Howlabaloo fundraiser aids rescues

Sammy, age 12, gives some kisses to her Sammy, age 12, gives some kisses to her owner Beth LaRusse of Garden City, as she is all dressed up in a pumpkin costume at the Hound Howlabaloo held by Tri State Basset Hound Rescue in Wantagh Park in Wantagh. (Oct. 13, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday Karen Wiles Stabile

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Long floppy ears, drooling droopy jowls, sad red-rimmed eyes and short little legs on an elongated rotund body. That's the basset hound -- and the adorable breed of dogs will be hoofin' it this weekend to help others of its kind (but not as fortunate) find homes.

The "Howlabaloo," now in its eighth year, is a fundraiser by Tri-state Basset Hound Rescue. Among the amusing events: a costume parade and competition and a longest-ears contest (last year's winner, Charlie Chaplin, won at 9 7/8 inches.) Another event is the look-alike contest, in which owners find a basset that most resembles their own.

WHAT YOU'LL SEE

The four-hour fundraiser is more strut than walk. Most of the event will be held in a game ring, says Walli Gnatowski, event coordinator and board trustee of the organization, which has been around for 25 years serving New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. There will be hot dogs, hamburgers and other refreshments. It's a great time to meet other basset owners, according to Gnatowski.

All breeds of dogs are welcome, and also can take part in the festivities as part of a "wannabe" contest for dogs that are not basset hounds. And gift baskets will be raffled off.

BASSET LOVEFEST

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Like all dog lovers, basset owners are very attached to their dogs, Gnatowski says. Some drool a lot, she warns, and "if you want a clean house, don't get a basset hound."

These floppy-eared pooches have other unique characteristics. "They are very comical," says Gnatowski. "And very stubborn. As long as you do what they want, you're fine. You never have a dull moment with a basset."

Some howl and others don't, she says. But perhaps the hounds' most amazing feat is the ability of the short, squat dogs to "counter cruise" (grab food off a kitchen countertop). "They can stretch," says Gnatowski. "Counter cruising is what we call it in the basset world."

HELP FOR OTHER DOGS

As with other pets, bassets are abandoned by owners for a variety of reasons, including economic issues such as losing one's job or moving to a place that doesn't allow dogs. But the biggest threat to the hounds is poorly run breeding places, called puppy mills.

"We see more because of the puppy mills," says Gnatowski. "They are reaching out from Tennessee and other places down South."

Tri-state Basset Hound Rescue, a nonprofit organization, provides medical aid and shelters and finds proper homes for basset hounds.

FUN FOR NONOWNERS

Amy Shaffer-Crawley emcees the event. Even though she doesn't have a basset hound (or any other animal), because her co-op complex doesn't allow them, she champions the breed as her own.

"That's how we get our basset hound fix," says Shaffer-Crawley, 52. "I figure, if we are able to collect enough hair and drool, we can build our own."

Shaffer-Crawley and her husband, Jim Crawley, 51, attend the event for another reason: Jim has multiple sclerosis and is in a wheelchair. He loves the dogs, says Shaffer-Crawley. "They bring him such incredible joy."

Howlabaloo

WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at Wantagh Park Pavilion, 1 King Rd., Wantagh. Registration recommended.

INFO 516-503-9050, tristatebassets.org

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ADMISSION $10 suggested donation includes picnic lunch

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