Photos for a Friday

It's nice to have a friend in a thunderstorm, says Mr. Box.

THE houndbloggers, and indeed the hounds, missed a couple of hound walks this week due to the unbelievably torrential rains. Which were not as bad as they were in Milwaukee, so, really, we’re not complaining. But we hated to miss those walks. I still took some pictures, though, and, having less than usual to say about hound walks, I thought I’d share them.

The way we know that the rainfall truly was torrential is by how soaked Gerald got. Gerald is Bingo’s pet rabbit, or something close to a rabbit. It’s hard to tell what Gerald’s exact  taxonomy is. Looking at him he looks like a cross between a rabbit and an octopus, and then there’s the fact that he’s a toy. However odd his looks, Bingo loves Gerald and brings him almost everywhere with him–everywhere except indoors from the rain. I try to remember to go out and collect Gerald from the yard before storms hit, but sometimes I forget, too. I am not my dog’s rabbit’s keeper.

The Gerald Sog-o-Meter read "saturated" this week.

Gerald reached unprecedented levels of sog this week, meaning 1) it rained a hell of a lot, 2) he felt like he weighed about 38 pounds, and 3) he had to stay outside a good long while until he dried in the sun, finally, this afternoon.

That’s not to say we didn’t make it out with hounds at all this week. We did, and we caught some nice photos of a few of our favorite hounds.

Bonsai and her amazing bronze eyes.

Paper does a little subterranean sniffing.

The hounds.

… not to mention one of those hot Hound Welfare Fund saddle pads in action:

Most weekdays, we walk out from a place we refer to as The Pig Lot, but don’t let the name fool you. It’s picturesque, especially at this time of year when everything is in full bloom and butterflies are everywhere.

At the pig lot.

A post-walk visit to the barn revealed that my horse Sassoon has gone into the witness protection program …

Sassoon incognito.

… but I think Tuxedo the barn cat still recognizes him.

Tomorrow we return to Boone Valley for another hound walk morning, and we expect to get some more video and photographs. If Trevor’s there again, we’ll stop in and say hello, as long as he’s not, you know, feeling too shy.

Where's Trevor?

See you on Saturday!

Well, shoot

ICE BOX didn’t win the Belmont Stakes, much to our Mr. Box‘s disappointment. He finished ninth (but was placed eighth due to Uptowncharlybrown’s DQ to last) in a race that, as our Mr. Box had feared, showed little early pace.

Mr. Box and the Beagle House hounds are a musical lot, and, to express their woe, they have dedicated a special singing of the blues to the equine Ice Box, the defeated Belmont favorite. We wish the hard-running colt much luck in his next race and hope he will turn the tables in the Travers at Saratoga in August!

In case you are wondering, Harry is the lead vocal in the Beagle House Trio. Our Mr. Box contributes both harmony and percussion at various points, and the final “whoot” at the end is his solo.

No Belmont for Mr. Box

Mr Box turned up lame the day before the Belmont, but he still likes Ice Box's chances

MR. BOX’S careful training plan for the Belmont Stakes was going right on schedule: vigorous playtimes punctuated by regular biscuit breaks, a custom-designed regimen of mid-afternoon snoozes, relaxing strolls with the brothers, and barroooo-ing at the postman. But all of that came to a halt Friday morning, when Mr. Box, having gone downstairs for that all-important first meal of the day, declined to come back up the stairs again to his bed, even when offered payment in a fat biscuit to do so. That’s not like our Mr. Box! So we packed him off to Dr. Snyder, whose genius and kindness are evident here (he’s the one NOT sitting in the tub):

The wonderful Dr. Snyder, veterinarian to the Beagle House hounds and to the Iroquois Hunt hounds, and a longtime friend of the Hound Welfare Fund.

The verdict: a muscle strain in Mr. Box’s back. O, cruel fate! To strike on Belmont Eve! Mr. Box has taken this injury in stride, but shorter, slower strides than usual.

Mr. Box has limited himself to desk work today but plans to watch his namesake run this afternoon.

We’re hoping that our Icebox’s equine counterpart, Belmont morning-line favorite (and Kentucky Derby runner-up) Ice Box will hit the wire first in the final leg of the Triple Crown series today. We’ll be cheering him on from our living room this afternoon when the race goes off at New York’s Belmont Park.

What does our Mr. Box think of his namesake’s chances?

“I like him,” the little white beagle opined. “You gotta love a horse with that name. But I worry about whether there’s enough speed on the front end to give him an honest pace to run at. On the other hand, you know, he checked three times during the Derby, had the agility to get out of that trouble, and still had enough gas left to make that signature long run in the homestretch. So we know he’s got some fancy footwork available to him, he’s no ordinary plodder, from where I stand. Can he change his tactics to sit closer to a slower pace up front and then roll home like a freight train? I hope so, but I’d like to see a rabbit in front of him somewhere. Oh, rabbits! Speaking of rabbits …”

Wow–Mr. Box sure has been studying his Daily Racing Form during his recovery! What does he think of Ice Box’s ability, pedigree-wise, to get the Belmont’s 1 1/2-mile distance?

Stamina to spare: Clear Creek Beagles Icebox '04, now known as Tobermory Icebox of Beagle House.

“Shoot, he’s bred to go long!” exclaimed Mr. Box. “Are you kidding me? He’s got stamina, all right.”

Our Mr. Box knows a thing or two about stamina, so we have no doubt he could get the Belmont distance. He’s already done more than that (but not in a little over two minutes; it took him more like two weeks). Here’s the story.

Mr. Box’s Epic Journey

It was a dark and snowy night … that’s how the tale begins.

About two days after Christmas in 2004, the Clear Creek Beagles hunted farmland on Harrods Creek near Goshen, Ky. When the hunt was over and huntsman Buck Wiseman put the hounds in their trailer, Mr. Box was not among them. Buck stayed at the meet and blew and blew his horn, but Mr. Box, then known as Icebox ’04, still did not come in. Icebox was in his first season with the pack that winter, and he already had proven to be a very marginal sort of hunting beagle, even though he was by the Clear Creek pack’s legendary Moby. Icebox, it seemed, preferred going off on his own and never really got the whole gist of hunting. But this was the first time he hadn’t come in at all. Finally, Buck had to return to the kennel with the rest of the hounds. He came back to the meet by himself as night was falling and blew his horn for a long time again. Still no sign of Mr. Box.

“Then a terrific snowstorm came in that night,” Buck said. “Seven or eight inches of snow. It was very, very cold–it was below freezing for days.”

The next day, while Buck was “off being a lawyer,” as Clear Creek whipper-in Jean MacLean puts it, he deputized Jean, who was recovering from surgery but was the only other person who knew Icebox personally, to go back on the hunt for Mr. Box on the farm where the hunt had been.

“It was very cold,” recalled Jean. “I remember a farm guy had seen him, and so I went out and traveled around out there. But I never saw him.”

“I checked back for him a few more times, but there was no sign of him,” Buck continued. “The farm crew didn’t see him. No one had seen him. And then about two weeks later, I drove into the kennel, and he was sitting on the front step.

“It’s probably a good four or five miles from where he got left back to the kennel. It’s not a huge trek back, but he had to cross Harrods Creek, which is a pretty good-sized creek. Maybe he crossed the bridge, I don’t know.”

The Clear Creek Beagles pack earlier this year. Mr. Box, now retired from hunting and wandering, lives happily at Beagle House, where he enjoys his fenced yard, his companions Harry and Bingo, and sleeping next to the fire in winter.

Even stranger, Icebox looked just fine.

“The peculiar thing about hounds when they get left out is they usually look just great when they come home,” Buck said. “I don’t know what they eat or where they  hang out, but they look fine when they come home. I’ve had them picked up six weeks later, and they’ve looked fine.”

Mr. Box moved in with us four months later. He never was much of a rabbit-hunting hound, but he’s an ace at hunting biscuits.

“I like biscuits,” Mr. Box concurs.

And if Ice Box has any of our Mr. Box’s stamina, he’ll have no trouble handling the Belmont distance. Here’s hoping that he, like Mr. Box, comes home safely, too! Happy Belmont Day, everyone!

Next time: More from the recent Virginia Hound Show trip!

Space Invaders, or How to help your dog train you (with video)

Gaelic and Hailstone with Iroquois huntsman Lilla Mason, proving that training can be fun.

ONE of the problems handlers face in training hounds for the show ring is The Biscuit Lean or its cousin, The Biscuit Crouch. Those aren’t the technical names, but they’re pretty accurate. Huntsmen showing hounds have pockets full of biscuits for the hounds to chase when off-leash in the show ring, and they’re handy for keeping a hound’s attention while you’re surrounded by other huntsmen and their hounds.

Thing is, the hounds learn to anticipate getting that biscuit, and while waiting for the huntsman to reward them they will start to leeeaan forward or even crouch back slightly on their hind legs, preparing to launch themselves at the biscuit when it’s tossed. Bad, bad dog. Why? A leaning hound is in an unnatural, unrelaxed stance that makes it harder for a judge to accurately assess his conformation. A crouching one will tend to place his hind legs too widely, making them look conformationally suspect.

Joint-Master Jerry Miller, who has developed the Iroquois training program, and huntsman Lilla Mason often conduct hound training together.

These are ways hounds in the ring can “push” or pressure a handler, and Iroquois joint-Master Jerry Miller has devised a way to stop this mild dominance behavior: by playing a gentle game of Space Invaders. For the last several days, Iroquois huntsman Lilla Mason has been trying this on the young hounds, and its proven remarkably effective (and fast) at stopping this pushy behavior. Lilla demonstrated it for us on Thursday and explained the philosophy behind this common-sense training technique, which is easily applicable to some house-dog behaviors, too.

One of the things that appealed to us about this is the way it encourages the hound to think for himself and make his own decision, not because he’s afraid of being punished, but because he wants the outcome that results in a treat for him. It also allows the hound to trigger the desirable outcome (biscuit!) himself by his actions. When the hound leaves the show board, Lilla simply “shuts off.” The hounds we watched quickly learned that they themselves could reactivate her attention only by stepping back on the board, and they could restart the biscuit reward by standing square. By leaning or pressing forward on Lilla’s space, they only activated Space Invaders.

We used the “off switch” technique  with one of our dogs, Mr. Box, when he developed the annoying habit of barking incessantly at us while we made the dogs’ meals. Here’s how it worked: as soon as he barked, we immediately stopped whatever we were doing–opening the canned food, scooping kibble into bowls, whatever. We’d put the dog-food-making items down, step away from the counter, and slump, looking down at the floor and avoiding any contact, visual or verbal, with the dogs until Mr. Box stopped barking.

Iroquois huntsman Lilla Mason with Starter and Stanway

As soon as he stopped, we’d return to the counter and pick up making dinner wherever we had left off. Rinse and repeat as needed (at the first sign of barking). Within a week, Mr. Box had learned to “control” how fast dinner arrived by not barking, and now he sits silently (but gazing very intently) while we make his meal.

Jerry Miller has spent much of his career as a huntsman and hound breeder trying to figure out these training puzzles, and many of his solutions, like the invading a domineering hound’s space, deal directly with a hound’s psychology. Teaching a dog merely to avoid punishment seems to us a blunter instrument.

Side note: for a funny take on training people this way, you might enjoy Amy Sutherland’s piece in the New York Times about how this worked on her husband.

Kennel manager Michael Edwards also is on hand at training sessions.

Late last month at a kennel open house, Jerry and Lilla talked about showing and judging hounds. They didn’t just talk about training, they also talked about the showmanship and showring strategy that huntsmen have to use to make their hounds stand out well in their brief time in a crowded show ring.

The hound you’ll see in this video is young Battle, one of the BA litter out of our imported English bitch Cottesmore Baffle. After you watch this video, scroll down to the next one to check out how much progress he has made just since late April, when we made this first video. In this video, you’ll also see a vivid case of a hound pushing his handler–that was before the Space Invaders lesson!

Another aside: if you didn’t get Jerry’s reference to Peterborough, check out our post (with some video) about the world’s most prestigious foxhound show.

Here’s the “big, overgrown puppy” today. One surprise: he shows signs of shyness, as Lilla discusses in the video. It’s not clear yet whether this is temporary or a part of his personality, but it’s information Lilla files away in her mind, because it could affect how she handles him on summer hound walk and, later, in the hunt field. In the meantime, her work with him now will focus on increasing his confidence.

Finally, there’s Driver. The Big Shark. We’ve been following the pupposaurus since he was in utero, but now he’s turned into a real pin-up boy with some serious jaws in his biscuit-catching style. Enjoy:

The Virginia Hound Show is on May 30. The houndbloggers plan to be there, and in the meantime we’ll keep you updated on the doings at the kennel!

How ’bout that Box!

HE didn’t win, but, man oh man, Ice Box overcame significant traffic trouble and was closing fastest of all with a furious, blazing run on the far outside! If you had him across the board in the Kentucky Derby yesterday, you got a nice payoff anyway for place and show. Ice Box paid $11.20 to place and $8 to show. Not to mention you got a thrilling run for your money!

He’s a mudder, and his mother musta been a mudder. Which is interesting, because our Icebox actually isn’t a mudder at all.

Oh, right, yes, Super Saver won by 2 1/2 lengths.

If you don’t remember why the hound blog cares so much about the 2010 Kentucky Derby’s second-place finisher, click here for a refresher.

Ice Box wasn't the only mudder at the 2010 Kentucky Derby. Trust me, we saw worse than this!

When we returned home from Churchill Downs last night, we asked Mr. Box how he managed to pull it off.

“I think I probably was running to  get out of the mud,” he said.

Will he go to the Preakness?

“Oh, I don’t know,” he demurred. “Are there biscuits? I hear the Belmont has great big biscuits.”

At least Mr. Box didn’t lose a shoe. Judging by the number of flip-flops (more like flip-slops after the heavy rains on Derby Day), tennis shoes, and hiking boots we found abandoned in the parking lot and on the sidewalks around Churchill Downs, a fair number of the patrons did. Here are a couple of especially compelling examples in a department we’ll call …

Lost Soles of the Kentucky Derby

Some of the numerous shoes we saw left behind in the parking lot near Churchill Downs after the Derby, their owners apparently having been Raptured .... but they were nice enough to leave their drinks behind for the rest of us!

... but it was nice of them to leave their drinks behind!

The evidence tells the tale: this guy was handicapping the second race when he simply vanished, leaving muddy shoes, damp socks, and the all-important Daily Racing Form Derby Edition behind.

The Derby is really one big party, and there’s a lot of debris in the aftermath. Amazingly, by dawn on Sunday, the track’s all-night cleaning crew sweeps everything up. But before then … it looks like an impossibly large job.

This morning, our Derby runner-up slept in (“It was raining,” he explained), stretched his legs with a little run around the bottom of the staircase with Harry and Bingo, and declined to go outside, even for Important Business (“It’s still raining,” he explained.). Asked how his life had changed, Mr. Box said, “Well, it seems like it’s rained a whole lot more.”

Paging Noah …

Icebox is right. We’re in the middle of the worst full-day downpour we’ve seen in months. This prompted the houndbloggers to take a drive back down to Boone Creek and the Iroquois Hunt Club to see how things were looking. The creek was rising fast, and we estimated that the rapids were only about 18 inches under the bridge by the time we left at about 3:30 p.m. Luckily, the intrepid Debbie Young had already been in to bring things up from the basement, and while we were there IHC president Derek Vaughan and neighboring landowner Chas Martin also were on the scene, so Grimes Mill was in good hands.

This flood already looked larger than the one we saw last fall.

The ground was thoroughly waterlogged, but we hope things will start to dry out soon so that we can get back to riding. In the meantime, we hope you’re all staying warm and dry–and that you cashed a ticket on Mr. Box!

A houndblogger at the mutuel window. Hooray for Ice Box!

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Our exacta Box (now with video!)

Icebox breezing five furlongs on Wednesday in preparation for the Kentucky Derby.

The Churchill Downs countdown clock says it’s only 1 day, 6 hours, and 7 minutes until the first Saturday in May, better known as the Kentucky Derby.

This year, we at Beagle House have a special interest in the race, because one of the 2010 Derby horses is Ice Box. You might remember that one of the house hounds is also named Icebox–his hunting name when he was with the Clear Creek Beagles and before he retired to our house. So in this year’s Derby we have the ideal exacta Box!

Ice Box at Churchill Downs, where he was 10-1 in the morning line. Photo by Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography.

Naturally, we were delighted when Ice Box won the Florida Derby by a nose in a real thriller. Now, we’re keeping paws and dewclaws crossed that he can run a winning race again on Saturday.

And here is our Mr. Box in his most recent performance:

CCB Icebox, also known as Mr. Box in our household, was surprised to learn that he was even in the race, which he thought was for three-year-old horses, not seven-year-old beagles. But, being a game sort, he takes his involvement as an honor and has been buckling down to some serious training. Early each morning, while his packmates are still snoozing, Mr. Box is up at exercise, beginning with his all-important stretching routine:

After a good breakfast–breakfast is very, very, very important in Mr. Box’s training regimen–it’s outside for the most strenuous part of the workout. Fortunately, Mr. Box’s friend Bingo has volunteered to serve as both pacemaker and wrestling coach. From a lifetime of experimentation with various workout programs, Mr. Box has come to the scientific conclusion that this one is the best. Step one: wrestle with Bingo and Harry.

"A vigorous wrestling match is good for the system," says Mr. Box.

Harry gives Mr. Box a training tip: "Put your ears into it!"

For strength-training, Mr. Box advises pulling a human around your neighborhood at least twice a day (Helpful Training Tip: It’s easier if you let your companions do most of the pulling. This is called “Being Smart”):

Mr. Box working in company.

There’s also the Biscuit-Eating Exercise, because, as Mr. Box says, “It’s not good running in the Derby without some fat reserves!”:

Mr. Box's gate training includes biscuit-catching, too.

Mr. Box does have a secret weapon in his Derby training arsenal, revealed publicly here for the first time. It’s the Paper Towel Run. Step one: grab a paper towel out of the garbage can.

The Paper Towel Run step one: the grab 'n' go.

Step two: trot briskly away before they can catch you.

Step three: Rip! Eating is optional, and you'll have to do it fast before you're caught!

You’ll need plenty of rest after this strenuous exercise program. Or at least Mr. Box does. After all, Derby contenders need to be relaxed in order to make their big stretch run, right?

Good luck to all on Derby Day, especially the horses. May everyone come back safe and sound, and here’s hoping Ice Box comes home the winner!

Things we’re thankful for

Harry is thankful for the gas logs and the huge Orvis dog bed

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.

The great (though tiny) Felix

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.

Bingo with his rope toy

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.

Mr. Tobermory Box lines up to catch a biscuit

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 for new friends and HWF supporters, like Bruce Bryant of Linens Limited

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.

Many, many thanks to our landowners who allow us to cross their beautiful countryside

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.

Hounds and huntsman are thankful for each other, and we're thankful for both

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!

The overzealous beagle

Bingo and something to chew on

They'll eat just about anything ... once! In this case, thankfully, it's just a chew toy.

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).

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/10/yes-that-was-a-beagle.html#more

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.

Harry

"You gonna drink that coffee?"

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).

Tobes

Mr. Box: "I can't believe I ate the whole thing."

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!

Bingo and toys