The Hat of Shame and other news

YOU know what they say about the best-laid plans. One of the houndbloggers had a plan that went well agley, as the poet said, at a recent meet. Well, it wasn’t so much the plan as the hound truck that went agley, right into a post.

When one is riding around in the hound truck, one feels as if one ought to help. So it was that when kennel manager Michael Edwards, collecting a hound at the end of the day just off a two-lane country road, asked one of the houndbloggers to please back the hound truck into position so he could safely load the hound, that houndblogger snapped to attention and did her best. Mr. Houndblogger is blameless in this; at the time, he was miles away, babysitting the house hounds. It should be said here that I am short, and the truck is tall. I should also point out that a dually is considerably wider than, for example, our faithful Tercel (the legendary Jeeves) or even our other faithful car, the Tucson named Brabinger (featured in this post).

In my attempt to back the hound truck into the side road where Michael stood waiting with the hound, I might not have done the Very Best Possible job of wrestling the truck into position for optimal hound-loading. There might have been a stone pillar involved. It could be that there is now a dent, perhaps even a significant dent, marring the beauty of the otherwise very lovely hound truck. Now, in his own defense, Michael was trying heroically to direct me from the ground, and I did hear him say, “Turn your wheel all the way to the left,” but I missed the part about “Whoa! Whoa! WHOA!” until I heard the CRRRUNCH that usually signifies that it is too late. I did, at least, hear that.


Here is the result of the houndblogger-pillar-hound truck combination:

The Dent.

Now, when you do something as egregious as running the back end of the hound truck into a pillar, there’s really only one thing you can do to make up for it. Actually two things. One is to write a check to the Hound Welfare Fund and hope the hounds forgive you for messing up their nice ride. The other is to wear the Hat of Shame, which at least brings a smile back to the faces of the hunt staff.

The Hat of Shame takes a little explaining. In theory, it sounds like a good idea, which is probably why someone who shall remain nameless, we’ll call her Lilla, decided to order it in the first place. It’s a cowboy hat that is also a riding helmet. Again, this sounds great: a truly safe cowboy hat.

But then you put it on.

And then you see the problem. It. Is. Weirdly. Huge.


Yes, that’s why they call it the Hat of Shame.

I think there’s a reason that this hat is non-returnable. Besides, it will come in handy the next time some other hapless hound follower puts a dent in the hound truck.

An Eider Update

Beagle House’s newest resident, Clear Creek Beagles Eider, is settling in well to civilian life. His biggest accomplishment to date: learning how to climb and descend the Notched Hill. We don’t like to laugh at any of the house hounds, but, really, it was pretty comical to watch poor young Eider galumph up and down the stairs–once he figured out that was what they were for, that is. The first night he was here, we carried him up to bed, and the next morning we carried him down again for breakfast. I know, I know, but we did.

His worst stairs experience had nothing to do with going up or down–at least not on purpose. He was lying across the top of the stairs, relaxing happily, but then, inexplicably, decided to roll over. This was not advisable, because instead of rolling away from the stairs, he rolled toward them–and promptly rolled down them, having, apparently, forgotten that they were there. I didn’t see this, but Mr. Houndblogger reported that Eider righted himself about halfway down but then had too  much momentum going and, instead of making it to his feet, belly-slid down to the bottom. Once he came to a halt at the bottom of the stairs, he popped right up on his feet and stood blinking at the Notched Hill perplexedly. Fortunately, he was no worse for the experience.


Mr. Box demonstrates the fearsomeness of the Notched Hill.

Eider is learning a lot of other things, too, mainly along the lines of what are and are not toys. Eider’s favorite toys are the remains of several plush rabbits, rope chews, and an oversized tennis ball. Eider’s favorite non-toys are the garden hose, any sock, my Dansko clogs, the front doormat, my horse’s old martingale, the saddle pads stacked on my saddle rack, and any of the dog bowls. Pajamas are good, too.

Hooray for Hounds!

We noted with pleasure that Hickory, a Scottish deerhound, won Best in Show at Westminster last night. Congratulations, Hickory!

UPDATE TO ADD: One of Hickory’s co-owners, Dr. Scott Dove, is an honorary whipper-in at the Old Dominion Hounds, according to a story at Foxhunting Life!

You can watch Westminster’s video of the hound group judging on their site at . A beagle, incidentally, was second to the deerhound in the hound group.

For more nice pictures of the hound herself, visit our friends at Pet Connection. Their contributor Christie Keith has a Deerhound named Rawley, so she was understandably happy with the result.

The result was all the more special because it marked the second time in three years that a hound has won Best in Show at Westminster. In 2008, the winner was the 15-inch beagle Uno. You can watch his Best in Show win–the complete class–here.

A flying Banker and Big Doings in Lexington

Banker arrives Thursday at the Atlanta airport with a houndblogger to meet Alan Foy.

THE houndbloggers brought a wonderful souvenir home from England last week. Meet Banker, age one year and five months, late of the North Cotswold hounds.

Banker hitched a ride home with us–who could say no to that face?–and will join the Iroquois hunting pack this season.

Accompanying hounds by air isn’t that difficult, although it can have some tribulations (see Samson). Fortunately, Banker was an excellent and relaxed traveler, because we did face some delays on the London end. The North Cotswold’s contact, Freddie, dropped him off at about 6 a.m. at our hotel adjacent to the airport.

A houndblogger awaiting Banker's arrival at the Gatwick hotel

Luckily, most of the airline officials we’ve dealt with when transporting hounds have been very helpful, and we’re fortunate, too, in having good contacts in England to help with any supplies we need to bring a hound over. The night before we travel, we scope out our route through the airport and where we’ll park the hound and crate while checking in, all of which helps the process run more efficiently for the hound. What we can’t anticipate, though, are the vagaries of air travel that everyone has to put up with: delays and cancellations.

Last week, everything appeared to be running like clockwork. But then … a flight cancellation had us cooling our jets, so to speak, in the airport. There was nothing for it but to wait. Banker, having spent some time watching all the legs bustle around his crate in the terminal, just curled up and went to sleep. Good dog!

When we finally did get him (and ourselves) loaded on the plane, it was an uneventful–though long–flight to Atlanta, where Alan Foy met us with the hound truck. Banker’s journey wasn’t over, and neither was ours. From Atlanta, it was a six-hour drive back to Lexington.

Banker gets a lift at the Atlanta airport

Laid-back Banker didn’t mind a bit. He got some dinner and a bucket of fresh water, and he rode in style in the back of the enormous hound truck, whose bed area has been converted into a large hound box. It’s bedded with lots of warm, dry straw, and Samson happily snoozed, waking up to eat and wag his tail when we made stops.

So now we’ll have a Banker and a Banknote (she’s one of the BA litter that will be joining the working pack for the first time this season). Now, as one of the houndbloggers quipped on a punch-drunk drive home from Atlanta, all we need is a hound named Bailout!

Welcome to America, Banker!

Once back in Lexington, the houndbloggers HAD to check out the World Equestrian Games. This world championship event takes place every four years and attracts horses and riders from all over the world; this year, it’s being held in North America for the first time. Saturday, Oct. 2, was the cross-country eventing day. We’re big fans of former racehorse, now three-day eventing star Courageous Comet and his rider Becky Holder, and getting to see him compete at WEG was a draw in itself (and we were crushed to learn this morning that, after throwing a shoe early on the cross-country course, third-placed Courageous Comet was withdrawn after Sunday morning’s jog in advance of that day’s stadium jumping competition, the final and deciding part of the eventing competition; to see his outstanding cross-country run, even minus the shoe, click here). So we trooped out to the Kentucky Horse Park. We’re glad we did. We cheered for Courageous Comet at what Rolex Three-Day Event-goers will know as the Head of the Lake, temporarily named the Land Between the Lakes for WEG. This multi-fence obstacle is probably the prettiest one on the cross-country course, and it drew the biggest crowd.

The crowd at WEG's Land Between the Lakes, fence 17.

A competitor gallops out of the Land Between the Lakes combination.

Personally, we love this fence. But there are 27 others! We toodled around here and there …

Okay, that just looks big.

Some of the cross-country jumps were whimsical, like the Fallen Dueling Tree, which included a squirrel, snail, and acorn. The horses jumped between the snail and the acorn:

Not every horse on the grounds was competing in the cross-country event. We saw police horses on the job …

… and some of the showjumpers warming up on the flat for the coming week’s competition.

These competitors are part of the Austrian (red) and South African (green) teams

Some equine athletes weren’t present, but they were there in spirit:

And some of the vehicles weren’t even horses at all. One of our favorites was a golf cart sporting the British flag and a helpful reminder to the driver on the dashboard:

Mexican supporters were a little less understated in showing their national colors via golf cart:

There’s even more to do at the World Equestrian Games than watch the competitions. The Equine Village and trade fair feature many exhibitions, demonstrations, and opportunities to shed some cash. Walking through the various displays, we came upon a few unusual and unexpected sights.

Who knew the Kingdom of Bahrain was so small and portable?

This French fan had a hairy take on the day's events. How did we know he was French?

That's how!

Many fans brought out their flags …

And a few, like these Dutch fans, went a little farther:

If all the colorful crowds were too much for you, how about a drink?

Speaking of dietary staples, there were also these frozen ice cream balls. Officially, they were called Dippin’ Dots, but I like Mr. Houndblogger’s name for them: Weird in a Cup.

Styrofoam ice cream, anyone? The alarming Dippin' Dots.

For the record, the houndbloggers don’t recommend them.

While we were out on the cross-country course, the jump crew was putting up the fences for Sunday’s stadium jumping, the final part of the three-day competition. Ever wonder what a baby jump looks like before it grows into a full-sized stadium obstacle? Pretty much like this:

Stadium jump sproutlets.

The thing we missed most of all? Dogs. Due to veterinary restrictions, dogs are banned from attending WEG. As we walked around the cross-country course, we noted how strange it seemed to be at the Kentucky Horse Park and not see dogs. They’re a regular feature, and in fact one of our favorite parts, of the Rolex event. But we did see this guy. I think he thought he was going to be attending the Warthog Eventing Games, poor fellow.

At least it looked like he was having fun, anyway!

It’s a bird … it’s a plane … it’s hounds!

On their way! Strawberry gets wheeled off to be weighed before the flight from Heathrow to Chicago O'Hare

On their way! A houndblogger and a porter wheel Strawberry away to be weighed before the hounds' flight from Heathrow to Chicago O'Hare

YOU wouldn’t normally expect to find foxhounds at the world’s second-busiest airport, but on Oct. 21 four of our canine friends arrived at Heathrow in London to board a flight to the United States.
The two dogs and two bitches started their journey at about 5 a.m. that morning at England’s prestigious Cottesmore hunt, where whipper-in Jack Bevan loaded them into the hound truck for the drive to the city. It was a long day for hounds and houndbloggers alike (not to mention Jack, who had to face London traffic going to Heathrow and heading home again!), but the hounds arrived in good order and now are at Iroquois. They’ll resume their careers as working pack hounds with the Iroquois Hunt, then retire for the rest of their natural lives in the care of the Hound Welfare Fund.
Here’s how the day went. Cottesmore bitches Strawberry and Structure and dogs Samson and Hawkeye got to the airport at about 8 a.m., where the houndbloggers were busily assembling the extra-large traveling crates for them. Whipper-in Jack Bevan pulled in as close to the airport entrance as he could, then unloaded them two at a time and, with Iroquois member Christopher Oakford, led them through the surprised crowd of travelers, right into the airport lobby, where the crates were waiting.
The hounds' arrival: country life comes to the world's second-busiest airport

The hounds' arrival: country life comes to the world's second-busiest airport

The hounds all fit comfortably in their crates, which were equipped with water bowls and diaper pads (which a couple mistook for chew-toys, much as Paper did on his long drive from Florida to Kentucky last year!).
Two things surprise you when you travel with hounds. First, how well they adapt to the completely new experience, and, second, the reaction of passers-by, who are fascinated and charmed by the sight of these canine travelers. The hounds are excellent ambassadors for their breed and sport. Well behaved and beautiful, they thumped their tails cheerfully at everyone who stopped by to see them, from airport staff to pinstriped businessmen to parents with young children.
The hounds loaded into their travel crates at Heathrow without any fuss.

The hounds loaded into their travel crates at Heathrow without any fuss.

Anyone in the airport lobby who didn’t see the four hounds in their travel crates soon heard them, thanks to Samson. While Hawkeye, Strawberry, and Structure all curled up immediately, watched the passing people for a while, and eventually just fell asleep, Samson decided early on that this was a day worth talking about. And he did.
Samson started barking at about 8:45 a.m., and he hardly missed a beat until we and the porters wheeled him off for a security check before loading him and his packmates on the plane at 11:15 a.m. He barked standing, he barked sitting, he barked lying down and between drinks of water. Only two things made him stop: interesting activity outside his crate (especially children stopping by to visit him) and a ride through the terminal on the wheeled trolley, so we suspect Samson, like most modern business travelers, was simply fed up with the wait! At least he didn’t have to eat airline food. 
The hounds drew curious crowds and made new friends at Heathrow. Okay, yes, one of them was a little loud!

The hounds drew curious crowds and made new friends at Heathrow. Okay, yes, Samson (just out of the picture to the right) was a little loud!

Coincidentally, one of the American Airlines representatives we met at Heathrow was a foxhunter herself. She was the daughter of a former whipper-in at Ireland’s famous Scarteen Hunt, and she was delighted with this unexpected chance to say hello to some foxhounds again.

"Wow! They're beautiful--and big!" Many of the people who stopped by to ask about the foxhounds were surprised by their size and by their gentle dispositions.

"Wow! They're beautiful--and big!" Many of the people who stopped by to ask about the foxhounds were surprised by their size and by their gentle dispositions.

The hounds have to be weighed before flying, and their crates have to be inspected both for humane and security reasons. They don’t get sent through the same baggage scan that your carry-on does, but they get a special inspection and the same chemical testing that checked baggage goes through, which took place in a cargo- and baggage-handling area. Samson thought the security procedure was especially fascinating and watched that with such great interest he entirely forgot to bark.

Once the hounds and their travel crates passed inspection, they were on their way to the hold of the plane. When we took our seats on the plane about an hour later, we knew the hounds had been loaded, because, you guessed it, we could hear the faint sound of Samson’s barking coming from somewhere under our seats! Fortunately, he quieted down very quickly, and probably slept most of the way back to the U.S.

Zzzzzzzzzzz ... Hawkeye (seen here), Strawberry, and Structure curled right up and went to sleep soon after arriving at Heathrow.

Zzzzzzzzzzz ... Hawkeye (seen here), Strawberry, and Structure curled right up and went to sleep soon after arriving at Heathrow.

The unloading process at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport was straightforward. The baggage handlers brought all four crates to the oversized baggage pick-up point in the customs area, where we met them after we passed through immigration. Needless to say, we had declared the four hounds on our landing cards! U.S. customs sent a public health official out to inspect the hounds and their veterinary paperwork, and then we were ushered through customs in fairly short order.

The hounds looked bright when we picked them up, and even Samson was pretty quiet. He barked a few times while we waited to get our own suitcases, but as soon as he got another fun ride on the trolley through customs, he quieted down, perfectly happy to watch the world rolling by again.

Outside, we met Iroquois joint-Master Jerry Miller, Hagan Miller, and kennel staff member Alan Foy. They had brought the hound truck, deeply bedded with clean straw and with buckets full of water, and they also had a second truck to drive us home and serve as a back-up in case the hound truck had any problems. Fortunately, the drive home to Lexington from Chicago was uneventful. The hounds had plenty of water, had a nice feed themselves when we stopped for dinner, and slept all the way to their new home at Iroquois.

MFH Jerry Miller, kennelman Alan Foy, and Hagan Miller met the hounds in Chicago with the specially equipped hound truck.

MFH Jerry Miller, kennelman Alan Foy, and Hagan Miller met the hounds in Chicago with the specially equipped hound truck.

MFH Jerry Miller and kennelman Alan Foy load hounds into the hound truck for the ride home to Lexington.

MFH Jerry Miller and kennelman Alan Foy load hounds into the hound truck for the ride home to Lexington.

The four new arrivals from Cottesmore will spend some time in quarantine at the Iroquois lower kennel before eventually joining the pack at the main kennel. It will be fun to follow their progress as they learn all about their new surroundings and new huntsman in the Bluegrass. Considering how talkative he was at the airport, we expect Samson will be happy to tell us his opinion of life in the States!