A Peek in the Nursery

Three of the Driver-Sage puppies earlier this month. Photo by Dave Traxler.

IT’S been a while since the houndbloggers have checked in on the various puppies we know, so we thought we’d catch you up on how they’re doing: they’re doing great! With puppies, of course, the news is less important than what they look like, right? So we’ll cut to the chase, because we know what everyone really wants is the cute factor. And there is plenty of that to go around these days.

The newest Iroquois puppies are the SA litter born in August to young Driver–once a pupposauraus himself and now a pack member–and the great hunting lady Sage. Last time you saw them, they were mere beans compared to what they are now. Here they are then:

Some of the SA puppies back in August. Gene Baker photo.

Now they’re just full of beans, as you can see:

A pair of the SA puppies at play on September 15. Dave Traxler photo.

The six SA puppies are doing well, kennel manager Michael Edwards tells us, and we’re still impressed by all the color they have on them.

Hello, baby! Dave Traxler photo.

For more on foxhound puppies, we turn to one of the houndbloggers’ favorite authors, D. W. E. Brock, and his book, The A B C of Fox-Hunting, although we disagree with his assertion that foxhound puppies, when newborn “are ugly, blind little things, with huge heads and wise, wrinkled faces.”

Easy there, Brock! He continues in a kinder vein. “But, after that, they become vastly more interesting little fellows,” he writes. “They grow quickly, but their heads always seem about two sizes too big for their bodies, and, unlike most other puppies, they seldom lose their solemn looks. …

“A foxhound puppy is one of the most amusing and lovable companions it is possible to imagine, and the games which a couple will play together are almost human in their ingenuity. But at the same time it is one of the most mischievous and destructive companions, and unless you, your family and your servants, both indoor and out, are genuinely fond of animals, and are long-suffering, you should not walk a puppy.”

Ah, yes. The houndbloggers and their house hounds nod knowingly at that advice, remembering the arrival of some of the HA puppies earlier this year. Harry, in particular, found the episode Rather Trying, he recalls (see lower left of photo):

"They're still here," Harry said 24 hours later.

The houndbloggers (who have no servants, indoors or outdoors) well remember their first day with us (of a very brief stay). I had had to attend a horse sale, and so Mr. Houndblogger bravely agreed to stay home and babysit the three HA puppies we’d taken in. I’ll never forget the scene when I returned: Mr. Houndblogger was slumped wearily in a chair in the kitchen, where he’d barricaded himself and the HA puppies to prevent further damage to the furniture and carpets. He was wearing wellies, a concession to the inevitable when you have a marauding trio of unhousetrained puppies on the loose. He was stippled from knees to collar with muddy pawprints, and one sweater cuff was slightly unraveled. It had been, I gathered, a Long Day.

The puppies, of course, bounded over to me merrily, eager for more games.

So what of the HA puppies today, nearing their first birthday? Take a look at them now.

Three of the HAs at the kennel on September 15. Dave Traxler photo.

They’ve started their walks out with huntsman Lilla Mason, and, my, how they’ve grown!

Hanbury (left) and Hardboot on a Sept. 10 walk. Dave Traxler photo.

Whyte-Melville might have been looking at them when he wrote

On the straightest of legs and the roundest of feet,

With ribs like a frigate his timbers to meet,

With a fashion and fling and a form so complete,

that to see him dance over the flags is a treat.”

We haven’t yet seen these young hounds over the flags, but, more importantly, they float over the grass, Lilla reports.

Hawksbridge--light on his feet, like all the HAs! Photo by Dave Traxler.

Hamlet and Cice Bowers in July. Dave Traxler photo.

Halo and Leslie Penn on a Sept. 10 walk. Dave Traxler photo.

As grown-up as they look, though, the HAs are still puppies at heart!

Havoc (left) and Hardboot with a prize earlier this month. Dave Traxler photo.

Harboot on a roll. Dave Traxler photo.

A few days ago, re-reading Beckford’s Thoughts on Hunting, we came across a curious footnote.

“I have seen fox-hounds that were bred out of a Newfoundland bitch and a fox-hound dog,” Beckford wrote. “They are monstrously ugly, are said to give their tongues sparingly, and to tire soon. The experiment has not succeeded: the cross most likely to be of service to a fox-hound is the beagle. I am well convinced that a handsome, bony, tender-nosed, stout beagle would, occasionally, be no improper cross for a high-bred pack of fox-hounds.”

Hmmm! No, no, we wouldn’t suggest it seriously, but, for the purposes of the blog at any rate the houndbloggers are very well disposed to include some beagles. And, as it happens, the beagles have been having their own puppies lately. The Clear Creek Beagles, with whom we hunt as often as we can on foot, have some puppies that whipper-in Jean MacLean was kind enough to photograph:

A bouquet of threeagles, as photographed by CCB whipper-in Jean MacLean.

And two moregles, also photographed by Jean MacLean.

There are some older puppies, too, who show a French influence in their names. the C litter features Chauffeur:

Chauffeur. Photo by Jean MacLean.

… and our favorite names, Chien (dog) and Chaton (kitten)!

The aptly named Chien. Jean MacLean photo.

The Clear Creek Beagles started their informal hunt season this morning, and the Iroquois foxhounds will take to the hunt field in early October. And before long the puppies from both packs will be doing this …

The Clear Creek pack in action. Jean MacLean photo.

… and this …

The Iroquois hounds move off from the Foxtrot meet. Dave Traxler photo.

As always, the houndbloggers will do their best to keep up with the hounds and provide reports on their progress!

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We have pups! (with video)

Baffle, the dam of the current BA litter, with her new puppies by Hawkeye

BORN just in time for St. Hubert’s Day and the annual Blessing of the Hounds, which kicks off the formal season, Baffle had 11 puppies. You read that right: there are 11 (or five and a half couple, as they’ll eventually be counted), almost enough to start a new pack! These are by Hawkeye, who, like Baffle, is an import from England. Baffle and Hawkeye both are from the Cottesmore hounds.

The puppy scrum.

Baffle started to whelp on Friday night, and the last of the puppies was born on Saturday morning. Mother and puppies are doing well so far, and we are looking forward to following their adventures as we have those of Baffle’s first litter for Iroquois, the BA litter who are now in their first season with the working pack. And doing extraordinarily well, we should add!

An interesting side note: because there are already so many BAs (Baffle’s first litter was nine puppies strong), it looks likely that this litter will not have names starting with BA, the first two letters of their dam’s name, as is the usual custom. Instead, to prevent confusion from so many BA names, they’re more likely to be named with HA, for their sire. In which case, we humbly suggest one name for consideration, considering their birthdate: Halloween!

To see about 20 second of adorable puppiness—more than 20 seconds would risk cute overload–click on the video below. Congratulations, Baffle and Hawkeye!

The World is His Oyster

Driver, center, on his first summer hound walk.

MONDAY was the day we’ve all been waiting for. Driver’s first hound walk. He loved it! He dove right into it, and we’re not just speaking figuratively, as you’ll see in the video.

Remember when he was only this big? That was almost a year ago, in July 2009, and we thought he was a pupposaurus then!

As you watch the video of Driver’s big outdoor adventure, keep in mind the fact that Driver had never seen a pond before, and had only seen horses from a distance. Confident? You bet he is! But still very much a puppy. We think Iroquois joint-master Jerry Miller, who walked the hounds that day, said it best: “Paper on steroids.”

Tell us what YOU think!

Corn, the puppies’ friend

Roading Sept 2009 001

“THE corn is as high as an elephant’s eye,” or so goes the wonderful old Rodgers and Hammerstein song. The Bluegrass isn’t Oklahoma, where maybe it really does grow that tall (or else the elephants are smaller), but after a wet summer it’s looking good in the fields we see on our way to and from the barn.

When I think of corn, I tend to think in terms of how much feeding the horses is going to cost this winter, but Iroquois huntsman Lilla Mason sees something else, too, when she gazes across a field of Zea mays. She also sees a training tool for the puppies in their first year with the pack. Lilla mentioned to me the other day that she always likes a nice cornfield during the early autumn cubhunting season, the weeks of informal hunting that precede the season’s formal start in November. Why corn?

Corn fields are inviting because they are more spacious and easier for hounds to get into and move around in than overgrown, brambly, thickety coverts. Corn offers a good opportunity for the puppies to get used to diving into coverts without encountering thorns or tough going their first few times. This year, the coverts are looking thicker than ever, thanks again to the abundant rain central Kentucky had through most of the summer months.

“I think I have a better chance of getting puppies into coverts if I can get to corn early on to teach them to go in. It’s easier than if the first thing they encounter is thick, briery undergrowth with stickers,” Lilla explained. “You can easily put the hounds in a big corn field and surround it with the field members.”

Which raises another question. How does a huntsman, especially when sitting on horseback, convince young, inexperienced hounds to run into a covert if they have doubts about it?

“Remember the exercise where we hold the hounds up at the pond?” Lilla said. “It might look like a parlor trick, but we do it for a reason, too. During cubhunting season, we’ll ride to a covert, then hold the hounds up and release them into the covert, just as we do at the pond in the summer. The older hounds will run in because they know coverts are interesting, but the puppies don’t know that yet. They run in because they were trained to run in after we hold them up. That’s what they were trained to do at that cue. So that’s one way we teach them to go in.

“But sometimes, even with that training, a puppy might not understand why it should stick its nose into a thick covert that’s got stickers. So during cubhunting we try to go to little coverts or cornfields, where you know you can get the older hounds in and you hope those older hounds will speak. Sometimes, it takes that to get puppies in if they don’t understand where they’re going. In a cornfield, often the older hounds will go in so fast the puppies get swept along before they can process what they’re doing, and once they get inside they might then come right back out again, looking for guidance. But if the older hounds speak, that really gets the puppies’ attention.”

Those who were out last cubhunting season might remember a good example of this with young littermates Starter and Stanway, who wouldn’t go into a corn field at first.

“They wanted to, but they weren’t sure about it,” Lilla recalled. “They looked at the covert, they could hear the other hounds inside it, but Starter and Stanway still couldn’t quite convince themselves. But when the older hounds started to speak, they shot into the corn, then popped right back out again. The older hounds kept speaking, and Starter and Stanway just couldn’t stand it. So they both dove in, popped back out to listen, and then went back in again.

“They did this a few times, and it was like they were sticking their toes in the water, just testing it. It was funny, but that’s how they learn. Once they figure out that when other hounds speak, they want to hark to it, then it drives them crazy not to, and they’ll jump right in. It’s fun to watch.”

Kind of gives “children of the corn” a whole new (and much nicer) twist. Needless to say, I’ll be keeping my eye toward the corn this cubhunting season to see how the Iroquois puppies respond.

Puppy Love

Driver is one of the new English puppies born this year at Iroquois

Driver is one of the new English puppies born this year at Iroquois

Springtime means puppies at the foxhound kennels.  We’ve got 10 puppies at Iroquois this year. The biggest by far is Driver, who is king of the kennel–or at least of the puppy pen! He’s out of Dragonfly, while the other nine pups are out of Baffle; both bitches are English, as are the puppies’ sires. Dragonfly hails from the North Cotswold, and her puppies are by the Duke of Beaufort’s Gaddesby ’07. Baffle is from the Cottesmore, and her puppies are by Cottesmore Stampede ’06.

It’s not clear quite yet which puppies will turn out to be “woollies,” with the distinctive wiry coats, but one thing is already obvious: they’re all awfully cute.

Puppies in the kennel July 2009

In hound breeding, a litter of puppies always get names beginning with the first two letters of their mother’s name. That’s how Dragonfly’s son got to be named Driver. Iroquois joint-Master Jerry Miller already has a list of BA names for Baffle’s puppies, but he and the kennel staff haven’t assigned all of the names yet as they wait to see which name suits which hound. A few already are settled. Bangle is a female with a light buff-colored heart shape on one shoulder. Bashful, another female, is the smallest hound in the litter and got her name partly because she likes to do her, er, business in private, as far away from the other puppies as she can get.  Two males, Banknote and Bagshot, have some black on them and the names just seemed to suit their striking looks. And a third male, Barwick, got his aristocratic-sounding moniker because he seems so unflappable and stiff-upper-lip-ish.

These puppies probably will be entered — joining the hunting pack — in the fall of 2010. Eventually, at the end of their careers with the pack, they all will be retired at the kennel under the care of the Hound Welfare Fund.

 

The unflappable Barwick in a typical pose

The unflappable Barwick in a typical pose

Puppies are both delightful and devilish, as Driver recently reminded a person at the kennel who, understandably expecting a lick, lowered his nose to Driver’s–and raised it again with Driver attached like a small alligator! As Cuthbert Bradley wrote in 1914, “In the character and disposition of foxhound puppies and boys — and we speak from experience, having walked a couple at a time of each species — there is a striking similarity which prompted the great writer Foster to say, ‘I never saw so much essence of devil put in so small a space.’

“Like all gigantically sinful people, the foxhound puppy wears an easy air of perpetual and exaggerated innocence that tends to put the unwary off their guard.”

But we should quickly point out that Bradley also noted: “It is a well-known fact that the most mischievous puppies and boys grow up to become the most useful in after life, for it is the active brain that prompts mischief, and when this has been developed and disciplined it stands for good work later on.”

This means you, Driver!