A visitor’s view of the kennel

Author and flat-coated retriever owner/breeder Gina Spadafori gets some face time with Salsa

THIS week the houndbloggers have been hosting Gina Spadafori, an influential author and blogger on dog and companion-animal subjects and the writing partner of “America’s Veterinarian,” Dr. Marty Becker. She’s also a breeder and owner of flat-coated retrievers and strongly supports letting working breeds do the jobs they were bred to do. Which led her to the Iroquois kennel.

She visited the kennel on Tuesday and had some interesting observations about our hounds’ lives there. If you think kennels sound dreary, you might be especially interested in Gina’s perspective on how dogs–in our case, working pack hounds–can live happily in kennels.

To read the piece, click on over to Pet Connection.

Notes from the curio cabinet

Tulips at Beagle House: one good thing about spring. But does it make up for the end of hunt season?

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!

Dog days

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.

Mr. Box is now seven years old!

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?

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