October 01, 2015

Life on the Farm: Walking Hound Puppies

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I think Gingy secretly loved the hound puppies. At first she felt very superior and loved to growl to put them in their place. But then I could see her get excited when I would let them out of their stable to join us for a walk. Ultimately they completely dominated Ginger. But submission is Gingy’s default mode anyway, so I don’t think she minded.

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.


We first visited the kennels when the puppies had just been weened, but had to wait a bit longer to take our two little boys home. We chose these two: Gadsby and Gallant. In the hunt, puppies are named after the first two letters in their mother’s name. Their mother is called Galax.


Zach bonding with a puppy at the kennels.


Coco would have stayed with the puppies all day at the kennels if she’d been allowed.

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!


This is the day the puppies arrived at the farm at eight weeks old. They were very well behaved on walks those first few weeks, either following me or Ginger. Not for long!


The first Sunday the puppies arrived they were still small enough to come into the house, but only for very short visits. Having them in bed with me was heaven, but it only happened that one day. By the following week they were already too unruly.


All spooned up for a nap on their straw bed in the stables.


Gingy and her charges running home.


Having a play session with the dandelions. If we just sat in a field with them they’d stick around. But as soon as we’d go for an actual walk they would take off, often for hours at a time.


Gadsby was always miles ahead of Gallant. Gallant liked to wander and day dream and follow his nose, whereas Gadsby was always charging ahead.


Gingy having some fun with Gadsby. He had Ginger’s number right away and was walking all over her in no time.


It was Christopher who loved the puppies the most. He was completely powerless over their charm.


Sometimes when I was walking them and feeling like they might take off, I would just sit down and let them climb all over me to keep them close.


Gadsby and Gallant in the car on the way home after running away the first time. I was beside myself, walking and then driving everywhere to look from them until we got a call from a little village a few miles away that they’d been found there. I don’t know what it was about that village but they ended up there quite a few times.


After the hounds started to run off more frequently, we thought we’d try walking them on leashes. Look closely – you see how well that went…


All the pups fighting for Coco’s attention. Gingy eventually got furious and chased the hounds away.


All grown up but they still love their Mama.


Would we do it again? Maybe it’s like giving birth, you forget the pain and only remember the joy. Only time will tell.


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4 years 9 months ago

Oh Amanda I was following you on Instagram dealing with these cute hounds and now I get the full picture of just how cute the hounds were!

4 years 10 months ago

Really enjoyed this post! I love animals but I’ve a special admiration for dogs. Ginger is adorable I love her sweet face. So sweet of you all to care and love the hounds. Bravo. Thanks for sharing.

4 years 10 months ago

SO much love in this post! They look adorable.