Imagine two adorable hound pups. Imagine your ten year old daughter is asked if she would like to take them home for a while. Imagine saying “No”.
Impossible! My daughter Lucy and I were delighted and honored to be asked to take care of two hound puppies. We knew nothing about these pups; not their age, gender or even how long we might have them in our possession but nonetheless we agreed to the task. Even though we could not pick them up for a couple of weeks, we felt this would give us plenty of time to prepare a new home for them.
We scoured a stall, bought bags of shavings and on one of our many trips down the canine aisle we quickly snatched up all the faux fox dog toys we could find. We were going to train these pups better than anyone else ever had although we did not know a thing about training hounds. In our minds, or in my mind, we were going to produce two hound pups would prove to be the “best” in show one day. My daughter just kept asking when we were going to pick them up and could they sleep in her room?
Finally, Opening Hunt arrived which meant that after our hunt we would be heading home with the pups. Our day went according to plan, a stellar hunt and a fabulous tea at the farmhouse of one of our Masters, Dr. Jack Moody. Word got around quickly that our Huntsman, Rhodri Jones-Evans, had arrived with two bundles of joy. We quickly ran to track down these critters and, sure enough, it was love at first sight. However, we couldn’t get very close to the pups because their time was being monopolized by all of the other children and adults. I reminded Lucy that we would have plenty of time with the pups and we needed to “share”. Well, we never could have had enough time with these pups. They captured our hearts from the get go.
Rhodri gave us our assignments and wrote down their names, Drakko and Drastic. One male-dog and one bitch! Weasked Rhodri and all of our seasoned puppy sitters to give us some advice for making them “good” working hounds. Our job was easy: love them and make them biddable. I had to look up biddable but I figured we could easily accomplish this task. Lucy and I snatched up our pups up and headed home.
Our drive was a couple of hours but Drakko and Drastic proved to be champs and Rhod was sure to send them with empty bellies, for the sake of not having an accident on our first day! For the next three months our days were filled with the joys of watching hounds in action. It was within 24 hours that I sent a message to Rhod that their noses were already to the ground - I am only assuming he chuckled. Within 48 hours I told him they were on the scent of something, dead or alive.
Everyday Drakko and Drastic brought such joy to us, not just Lucy and me but to our entire family, including our other three DOGS. Every day it was a thrill to walk them through the woods or out in the field and see them hunt. My family kept saying, “Is it not going to be hard to give these puppies back when the time comes?” My response was, “No, we are just excited that we will get to see them when we hunt”. Well, I was wrong that it would not be hard; it was crushing knowing our fostering time was coming to an end.
At a January hunt Rhod and I discussed scheduling a time to bring the maturing pups back to the kennels. Not being able to specify a date at that moment, I think I avoided him for a couple of weeks. I did not send him a daily picture of our hound success stories knowing he would remind me that the clock was running out. Finally, I had to face it: these puppies were growing up and they were now ready to do their job with their pack.
Thankfully, Rhod could sense our reluctance and asked if we would be willing to take on two new pups, knowing it would help Lucy with the transition. Little did he know this helped us all. On our last day before driving Drakko and Drastic back to the kennels, my husband asked if he could go walk the pups that morning. They really did touch us all! I miss those two terribly. Drakko and Drastic taught us to truly appreciate the hounds in foxhunting. Lucy and I can’t wait to see Drakko and Drastic out in a hunt one day. We don’t care if they ever make it to a show or become the “best” hound because we already know they are true champions and our love for them will never die. We are happy to say that our new hound pups, Poem and Porthos, are as much of a joy to our family, even to our other three dogs. We thank Mooreland Hunt for this tremendous opportunity; our daily walks with hound pups are forever locked in our memories!