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U3A Writing: Loppylugs

Sandy Saunders tells of a frustrated hound.

The Great Wood's variety of wildlife meant there was a good living for several generations of foxes. Granddad was so dark that in the wood he looked black; his eldest son was not much lighter and in the shadows of a bramble bush he appeared to be nearly green. By contrast the youngest mature vixen was a vivid crimson colour.

The family had its own game of "Chicken" or maybe it was a local version of "Running with the Bulls". When the Farmers' Hunt came along Granddad would lead them away from the hedges with cubbing holes, for a furlong or so then pop into a badger's back-door leaving elder son to take them on a bit further, by which time two or more of the younger generation would emerge and confuse the scent by running off in different directions. The sounds of the baffled hounds and exasperated whippers-in probably made a pleasing background to the family's afternoon naps.

The game was seriously threatened when a first-season hound with oddly shaped ears joined the pack. No one could call him anything but Loppylugs and he was a delight to watch. Whoever had puppy-walked him was obviously a hen-keeper. Loppy would find a scent, give tongue, take off on the trail and not deviate from it to follow any other until he found the spot at which the quarry had gone to earth. There he would sit and tell the world that this was the right spot at which to start digging, swimming or flying, as the case may be.

Unhappily for the Hunt the Alpha male and female of the pack chose not to capitalise on Loppy's ability and they continued to frolic all over the Great Wood whenever they had the chance - much to the disgust of the local poultry keepers. So where did this leave Loppy? After telling all who chose to listen just what had gone on he would pace up and down the last ten yards of the scent, bounding up to anyone who passed to tell them the story.

Fortunately he was very biddable; if, after listening to his complaint, the walker said, "True, Loppy, but the hunt is over now. Home boy", he would heave a deep sigh, take a last sniff at the point where the scent stopped and then trot off cross-country back to the kennels.

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