WE’VE been watching Paper’s progress with interest this summer as he’s matured from lolloping puppy to full-time pack member. His debut on the hunt field is nearing. The morning hound walks are accompanied by hunt staff on horseback rather than on foot now, a big step toward the cubhunting season, which will mark Paper’s formal entry into the hunting pack this fall.
For now, Paper has been performing well in his lessons, learning to stay with the pack, come when he’s called, wait patiently with the huntsman when required to do so–even when the cool pond beckons to him on a humid summer morning! He’s learned three key things: that he is a member of a group, that he also has an individual identity within that group and must respond when addressed, and that the huntsman is the alpha dog of that pack.
All are crucial facts that each hound must absorb and fully understand. As paradoxical as it might sound, it’s helpful if hounds have both a pack identity and an individual identity. Because if one hound is about to stray from his work out hunting, by calling down the individual, the huntsman can prevent the pack as a whole from following suit. It would be less effective to warn or rate an entire pack if there’s only one miscreant–far better to stop the troublemaker in his tracks before he has a chance to do wrong. But that’s much harder to do unless each individual hound knows his name and knows that, when he’s called by name, it’s important that he personally respond.
The summer exercises we’ve seen at the pond and the hound truck, in which Lilla and Jerry have required the hounds to wait before dashing in, have reinforced the notion both of pack and individual discipline. For Paper, the lessons seem to be taking very well. The real test, and more lessons, will come when he joins his older colleagues on the hunt field.
But hound walk is also about exercise and the sheer joy of being out, and Paper has enjoyed that aspect, too. Being a puppy, he’s full of beans, and the walks give him some time to play while he learns and gains new experiences. We thought we’d share some of Paper’s less formal side, too.