The Beautiful Girl with the Red Velvet Ears

May 26, 2000 – June 26, 2013
The Beautiful Girl with the Red Velvet Ears

Our beautiful Little Miss Nocturne left us on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, to be with Bueller and her sister, Sydney (formerly known as Eventide).  It’s the time in the lives of those of us who love and care for pets that we dread.  Simply heartbreaking.  Yet, my husband and I are willing to endure this pain and grief because we cannot live without the joy, love, and companionship they bring to our lives.  We know we are richer and have such a full life with them sharing it with us.

I knew the day would come when I would write this tribute to Nocturne.  After she had crossed the rainbow bridge, all I could think of was “the beautiful girl with the red velvet ears“.  I had never thought of her in those terms until she was gone.  She had always been that gorgeous little basset with the perfect red circle on the top of her head.  But as I reflect on her, the red velvet ears seem more meaningful to me now.

The perfect red circle on the top of her head

Dan & I first saw her in the fall of 2000 when she was with her owner/handler, Doug Taylor, showing both Nocturne and her sister, Eventide, in a show ring.   They were just 6 months old.  The girls were in a category called “brace”, which means 2 or more from the same litter who looked almost identical.  They were beautiful together.  My eyes and my heart were drawn to Nocturne.  I think it was love at first sight for both of us.   Throughout the years, Doug has let us hold his dogs on lead while he was showing another in the ring.  He handed their leads to us and there was an immediate connection with Nocturne and me.  At the end of that day, I felt comfortable to bend down and kiss her on that sweet little red dot.  She reciprocated with a lick to my chin.  Doug’s wife Missy said, we have found a home for Nocturne.

2001, the new year.  I got an email from Doug saying that Nocturne’s bite had changed to a rather severe underbite, which was the “kiss of death” for the show ring as he termed it.  If we wanted her, she was ours.  Dan remembers that day and said I shouted “Nocturne is ours”!

We kept the name Doug and Missy had given to her.  We could never find anything that suited her better than Nocturne.  We had our terms of affection, “Little Miss”, “Sweetheart” and our friend, Kendra, would call her “Pumpkin”.

For a basset hound, she was very fast.

Dashing through the snow…ears flying

Logistically, arrangements were made for me to pick her up in February at the Denver Dog shows.  The day came and I made my way to Denver, found a parking place close by thanks to a very empathic parking lot attendant.  I entered the ‘back room area” of the show where handlers are grooming and caring for their dogs.  My first time to see the behind the scenes of a dog show.  As I met the woman who had brought Nocturne to us, when I said Nocturne’s name, I heard huge tail wags vigorously bouncing back and forth from the interior of her transporting crate.  I was convinced she recognized my voice.  She was also in her first heat so I was extra protective of her welfare.

What a trooper she was.  The trip home from Denver was a piece of cake.  We introduced her to our first basset, Bueller, who was also 7 months old.  They were instant buds…not because she was in heat, as Bueller had already been neutered. But the bond they shared lasted a lifetime, until Bueller left us a little over a year ago.

Bueller & Nocturne


One of her favorite spots to be in the sunshine.


Nocturne loved to sun bath; here with puppy Newton.

Once she sunburned her tummy; this happened right after she had been spayed and there wasn’t a protective layer of fur.  That never dissuaded her from enjoying her spots of sunshine every where around our home.  This picture is one of her with Newton as a puppy.  While it wasn’t in the cards for her to be a mother, she was great with Newton from the day we brought him home.

She was very proud of her bark.  Once we moved to the country, she became convinced that she kept coyotes and even horses at bay from being on our property.

She loved her Greenies and did the happy dance, tossing them in the air.  There was a sheer joy when she did this.  Don’t tell me animals don’t have emotions….I witnessed it every day with her.

She would flirt with the boys to get them to play.

She knew how to wake us up if, in her opinion, we slept too long.  Positioning herself to allow her tail to hit the door handles of our dresser, which make a clanking sound.  If that didn’t work, she would adjust to hit her tail against the corner of a wall.  Thump, thump, thump.  Basset Hounds are very smart.


She thought she was the alpha dog and during Bueller’s reign, he allowed her to think that.  Occasionally there was a mild correction by Bueller, but in general Nocturne, was the matriarch of the basset clan.



Her post.

When we built our house, we knew these windows were perfect basset height.  This was her post where she would watch for anything that was happening out back.  Some days we think she saw phantoms, other days she actually did see a coyote or two and out the doggy door she went with a fierceness to thwart their attempts to linger.


She considered herself a lap dog.

She took over the role of head studio mascot when Bueller left us a little over a year ago and at that time she became the true alpha of our pack.


She taught Newton and Quorra the ropes around the Krucoff household.


Those of us who are fortunate to share our life with dogs, especially the comedic Basset Hound, know the bond that is shared for a lifetime and beyond.



She followed me everywhere.  Her presence was quiet, yet undeniable.  Every morning she would sleep on a dog bed in my bathroom as I got ready for the day.  If my bathroom door was closed, I would find her there waiting for me when I opened it.  She found her spot in my studio where she would sleep while I worked.  There was an immense love that radiated from her and now that is absent from my life.  Ah yes, but I can still feel it in my heart.



She was my friend, confidant and companion.  I am so very grateful to have had her in my life.

She had the cutest little red dot on the top of her forehead.  In her 13 years and 1 month, as she grew more and more white, it continued to be her beauty mark.



She was our beautiful girl with the red velvet ears.


An Evacuee


Day 1 – Black Forest Fire

This is the picture I took of the view from our backyard with my iPhone on Tuesday afternoon, June 11, 2013. Day 1 of the Black Forest Fire.  I never thought, in all the places I have lived, that I would ever find myself an evacuee. Never underestimate the power of destruction that will quickly remove any control you may have in your life.

A little after 3:00 PM on that Tuesday, word started to circulate in our office that there was a fire in the area of Shoup Road and Highway 83.  We knew that area all too well, large homes mixed with the quirky, eccentric ones of the Black Forest and it was heavily treed with large Ponderosa Pines. An extremely appetizing mix for a Colorado wildfire on a dry, windy and hot June day.

I looked out the south-facing windows of our office to see if I could get any glimpse of what might be happening and saw nothing.  My husband and I live quite a ways north of this location, but when a wildfire starts, any distance becomes fairly meaningless with its all consuming speed.

The buzz in the office about the fire heightened my anxiety, even though we live in what is known as the prairie section of the Black Forest.  The only trees we have are those we planted.  We felt fairly safe.  Yet, we decided to leave work a bit early just in case…..

As we left the office we saw a massive wall of churning smoke.  Shades of grey and I don’t mean the novel.  The looming, menacing smoke monster signaled this was no ordinary wildfire…if there is such a thing …. and we were heading right for it for a short period.  We took the back roads to get to our home.  One route was already closed and my heart started to sink.  We have three basset hounds at home and I just wanted to get to them and we did.

My friend, Cara, sent me the first text, “Are you ok?”  I sent back a text saying yes, with this picture.  The next thing I knew, she sent a text she had room for all five of us…yes that’s right, Dan, me and our three basset hounds!  Now that’s friendship and then some.  I told her I thought we would be ok and thanked her.  We went about our normal routine, had supper, all the while watching what looked like dragon’s breath to the south of us.  The scene unfolding on the television showed massive homes consumed in 20 minutes or less by the flames.  Later we heard temperatures reached 2500 degrees.   Too eerie, too much a reminder of the destruction caused by the Waldo Canyon fire from a year ago.  I kept wondering if I should start packing some things and Dan said we would be fine that night as long as we didn’t lose power.  You guessed it, we lost power around 7:30 PM.

It was still daylight when the power went off so we managed to see ok aided by the use of an occasional flash light to gather some things.  The pressure we felt was that the sun was setting and light was fading.  In spite of all of that, we did a remarkable job of gathering what we would need for us and the dogs.   Off to Cara’s we went with our two cars packed, loaded with a mix of supplies, personal belongings and the bassets, of course.  Within 24 hours we discovered this trip was a dry run for what would happen the next day.

The mandatory evacuation line was 1.7 miles south of our house.  Wednesday morning, we thanked Cara and Ham for their hospitality, piled everything back in the cars and headed home.  We still had no power at the house, but we wanted to keep the dogs at the house because we thought once power was restored, we would still be staying home.  We went into our office as that was the easiest location to get information, since we had no power and no cell phone service at the house.  Our boss and co-workers told us we really needed to be at our house because of its proximity to the mandatory evacuation area.  We were a bit perplexed, but decided that was a good plan in case we were evacuated.  Note:  in these situations, you may not be thinking clearly….I don’t think we were and it was a true blessing others had already started to look out for us.  Power was restored that morning and we went home.  We were able to work remotely and kept an eye on the news.

Thank goodness I didn’t unpack.  Shortly after 2:00 PM on Wednesday afternoon, the winds shifted.  We knew that was bad, very bad.  The reporter on the television said that those areas north of the mandatory evacuation line should be prepared to be listed in the next pre-evacuation area.  Just as he uttered those words, we were in mandatory evacuation, not pre-evac.  Dan & I flew around the house.  We gathered everything that was packed from the night before…added a few things we had forgotten and this time grabbed our fire safe with important documents.  The reverse 911 call came…time to get out and we did.

After last year’s Waldo Canyon fire, we had the discussion of what would we take if we were ever evacuated.  Time and time again, the answer was the same.  As long as we were together and had our basset hounds, nothing else mattered.  It was just stuff.  And that’s how it was when we were evacuated.  We had each other and our dogs, plus enough clothes to get by for a given number of days.  Not much else really mattered. As I walked through the house for what could have been the last time, I looked at some things in various rooms and shrugged my shoulders.  Sure we would miss some items if they were gone.  What really was important to us was our safety, being with each other and our bassets.

Cara and Ham once again opened their home and their hearts to us.  For the next 5 days we were evacuees.  I cannot tell you how overwhelmed we were by the kindness, concern and generosity we experienced from friends and strangers alike.  Calls, emails, Facebook inquiries about how we were doing.  Offers of help….was there anything we needed.   One day we had lunch at Appelbee’s and the table next to us heard we had been evacuated….they bought our lunch.  Our lives were turned completely upside down.  It was all outside of our control.  We have been forever changed by this experience.  The fire fighters, first responders, county officials and law enforcement did an outstanding job.  What a wonderful community we live in.

The human spirit at its finest was exhibited in stellar fashion.

Word came late on Sunday evening, June 16, that we could return to our home.  It was still standing, untouched by any of this.  Yet at the end of this saga, 509 homes had been destroyed and 2 people had lost their lives.  As a testament to those 2 who perished, they were not trying to gather material possessions as they stayed behind a bit too long….no….they were gathering munitions that would have exploded and harmed first responders and fire fighters.  They gave their lives so others would not be harmed.  They left behind a son, who is serving in Afghanistan.  Theirs is just one of the many heart warming and heart breaking stories that took place over the life of this fire.

We came back to our home on Monday morning, June 17th and were greeted by these beautiful yellow Irises, blooming, beaming, welcoming us back to the safety of our home.  It was at that point, after I took this picture, that it all started to sink in and I began to cry.  Tears of relief, thanks and heartache for those who lost so much.


Many times we do not know how we will react to a situation.  I certainly did not know.  As a result of this, I have grown and I know I am a better person, with more to offer friends, family and strangers.  There has been a real recovery period for me too.  I’m not sure what I was experiencing, but I just felt shut down, not like me, raw.  This morning, 6 days after we returned home, I feel like myself again.  My energy levels feel restored.

My wish for all of you is that you never have to experience anything like this or worse.  If tragedy does strike, know that you are stronger than you may realize and your friends, family and community will be there for you.

If you would like to see some video Dan took that Tuesday afternoon, click here.


An Unexpected Gift


Yesterday, my dear friend Cara gave me an unexpected gift.  The hard cover, first edition of Your Erroneous Zones by Dr. Wayne Dyer.  Oh man.  She knows how much I admire Dr. Dyer and his work.  I have had the good fortune to hear him speak on two separate occasions in the past six months.  Now this….his first book.  Years ago I had a paperback copy of it that I lost through my many moves, but this, well, this is very special.  I feel it has come into my life for a reason….I just know it.


I am so touched and so very grateful to Cara for her thoughtfulness and act of kindness.  This wonderful gesture is more than just the gift of a book, more than Cara probably realized when she found the treasure at a local Goodwill store and thought “Kathleen would like this“, because the book symbolizes many things for me and has generated a positive storm of ideas.

Last November, I first heard Dr. Dyer’s story about this book.  How he came to write it.  How it became a best seller….. mainly through his very creative efforts to get it out there and noticed.  For me, the book symbolizes one person’s sheer determination and willprior to the advent of social media, to make its existence known because he knew the information in this book would help people.

As an aspiring writer, this book is something I can look at as a source of motivation to work on my first book and do whatever it takes to make it happen.  If it’s to be it’s up to me….with what I believe is a bit of divine intervention too.  Read Dr. Dyer’s books, hear him speak and you will come to understand that too.

Here’s the really magical thing that this gift, this wonderful gift, is doing for me.  It relates to Dr. Dyer telling his story about the first 3000 copies of the book, of which this is one.  When the book was first published, he would call the publisher asking about how well it was selling.  He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, he became a bit of a pest with his publisher, asking about those book sales on a weekly basis…maybe even twice a week or more!  Well, it got to the point where he actually bought all the copies of the first publication, stored them in his garage and would take some of them to various book stores in New York state to sell on a commission basis.  10 books here, 15 books there.  The next time he called his publisher, to the publisher’s surprise, all of the first edition books had sold out (thanks to Dr. Dyer’s efforts) and they would print the next edition of the book.

Now here’s the magical part.  Because of Cara’s thoughtfulness, I have one of those first 3000 books!  Think about how amazingly great that is!!!  As Dr. Dyer told his story, I envisioned where these books traveled, where they are now.  AND I have one thanks to Cara!  I can’t help but wonder and believe that this book is one he had in his garage and distributed in his rather non-conventional way, just to get his message out to the public.  How freaking awesome is that!  I like to imagine this wonderful little book’s journey from New York to Colorado to find its way to me, someone who truly, truly appreciates and values its worth more than any monetary value.

You may think, “It’s just a book”.  Ah no, it’s more than that.  I believe the Universe is giving me more than a gentle nudge here.  This was more than a coincidence.  It is synchrodestiny at work, at its finest work.  The ebb and flow of the Universe giving guidance.  This is the push for me.  Sit and write.  The words will come.  I know it.  The Universe knows it.  Just do it.

Sometimes we just don’t know what impact a gesture will have on another’s life.  Powerful stuff.  May the Universe speak to you through a friend or even a stranger to guide you on the journey you are meant to take.  I must add yet another heartfelt “Thank you” to my friend Cara, you have done more for me than you will ever know.  Priceless.