Virtually every athletic endeavor that entails going from one place to another involves no other criteria besides speed. It’s all the about the clock, and the method of getting from point A to point B is completely unimportant. Style is for diving, gymnastics, and figure skating; when it comes to motion, it’s all about speed.
This is a shame, because too often, the style of slower movement goes unappreciated. This is particularly true for dogs, in which all the glory for motion goes to the greyhounds and salukis. If there were any justice in the world, there would be dog races in which a panel gave prizes not to the swiftest animal, but the to the animal who gets to the finish line in the most memorable way.
Which is all to say: I absolutely love the way that Megan’s dog Samson runs.
Basset hounds do not have legs for classic dog races. They are short and stubby, built more for a quick trot, usually in search of a treat from a friendly hand. More often, they are built for walks around the house, usually to snuggle to a person and park themselves next to them at bedtime.
When a Basset Hound runs, it is not in the usual galloping style of, say, horses, where there is a steady “duh-duh-dum, duh-duh-dum.” It is, instead, a straight, two-beat rhythm, in which the hind legs hit the ground at the same time, followed by the front legs. It sounds more like “buh-dum, buh-dum, buh-dum.”
Megan, who loves words and always seems to find the right one for any situation has outdone herself in her description of Samson: “most dogs run; Samson galumphs.”
Yes, he does. Samson is all about the galumph. When he runs, the word leaps off the pages of the dictionary and adheres to him.
He never runs for very long, because it would seem that for Bassets, galumphing is very hard work. After a few seconds, he slows down to his usual gait, and once again sniffs out whatever scent he is following. Yet before long, the spirit of the galumph once again takes over, and for a few seconds, he is poetry in motion.
No, it is not a high minded poem on which graduate students in English write their doctoral dissertations. The poetry of Samson’s movement is a friendly poem with easy rhymes, one of those poems we learn as children and enjoy repeating from time to time. It’s a happy poem, a good poem.
Then there’s the ears. When Samson runs, his ears spread apart like wings, and I often imagine him flapping them and taking off, gliding along like an albatross. They flop up and down, up and down, and if there were just a bit longer, he’d be in danger of tripping on them; I am glad therefore, that they are long enough to be adorable, but short enough to be safe.
If you ever need a reminder that life is a journey and not a destination, all you need to see in order to be reminded of this is a Basset Hound’s stride. It is a reminder that the race does not always go to the swiftest. Quite often, it goes to the creature who can get there with the most style.