Congratulations, Driver and Sage!

Some snoozing SAs. Driver and Sage are parents of the newest Iroquois puppies, the SA litter. Gene Baker photo.

YOU read it right: Driver is a daddy! He and Sage are first-time parents of the newest Iroquois litter. Mother and six puppies are doing well! If you’re a regular hound blog reader, the first thing you’ll notice, once you get past the sheer cuteness, is that these puppies are a colorful bunch in a pack that has a quite a number of white hounds. This gives the houndbloggers some hope of someday being able to identify these SAs properly in the hunt field! Our fondest hope is that some of these will turn out to be woollies like their mother. It will be some weeks before we will see any hints of the broken coat we love so much, and we promise to provide updates if we see indications of woolliness!

Look at all that color! The new SA litter looks like it might bring more black and tan into the Iroquois pack. Gene Baker photo.

It’s unusual for joint-Master Jerry L. Miller to breed a first-season dog, and when we heard that he’d decided to mate Driver we took it as an indication that the huge–and hugely popular–young doghound is indeed something a little special.

Since the puppies were born, we checked back in with Miller to get his thoughts on the mating.

Driver at the Virginia Hound Show in May. Photo by Dave Traxler.

One reason, Miller said, is that Driver is the only hound Iroquois has by the Duke of Beaufort’s Gaddesby ’07–you can see a photograph of him here, and he’s also in our video from the Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show earlier this summer. Gaddesby is Driver’s sire. A good-sized hound, he’s also a great outcross to the Iroquois hounds’ predominant bloodlines. The promise that Driver showed in the hunt field last season, in his first year of hunting, sealed the deal.

“He had a great season last year in the hunt field,” Miller said. “He was in on a couple of coyotes and he settled down nicely, and so I knew he was going to be a great hunter. He has nose, and he has unbelievable physical ability, so we figured we’d better not chance losing him next season in an accident or something.”

Congratulations, Sage! Houndblogger photo.

Sage and her brother, Sassoon, also go back to Duke of Beaufort’s breeding. In fact, Miller has tried to breed Sassoon twice but, so far, without success. That’s one reason he opted to breed Sage–to continue the great qualities that earlier SA family possesses. The older SAs including Sassoon and Sage hail from the brilliant ST Carlow line that we’ve written about before, and, in addition to being tremendous coyote- and fox-chasers, they’re also enormously biddable and personable.

“We were extremely lucky to get Sandal, who was by Heythrop Sanford ’97, a big stallion hound,” Miller said of Sage and Sassoon’s mother, Bicester with Whaddon Chase Sandal ’00. “We bred Grundy to her and got Sassoon, and you really couldn’t ask for any more. It’ s just top-notch, blue ribbon breeding.”

Two of the Driver-Sage pups enjoy lunch with their mother. Houndblogger photo.

We’ll keep you posted on the newest puppies’ progress, and as soon as we can get back out again on hound walk, we’ll check in again on the HA puppies that Hawkeye and Baffle had back in late October. They’re out with the pack on hound walk now, and the word we’ve gotten so far is that they’re big, beautiful, and confident. Can’t wait to catch up with them again!

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A specialized sniffer, in the nation’s service

At agriculture's service? Eider thinks he could do the job!

IF you’ve traveled internationally, you’ve probably seen them: the United States Department of Agriculture’s Beagle Brigade. They’re cute and friendly, and they’ll bust you if you’re bringing illegal plant or animal products into the country, whether an alligator skin from the Amazon or a ham sandwich from Heathrow. Officially called “national detector dogs,” they’re also helping to sniff out invasive species like the Asian longhorned beetle, a culprit in tree deaths from the Northeast coast to Ohio. Specially trained beagles are key to the USDA’s efforts to eradicate this pest–or at least prevent their expansion–because the beagles’ highly sensitive noses can detect the frass, which is basically the sawdusty leavings of a hungry Asian longhorned beetle.

Many thanks to Heather Houlahan of the Raised By Wolves blog for passing along, via Facebook, an interesting USDA blog post about the beagles and their jobs, including some neat video showing Beagle Brigade training. There’s also an interesting National Geographic story about them here.

The Beagle House hounds are probably a little too undisciplined for Beagle Brigade service.

The houndbloggers were pleased to read that the USDA often adopts homeless and at-risk beagles into their program. According to the USDA, many of the beagles are adopted by their handlers at the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service after the hounds’ careers, which generally run six to 10 years. The USDA also says it offers retired brigade members (or those who don’t make the cut during training) out for adoption, and that none are returned to animal shelters. We hope that’s true and that it always remains the case.

Think your hound might have what it takes? The USDA’s National Detector Dog training program has produced a video featuring some tests you and your dog can perform to determine his or her suitability. You can see that video here. You also can view or download a PDF copy of the National Detector Dog Manual here.

Saddle rack, saddle rack, small wooden box

That’s what the houndbloggers bagged at today’s Old Habit auction in Virginia. It looks like there were some outstanding deals to be had, and we hope you foxhunters, hunting history lovers, and sporting print fans got in on a few of them. Still, we’re sorry to see the passing of The Old Habit, which has clothed many a foxhunter, beagler, and basseter for a lot of years.

"Whaddaya know! I have a new box for my Vetrap!"

Incidentally, we were acting as agent for Sassoon in purchasing the small wooden box: he’s been looking for a nice place to store medicines and Vetrap while he’s recovering, and, as an added bonus, I can use this box to stand on while, you know, pulling that terribly long mane.

The brass and wood saddle racks, long coveted by one of the houndbloggers (me!), were strictly for us.

Get well soon, Dave!

Regular hound blog contributor Dave Traxler, whose photos we’ve all been enjoying for the last year or so, will be away from hound walk for a while as he recovers from having his appendix out. But he’s in good hands: the Beagle House hounds will be taking good care of him!

A houndpourri of news

The hounds at Boone Valley on summer hound walk. See anyone you know? Photo by Dave Traxler.

JUST a couple of weeks after we saw him at the Peterborough Royal Foxhound Show, the Duke of Beaufort’s Gaddesby ’07 got a nice big headline in Horse and Hound‘s Aug. 4 issue. “The Great Gaddesby” was the headline over Michael Clayton’s coverage of the Beaufort puppy show. The reason for it was that puppy show judges Capt. Brian Fanshawe and Martin Scott had selected a pair of puppies by Gaddesby–the young doghound Handel and the young bitch Bonus–as the day’s winners from an entry of 23 1/2 couples.

Gaddesby '07 in the stallion hound class at Peterborough.

The news is of interest to us here at Iroquois for two reasons. First, because Gaddesby is the sire of our former pupposaurus–now doghoundasaurus–Driver ’10. And, secondly, because it was Fanshawe who brought the ST bloodline from Ireland to the North Cotswold and Cottesmore hunts, from whom Iroquois also received this excellent blood.

You might recall that Driver, who is out of North Cotswold Dragonfly (now also hunting with Iroquois), attracted a lot of attention last year when MFHA hunt staff seminar attendees visited the Iroquois kennel. He proved a precocious hunting hound in his first season, too. So we’re not surprised to read that more Gaddesbys are catching eyes back home in England.

Many thanks to Iroquois joint-Master Jerry Miller for pointing the Horse and Hound article out to the houndbloggers!

The Kentucky Foxhunter

Going back through some old notes, the houndbloggers found this interesting passage from an old copy of Kentucky Progress Magazine, which at one time ran an annual “National Fox Hunt Edition.” This is from that special edition back in October 1931, and it was written by the intriguingly-named Bessie Martin Fightmaster.

Night-hunting with foxhounds, an American tradition that heavily influenced early American foxhound breeding. Photo courtesy of the National Sporting Library.

I don’t know what Bessie Fightmaster’s connection to hunting was, but we have her to thank for this description of a Kentucky hunter–which, you will notice, appears to be a night hunter rather than a hunter in the mounted English style:

The Kentucky Foxhunter has been anointed with the dews of early morning and the woodfires of his night camp. He is weathered by the autumn winds and rains. He knows the taste of the wild grapes and has breakfasted on luscious persimmons. He knows that where the crows cry loudest, there will the fox break cover. He has hunted this country over until he is familiar with the circle where Reynard will run, the roadway where he will cross, the hole where he will go to earth. This hunter in heavy boots with his hunting horn slung over his shoulder and an apple in his pocket strides over the hills listening to the music of his beloved hounds. And when the chase is over he will blow a blast upon his cow horn that must equal the winding of Charlemagne’s Roland, and he calls in every hound that he has cast. Hark!

Iroquois Bagshot '10 on hound walk this month. Photo by Dave Traxler.

Never having heard of the author, I did a little research that turned up only one very sad note in the June 15, 1917, Bourbon News from Paris, Kentucky. Bessie Fightmaster was the adopted daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Martin of Cynthiana, and she went on to marry Forest Fightmaster, “the proprietor of the auto bus line recently established between North Middletown and Lexington,” the Bourbon News story tells us. Sadly, the reason for the story is to report on the death of Bessie’s 18-month-old daughter, who died after Bessie tripped over her while carrying a teakettle of scalding water. What a terrible thing, indeed.

Bessie Fightmaster, according to local funeral records, died March 19, 1973, and is buried at Battle Grove in Harrison County, Kentucky.

Glow-in-the-dark beagles

In case you missed it, we have this unsettling news item sent in by a friend of the hounds. South Korean scientists have (controversially) genetically engineered a beagle to glow in the dark. The young beagle is named Tegon, and her glow came from dog DNA that the scientists modified by adding a “green fluorescent gene” from sea anemone. The scientists claim they can use the glowing hound to help track disease progression. Not surprisingly, anti-vivisectionists and hound lovers are not amused.

Tegon apparently glows bright green under ultra-violet light. To read more about this, click here.

Only Eider's eyes glow, which is weird enough.

Old Habit auction

We were unhappy to hear, last year, that The Old Habit was closing. This Virginia tack and consignment shop was a good source for foxhunting and beagling attire, and it had quite a good selection of used tack, too. Yesterday the houndbloggers got word from the Harlowe-Powell auction house in Charlottesville, Virginia, that they’ll be selling the remaining merchandise and some fixtures from The Old Habit on Saturday, Aug. 20.

Absentee bidders are welcome but must register (this can be done at the website), and the catalog is available online here. There are a few saddles, quite a lot of art, some furniture, hunt whips, a vintage polo mallet, books, field boots, and, for the real specialist collector, an English Beefeater’s uniform. Also, a chrome and rubber contemporary mannequin. Never know when you might need one of those.

A different kind of summer walk

The hounds at Boone Valley on Aug. 13. We hope to see them again later this week! Photo by Dave Traxler.

IT’S cooled off lately here in the Bluegrass. It will probably get hot and humid again, but at least for now there’s a slight crispness to the air that makes you think, “So there really is such a thing as autumn, and it just might come again.”

The houndbloggers have crested the hill of summer–the Saratoga yearling sales–and now are gathering speed on the downward slope of our least favorite season, heading into our favorite one. By now, we’re usually back on hound walks, but this year has been different, due to my horse’s Uncooperative Tendon. This is not the veterinary term, but it sums things up pretty well.

Sassoon, he of the famous jig, is recovering from some torn scar tissue around an old tendon injury–and, honestly, I can’t hold it against the Uncooperative Tendon too much, because it’s held together remarkably well since that original injury back in 2005. But Sassoon’s current regimen, what with its bandaging, unbandaging, massaging, and handwalking, has prevented me from spending as much time as I’d like with the hounds on their morning walks.

Sassoon last July, doing the hound walk jig.

Instead of watching the hounds in training, Sassoon and I have been keeping an eye on kids’ riding lessons at Champagne Run, where Sassoon is recuperating. Sassoon’s treatment while he’s at Champagne Run calls for a daily “constitutional,” as the Victorians would have called it, that takes us up the driveway, twice around the upper barn, and back down the driveway, right past the outdoor lesson ring. As we walk along, we can see improbably tiny children posting up and down, their legs so short that their feet don’t yet reach below the saddle flaps. These they kick in the hope–futile, as both lesson horses and experienced observers of lesson horses know–that old Blackberry will jog a little faster.

The beginning riders aren’t always children. Sometimes we see an adult, new to the saddle, straining to accustom his or her muscles to the new rhythm of horses. Remember when posting was so HARD?

Sassoon takes a walk, this time with Mr. Houndblogger.

My little black horse and I watch these budding careers in horsemanship with great interest as we walk by the ring. Some of these new riders will be in the sport for the rest of their lives; some will drop out after a while because of finances or flagging interest or a newer fad. Like boyfriends. Some of them, having found out a few things about boyfriends (or, for that matter, girlfriends), will return to horses and never give them up again, even when more significant Significant Others come along. Some eventually will decide horses make better friends than people. Others will come to the conclusion that horses are a great way to make good human friends. A number will meet their spouses this way–and be relieved they’ve found someone to share (or at least tolerate) their horsey passion. And some will still be at Champagne Run 30 years from now, leaning over the rail to watch their own children take lessons.

More experienced riders during a lesson at Champagne Run. What wonderful places will their horses take them?

A few will uncover a competitive streak that will take them to three-day events, horse shows, or dressage tests, while some will lose their nerve for riding altogether and find other ways to be around horses. A lot of them will discover they are much tougher and more game than they would ever have suspected, and they always will be grateful to horses for showing them that. Some will get so eaten up by the bug, they’ll plot ways to make their living in the horse business–and, after doing so, will still regret that they don’t get enough time riding their horses because they’re always writing about horses, for example!

Thinking about these riders’ future life lines with horses turns my thoughts back to the hounds. Because this is what’s great about this time of year, just before summer turns to fall. The young hounds, especially puppies like the HA litter, are still developing, and their personalities are revealing themselves on summer walks. The pack itself must surely alter slightly as new hounds join it, older hounds retire, and the hounds in between gain experience and learn new things.

Sassoon at Champagne Run on Tuesday. Might be time to do some mane-pulling ...

In short, I’ve been missing my time on summer walk when I can watch the hounds’ education up close. For now, Sassoon and I are on a different kind of summer walk, and it remains to be seen whether he’ll ever come out with the hounds again. But I hope to get back to hounds myself as soon as time allows. In the meantime, fortunately, we will have hound news and pictures–as well as some video from the Peterborough dog hound championship, which I didn’t include in the earlier video feature a couple of weeks ago.

And if you’re in the lesson barn at Champagne Run during the next few weeks, stop by and say hi to Sassoon.

Peterborough foxhound show: The video!

Ringside scenes from the world’s most important show for working pack hounds! Thanks for your patience!

To see Part One of our coverage, click here. Two see Part Two, click here.

The show’s modern foxhound results are here. Old English foxhound results are here.

And the houndbloggers offer many hearty thanks to Creative Commons, the Free Music Archive, and composers Kevin MacLeod and Jonah Dempcy for use of their wonderful music.