Horses and Hounds
On Friday evening I had a last minute invitation to visit the South of England Show at Ardingly in West Sussex the following day. There was so much to see and do that it was impossible to catch everything that was going on.
If I was to talk about one thing that impressed me the most, it has to be the Calvacade of Hounds.
First of all, let me make it clear that I am against using animals for sport if it involves harming animals. I appreciate that foxes can be seen as nuisance animals in some situations and that their numbers may need to be controlled, but I don't believe this should be done by making a sport out of it. I have always been against foxhunting and was very happy when, in the UK, hunting of animals with dogs became illegal (although there are still some exceptions to this). It is a little worrying that our current prime minister has said that he would like to repeal this ban in the near future. Personally, I feel that the sport should continue with artificially laid trails.
But why did fox hounds impress me so much (especially as I'm more of a cat lover than a dog lover)? I think it was that I had some preconceived ideas about them and these were changed once I saw the dogs in action and their qualities became evident. Qualities that humans could learn a lot from.
They came bounding into the field with such joy to be running around outside together, enjoying each others company - the mood they created seemed to be absorbed by all of the spectators. There were a lot of dogs involved - I can't remember the details but there were probably about 7 packs with around 15 - 20 dogs in each pack. That's a lot of dogs!
But not a single fight broke out, I never heard any of them bark or growl. The only slight misbehaviour I spotted was a male dog had an "encounter" with a lady dog from another pack. But they just oozed happiness and joy to be together. At the end of the display, the organisers encouraged as many children as possible to enter the arena to meet the dogs, so confident were they that the dogs were docile enough and trustworthy with children (and adults) as they rapidly surrounded them from all directions.
Later on, as we continued to walk around the showground, we came across the kennels where the hounds were being kept, along with various other breeds in different kennels. Even then, it was obvious which were the most content and best behaved breed as they lay together in their happy groups sleeping, resting their heads on each other or just sitting quietly - yes, it was the foxhounds.