Monday, September 12, 2011

Last Beagle bush "hunt" of the season...

We had a huge amount of people and at least 40 dogs pitch for the last scent trial of the season. This was a surprise to the organisers considering the number of avid ruby fans in the group who were itching to get back to watch South Africa play Wales in their first match of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. We normally finish the "hunt" at 10.30am after five trials but the rugby game started at 10:20am! So we were given strict instructions that there would be no loitering or lounging about that morning...

It is bitter sweet when the season ends. I will not miss getting up at 5.00am in the freezing dark or the precarious pot hole ridden drive into the bush in my long slung city car. Jamie still gets car sick and still hates the car so the drive is just as hairy for him. But once we get there, Jamie and Jemma are in their element. They adore chasing the ever elusive scent of the mackerel fish trail through the bush veld and the camaraderie of their fellow beagles.

I love having a morning out of the city and seeing the sun rise outdoors (I'm usually fast asleep in bed at that time). It gives me a great sense of satisfaction to hear my dogs' names called out when they cross the finish line of each scent trail.

It has been wonderful to find an activity so vitally important to the welfare of my dogs who live in the boring suburbia of a city. I also worry about what I'm going to do with them in the summer months. Maybe I should look at agility work which I think Jemma will be very good at doing. But I don't think Jamie will take kindly to going through tunnels of any sort, something he refused to do even as a puppy.

Now the results are in and are being calculated. In two weeks time the top 10 beagles will be named (those with the highest points accumulated over the season). This is a huge achievement and a final race is held in September for these dogs to determine who is the overall winner.

Finally, in October, we will be holding a Beagle Ball. This is for the owners only where we all get dressed up to the nines for general prize giving. It is common occurrence that owners do not recognise each other as on "hunt" days we are usually bleary eyed, muffled in beanies, layers of our oldest clothing and covered in dust and soot from the bush veld fires that burn in the area where we "hunt".

There are awards for the best male or female team, the best mixed team, the most consistent dog of the season (not necessarily a winner), and a pret-a-porter prize for the beagle with the most pimped up race bib. Some owners go to extraordinary lengths to create unusual race bibs for their dogs. The only criteria is that it must show the dog's name and number clearly so it can be identified.

So now we wait anxiously to see if Jamie and Jemma have improved since last year and climbed the seeding ladder ...

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