… to paraphrase James Joyce’s last line in one of my favorite short stories. It might not be strictly true that it’s snowing everywhere in the hunting world; I suspect, for example, that Cheryl and Ivan Bunting’s hounds in Australia aren’t beset by snow at this time of year! But snow certainly was general all over Iroquois Hunt country today, where, alas, we have been unable to hunt due to current conditions, as generously depicted by the Beagle House hounds (one-and-a-half couple) and their joint-Master ( as far as our mastery goes, which isn’t very), Mr. Houndblogger:
Hounds also had snow underfoot in James Joyce’s native country, Ireland, where David Ryan plies his trade as a photographer. We’re always interested to see what he’s been working on, and he recently compiled some good photographs of hounds and their people in winter. You can see them here. Personally, our favorite one is this one.
Finally, it’s not specifically hound-related, but I wanted to suggest some good reading about dogs. Heather Houlahan has search-and-rescue dogs and writes a blog we like called Raised By Wolves. This week, as part of the The Shelter Pet Project’s “Celebrate Shelter Pets Day” on Nov. 30, she wrote a post about her dog Cole, a shelter pet–actually one rescued from an abuser and kept in a shelter, where he was tagged as Evidence #X-10 in the legal case that followed. Heather adopted and trained him, and he’s now a search and rescue dog. We thought it was important and interesting stuff that was worth passing along to all dog lovers (and specifically working-dog lovers), which certainly includes hound followers.
When he was seized from his abuser, Cole was about four or five weeks old. (I estimate, based on his presumed litter seeming to be about seven or eight weeks old when I first met them a few weeks later.) Yellowstone County gave a letter designator to each location on the property where animals were found, progressing alphabetically, and a number to each animal prefixed by the location designator. One day I’ll write about the legendary “J” pen.
The trailer where Cole and a dozen other pups were found was designated X. The last place from which living or dead dogs were removed. Cole was the tenth pup removed from the X trailer. To Yellowstone County, the law, the judge, the keepers of proof, he became Evidence #X-10 in Case #DC09-018.‡
I’ve never found out who named him Cole. I’m just grateful there was someone who cared enough to do so.
The shelter where Cole lived for the next nine months was unique. On the one hand, the consistent nature of the sheltered population and the dedication of the employees and many of the volunteers simplified the work of raising and rehabbing. On the other hand, Evidence #X-10 could not go for a damned walk. The law in Montana would not permit his caretakers to take him out from behind the walls that formed the sheriff’s perimeter. He couldn’t be fostered in a home. A good-faith legal effort to have him declared fungible property, post a bond for his “value,” and release him for adoption failed. He and his relatives continued in limbo.
I’m told that initially normal dogs who spend a long time in shelters develop “cage rage,” become depressed, are rendered unadoptable.
Maybe. Maybe in your “shelter.” Maybe if no one cares enough to exercise, play with, and train the dogs. Maybe if there is no volunteer program, because volunteers are troublesome. Maybe if the staff and volunteers are presided over by decision-makers who assume they are stupid and untrustworthy. Maybe if there’s no commitment to ensuring that every dog who comes in “normal” gets out alive, and — dare we expect? — no worse for the experience, and perhaps improved significantly.
I’ve watched ordinary people with little or no dog-training experience do extraordinary things in the past two years. Enough so that I now question the idea that anyone, properly motivated, is “ordinary.” Certainly there are stupid and untrustworthy people. They need to be fired to make room for the others, the ones who will rise to meet extraordinary expectations.
Read the rest of Heather’s great post, “Agent X-10 Reports for Duty,” here. And the Beagle House hounds urge you to consider adopting a shelter animal if and when you’re looking for your next companion. There are many, many animals in need, just looking for a home and someone to love.