Friends… I’m not here to lie to you. I must confess that we do not have a perfect pack. We love them all as if they were perfect, but they have their not-so~hot days, and we also have a (ahem) neophyte Huntsman who is trying to scramble up the steep incline of a learning curve. Today, we had a tough day. When we pulled into the parking lot of our fixture and had to chase away a herd of deer grazing nearby, that should have been a clue that our hands would be full. However, with a dedicated and enthusiastic field ready to ramble, we decided to take the grand staircase down into the northern floodplain of the Chagrin River and try for a good hunt. When we released the beagles, they immediately found and started speaking. I waited a moment, with a discerning ear, to decide whether or not their vocalizations were musical or frantic. I soon decided that they were on the wrong quarry, so I blew for them and with the help of well-placed whippers-in, rapidly got all of them back. I wanted to try to cast them back, into the well–thicketed floodplain along the northern stretch of river, but unfortunately they picked up another line of riot and ran along a steep embankment leading to a housing development high up on the river bluff. With some blowing, shouting, and radio communication, we managed to collect every hound safe and sound. Each staff member, and even a few field members truly earned the gold star today for valiantly sprinting to keep up with the pack while getting caught in muddy, slippery conditions on the way. Exhausted, we reconvened at the kennels afterwards. After the beagles were fed and resting comfortably, we took in a little sustenance (many thanks to whipper-in E. Dennis for providing a delicious chocolate cake) to regain our strength and discuss our continuing protocols to encourage good sport and discourage riot. It seems that we have already done at least some good, with our positive reinforcement techniques encouraging beagles within the sound of the horn to come back happily and quickly. We still have a bit more work to do to disincentivize off-game, Have no fear, more training sessions are in the works. In conclusion, at the end of the day, we are grateful and relieved to be “all on/all back”, and very glad to have had some fellowship in the fresh air and wide open spaces. I hope I have some takers to do it again next week… And please, no matter what, let’s all think RABBIT!!
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