By Fae-th Davidson
The unconditional love of the Canine Critter Characters in all of our lives gives us powerful inspiration. My husband, Trapper, and I agree that the comical construction of basset hounds is proof of God’s magnificent sense of humor.
Bridger arrived in July 2003 as a six-week-old pup—a true Colorado native. He’s been a character from the get-go—a happy clownin’ hound of legendary tolerance with his whatever attitude.
In 2010 we took Bridger to meet a homeless copper and white female basset in Olathe. As we headed home to Crested Butte they immediately cuddled up together in the back of the Outback. As I sang out, “Oh, My Darlin’ Clementine” she officially received her name and became our Darlin’. They became Best Basset Buddies and “Oh My Darlin’ Clementine” became our ringtone. Clementine soon had Trapper and Bridger thoroughly trained to her satisfaction.
Clementine’s regal way has been classic. While camping in 2014 a little girl wearing blinking pink shoes asked if she could look after Clementine. The Twinkle Toes pair had a special spring in their step as they bounced around camp sooooo proud and princess-like. Because when a girl’s gotta go, a girl’s gotta go, she shoved Clementine into the porta potty with her! This little Twinkle Toes gal took her job seriously!
In June 2015 Bridger jumped an irrigation ditch and his back legs went out. Even at 12 years old, putting him down was unthinkable. I was at B&B Printers in Gunnison proofing Life as a Mountain Man’s Wife while Trapper consulted the vet. I could hardly see the computer screen. Every photo of Bridger did me in because I thought we were about to lose him. Finally, I tearfully said, “Print it. I can’t take it anymore. Whatever typos are still in there will just have to stay.” Bridger’s back surgery gave him a whole new lease on life!
They were a sawed-off, hang-dawg hit in the 2010 Crested Butte July 4th and Gunnison Cattlemen’s Days Parades, where they campaigned for a friend running for U.S. Congress. “Bassets for Bob” said their short sandwich board signs. They loved the attention lavished on them by parade on-lookers. After that a U.S. Senate candidate, Ken Buck, mused, “Hmmm. Bassets for Buck…works for me!” But for those signs we added: “We’d rather make ya laugh than sling mud.”
In Israel in 2011 we spotted a basset hound statue on the side of the road between Jericho and Tiberius. A photo of the statue was much easier to pack into our little rental car.
In White Sulphur Springs, Montana last summer we discovered a sign proclaiming 2 Basset Brewery. A truck pulled up to the curb, the brewery owner got out and I announced, “Got somethin’ to show you—we have two bassets too!” We had a doggone howlin’ good time there.
Folks say they see our truck everywhere because of the basset hound signs where they’re designated as our Canine Resources Department.
We’ve often said, “Would you like to meet the Canine Resources Department?” and opened the truck door where many of you have met them.
On June 8 Clementine was 13, just couldn’t go anymore and was in her bed on the living room floor. While I cried and petted her with my right hand every remaining moment, Bridger came over to snuggle under my left arm to comfort me and commiserate when Trapper went to greet the vet. After Clementine was gone I read aloud the “Oh My Darlin’ Clementine” story from Life as a Mountain Man’s Wife.
Later our vet shared that the other dog will curl up where their friend has just died, to which I replied, “Bridger absolutely did that. We have a picture of it!” From then on Bridger kept looking for Clementine. All three of us missed her terribly.
Two months later, on the night of August 8, the symptoms we had dreaded signaling Bridger’s departure began. So I fixed a little bed on the floor and he put his head on it beside me. There we stayed all night with me petting his oh-so-soft black, white and brown fur with that adorable big black spot on his back. We didn’t want him to go and both told him so while we waited for the vet the next morning with inconsolable sadness. During that time Trapper said to him, “Bridger, send us a pup.” And we fully expect he will—in due time. Bridger put a front paw on our arms at separate times as if to say, “It’s okay. I love you too. It’s been a good life together.” Oh how fast his 16 years went by!
Bridger and Clementine surmised that the sounding of the shofar (ram’s horn trumpet) at our home each Saturday morning meant yummy challah bread treats accidentally-on-purpose dropped on the floor. So, between Bridger’s goodbye shots, I sounded the shofar over him. Had he been awake he would have wanted to go sit for his challah bread. He was no longer able to and it was hard to hold back the sobs to hold the note to say goodbye. I read “Bridger’s Salvation” from Life as a Mountain Man’s Wife. We all laughed and cried together—while Bridger snored away.
I had tried to turn off the cell phone but Someone else had a better plan. When the second shot was administered, I was lying beside Bridger and could feel him breathing on my arm over his neck while Trapper scratched above his tail. And then…the phone rang out: “Oh My Darlin’, Oh My Darlin’, Oh My Darlin’ Clementine”! So, at the very moment that Bridger breathed his last, our Darlin’ Clementine was callin’ him!
It’s hard to get used to life without them but the precious memories with them will be with us for the rest of our lives. Here’s to all of our dogs—God’s blessings who immeasurably enrich our lives before they paw print off into the sunset: L’Chaim! To Life!
Trapper (Al) and Fae Davidson met in Crested Butte in 1992 and married here in 1994. The full version of “Bridger’s Salvation” and “Oh My Darlin’ Clementine” plus 75 more comical and sentimental animal and people antic stories are all journaled in Life as a Mountain Man’s Wife by Fae-th Davidson (Fae’s pen name). Copies are available in Crested Butte at Townie Books, Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum and Ace Hardware. A full version of this story with more basset tales and 49 photos is available at www.DavidsonPublishing.com.