OR MAYBE we should say “Playper,” as our high-spirited young puppy has been enjoying himself quite a lot on his latest adventure: roading with the big boys in the pack, accompanied by the hunt staff on horses.
(“Roading” is the traditional term for it, but the Iroquois pack’s pre-season exercise with the huntsman on horseback actually takes place in the lush and expansive landscape of Boone Valley Farm rather than up and down the country roads, as the English have done it for centuries. You can see why, in modern America, trotting a pack of foxhounds up the middle of a suburban roadway isn’t such a hot idea.)
You’ve already seen Paper’s playful antics earlier this summer. He’s still got that joie de vivre, and the field of riders who have joined huntsman Lilla Mason out roading have gotten a lot of entertainment out of it. So has Paper.
This morning, we received reports of Paper’s latest jollities, which ended in a valuable lesson! First, he tried to entice the rest of the pack into a game with a clod of dirt he found along the way. But, after all, it was only a clod of dirt, and none of the other hounds found that very interesting.
“Nobodywas jealous of his dirt clod, so that was no good,” said Lilla. “But then he found a stick. And that drew some interest.”
Especially from Gaudy. And then a few others thought, shoot, that looks like a pretty nice stick.
“Then he had a big time, because he could run with the stick, and they chased him,” Lilla continued. “But then, unfortunately, Ally wanted the stick, and she took it. That ended it. How dare they take his stick?”
That game having been rudely interrupted, Paper found a new adventure.
“He ran on ahead of us, and then he leaped over a coop,” Lilla explained. “I think that’s actually the first coop I’ve seen him jump. But when he got on the other side, it turned out there were cattle over there.”
Paper whipped around to find that, unexpectedly, none of the other hounds had followed him, and now here he was in a field full of large black beasts. This wasn’t what he’d planned.
“He turned around, and now there were cattle standing in front of the coop, so he couldn’t get back,” said Lilla. “He cocked his head, looking at the cattle in front of the coop, and looking beyond it to us, seeing that we and the rest of the hounds were now pretty far away from him, standing and watching him.”
That was bad enough, but then …
“Well, then, the cows went over to investigate Paper.”
“He was watching the cattle approaching, then looking at us, then looking at the cattle that were still standing by the coop,” Lilla said. “You could see it dawn on him: ‘Boy, I have really made a mistake.”
To the giggles of both huntsman and field, Paper finally figured his way out of his predicament, with a little help from Lilla. To encourage him, she walked the pack away, but along the fence line of the cattle pasture. Paper, obviously happy for the guidance, ran along the fence, too, until he found–as Lilla knew he would–a convenient gap under the fence to crawl through and rejoin the pack. Lilla’s decision to walk the pack along the fence line was part of this “teachable moment” for Paper, because it gave him a hint about how to get back to the group.
“If he were an older hound, I’d make him come back to me,” Lilla explained. “With a young hound, I like to encourage them and make it easy for them to come back.”
Paper’s pride was a little damaged, we expect, and he was considerably chastened. He stuck pretty close to the pack after that!
As amusing as it was (well, maybe not so much for Paper) was an important lesson. Summer training, especially for the puppies like Paper, has been about reinforcing their desire to stay with the pack. The cow-and-coop lesson today provided young Paper with a good reminder about how uncomfortable it can be to stray too far from your compatriots. He figured that out double-quick and returned with little need for prompting–all Lilla had to do was hold up the hounds and wait, and here he came, back to the group.
Incidentally, are you as curious as we were about how Paper got his name? Here’s the scoop. When Jerry Miller, joint-Master at Iroquois went to Florida to pick this very young puppy up from another pack, he had to drive him about 10 hours back, and, Paper being very young indeed, he kept him safely in a large traveling crate in the back of the vehicle. The crate had a sheet of absorbent paper on the bottom in case of the kind of accidents puppies will have. The hound spent the entire ride shredding that paper into tiny, tiny pieces, so that when Jerry looked in his rear-view mirror to check on him, all he could see was a growing mound of fluffy white paper. Eventually Paper disappeared from view entirely in the mound.
A loveable clown from the beginning.
We are not surprised he is developing a fan club.
By the way, if you have any good Paper pictures from roading, send them in–attach them to an e-mail as a JPEG file or send them from your iPhone–and we’ll try to post them.