The community of owners who take their dogs to the Beagle Hunt is very loose, laid back and there is no pressure to do anything but enjoy watching your dogs run. Most of us don't remember every one's names but we do know the names of the beagles (prominently displayed on their bibs).
The Hunt has a blog which keeps everyone in touch with the latest news, how the last hunt went, photos of our dogs competing and the occasional call for a home for a rescue beagle.
But last week one the most well known beagles on the Hunt, Basil, died in a freak accident.
He was a real character, larger than life both figuratively and literally.
There was a burglary at Basil's home. During the ensuing chaos when the security service arrived on the scene, the gate was left open. Basil ran into the road and was run over.
The outpouring of support by the owners was quite amazing! I had tears running down my cheeks as I read the comments. Why did I react that way?
Perhaps it was because I remembered what it was like to lose my own dogs, perhaps it was repressed grief at the memory.
I think we so seldom acknowledge that losing a pet is something important in our lives, something people genuinely grieve about. It is so often brushed aside because of course there are much bigger and harder issues to deal with in life than the loss of a pet.
But here people were acknowledging a pet owner's loss and grief. Everyone wrote a kind testimonial about Basil and each comment was signed with the owner's name and that of their beagle.
It's nice to belong to a community of people that understands that it's OK to be sad when you lose a pet.