#068 - HOUNDS
When my partner and I had been on the farm for a while, we made a conscious decision: no dog. Dogs tie you down even more than horses. We can give our horses a big round bale of hay and a tub of water, and off we go gallavanting about, and the horses are good. At least for a day or so. But not for dogs. They need to be fed, and let out for walks and "doing their business". (What a great phrase - can't we just say "to take a shit"?) So, no pet dogs. Nope. None. Decision made.
So we're picking up a couple of retired fox hounds this Sunday. (Now I can hear Indiana Jones: "I said no camels. That's five camels. Can't you count?")
Well, hell, how did that happen?
It comes from being members of a hunt club. The hounds that don't make it, or get too old, or lead the other hounds astray, whatever shortcoming, well, they get retired. That is to say, fostered out to willing homes to live to a ripe old age and die, doing pretty darn little. (Personally, I may decide that I'm too old to hunt next year, and see if one of the hunt members will put me up for the rest of my years.)
Anyway, there are some not quite so bad aspects. There's no cash outlay - the hounds are free. They're working dogs - they live in kennels, don't mess up your house, and don't expect a lot of affection. But those aren't benefits, as such, just mitigations to the usual canine disadvantages.
They do eat, and that's probably a significant cost. They're not exactly small animals. And you adopt two at a time, so they have company. So, food for two. And I have to house them. Which isn't a cost, more an effort. Need to build a kennel now, and a run as soon as the ground thaws.
I can't think of benefits, as such. There's usage - we can teach ourselves to teach hounds. Great practice animals. We can ensure the horses are used to hounds. After all, we need to walk the hounds, and as ex-hunters, you hope you can "walk" them from horseback. And, I suppose the greatest usage is that the hounds may bark a lot and really annoy the neighbours. I list that as a usage and not a disadvantage, because I've been listening to the neighbours' dogs for 2-1/2 years and I think it's my turn...
The upside, if you like this sort of stuff, is that you have another couple of animals that are dependent on you and have to do whatever you say. Great for evil overlord types. Except that, unlike evil overlords, we don't have slaves to clean up after the hounds.
Yes. Cleaning up dog shit.
When we bought the racehorse yearling, my partner said she'd clean up after it. True to her word, I haven't cleaned a horse stall in the last month and a half. But, as she informed me two nights ago, she doesn't do dog clean up. That, my friends, will be my job.
I wish she'd mentioned that part before I agreed that we'd take the little buggers...
15 December 2010