In late February, Limestone Creek Hunt (NY) began a new venture for its old hounds: under the watchful eye of Dr. Joseph J. Wakshlag, Associate Professor of Clinical Nutrition and Sports Medicine/Rehabilitation, thirteen recently retired hounds were started on a feeding trial for a new dog food that has lately been introduced to the market. Weekly weigh-ins, a few physical exams and blood work are the necessities to making this a successful endeavor for the hounds and the feed manufacturer both.
Due to the densely populated nature of the hunt's territory, the LCH pack is well socialized and friendly, but without the field in tow and a scent line to follow, the senior citizens were mildly confounded by their first clinical exposure to the Ivy League. Some needed cajoling by professional huntsman Lorraine Gronau, but the dog hounds in particular adapted quickly and succumbed to the comforts of being stretched and massaged as part of their orthopedic exams. By the end of the visit, sterns were feathering and sloppy kisses were flowing freely between hounds and vets alike.
Considering their age, Dr. Wakshlag found some chronic joint ailments in two dog hounds and one bitch who were then walked and trotted on a force mat--a device that measures the impact of each footfall and determines if the hound is distributing weight evenly across all four legs when moving. The precise nature of these measurements can diagnose the degree of lameness present in each limb. These three will also be treated clinically over the spring and summer with some new therapeutic modalities for pain relief and joint support under the guidance of Dr. Wakshlag and Dr. Kei Hayashi. Two of the three are retired from hunting after many successful seasons, but the hope is that the remaining dog hound will be able to continue to hunt in 2016 and beyond.
A pack of Crossbred Foxhounds presents several common factors ideal for feeding trials and clinical investigation. Their genetic pool is small and predictable (eight of this group are litter mates, the remainder from similar breedings). Health, nutrition, lifestyle and, in this case, age are as identical as any non-laboratory bred pack possible and the record keeping prescribed by the MFHA leaves no blanks in their history. The partnership with Dr. Wakshlag has already proved beneficial to LCH by alleviating some of the burden on the kennel budget and securing the immediate future of the beloved B litter in their twilight years.
This is the first outreach of this nature by LCH; the norm is to find a private home or nice warm horse barn for those pensioned hounds comfortable with the move. All thirteen are currently in kennel, but could move and still stay in the project, should softer couches turn their heads.