Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Hunt

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."

"Police state..."

"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)

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Light fingered.....

First and foremost I must apologise to all my loyal readers. All three of you. The new government austerity measures have had considerable impact on the work of law enforcement. We now have a budget of 87 pence a year and are unlikely to investigate anything unless, a) you leave a DNA sample, photo of yourself and current id at the scene of the crime, or b) you have parked your car 4.5mm over the edge of a retired senior officers drive ( check news for Lancashire Police). Suffice to say that nobody ‘over parks’ on my manor.

I have however, had both my Bassetts sworn as Deputies which is good news for our local neighbourhood. They now have more powers than PCSO’s and you may actually see them given that they get a least two walks a day. This brings me nicely onto discipline or more importantly, lack of it.

I read a magazine that came through the door the other day concerning dog ‘helpers.’ These fantastic animals help their human partners with a variety of day to day issues that able bodied people take for granted. One chap confined to a wheelchair, had a dog that even passed his credit card to shopkeepers as he wasn’t able to reach up. If you relied on Bassetts for this kind of assistance ( or in particular my Bassetts) you would either starve to death or would be constantly reordering bank cards which had been chewed beyond repair. On the whole their behaviour has improved drastically but they are still prone to complete and utter stubbornness. Lewis in particular whilst out on walks, has taken to seeing someone on the horizon usually about 2.7 miles away. He decides that for whatever reason he has taken a shine to a group or an individual and lies down facing them until they reach us. At this point he sits on the foot of his ’target’ insistent that they stay with him until he has been scratched and patted sufficiently. Lewis has also become fixated with gloves. When I say gloves I mean ALL gloves including mittens big and small. He has an amazing ability to find lost gloves every time we are out. He will then parade his catch proudly in front of Monty taunting Monty’s lack of hunting skills. Sadly Lewis’s glove hunting skill has progressed slightly. He appears to have grown weary of muddy encrusted gloves that were dropped by their owners in the late 1800’s. He has developed a taste for small highly coloured woollen gloves still warm from the owner’s digits. My first experience of this was on a walk along the seafront footpath. Awash with kiddies and their families all wrapped up against the chilly Autumn wind Lewis eyed his target. A tiny little giblet of about two and a half years old. Her pink fluffy mittens with a teddy bear stitched to the back were too much for Lewis to bare.

“Mummy doggy” said the Tot.

“Mmmm glove” thought Lewis.

It was a work of art, it was a Bassett Ninja, it was like slow motion. Passing Lewis slowly the Tot’s arm swung perfectly in line with Lewis, Lewis delicately nibbled the fluffy teddy bear until he had an effective hold. He would never take skin and he is extremely gentle, he had however worked out that the momentum of the Tot would be enough to remove and allow him to claim his prize. I looked down at Lewis holding his ’Kill.’ A pink fluffy glove complete with Teddy, mmm………………

“LEWIS” I screamed.

“Doggy” The Tot giggled.

“OH NO” I realised……..

Sadly given the propensity for children to lose gloves, the Tot’s parents had run a string from Lewis’s ‘catch’ all around her coat to the other pink fluffy glove still keeping her other hand warm. Lewis was not letting go….the Tot was not stopping………the string was stretching…….. .

I suppose they had reached the optimum stretch point and something had to give. It wasn’t going to be Lewis. The Tot flopped onto her bottom still giggling. Lewis now panicked releasing his catch which twanged like a yoyo back to it’s owner. Undamaged but now very wet having been slobbered within an inch of it’s life by Lewis, it also ‘twanged’ a globule of best Bassett slobber directly onto the forehead of the Tot. It hung perilously and momentarily before sliding gently onto the Tot’s best pink “Next” coat. Just for good measure Lewis decided he liked to the “cut of the Tot’s dad’s jib” and sat on his foot. Thankfully Lewis ( assisted by Monty), redeemed himself by being his usual affable self and the Tot fell in love with him. I may have to disguise Lewis as a Labrador or something before he gets an ASBO.

Thankfully that was a law that the ‘Politburo’ did not introduce before their departure. It was only a matter of time before our pets were bar coded and forced to carry an ID complete with a DNA profile and their respective appropriate training level. The DNA profile would have allowed a newly formed Government Poo Quango to swab pee stained lamp posts and throw the dogs owners in prison for 17 years. There would be exceptions to this of course, you would be exempt if you received Job seekers allowance, bred Staffies in your back garden and or were involved in crime. You would then be given all possible financial assistance to buy the ID (which you would not of course ~ choosing instead to spend it on a new tattoo) and partake in Politburo funded training courses ( which again you would not because it would of course, “be a breach of your human rights.”)

Monty has missed out a bit this chapter so I promise that he will feature heavily VERY soon.

Sorry about yet another change in design. I realised, despite all my best efforts, I am hopeless at anything resembling art..........