In the ringed and shadowy eyes of animals, more clearly than in the secretive countenance of man, is expressed the mystery, the dark sorrow of existence. Of all beasts, dogs are perhaps the most melancholy in their looks; of all dogs, the slouching basset hound is the most sad. Of all basset hounds, none is more woebegone, more tragic than a certain basset hound puppy. Last week he sat nuzzling his weak chin into the loose bib of flesh which an arbitrary heredity has draped around his neck. In the kennels, at Huntington, L. I., of Gerald M. Livingston, his forlorn yapping roused to dreary derision a crow in the near woods. Perhaps the basset hound puppy heard a prophecy in the dismal utterances of the black bird; what, he wondered, did the future hold for him, a prince of basset hounds, by Walhampton Andrew (titles: International Champion, English Champion, American Champion), out of Walhampton Dainty? The puppy yelped and whined, for he did not know.
More sad, if possible, would have been his looks had he been aware that life, for all princes a prison, is cruel especially to a prince of basset hounds. Had he, last week, been carried from his country kennel to Madison Square Garden, where the 52nd Annual Dog Show of the Westminster Kennel Club was in progress, his sensitive heart must have trembled with the terror that afflicts a small boy when he is taken, for the first time, to school. Unlike poodles or pomeranians, basset hounds are not pleased by admiring stares; they prefer running in the fields and smelling footprints in the grass. What would have been the small basset hound's reaction had the greatest U. S. dog show been carefully described to him, had some crass soothsayer delineated for his amazement an event like many in which he will, there can be no doubt, participate?
On the lowest floor of Madison Square Garden, in long tiers of boxlike berths, sat some 2,410 dogs. Of these, some were of well-known and orthodox breeds; others Afghan hounds, Eskimos, Norwegian Elk-hounds, Pinschers (Doberman), Salukis, Schnauzers (miniature), Samoyedes; 17 were miscellaneous. All were in varying states of trepidation or delight, depending upon their personalities. Those who were in trepidation slept or snarled; those who enjoyed the dog show, as many women enjoy large dinner parties, sat up and preened their coats, or barked merrily. To stroll into this lowest floor, where the dogs were "benched" was like strolling into a rout or reception, as imagined by some satirist whose fancy was for the morbid & grotesque; a tramp would have died, surely & instantly, of fright.
The noise made by the dogs was loud and horrible. A small, stupid child, like many who attended the dog show, reached out a paw toward a vast belligerent St. Bernard who was lounging in his sawdust covered stall, swathed in a towel lest the slobber from his mouth should stain his sleek and tonsured fur. The St. Bernard lurched bellowing at the child; a collie barked at the St. Bernard; an Airedale yelped at the collie; soon, all the dogs were in a noisy fury. The people whose business it was to care for the dogs were never disconcerted; they chatted to each other with feigned indifference to the continued chaos all around them. Many women sat in the bench-berths which had been intended for canine occupancy.