… and Bingo knows it.
… and Bingo knows it.
TONIGHT the houndbloggers are welcoming the newest resident of Beagle House, Clear Creek Beagles Eider. We think he’s probably some sort of cousin to Mr. Box, and in any case we know that both descend from the CCB’s great Major. Eider, now about two-and-a-half years old, started his hunting career last year with the Clear Creek beagle pack. We ran into him again this year at the end of November, when we went out beagling with Clear Creek Master of Beagles Buck Wiseman and whipper-in Jean MacLean. There, I’m afraid, Eider did not acquit himself very well. There were deer involved. And a lot of not leaving off their trail. And quite a bit of not coming when called. And called. And called.
And so it was, with great regret, that Buck determined that Eider–although he was a great character in the kennel and Jean’s favorite hound (she had raised and loved him from a pup)–needed a new home. Enter the houndbloggers.
Eider arrived this afternoon, on the very same day, it happened, that we also brought home our most ridiculous purchase to date: an early-1920s Victor Victrola wind-up phonograph. Yes, it was a folly, but who, I ask you, can really resist the delight of winding up a record player and then, as a reward, hearing it scratch out the tuneful strains of “With You” by Waring’s Pennsylvanians or the stirring fox trot “That Night in Araby” by Edwin J. McEnelly’s Orchestra?
(In case you’re wondering, we bought ours from Brian Gorrell at the Athens School antique show. He very kindly and enthusiastically explained all the technical stuff to us, about loud needles and soft needles, how to change them, and other interesting and useful things.)
So far, Eider is settling in quickly and comfortably. Harry is disappointed that Eider, like the hound puppies who visited, is not a minion (“I am sure I ordered minions,” says Harry). But otherwise things are fine. Eider likes Nylabones, biscuits, the dog beds by the fireplace, and, oops, my woolly clogs (or, okay, how about these paddock boots?), and my home office (an Emporium of Potential Toys!). He is not yet sure about leashes or walks in the ‘burbs, but he’s happy to be with the rest of the Beagle House pack. It will take him a little time to get used to the new routine now that he’s retired from hunting in the Clear Creek pack, but, if Mr. Box is any indication, it won’t take very long.
We’ll keep you posted!
… 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.
WONDERFUL news at Beagle House: our next-door neighbor Dave, he who doles out dog biscuits by the fence that runs between our houses, has taken up photography! We’re very pleased with this development (no pun intended), because it means he practices on the house hounds, and we get some good pictures of them as a result. The one above is one of our favorites, and here are two others we love:
Speaking of the House Hounds, if you enjoyed their singing act last week you might also get a kick out of this short video about Bingo, the bassist in the trio.
I probably should update that score, because he did actually catch one about a year ago, but, thank heavens, it’s a rare feat.
This week we’ll be on summer hound walk with the pack–including Driver and members of the BA litter for the first time this year–but today we’re enjoying an afternoon at home, sorting through some of the hound news and pieces of interest that have come to our attention lately.
We read it in the Times
If you’ve got a beagle, basset, dachshund, petit basset griffon vendeen, or sighthound who has never gotten a taste of the chase, The New York Times reports on a few places you can take your hound to let him get in touch with his wilder side without, it seems, actually catching anything. An American Kennel Club Fun Field Trial in Carlisle, Pa., pairs couch-potato scent hounds with field trial prizewinners who show them how real hound work is done. According to the Times story, “No rabbits are killed, and the only gun is a starting pistol, fired into the air to measure a dog’s ‘gun shyness.’ In fact, the dogs never catch rabbits–and normally don’t even see them–but are judged on their ability to follow the scent as long and directly as possible.” To see how the reporter’s basset, a pampered hound with what the reporter calls “wakeolepsy,” fares in this return to his genes, see the story. And don’t forget to watch the very good video that accompanies it.
We read it in Baily’s
If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading Baily’s yet, you should introduce yourself to this hunting bible immediately! Baily’s has a website now, and it’s well worth joining up to read its articles and to see the routinely fabulous photographs.
But you’ll get even more fun out of reading entries in the old directories, which I am starting to collect. Here are a few wonders from the 1914-1915 edition.
“A fox chased by the East Essex Hounds plunged into the sea, and was swimming out with the tide when four members of Hunt rowed out after him and rescued him.”
“An extraordinary accident befell Sir Edward Hutton whilst returning to Chertsey from a meet. As he was riding along a road his horse shied, throwing rider into a ditch. The animal also fell with his body across the ditch. Fortunately, the narrowness of the ditch prevented Sir Edward encountering full weight of horse. He was pinioned by one arm and leg, but with his free hand stroked the horse and kept it quiet until a man in charge of a motor delivery van came to his aid and released him.”
“Twenty English foxhounds being exported got loose and took possession of deck of Dover steamer sailing to France. The crew took to rigging until one brave soul lassoed the hound kicking up the chief row and placed him in truck again. The other hounds then followed him quite meekly.”
From the Department of We Want Details: “Young Lord Chesham, following worthily in his late father’s footsteps, is making himself very popular in ‘Pytchley country.'”
“Miss Isa E. Adams, Boston Spa, reports death of her otterhound, Old Carmelite, at age of 13 1/2 years. As a puppy he belonged to late King Edward, and later became property of Wharfedale Otterhounds, in which pack he remained till he was 9 1/2 years old. He was a winner on the show bench.”
“That there is good money in hounds was proved at Rugby, when Mr. Fullerton’s Avon Vale collection came under the hammer. All told, he received 3,726 guineas for them, the actual working pack of 24 couples going for 2,654 guineas.”
And the other side of that coin: “At Fitzwilliam Puppy Show Mr. George Fitzwilliam said hounds had cost him 80,000 pounds out of his own pocket since his father’s death, and owing to taxation, etc., increasing, he felt it necessary that he should be joined in the Mastership by Mr. Norman Loder.”
Loder, incidentally, was a close friend of hunting man and famed poet Siegfried Sassoon (for whom both my horse Sassoon and the Iroquois’s lovable woolly hound Sassoon are named) when Loder was Master of the Atherston. Hunting with Loder is a significant part of Sassoon’s splendid and funny classic Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man.
And here’s a note that should bring a smile to the faces of the members of Pennsylvania’s Cheshire Hunt. Under June, this entry: “Such is fame. A new pack of hounds has been established at Unionville, Chester County, Pennsylvania, and it will be called ‘The Cheshires’–shades of the Grosvenors, the Egertons, and the Wilbrahams!”
That’s all for now. Homework assignment: read your Baily’s, pat your dogs and horses, and we’ll see you on summer hound walk this week!
WE have mixed feelings about spring. Sure, it’s great to be done with icy footing, frozen-out hunt meets, and high heating bills. It’s good to see the sun again. It’s even better to have daylight after 4 p.m.!
But it also means another hunt season has ended. In spring, we swap hunting for houndwalking and our own personal hunt stories for those in sporting books.
Needless to say, there’s less news at the moment than there is during hunt season, so today we offer a selection of notes on recent happenings as well as some to come.
The MFHA biennial seminar this weekend!
The U.S. Master of Fox Hounds Association will hold its biennial hunt staff seminar in Lexington, Kentucky, this weekend. There’s a lot of interesting stuff on the agenda. Iroquois huntsman and hound blog contributor Lilla Mason will be on one panel with five other young huntsmen, discussing their work with the hounds on the hunt field. Coyote expert Dr. Stanley Gehrt will give a talk about “Wiley Coyote.” And there’s more, including a kennel visit to the Iroquois Hunt kennels and the Hound Welfare Fund. By the way, if you haven’t seen it before, check out the MFHA website’s gorgeous introductory slide show.
There are stunning pictures of hounds, coyotes, foxes, and horses. My favorite part is the excellent audio: hounds in full cry, the horn, and the sometimes eerie echoes of huntsmen calling to hounds. It’s a fine way to recall the past hunt season. Incidentally, the very first picture is of the Iroquois Hunt’s Blessing of the Hounds from a few years ago. That’s Lilla being blessed, and the photo was taken by hunt member and former Iroquois president Harkey Edwards.
The Goodall Horn at auction
At long last, here’s our video from auction at Cheffins in Cambridge, England, where Will Goodall’s hunting horn sold for 2,600 pounds. To learn more about the horn and the remarkable story of the couple who found it in Zimbabwe, click here and here.
Sellers James and Denise Davies say they remain convinced, at least until further evidence to the contrary, that the horn belonged to Will Goodall of Belvoir Kennels, not to his son, Will Goodall of the Pytchley. We wonder what the buyer thinks? If we find out, we’ll let you know!
And not just any days: birthdays (or what we consider birthdays). Spring is the season for all of the Beagle House hounds to celebrate their adoption days. Harry, the wickedest beagle in the universe, joined the family on April 30, 2003. That was before I knew how bad he is; at this very money (that was a Freudian typo. I meant “moment”; can you tell I have a vet bill due?), he is sneaking by my desk with a contraband paper towel he plucked from the trash can. We adopted Tobermory Icebox, the former Clear Creek beagle, on March 27, 2005. And the most recent addition, Bingo, arrived on May 9, 2009.
Here’s another kind of Dog Day, and it’s hound-related. You don’t get to see Scottish deerhound puppies terribly often, but, man, are they ever cute. Pet Connection blogger Christie Keith took her new puppy, Rawley, to visit an office the other day, and the resulting photographs are cute (surprise!). See more of Rawley, including video, here and here. He’s about 12 weeks old, which gives you some idea of how big a Scottish deerhound will turn out to be full grown. Isn’t he beautiful?
WE at Beagle House will be glad to greet a New Year. We can’t deny that some great things have happened to us this year: we’ve enjoyed writing the hound blog, and we’ve had a lot of fun meeting its readers. It was a great luxury to spend two weeks leafing through hunting and hound history at the National Sporting Library. Best of all, we adopted Bingo, who was on death row in Nashville, Tennessee, before we heard about him and went to pick him up. Watching his delight at having a home and a pack of his own has meant a so much to us. And we all end the year in good health and good spirits, generally speaking.
But we do miss Felix, and far too many of our other wonderful hound friends like Iroquois stalwarts Bonfire and Salt and our good friend Badge passed away this year, making life emptier for all who knew them.
The great New Year’s traditions, of course, are looking back with year-end roundups and looking forward with resolutions. We’re doing something slightly different: going through our old scrapbooks, file folders, e-mails, and boxes to rediscover some worthy or just plain entertaining things that needed rediscovering. This also proves my contention that sometimes it’s good to be a pack rat!
Here are a few of our favorite rediscoveries.
Weaver’s New Job
Carrboro, North Carolina, animal control officer Amanda Stipe picked up Weaver, a stray foxhound, near the town’s farmers’ market in the spring of 2001. She decided to adopt him herself, but she couldn’t take him home until she was off duty, so she took him to a local animal shelter, explaining that she and her husband would be back to get him in a few hours.
The local News & Observer picks up the story of Weaver’s near miss, which reminds us a lot of Bingo’s:
Unbeknownst to Stipe, Weaver was a repeat offender. They’d let him go once before. Now, he was back. He wa sput on death row.
When her husband, Fred, arrived, the shelter was busy. He told the woman he had come for Weaver, but insisted she help the others in line first.
The woman looked at him. Then she took off, sprinting to the back. ‘Don’t do Weaver! Don’t do Weaver!’ she screamed over and over again.
Now, THAT is a close call. Stipe and her husband adopted him just in the nick of time, and Stipe ended up putting him into training as an agility dog. Again, from the News & Observer story by Leah Friedman:
She noticed right away how he took to agility challenges, like jumping through tires and walking across a see-saw.
‘I picked up that he needed a job,’ she said. ‘He liked the structure and form.’
He got so good that Stipe entered Weaver in competitions.
And he won.
All of them.
In 2007, at age seven., Weaver became the United States’ top-ranked male agility dog, and he’s been the cover boy on issues of the magazines Dog Fancy and Dog Sport Magazine. When he’s not busy competing, Weaver sleeps on the Stipes’ bed and plays with the family’s other hound, a beagle named Barkley.
Good save, Stipes!
Snow Dog and other glorious videos
This priceless and hilarious video was sent in late this year by one of our Alert Readers. We had to share it with you. See it here.
Also in the favorite images category this year, a beautiful slideshow from the Irish Times, with commentary from hunt member James Phelan, of a day’s hunting with Ireland’s Waterford Hunt. In addition to the gorgeous photographs of horses, hounds, and the Irish coastal landscape, there is some good audio of the pack, the horn, and the huntsman.
The hounds, Phelan explains, are Old English hounds, and they are black and tan with only a few white markings here and there.
To access the photo slideshow, click http://www.irishtimes.com/indepth/slideshows/waterford-hunt-two/
And be sure your sound is on!
Noteworthies in Baily’s
Seen all the good movies? Another dinner out sound too boring? Nothing but reruns on TV? Here’s a better form of entertainment: pull out an old edition of Baily’s, the British hunting directory (actually, the world’s hunting directory). They have a new website which is plenty cool, but, for me, nothing beats the old red hardbacks for curious notes, drama, and sentimental tear-jerkers.
Perhaps the most interesting bits in Baily’s, oddly enough, are the sections on special presentations and obituaries. Both are located to the rear of the older editions (and, much like wandering through your favorite antiques store, you’ll find lots of intriguing things on your way back to special presentations and obituaries).
The entries are brief but vivid. From the obituaries for 1913-1914:
Abbott, “Bob,” of Thimbleby, an octogenarian. The members of the Hurworth Hunt presented him with a scarlet coat and a silk hat, in which he used to appear with that pack and with the Bilsdale, of which he was the oldest follower.
Baldock, Col. E., notable in the Shires and a pioneer of polo.
Blacklock, Lieut. J. N. S. (8th Hussars); died from a hunting accident in India.
Carr, Henry F., hon. sec. Silverton Foxhounds and Harriers for eleven years with the greatest tact.
Cay, Mrs., one of the victims of the disaster to the Empress of Ireland, eldest daughter of the late Colonel G. C. Cheape, an ex-M.F.H., and Mrs. Cheape, Bentley Manor, Worcestershire. She was a beautiful horsewoman and absolutely fearless.
Cotes, Lt.-Col. C. J., well known in Salopian hunting circles.
D’Esterre, H. A., regular follower of the hounds in Leicestershire and Lincolnshire; alleged to have been shot by Germans as a spy.
Minto, Lord, probably the only man who ever took his bachelor’s degree in racing kit; degree day happened to fall on the date fixed for the steeplechase known as ‘The Whip,’ chief event of the University racing calendar. Putting his spurs in his pocket and hiding his boots and breeches under his gown, young Melgund managed to escape from the Senate House after his share in the ceremony, jumped on a hack, galloped seven miles to the course at Cottenham, and arrived in time to ride and beat the winner of two previous years.
Morris, Martin; thrown from his horse and broke his neck on his way home from East Kilkenny point-to-point races. He took part in the race in which Captain D. M’Calmont fell, and, jumping off, ran back to the assistance of the captain, who was pinned under his horse. That Mr. Morris himself should have lost his life within a few hours was inexpressibly tragic.
Oates, Captain, succumbed in the Scott Antarctic Expedition, was once a master of hounds in India.
Paget, Lord Berkeley C. S., a great supporter of the South Staffordshire Hunt. He led the Meynell for fifty minutes when he was only 14 years old. On another occasion he pounded the whole field by jumping the Blithfield Park palings, and was alone with hounds in consequence for twenty minutes.
That’s just for 1913-1914. In those brief lines, a glimpse of important historic events like the Scott Antarctic Expedition and the Empress of Ireland catastrophe, the stark horror of World War I. You also have the colorful flashes regular hunting men and women, now forgotten, made during their hunting lives, and quick snapshots of notable hunting runs and incidents.
Occasionally their very simplicity makes them especially poignant, as in the 1915 obituary of H. Cholmondeley Pennell; “once a good man to hounds; born 1836.”
The presentations pages have a sentimentality all their own:
Barnard, Will, huntsman to the Fitzwilliam, on retiring, a purse containing 500 pounds, and an album containing the names of the subscribers.
Daniels, W., huntsman of the Taunton Vale Hounds, a solid silver Georgian tea service, accompanied by an album containing the names of over 250 subscribers.
Hayes, Frank, the new huntsman to the Mendip, a cheque for 83 pounds from the members of the Cotswold; a clock from the puppy walkers, and a purse of gold.
Witherden, Carey, a silver teapot from the Bexhill Harriers.
Which brings me, I think, to my resolutions. Inspired by this saunter through Baily’s, I believe I will resolve to serve as hon. sec. of the Iroquois with the greatest tact, and to, if I prove worthy, become well known in Salopian hunting circles.
Happy New Year, everyone! And let’s hope for fewer freezing conditions in 2010 so that we may all see more of the hounds and the hunt field–safely!
Please remember the retired hounds when planning your tax-deductible donations this year! Donations to the all-volunteer Hound Welfare Fund are tax-deductible, and 100 percent of your donation goes directly to aid the retired and injured hounds maintained by the fund. Donate online or by mail!
IT is, after all, the day to give thanks. So we at Beagle House are totting up the things we’re especially glad for this year. It’s not a complete list, because probably even cyberspace isn’t big enough for that, but here are the ones that are hound-related, in honor of Thanksgiving Day on the hound blog.
Let’s face it: 2009 has been a pretty rough year. But even in the midst of various losses and traumas, we still have a lot to be thankful for. We are thankful that when our elderly beagle Felix, king of the house and our hearts, died on February 12, it was peaceful and painless, and he was surrounded by the people who knew and loved him best. We’re grateful, too, that we had him so long.
We’re thankful that Harry has not yet managed to blow up the house. “Not that I can’t,” Harry reminds. Harry himself is very happy about that new giant-sized Orvis dog bed we got. It was meant for all three of the dogs, but, you know, Harry is reviewing the other dogs’ applications for occupancy with “great thoroughness,” he says, and will get back to them on that, perhaps later in the decade.
All three dogs are thankful for the gas-log fireplace at this time of year.
Mr. Box is thankful for biscuits, and Bingo is especially thankful to be out of an animal shelter and into a home, his own home, with a pack and a family and, my goodness, all those toys.
Snaffles, my very old gray hunter, is thankful that the summer wasn’t too hot and for the cooler weather having finally arrived. Sassoon, my young(ish) hunter, is thankful to be alive and only wishes he could hunt a little more these days. Both of the horses, collectively known as The Snaffoon, are thankful to Lilla for helping make me a better rider! And speaking of Lilla, we’re thankful to her and to Jerry for teaching us about hounds and their training, and for allowing us a glimpse at what carrying the horn is like.
The houndbloggers are thankful for the Hound Welfare Fund, which keeps the Iroquois hounds happy and healthy in their days of dignified retirement. We are especially grateful to all the HWF’s donors, supporters, and volunteers, who make the whole thing work–and make it an example of what can be done, which we hope other hunts and their supporters will follow. And we’re thankful for all the hunt’s hounds, current working pack members and retirees alike, for showing everyone so much fun and for helping us learn what hunting is really all about.
We’re thankful, too, for all the landowners, without whom there would be no Iroquois hunt country, and to the Masters and their work crews who keep that country in good repair, who install the coops and riding gates for our convenience, and who bear a great deal of work, expense, and time-consuming hassle just so we can go out and have fun from October to April.
We are thankful for the hunt country itself, with the great beauty of its rolling hills, leafy spinneys, grassy pastureland, clear-running creeks, and generous coverts. And we are thankful for the conservationists that have kept it that way, abundantly full of wildlife and game.
We are thankful for our horses, who carry us without complaint (most of the time, anyway!) and seem to enjoy their hunt days as much as we do.
We’re thankful that the flood at the hunt club wasn’t worse!
We’re thankful to Michael and Alan in the kennel for their thoughtful care of the hounds.
We’re thankful to our many various veterinarians and our farrier, who keep our animals in working order. They have gone the extra mile for them more times than we can count, and we are grateful that they don’t mind explaining the technical stuff in simple language that we can understand, even when we are worried to death.
God knows we’re thankful to be employed so that at least we have some chance of paying off those vet and farrier bills!
And we’re thankful, enormously so, for all of the readers that have stopped by Full Cry: A Hound Blog since we first opened the door on June 29. You’ve looked in on the hounds and their blog more than 3,700 times since then (as of today)! We’ve got good friends, old and new, that the blog keeps us in touch with, and we’re very thankful for that.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!
A FRIEND of the hound blog sent me this story about a subject familiar to many hound owners: the hound who will eat almost anything (and sometimes anything).
We at Beagle House have been lucky in this regard, in that none of our dogs, late or current, have ever eaten anything really, truly stupid, like, say, light bulbs or auto parts. But we do recognize the impulse Andrew Sullivan describes.
Harry, for example, first discovered his love of coffee mere moments after I had poured myself a piping hot cuppa. It was too hot for me, so I left it on the (appropriately named) coffee table and I went to start some laundry while I waited for the coffee to cool. From the laundry room, I heard lap lap lap lap lap. I assumed, as I sorted darks from lights, that it was just Harry drinking from his water bowl. But when I came back to the coffee table, there he was, his nose all the way into my coffee mug. The coffee was gone, and he was now testing the “good to the last drop” motto by licking out the last molecules.
What came next was a frantic call to the vet, who said, wisely, “Well, he’s going to be busy today.”
He was, but, strangely, not all that different from how he usually is.
The very worst thing Harry ever ate was–well, we’re not even exactly sure what it was. We think it might have been whatever the last bits of yogurt devolve into when they have been left in a garbage bag for some time. The smell was something never to be forgotten, and, we hope, never to be experienced again. When we took Harry to the vet, the odor wafted in with him on a vast fog of stink that caused the receptionist to rear back in disgust. Again, oddly, it didn’t have much effect on Harry himself, and he had no tummy trouble or loss of appetite afterwards.
Felix, the late king of Beagle House, was famous for eating anything and never having any ill effects from it. We assume he would eat unusual and/or foul things because he had been a stray for so long (he only weighed 12.4 pounds when we first found him). Along the way he had adopted the immutable ideas that you never know where the next meal might come from, and you better go on and eat what doesn’t eat you first. In Felix’s civilian, non-stray life, this included a dead baby ground hog, a mouse that essentially had become jerky by the time he discovered it, and cat food. He seemed to prefer things that were either a) already dead or b) on your own plate. He had a talent for efficiency. A real delicacy: moles. And he was fond of mice, which were in plentiful supply after the mower had gone through the pasture behind the house I rented at the time, though mouse-eating was a habit I discouraged (mind you, I wasn’t all that happy about the moles, either–poor moles!). But Felix knew when it was mouse season, just as some people wait for the perfect two-week window for their favorite peach or long for fresh corn in summer. When we would go for walks after mowing day, he would step outside and raise his nose in the air, as if thinking, “Aaaah, yes! Mice today!” Yuck. His companion, Pun, once ate a rock (apparently this isn’t all that uncommon, as Gina Spadafori has been writing about over on the Pet Connection blog recently).
Mr. Box also is a fairly adventurous eater. I’m pretty sure he would try metal filings once, just to make sure whether or not he liked them. Fortunately, his favorite non-food food is neither disgusting nor too dangerous. Like most dogs, for whatever reason, it’s paper products.
So, on this Nov. 1, remember to keep Halloween candy well away from those hounds!