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Mom and Dad selected our first family pet from what they thought was a litter of Basset Hounds. It was 1969, my brother Mallory Joe was a baby and I was three. They named the puppy Hazel and as she grew, it was obvious she wasn't a Basset. 

Mom, my brother, Hazel and me. 1971  Mom, Hazel and me. 1970

Hazel had the short legs, long torso, keen sense of smell and a-ti-tude of a Basset, but her other parts weren't right. Her snout was long and pointy like a Dachshund, and her ears and markings were Beagle-like.  Her head looked disproportionately small compared to her fat torso. [Fat is a bad word in our house, but she was fat.] She was an odd looking mutt and people often asked, "What kind of dog is that?" 

What I remember the most about Hazel:

Danger Was Her Middle Name. Hazel chased cars. It was terrifying to watch. Her short legs moved shockingly fast as she tried to bite a car's tires. We lived in a residential area so the occasional car moved at a much slower speed than we see today. I'm sure this fact saved her life many times. I vividly remember seeing Hazel hit by a motorcycle when she and I were both very young. It rolled right over her, then she rolled several times like a Little Smokie to the curb. Hazel walked away from the accident, but Mother swears she was never the same. She became quieter and moved too slowly for her young age, Mom says, because she was in chronic pain.

No Touchy. When new kids played at our house, they naturally wanted to pet Hazel. My whole family could see a child approaching Hazel with enhanced peripheral vision. We would simultaneously yell, "DON'T PET THE DOG!" Then we'd laugh nervously, "Uh...she might bite." Hazel was great with our immediate family, but snapped at anyone else who approached her. She was fine with others in the house if they simply left her alone. Eventually, only our closest friends were comfortable playing at our house.  We had the "mean dog". But she wasn't. She was a dog in pain.

Hold Your Cookie Up! Hazel could smell a cookie from anywhere in the city. She didn't move quickly though, more like Eeyore, probably because of her car chasing accidents. But if a careless child held a cookie anywhere other than over their head, Hazel got it. She sometimes got a finger too. Mom would give us and our friends cookies, instruct us to, "Hold your cookie up. I mean it. Over your head. HIGHER! Go outside with it. Quick. I'll block Hazel." And she did.

One-Trick Pony  Hazel didn't sit, stay, come, fetch, or anything else Hazel didn't feel like doing. Hazel could "sit-up" and she did it well. She sat square on her fat butt, posture-perfect [like a chubby ballerina] and begged for food. She looked like a fire hydrant and could hold the position for several minutes.

Hazel was about 11-years-old when Mom determined it was time to put her down. Hazel was suffering from cancer. It was time. We all cried, but knew it was the right thing to do.

Hazel - 1978-ish  

Yesterday, Chris and I were in the park with friends and our conversation turned to dogs. As we shared various dog stories, I thought of Hazel for the first time in years. I joked that I grew up with a "DON'T PET THE DOG!" dog.

Awkward Segue:  This morning, I watched a YouTube video my mother emailed me. It's about an 88-year-old woman who's the mayor of a Canadian city.  Her name is Hazel.

Reader Comments (22)

I looked at the picture in front of the Christmas tree and thought, "I didn't know Toddler Child's hair is long enough for ponytails!" Holy cow, he looks like you! Or I should say, you looked like him when you were a kid.
April 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjudy
I had a "don't pet the dog" dog too! Although for her it was more she didn't like to woken up by a stranger and she'd tell you about it...

She was a wee bit neurotic, anyway. And boy did we love her for it.
April 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDeidre
Hey Poodle!

(I just saw the "Post" button light up and I'm all like "YESSSSSSSSSSS, FINALLLLLYYYYY"!)

I'm sure Hazel is sitting up somewhere next to heaven's only fire hydrant, and chasing one of the angels in a crotch rocket.

(PS: I'm gonna be retro-commenting so hold on to yer horses! :P)
April 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterthedemigod
When I was growing up our dog only wanted to bite the mail man which makes it really difficult to get your mail delivered.

Great pictures!
Lol, "like a little smokie", I am DYING laughing over this. My mom has a border collie-corgie mix and it is like a little smokie, too. She's shaped like a log.

It's nice you have several pictures of Hazel. I wish I had some of my childhood dogs. Lucky.
April 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. D
Holy whiplash! Talk about your heavy segues . . .

Cute story. I've wanted to write about the dogs I had growing up, but just haven't found the time or old photos yet. Someday . . .
April 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertysdaddy
I have no dog stories, though I do own a psychotic cat. I love her even though she sticks her butt in my face, sleeps on top of my head and generally acts like a crazed lunatic. And Steve paid good money for her too :)
April 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTristan
I, too, love the "little smokie" analogy! And I LOVE Hazel. The quirkey ones need the most love. :)
April 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPam
We have a 16 year old cat that bites. Everyone. Including the hand that feeds her.

Same thing--no one can touch her. I hope I don't end up that way when I'm 80.

Loved your memories of Hazel! We had a fox terrier who bit, chased postmen and ran off to any bitch in heat within a 10 km radius! As my parents said, he wasn't a good family dog, but we loved him anyway.
April 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLady Fi
We had a Basset when I was a little girl. My parents told us that Gaylord (yes, that was his name, what?) jumped the 6' back fence and ran away. I remember everyone was *amazed* that he could jump so high. It now occurs to me that Gaylord's time with us came to an end not of his choosing, or, at least, clearly not because of his high-jump ability.

They tricked me.

April 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCheri @ Blog This Mom!
We had a "don't pet the dog" for a while, except it was more a case of "unless you want to get licked to death". Once you acknowledged Sheila, she was your very best friend until you left and even then she'd try to go with you.
April 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDa Goddess
"Like a little smokie to the curb"! That's a great line and visual I might add!

April 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBobbi Olson
Judy - We do look alike as toddlers!

Deidre - From the comments, it seems a few people can relate to a "don't pet the dog" dog.

Demigod - I've missed you, Pumpkin'! I know you were recently on our island (US - kept tabs on ya on FB) - you probably flew right over Utah. Next time, parachute down to our tent - we'll treat ya right! (Thanks for all the supportive and FUNNY comments.) xxxx

Connie - Those were the days when mailmen delivered mail to your front door. I remember...

Mrs. D. - I'm "lucky" or your dog's name was "Lucky"? I wanted to name Toddler Child "Lucky".

Tysdaddy - Sorry about the whiplash - hope your neck's feeling better...

Tristan - I'm not a cat person. The guy who cuts my hair has a cat that drools???

Pam - So true! I know you're a cat person, but I've just never been able to bond with a cat. I had one cat - Doris... a story for another time. I'm sure you have dozens of cat stories!

Andy "Winchester" Sullivan - 16? That's a cat who's lived some life! Laughed out loud when I read that she bites "the hand that feeds her". You and your wife are compassionate people! (You'd have to change 180 degrees to be a crusty 80-year-old, Andy.)

Lady Fi - That's funny. Well, it's not funny for the dogs who your dog played "rape" with...

Cheri - Gaylord's a great name! Hysterical that you believed his three-inch legs could spring him over the 6' fence. Yes, luscious Cheri... you were tricked.

Joanie - Love the name Sheila too! It's equally annoying when a dog stalks you. I've been to people's house where one pet of the dog, and he/she wants to marry me. Sluts.

Bobbi - Thank you, Bobbi. Hope Heather and "Silver" are doing okay!
April 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChris
My childhood dog's name was Nugget. Now I need to find a video of an old woman named Nugget to match.

Stay tuned.

April 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSan Diego Momma
What his middle name really Danger b/c I actually know a kid with that middle name. Seriously.
April 21, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterthe mama bird diaries
No, I meant you were lucky for still having good photos. I think I may have one of one of our old dogs. And I had several good dogs growing up.
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. D
my kids call them "basket hounds". still. to this day.

April 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commentervodkamom
My grandmother's name was Hazel. Small world.
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate Coveny Hood
I love hearing dog stories. You just can't get these kind of stories out of cats or fish, ya know? :)
April 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterx
I just love that line "Danger was her middle name". That statement could be said about most dogs (and kids!).
April 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdebbie
Love the pic of your youthful mom.

In this house we have to hold up our cookies, hotdogs, and even glasses of wine with the dacshund, oy.
April 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJannie Funster

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