Our five month odyssey of babysitting foxhound puppies came to an end the other day. I had been bracing myself for the inevitable tears that I thought would come from taking in eight week old puppies – loving them, training them, walking them, nurturing them and very often scolding them – for nearly half a year and then one day sending them off to go live their intended life with the local hunt. Why had I set myself up for such heartache? But in the end, I didn’t even get to say goodbye to them – the huntsman came to collect them unexpectedly when I was on a trip to New York. And that was ok. I was a bit sad and nostalgic but also comforted by the knowledge that they are just about a couple miles down the road and we can see them when we wish. Mostly though, I was relieved.
Technically this exercise is called “puppy walking.” If only the reality was so simple! In fact, while the young hounds were the sweetest and the funniest little things, they were completely out of control – running miles away from the farm, following any stranger who walked on the footpath through our farmyard, breaking into our house, jumping over the wall out of their stable yard, and terrorising my cats. You name the mischief and they did it. While the hounds have a wonderful nature, they are not domesticated animals. That becomes apparent over time, and ultimately their wildness keeps you from becoming too attached. But boy were they cute!
Would we do it again? Maybe it’s like giving birth, you forget the pain and only remember the joy. Only time will tell.