Wednesday 9 January 2013

Fox hunting: my true vocation?

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...


  1. Oh Bertie. We bet you didn't speak to said spoil sport for the rest of the walk. The nerve.

    Bart and Ruby

  2. Oh Bertie, Addi say she knows that you would have shown that ole fox a thing or two. No, she is going round the house braggin on HER Bertie!! Oh brother!!!

    Jazzi and Addi

  3. I guess you are just gonna have to lose Gail if you are ever gonna have any fun at all!

    But anyway, back to the fox, did you know they stink to high heaven? What would you have done with the fox if you had caught him? Just something to think about.


  4. Ah Bertie it is the old "nature vs. nurture" debate.

    Gail has nurtured you (she doesn't let you off the leash to let you chase a fox), whereas I watch young Enzo's nature and see that his Golden Retriever traits have him obsessed with the ducks that have taken up residence next door beyond our fence. Enzo hasn't been trained to be a gun dog, and yet he still wants to retrieve the ducks!


  5. I just read your post about helping Gail at work. I think Gail needs to better prepare te workplace for you..... I would have insisted upon a comfy bed, a raft of toys and quality chews and foodables.

    Secondly..... We too have been known for our hunting of rodents..... I'm not allowed to - my ma doesn't ever want to see a mouse or rat hanging outa my mouth!!

    Tail Wuggles, Rubie xxx

  6. We had no idea that WFT where used in the hunt, but we are not surprised. You Bertie wold be an amazing hunter Mom did know that now they do an artificial hunt now. Fox hunting is apparently popular in the south in the US too, we first saw it on Steven Fry's America (We may live in the US but we love anything Britt) We think that on that show they showed hunters using a fake trail as well

    urban hounds

  7. I sympathise Bertie. My peeps is the same. We have loads of urban foxes and I wanted to start off a hunt here with my crew. Peeps said no way. Thus the 'Urban South London Park Hunt' never got off the ground. Drats. Have a wonderful Wednesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  8. Morning Bertie and now that we are telling tail tales I must admit I have been admiring your most handsome tail and the way it curls upward and over you back for some time!! I had no idea your ancestors were fox hunters. Very interesting post.

    When Mom and I greet each other every morning my tail is flying high. I stop and wait for Mom take my tail in her hand at the base as I walk away my tail runs through her hand. She says that is my way of saying good morning!!
    Hugs Madi your BFFF

  9. Oh Bertie, Humans can really take the fun out of a walk can't they. Maybe you can come here and chase our foxes. We have them living on our property.


  10. Our Mom picks us up by the neck and the tail - sounds horrible, doesn't it, but the way she does it, it's very gentle.

    Lilly, Piper, Celti and Ivy

  11. Bertie WE think that Gail is a total spoil sport fur SURE.
    We can sometimes SEE a fox.... WAY over in the Field across the road... butt we aren't allowed to go after him either. \
    Speaking of Tails... Peeps are a PAIN. UNDER our Tails. Right Buddy?

  12. Does this mean we are going to see Gail on the horse soon?
    Benny & Lily

  13. They still do the fox hunting rides don't they - just don't hunt the foxes any more? Funny you mentioned foxes today - we just saw one squashed on the road - guess he wasn't quite sly enough :(

  14. Looks fun Bertie, if you go I would like to go with you! Maybe you could join in!
    Eve says that foxes are just ginger Pippas...
    Pip :)

  15. Bertie:

    This is so interesting! You would be a mighty fox hunter. We saw a red fox in Switzerland last fall!

    Wag on,

  16. Yep, born to chase, now it's just agility and trials stuff, not quite the same, is it.

    Your Pals
    Susie & Bites

  17. I, too, have caught sight of the odd fox on our walks and I can tell you that I was quite game to pursue but was hindered by the death grip momma had on my leash.

    Momma claims to have used Grandpa Angus's tail quite frequently to pull him away from forbidden objects. That's just the way you terriers are designed.


    P.S. Momma went on a fox hunt once when she was young and spry. She says it was the most terrifying horse ride she ever had.

  18. Howdy Bertie, sorry Gail is such a party pooper! We reckon you would have given that fox a good run for his money. Stella would have too cause she likes to chase anything that runs. I on the otherhand would prefer to be the one riding a horse (just imagine that ha!). See ya soon. No worries, and love, Stella and Rory (P.S. we're glad fox hunting is banned now).

  19. We still have the hunt in us, Bertie. Now, we focus on possums and squirrels!

    Wyatt and Stanzie

  20. We have suburban foxes. Jed spends a lot of night time hours barking at them. They appear to have their den at the back of the neighbor's estate, so Jed tracks their comings and goings closely. He'd love to get hold of them. Even though she's part beagle, Abby ignores them.

  21. Bertie, Mum tells me Auntie Penny once chased a fox ut of the woods and across a busy road into the other side of the woods with Mum running behind her. mum wouldn't have minded pulling her by her tail then! I think Gail should have let you indulge in your heritage.
    ~Lickies, Ludo
    Pee ess: Rusty made it through his first class, only I think he might take your crown. He almost didn't get in the building through barking at the other dogs. Mum said at least he would serve the purpose of making the other dogs feel better.