This weekend, Arrow, a hound belonging to the Ross Harriers was killed by a lorry on the A40. Two sets of videos have emerged, with the hunt stating that the hounds were lured onto the road by saboteurs using recordings of a hunting horn, and Three Counties Hunt Saboteurs saying that the hounds had been on and off the road all day.
I’m going to get into this story in more detail, but first of all let’s remember that a hound died in a horrific way. Hounds are the most wonderful animals, and its worth remembering that behind the mud- slinging and frenzied threats (on both sides) there is an animal- a hound that would have had a name and a character and a story- that is now dead.
At agricultural shows and game fairs up and down the country hound parades are followed by an invitation for children to join the dismounted huntsman and his hounds in the main ring. What other breed of dog, en masse and unrestricted, would parents allow to surround their children? A close encounter with a hound will be a bit smelly, but is a wonderful experience for children long accustomed to being wary of dogs.
Last night my new housemate showed me a video he had recorded on his phone. While driving to work he had come across a local hunt on hound exercise (not my hunt) and he had filmed the hounds surrounding his stationary car and streaming down the road. He has no involvement with country sports of any sort but was beaming as he described the encounter; and then added that he had spoken to a hunting relative and was amazed that each and every hound had a name.
While we remember this dead hound let’s not think of its bitter end on the A40, but of the children it licked, the music it sang and the smile it raised (from mounted field, foot followers and commuting drivers) as it went about its vocation of hunting.
One thing that struck me as I read through the comments on social media posts about the incident (like the comments on ISIS news reports by Britain First supporters, no matter how sickened I am I feel a compulsion to keep reading) was that not one sab supporter- convinced animal lovers as they are- paused to write that they were sorry about the fate of this hound. Not one stopped to state (even amidst denying their involvement) that they were sorry that a hound had died.
If there are now any such comments then I would like to read them; it would boost my faith in humanity.
Instead anti- hunting commenters immediately brought up every instance in the past century where a hound has potentially been mistreated by a hunt, every single video of mounted followers approaching sabs at speed, and claimed repeatedly that hunt staff dislike hounds and mistreat them.
Back in Wales there is a gun pack, and occasionally they have hounds that are gun shy and therefore unsuited to following guns. If sab logic were to be followed then these hounds would be swiftly executed (after all, foot packs have easy access to firearms). In truth they are drafted to a local mounted pack, and live out their days in the relative quiet of a non- gun pack (not to mention away from the chat of the men and boys who follow the hunt- I have the honour of being the first and only lady gun to join them).
Hounds are treated with a care and respect, often bordering on reverence, that is absent from the lives of so many domestic dogs. The sabs claims that they lead lives blighted by cruelty and a lack of care are ludicrous.
Going back to the case of the Ross Harriers’ Arrow; the Hunt Saboteurs Association appear to have given a “gizmo” (some sort of electronic device that plays a recording of a hunting horn) to each and every affiliated saboteur group, with the intention of drawing hounds away from the huntsman.
The HSA has to realise that some of its members are of the dangerous sort that will put hounds, motorists and riders in peril in order to prove their points. As such arming stab groups with such an instrument can only be seen as a rather stupid decision.
However anyone involved in hunting learnt long ago that many saboteurs are not there because of their love of animals.
And if we needed to prove a point? The aforementioned Welsh foot pack has never had a problem with saboteurs. When the field is made up of camouflage- wearing men with Valleys accents and heavy boots the foxes can take care of themselves.