lot near my house and come back later to eat and smoke in hiding. Too bad, Candy would sniff out their lunch bags and have a feast! By the time she was 3 years old, Candy weighed 80 pounds. She looked like a long-earred Pot Belly Pig! Dad couldn't understand why that Breeder's Diet wasn't working!
Dad took that dog everywhere he went. It was so damn funny to see Candy riding in the car! She would put her front paws on the armrest and sit up with her back against the seat like a human. On a hot day, she'd hang her head out the window and those long ears would flap in the breeze like a flag! The girls at the Bank Drive-In would always give her a sucker and Dad would promptly put it in her mouth. There they were, tooling down the road with Candy sitting back, sporting a sucker hanging out of her mouth. I think Dad lost a few friends because of the dog. He wouldn't visit some folks if Candy couldn't come, too. At least he was loyal to her.
Dad decided to breed his Basset and proceeded to cut up my Ping Pong Table to turn into a Whelping Box for the Pups. Thanks, Dad. Anything for Princess Candy, The Wonder Dog!
She did produce the most beautiful litter of eight puppies that Dad sold for a tidy profit. I remember him hand feeding her a raw steak after birthing the last pup. He must have had dollar signs in his eyes! All the pups were sold the week they were available.
Candy met her demise one Sunny Summer Morning. As was her usual practice, she would lay in the street on the cool concrete until the Sun rose high in the sky. All the neighbors knew to watch out for Candy, except the teenager flying up the street in his Muscle Car ...she never had a chance. She was killed instantly and my Father was heart-broken. Years after her death, Dad would get choked up talking about his pride and joy.
P.S. Guess what my wife got me for my 50th Birthday? Yep, You guessed it! A Red and White Female Basset Hound! Gracie is her name...The Legend continues!