Believe it or not Bassets were bred for hunting. Allegedly, several centuries ago they would hunt ground game, whilst their larger, faster cousins would hunt deer and the like. I have often wondered at which point in the breeds genetic make up did they lose any and all trace of being actually able to 'hunt.' The closest my two have got to this is finding a hedgehog in the back garden. It snuffled and grunted resulting in my two running off and watching it from the safety of the kitchen. A ginger tom cat has also taken up residence in the garden. It is so scared of my two that it sits at the base of a tree about 16 inches from the kitchen back door. It farts, scratches it's arse and generally ignores the Bassets. They wag their tails and generally watch it...again from the safety of the kitchen.
They are not the most adventurous of hounds either. No matter where we walk they stick rigidly to the path. When I say path, I mean generally any route that does not involve deviating from the driest or flattest part of the walk. I regularly walk on a large stretch of grassland. I unleash the hounds knowing they can run freely with the wind in their ears. What actually happens is that they sniff each other's arses and mooch along a faded path trodden by cattle the year before on the way home to their barn. On more than one occasion I have run past them shouting 'come on get me boys' a la a convict escaping the bloodhounds in some deep southern state of the USA. The result ?.....nothing, not a flicker, not even a distant faded memory locked somewhere in their DNA of 'hunting.'
I'll swear that they do however look at me thinking, " wanker."
I am wondering whether Monty has unlocked an old hound instinct. During a recent tour of the deep southern grasslands (sort of), Monty sensed movement in the longer grass. The movement was the 978 rabbits that were about (as usual) three feet from him. Ordinarily they scarper until their rabbit recognition kicks in.......
"Shit.... dogs.... burrow it lads..."
" Nah, sorry lads leave it..only them bleedin' Bassets..pair of wankers."
Only things were about to change. Monty glanced over at the Watership Down Crew. His ears picked up and his hackles prickled. I'll swear he licked his lips. Monty then lunged toward The Bunny Boys. Missing them all entirely of course. That wasn't the point. He had progressed from Basset wanker to hunter(nearly). Be afraid Bunny Boys be very afraid. Lewes had been very helpful during all of this. He had managed to break the crust on a recently 'laid' cow pat, he was by now eagerly tucking into the soft centre of his cow shit brulee. I could forgive him this, I had a hound that 'hunted.' A killer, a tool for keeping the larder filled when times were hard. I imagined racks of game dangling from my garage and me leaning on a thumb stick with the 'kills' in the background. I was practically a gamekeeper.
Then (as usual) I wondered about laws that the Politburo had introduced prior to The Dunc and Cleggy Show. There would undoubtedly be a Council official dug in somewhere waiting to jump out and issue me with a fixed penalty notice for 'rabbit worrying' and other serious criminal offences such as not wearing a high vis vest whilst in possession of a sense of humour. Given my association with law enforcement ( lets leave it at that for the time being, I could probably be arrested under another Politburo law for even saying that), I remembered that they had " a new "law abart 'unting wiv dogs guvenor."
It goes like this:-
Hunting Act 2004
Hunting wild mammals with dogs
"A person commits an offence if he hunts a wild mammal with a dog, unless his hunting is exempt."
I got bored reading about the exemptions, but basically you are exempt if
a)you can pretend you weren't hunting for animals, b) the Police are too busy giving out ASBO's to pensioners to attend, or c) you have loads of money and influence.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines 'hunt' as ~
"pursue and kill (a wild animal) for sport or food."
I was in the clear. He had pursued, but definitely not killed. I would have to put me 'ands up' to the rabbit worrying and high vis offences. With luck I would be out in 16 years. I read on however, yes this fine bit of legislation comes with it's own 'power of search.' ( yes I do I have a girlfriend and no, there was nowt on telly):-
"If the constable reasonably believes that evidence of the offence is likely to be found on or in a vehicle, animal or other thing of which the suspect appears to be in possession or control, the constable may stop and search the vehicle, animal or other thing."
That was it...
"Lewes, Monty up against the gorse bush. You are being searched for evidence of rabbits."
"Just empty your pockets and less of it..."
"Look I am just doing my job, please lift up your ears.."
" I want a lawyer"
"You'll be lucky to get a biscuit, never mind lawyer... "
Suffice to say I found nothing and had to let them go on their way. I am off out to buy a high vis vest. I intend to have the words "INNOCENT BYSTANDER" emblazoned on the back in reflective letters. Well...every other buggers got one, why shouldn't I have one ??? PS. watch out you pesky pensioners....
( Dedicated to Pete. One of the few left with a sense of humour, now sadly gone. RIP mate)