GRETEL, MY FIRST BASSET HOUND
GRETEL, MY FIRST BASSET HOUND
By Kay Haggard
After having Dachshunds for 15 years, I was introduced to bassets by my husband, Harrison, who had always had a basset. Twenty-three years ago when we were looking for a puppy to be a companion to my 10 year old male Dachshund named Porsche, Harrison said he wanted a “real dog,” one whose bark and howl was melodious and not yappy. In my search for a basset puppy, I met Pam Heine who had a litter. We were invited to her home to be screened and interviewed and while we were there, we played with her beautiful puppies.
When Pam’s puppies were 3 months old, we were selected to have a beautiful red/white female puppy that we named Gretel. Pam was hoping we would give her a special show name like“Callaway’s Big Bertha. How could I possibly call my sweet beautiful puppy “Big Bertha” after a golf club? I got teased about having the simple name of Callaway’s Gretel because the basset people would say, “So where is Hansel?”
At that time, Pam Heine was the President of the Basset Hound Club of Southern California and I thought she walked on water in the basset world. She introduced me into co-owning Gretel with her. I didn’t know what co-owning meant, except I understood Gretel would live with us and that we would allow Pam to show Gretel in conformation to see how Gretel liked it and how she might do in the show ring.
Pam did show Gretel in conformation at some local shows. Many members of the basset hound club at the time really liked Gretel. One weekend when Pam was traveling there was a dog show that was just 5 miles from my home at the Torrance North High School. I entered Gretel both Saturday and Sunday. The Shoemaker’s showed her for me. I watched Gretel be shown on Saturday and there were only two girls in her class. The other basset I remember was a smaller, very light colored red/white girl who won over my beautiful Gretel! I couldn’t believe it. I took it personally and didn’t understand how that happened. Jan Kano was at the show and came into my life by showing me how to put on a show lead and then how to hold the lead to walk Gretel around. Later that night, I remember being so upset and saying that if Gretel couldn’t beat that other female basset then I was through with showing!
Sunday morning I went back determined that Gretel would do better. Before Gretel went into the ring, Andy Shoemaker took me to a vendor and we picked out Gretel’s very own show lead. Sue Shoemaker showed her that day and Gretel won her class and went on to WIN her first point! I was thrilled, but days later I wasn’t sure she had won the show because we didn’t have a win photo taken. I didn’t understand that the purple ribbon she was given proved she had won Winners Bitch and that exhibitors had to ask the photographer to take a photo. Trust me, when you begin to show your basset, there are many things to learn. The most important thing to remember is for you and your basset to have fun. The journey working toward the title of AKC Champion becomes something special to achieve, and the rest falls into place.
From that weekend on, I was bitten by the conformation show bug believing my Gretel was the most beautiful basset on earth and I began learning how to show Gretel myself. Gretel and I got very much involved, entering every show possible, and together it took Gretel and me two years to finish her AKC Championship.
In 1996, when Gretel was 2-1/2 years old, I got my second basset hound. He was a beautiful dark tricolored male basset from Sue and Andy Shoemaker that we named “Lindy.” On Easter Sunday 1998, Gretel finished her Championship! A couple of weeks later, Lindy finished his Championship. It had been a private race to see who would finish first – Gretel or Lindy.
The day Gretel finished, we raced off to Sue Shoemaker’s home and met Sheila Adams who owned CH Shoefly’s Montgomery. Through Pam’s and Sue’s advice, we bred my new CH Callaway’s Gretel to Monty. At age 4, Gretel and Monty produced my very first litter of seven tricolor puppies, two males and five females. Six puppies from that litter were shown and all six finished their AKC Championships. That meant that CH Callaway’s Gretel attained the title of ROM, Register of Merit, which is a coveted title granted by the Basset Hound Club of America with her one and only litter. So her official name became something special-- CH Callaway’s Gretel, ROM.
Since we were now basset hound breeders Harrison and I decided we needed a kennel name. We owned a 1940 Stearman bi-plane in which we both learned to fly and went on to attain our Private Pilot’s licenses.
Being into flying, we came up with “WINDSOCK Bassets” for a kennel name, and the logo is our biplane with Gretel and Lindy in the cockpit. We began giving our puppies aviation names such as: CH Windsock’s
Amelia Earhart, CH Windsock’s Dawn Patrol “Duck”, CH Windsock-Arrowhead’s Kaydet, CH Windsock’s Louis Zamperini, CH Windsock’s Pancho Barnes, CH Windsock’s N. A. T-6 Texan, CH Windsock’s Anne Morrow, CH Windsock’s Jacqueline Cochran, CH Windsock’s Winglet whom we called “Wings”, CH Windsock’s Whittle Wingwalker.Duc, Wingman and CH Windsock’s Hangar Queen. These were a few of the Windsock basset names you may recognize. Windsock’s very first AKC bred champion was Sheila Adams’ male from Gretel and Monty’s litter, CH Windsock’s Bomber Harris U.K.
All my litters/puppies go back to CH Callaway’s Gretel ROM and CH Shoefly’s Royal Lucky Lindy. Since getting Gretel in 1994, I have had seven litters of my own, and co-bred a litter with Pam Heine, Candis Holman, Helene Hurford and Jan Kano. I have also out-crossed my litters with the European kennels of Bassbarr and Hollandheim, as well as Its So Floppy of Argentina and to date, I am proud to say that I have bred 38 Windsock AKC Champions. You might even remember seeing Animal Planet’s “That’s My Baby” series where Amelia and her puppies became TV stars. Having TV cameras present following Amelia’s pregnancy and at delivery, and then seeing the puppies at eight weeks was definitely an unforgettable experience.
I can also credit Gretel for saving my marriage and changing my life in many ways. I used to drive a Porsche and traded driving it for a Chevy Astro Van to take my bassets to and from shows as I needed to transport crates and my bassets had to travel comfortably with rear air-conditioning! Soon after Gretel had her litter, we moved from a large house with a swimming pool, to one that didn’t because Sue Shoemaker told Harrison we had to move because we had puppies and bassets don’t swim well if at all. Because of Gretel, I became very much involved with the Basset Hound Club of Southern California holding several officer positions including president and am still the newsletter editor.
Bassets brought joy and a new purpose to my life, and I thank Pam Heine and Sue Shoemaker for trusting me to own one of their lovely basset hounds, for being my mentors and introducing me to the wonderful world of bassets. I have also met and developed many friendships over the years because of my first basset, Gretel.
Webmaster’s Note: It’s important to note that Kay Haggard has served as BHCSC President for three full terms of three years each. Her contributions to our breed and club are exceptional. Her story, however, is very typical for those of us who are involved in showing and breeding bassets. Unlike many breeds the vast majority of basset hounds are exhibited in the show ring by their owners and/or breeders. We’re a very cordial and fun loving group. We help each other out and cheer when they win. Very few if us intentionally sought out a basset to show. The basset’s breeder either helped us by showing the dog for us or helped us to get started. Over the years Kay has helped many newcomers to showing.