by Sue Owens Wright
Mystery author Sue Owens Wright’s Basset Hound character Cruiser, shares a little of his perspective on solving mysteries in this original short story.
My mistress, Elsie MacBean, has had her say again in the latest of our Lake Tahoe adventures in Embarking On Murder. Now it’s finally my turn, and I’ll be doggoned if I’m not going to howl it like it is.
Cruiser’s my name, howling is my game. I’m a basset hound and the one with the real nose for crime in this partnership. I mean, just look at me. I’m perfect for the job. I’m set low to the ground (in France, where my breed originated, basset means low set), sturdy and compact, perfect for tracking game long distances through the underbrush without tiring. I have a short, dense coat, too. That’s a useful quality up here at Lake Tahoe where it’s cold and there’s lots of scrub and prickly Manzanita in the forest. Ah, the forest. For a hound like me, it’s whufflesnortin’ heaven.
My ears are long and pendulous. Mom loves to stroke them because they are so soft and velvety to the touch. To keep them clean, she sometimes makes me wear a silly-looking snood on my head. She tucks my ears inside the snood, and it keeps them from dragging on the ground or in my food bowl. It shouldn’t happen to a dog.
When I run, my Dumbo-sized ears flap and drag the ground, stirring up the oldest, faintest traces of a crime. Even microscopic skin cells shed from a perp are fanned into the millions of scent cells in my ultra-sensitive nose. The only dog with a keener nose than mine is the bloodhound, but with my short legs I’m easier to follow on foot than my long-legged cousin.
Over the years, I’ve put my super-sniffer schnozzle to good use tracking the rogues that wreak havoc on the good folks in South Lake Tahoe. I’m basically an easy-going guy, but contrary to what most people think about bassets, when the going gets tough this hound gets going. Once I’m on the trail, I’ll never quit, and I can be downright fearless when called for. Luckily for Beanie and her daughter, Nona, who often find themselves in peril, I sound the alarm at just the right moment with my sonorous bay. Tahoe crimes always get solved by Beanie and Cruiser, thanks in no small part to yours drooly…I mean, truly.
My mistress says I salivate a lot, and I guess I do. To tell the truth, I put Pavlov’s poor mutt to shame. Deputy Sheriff Skip Cassidy, Beanie’s best friend, hates it when I drool on his clean khakis. Mom tries not to get annoyed with me when I slobber on her clothes and furniture and every thing else. I suppose that’s why she keeps a jowl towel handy at all times to soak up the dribbles. Hey, if your only sweat glands were in your tongue, you’d slobber, too.
She’s not perfect, either. Not only is she a two-legger but her sense of smell is totally inadequate. And those useless little ears of hers! No wonder she’s practically deaf compared to me. I can hear a squirrel drop an acorn on the other side of the mountain. But if you love someone unconditionally, you learn to overlook her shortcomings.
With all the news coverage we get in the Tahoe Tattler for crime solving, I’ve become quite the media hound. She calls me her PR pup. Of course, she eats it up since she’s a stringer for the Tattler. Until she encounters another Tahoe mystery for me to help her solve, I’ll try to keep a low profile. Fortunately, for a basset hound that’s not difficult.
Check out an interview with Sue, a review of her latest book Embarked On Murder, and enter for a chance to win a copy of the book–right here in this issue of KRL.