THE houndbloggers are fond of Great Britain’s Horse & Country TV network (you can find a link to it in our “Interesting Places” category on the right-hand side of this page). Recently, they featured a documentary there called “Hounds and the Huntsman,” by filmmaker Michael Slowe. It’s both beautiful and informative and provides an interesting glimpse behind the scenes at a traditional English hunt, the Chiddingfold, Leconfield, and Cowdray.
To see this excellent video, click here. A brief ad plays before the video, and there are several very short breaks between segments; the entire video runs for 48 minutes, and it’s well worth a view. The adventures of a fawn that joins the pack on a walk, the ingredients of a drag line’s distinctive odor, and a formal meet at Petworth Park are all worth the wait!
Those of you who are familiar with the Iroquois Hunt will note several differences in how huntsman Sage Thompson manages and trains his pack, including the use of couples and feeding flesh, but you’ll undoubtedly find some of the relationship-building between huntsman and hounds to be very similar. And it seems hounds speak “biscuit” fluently the world over (and, yes, there are a few woollies in the Chiddingfold, Leconfield, and Cowdray pack)!
The most striking difference, from our point of view, is about breeding and hound retirement. The Iroquois Hunt generally breeds only a single litter a year and retires all of its hounds–even those that never make it into the working pack–to live out their days in dignity under the auspices of the 501 (c)(3) charity, the Hound Welfare Fund. We don’t euthanize them until their time has come, and, when it does, they are put to sleep at our local veterinary clinic, surrounded by the people who have cared for them all their lives. During their retirements, they serve as both treasured friends and admired ambassadors for the hunt–and we have yet to see them sulking! The retired hounds we know that have gone on to live in houses–including the houndbloggers’ own former pack-hunting beagles, Mr. Box and Eider–also have adjusted very well.
And speaking of the retired hounds … we’re busy preparing for this year’s Hound Welfare Fund benefit auction, which will take place on June 4. In the meantime, won’t you consider making a tax-deductible donation to support the retirees?