Visiting a normal kennels where dogs are brought when owners go on holiday, or a charity kennels would have been extremely educational on how to care for a dog, but I’ve had dogs all of my life, and my knowledge is not lacking.
Hence, I organised my kennel placement at the Derwent Hunt kennels. With 35 pairs (70 hounds) the overall volume of dogs to care for is triple the amount of a standard dog kennel. The hounds are vital for the hunt as they track and capture the hunted fox. Their tradition in rural villages is still appreciated in today’s society, but not by everyone. As we all know, fox hunting is an extremely controversial issue, with those for and against it for a number of valid reasons. Working with the first whip, j have been able to come to an opinion on the matter, having gathered both sides of the argument with further research to supplement. The days task include, cleaning kennels, changing beds, walking out and finally… feeding! Hounds are fed flesh (from the abattoir) and hound mix (doggy porridge) on alternate days. Handling flesh has given me more confidence around dead animals, especially horses, which I am sure will be helpful when it comes to practicing on cadavers at uni.
The hounds are taught to act as a pack, they are not your average pet. Teaching them is like teaching a child, it must be repetitive and clear. They are taught their name, sex and simple movement commands such as come back, move out of the way of public and how to move into a line behind their master. Being taught their sex allows them to be split before they are put in to their kennels on an evening. There are three kennels, one for dog hounds, bitches and bitches that come into season for 21 days twice a year. Their naming system is strategic in that the hounds name begins with the first two letters of the mothers name, for example Beatrice the offspring will begin with Be.
Their discipline makes controlling them as individuals easier also, especially when medical issues occur, for example I assisted in the stapling of a barbed wire wound. I’ve also helped to clean a blackthorn paw wound with iodine and treat lameness with penicillin in the form of tablets or injection.
I have loved my time with hunt kennels men and the morning walks with the 70 dogs will always entertain me as the younger pups that have been out on “whelp” are tied to an older, mature dog to learn the rules, dragging them round as they go.