Animal Cruelty: The story of a dog named Buddy

Even die-hard partisan pundits realize there are issues far more important than politicians gaffing despite the best efforts of their retinues of handlers, spin doctors, and well-heeled donors.

First of all, a title change is in order. Basset Hounds are not “dogs.” For the happily possessed who have ever been owned by a long, low, flop eared, often drooling, and stubborn pooch long ago bred by French monks with no sense of proportion, the Basset Hound is unique. Basset people all have relatives whose gut response to the fanaticism is to call the men in white coats from Bellevue.

Count me in. Certifiable.

In the southern California community of Camarillo, a three-year old Basset Hound named Buddy succumbed at the end of last month to grievous burn wounds when 18-year-old Andrew Delgado allegedly doused the family canine with lighter fluid in a ravine, and lit Buddy afire. The incident frankly made this columnist’s blood boil. Rage.

Buddy already had a second lease on life, thanks to the kind volunteers at Basset Hound Rescue of Southern California. Breed rescuers know the oddities of their segment of dogdom, and seek to save, rehabilitate, and rehome those abandoned, or worse, by their original “owners.” Some were so abused and neglected that it’s a miracle they lived to sniff interesting patches of grass ever again.

I wasn’t always a “dog person.” I hadn’t frankly factored a four legger into an urban lifestyle with a transatlantic bag left packed by the door practically until my fortieth birthday. A sea change occurred when I adopted a cantankerous Basset I dubbed Humphrey, after 1968 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hubert Humphrey. Nothing would stay the same thereafter. Humphrey was obstinate, rumpled, and not terribly obedient, but there are women who saw those traits in me.

Breed fancy turned into rescue volunteerism for hapless hounds in a pound. There was the realization that I had slept in every one of my state’s highway rest areas more than a few times when the drive to save a Basset in a shelter was greater than my ability to stay awake.

In hard times, the dog ate better than I did. After all, the dog was dependent on me for care. For this year’s political hue and cry over “dependency,” I received more love and affection than I gave.  This is not an Ayn Randian Libertarian jungle accounting exercise. It’s karma. Love.

In rescue, had I named a pound dog “Buddy”, my predominantly female fellow board members would have ME neutered. It’s a popular name for a dog, and the women who dominate rescue can recall the most minute detail of every one of the thousands of dogs they saved. I’m lucky recalling what I wore yesterday.

Buddy is dead. His confessed assailant awaits prosecution and punishment. This is supposedly a civilized nation of laws, and I guess we should wait for justice to run its’ course. Burning society’s miscreants at the stake went out with the Middle Ages, the rule of law restrains society for its own good. For those who decry “big government” infringing their “liberty” to do anything they please, at least California animal cruelty laws sanction such outrageous acts.

For Buddy’s vicious assailant, society’s judgement awaits. Your passage into adulthood will be a righteously challenging stretch in prison.

Don’t drop the soap.