A few summers back I met a hound that captured my heart, Herman Muenster. This brilliantly black 8-year-old fur baby was newly adopted from a rescue shelter and excited to begin life with his equally enthusiastic owner Ashlei. Labeled as a Labrador retriever by the shelter, Herman gave his owner much ado about nothing until she learned his trademark hound characteristics were normal and needed to be channeled for good.
Biologically and genetically, the dog has become one of the most domesticated species on Earth. The hound group is prized for its hunting abilities and excellent nose. Those who have grown up with hounds understand the beauty in their primal spirit and prey drive. The hound in particular, is considered an all-purpose dog for every kind of hunting, on all types of terrain. Linking back to prehistoric times, man and dog have had a mutual respect for hunting. One of the earliest hounds, the so-called “peat dog”, Canis famailiaris palustris, of the Mesolithic period (8000-5500 B.C.) was both a hunting dog and guard dog. Hounds throughout history were described in vivid detail in paintings as having long lop-ears and slender bodies. Overtime the hound physical characteristics have become more generalized as the breed group has grown. Many hounds possess the distinct ability to produce a unique sound called “baying.” This cacophonous symphony, if not channeled correctly, can be disruptive for owners and peace-seeking neighbors.
Instinctively, many hounds are led to find game, flush it out of the underbrush, and drive it into open terrain. In the suburbs, this often presents as chasing a squirrel or the unsuspecting rabbit that gets too close to the garden patch. Although many hound owners do not actively hunt wild game, the natural drive to hunt is still present in their pets. Many hounds require ample space to stretch their legs and blow off excess steam. To alleviate destructive behavior and annoying sounds, many owners enjoy taking their hound to open fields and forested area to allow them the freedom to explore and express their normal selves.
From Egypt to Italy, the hound has always been a well-respected member of the family. If you have been blessed with friendship from one of these loving creatures, cherish those memories. If you know a hound that has changed your life, send a photo to be featured in a future issue.
Dr. Jasmine Streeter writes about pets, lifestyle and nature. You can email her at [email protected].