|The South Notts Hunt meet on Boxing Day 2012 at Car Colston|
Spending an afternoon in the office last week (see previous post) set me to thinking about my breed's ancestral role.
Did you know that us wire haired fox terriers were once an integral part of the English fox hunting tradition?
I don't know if readers outside the UK are aware that hunting foxes with dogs is, controversially, now banned in this country. It's all very confusing 'cos, as you see from the picture above, huntsmen - and women - do still ride out with a pack of hounds. Only these days, they follow an artificially laid trail rather than chase real live foxes. At least that's what is supposed to happen.
Gail tells me that when was a child the whole family used to drive out to watch the South Notts Hunt's Boxing Day meet. It was a thrilling occasion, and the country lanes were jammed with 'townies' in festive mood, trying to follow by car as the riders as the tore over the fields, hedgerows and ditches of the flat Midlands countryside in pursuit of their prey.
But even in those ancient times (the 1960's) there were no terriers involved. You have to go back another hundred years to the days when us WFT's were used to 'bolt' any foxes that went to ground, to flush out the fox, so the horses and hounds could continue the chase.
Have you ever tried pulling one of my breed by the tail? Typically, we don't mind a bit. Gail has always found it odd that, whereas apparently my predecessor Hamish the Westie would go ballistic if you so much as touched his tail, I don't react at all, even if she yanks mine quite hard. Her friend Kirsty the Vet says this is a throwback to when we were bred for being pulled backwards out of foxholes by our docked tails. (Tail docking is now also banned).
Oh how I would have loved to take part in a hunt.
In Nottingham over Christmas, when out for a suburban walk late one evening, I caught sight of a real live fox.
Grrrr. I could have shown those hounds a thing or two. But, can you believe, a certain spoilsport refused point blank to let me off the lead...