Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Tanatside Puppy Show

Today I lost my puppy show virginity. It happened at The Kennels near Guilsfield, near Welshpool, and was quite an occasion. Its a tradition with its roots way back in the history of Britain. Its very presumptuous of me, as someone so newly 'broken in' to outline what is involved, but let me try.

Foxhounds live a tough life and survive around 7/8 years at best - so have to be replaced regularly. There's a lot of work caring for the whelps while they are with their mothers, but when they are a few months old and fully weaned, they are placed with 'walkers' - volunteers who look after them for a few months. This all costs quite a bit - and in time. Anyway, as a thank you to all the walkers, and because its always been done, a 'Puppy Show' is organised in early summer, where lots of hunt supporters turn up to watch invited judges decide which of last year's puppies is the best. The ladies wear posh summery frocks and some of the men wear bowler hats. The hounds become very boisterous and excited and some jump over the fence and pee on supporter's legs. If you feel your leg warming up for no reason, you know what's happened.

All this is part of the foxhunting tradition, which has grown hugely in popularity since the Labour Government, in a frenzy of spite against the countryside banned hunting with dogs. There were about eighty people there today, all feeling optimistic that the obnoxious ban will be soon overturned. One guest there today was Mr Jim Meads, probably the world's leading hunting photographer, who lives locally - when he's not in the US. He's written several books on hunting, and his last and final book, 'Going Home' has a foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales. Several cups were awarded. The weather was good, and we all had a lovely time. And in 2109, I feel sure that a successful Tanatside Puppy Show will be held.

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