The Puppy Show
Each year in the summer, the Taunton Vale Foxhounds hold their annual Puppy Show.
WHAT IS A PUPPY SHOW?
This is where the puppies which are usually around eight to fourteen months old are judged by two experienced foxhound judges. It is basically like any animal show whereby the young hounds are judged on their conformation and appearance.
Traditionally the young hounds [young entry] were shown to the puppy walkers as a thank you for all their hard work. Many Puppy Shows now include most of each hunts members, landowners and farmers.
At the end of the event there will be a best doghound, best bitch and an overall champion.
The Puppy walkers are then given a silver trophy, prize and a tea spoon for each puppy they have walked.
The tea spoons are given to all puppy walkers as a remembrance for each puppy they have walked. The spoons also have the name of the hound engraved onto them. After the judging of the young entry everyone is invited to tea this is then often followed by a drink or two in Reynards Bar at the kennels.
WHAT IS A PUPPY WALKER?
These people are so important to the Hunt; they will look after the puppies [normally a 'couple' - or two hounds in hunting parlance] for as long as possible usually during the summer months. Once the hound puppies have been fully inoculated around twelve weeks old they are given to puppy walkers. It is at this point where the puppies learn their names and are taught to go onto a collar and lead. Basically the puppies are treated as a normal dog, however they do not make particularly good house dogs so a stable for instance with a good straw bed is usually ideal. The education the walkers give to the young hounds is so important and so very much appreciated by the Masters and Staff at the kennels when the puppies return. Another reason that puppies go to walk come from the days when canine inoculations were non existent, parvo virus and distemper could wipe out whole litters. The time will come when the puppy walkers cannot cope with the young hounds any longer, after trashing the flower bed and chewing the fourth yard brush the young hounds will come back to kennels.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
When the puppies return to kennels the Kennel Huntsman will then carry on with the young hound’s education. Firstly the young hounds are integrated into the main pack. When the pack is walked out [exercised] the young hounds join in, often on a set of couples for a few days. A couple is two collars linked together, the young hound is attached by couples to an older experienced hound. The reason for this is to learn all about manners and commands whilst in a public place. As early springtime arrives the Kennel Huntsman will then start to teach the young hounds how to show ready for the Puppy Show during the summer. Each hound should be confident and able stand and gallop for the purpose of the judging. No puppies [young hounds] will go trail hunting until the autumn when they are then physically and mentally mature.