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The Girls From Blue Ridge


by Lyle Zerla

          On July 1, 1997, I took two of my female hounds out for a run in preparation for a field trial on July 12th at Hillsboro, Kentucky.  The two dogs were Blue Ridge Bobbi Lou, a four-year old tri-color who has FC Dingus MacRae and IFC Adirondack Bobby in her blood line, and Bobbi's daughter, ARHA CH Blue Ridge Mary Lou, a two-year old red and white.

          Bobbi had several ARHA progressive pack places, including a second at Hubbard in a field trial of thirty-three.  She came in second to AKC FC/ARHA PPGRC/UKC HBCh Brinsky's Run-Em-Over Tank, the ARHA's U.S. Progressive Pack Champion.

          Mary Lou had never been run in a progressive pack competition.

          We went to the county park, which is about four miles from home.  The park consists of 1,200 acres of posted land.  You are allowed to run dogs, but firearms of any kind are prohibited.

          There is a hundred-acre lake on the property.  On the south side of the lake there is a strip of land about 400 yards wide, bordered on one side by the lake and the other by an 80-foot high wall, a left-over from a strip mine operation pre-reclamation law.  There is a two-track road that runs between the lake and high wall, making the walking very easy.

          I cast the hounds and they soon had a rabbit up and running.  They pushed him down the hill towards the lake, then back towards the road.  I saw the rabbit cross the road and go into the crown vetch.

          The vetch offered excellent cover for the rabbit and hard-going for the dogs.  After forty-five minutes, the rabbit holed-up on the slope going down to the base of the high wall.

          At the base of the high wall there is a small lake, about twenty feet wide, running the length of the high wall.

          The second rabbit crossed the lake at a narrow spot and the dogs took him on a sight chase for several hundred yards until the rabbit crossed the narrow lake back into the crown vetch.  They ran this rabbit for about forty-five minutes until they lost or holed him near the two-track road.

          The dogs had been running for about two and a half hours and I snapped the leads on them as they searched along the road.  We started back to the truck and had only gone about fifty yards when we jumped a rabbit from the edge of the road.

          Anyone who has tried to hold two hounds on a lead while they are on a sight chase knows what I was going through.  I reached down and squeezed the French snaps to release the hounds.  I figured that I could catch them in a little while.

          In a few minutes, Bobbi came back and Mary Lou got silent.  Apparently, the rabbit had holed-up.  I snapped the lead back on Bobbi and started to call Mary Lou.  After a few minutes, Mary Lou started to howl.  Mary Lou howl?  Something must be wrong.

          I got to the edge of the hill where I could see the base of the high wall.  There was Mary Lou, standing belly-deep in the water at the base of the high wall.  Mary Lou normally hates water--it might be a bath!  I called her and tried to get her to come to a narrow spot in the lake where she and the rabbit had crossed.  She would not turn around and continued to stand in the water.

          I went to the east where a power line crosses.  There was no high wall and the lake ended.  I went through the weeds until I could see the lake and Mary Lou.

          I called again and she started to move in my direction.  She came, but she was walking slowly.  By the time she got to me, she was carrying her left, rear foot.  I picked her up and started to carry her.  After a few hundred yards, I could not carry a twenty-five pound dog any longer.  I put a lead on her and she limped beside me for a while.  I picked her up again and carried her the rest of the way to the truck.

          On Monday Afternoon, I took her to the veterinarian.  Dr. Steed checked her over and couldn't find anything wrong.  With all the poking, prodding, and wiggling, Mary Lou never made a sound.

          With some anti-inflammatory and pain-killer drugs, we went home with instructions to keep her in the pen and to return on Friday if there wasn't an improvement.

          On Friday morning we returned to the veterinarian.  This time, x-rays were taken.  Dr. Steed brought out the x-rays and said that he had bad news.  Mary Lou had a broken pelvis.  It was broken in two places.  He showed me the breaks and said that with rest Mary Lou would be fine.

          One break was located behind where the leg attaches to the pelvis and did not require any attention.  The other was on the large arch that runs from one side of the pelvis to the other.  It was off-set about one quarter of an inch.

          Dr. Steed explained that with rest the breaks would heal with no problems.  He stated that Mary Lou would have to be confined to the pen for eight weeks.

          So much for Mary Lou's trip to the field trial at Hillsboro, Kentucky!

          Apparently, the rabbit had started up the high wall, pressured by Mary Lou and Bobbi.  The rabbit was heading for a groundhog hole in the rock cliff when Mary Lou lost her footing and fell on her left hip, breaking her pelvis.

          After nine weeks of total pen confinement, I took Mary Lou out on Tuesday and let her run for one hour.  She tired quickly, so I leashed her and headed for home.  On Thursday, we went out again and Mary Lou ran for two and one-half hours.

          Saturday was the ARHA U.S. Northeast Regional Progressive Pack field trial at Chillicothe, Ohio.  At 2:30 A.M., I loaded Bobbi and Mary Lou into the truck and started on the three and one-half hour trek from eastern Ohio to south-central Ohio.

          When I arrived, I was surprised to see trucks from Oklahoma, Missouri, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and Georgia.  I was beginning to think that I had brought my pot-lickers to the wrong place.

          I filled out the entry forms and awaited the rolling of the hounds.

          My wife, Connie, handled Bobbi.  Bobbi handles very well and listens when Connie talks in her "school teacher" tone of voice.  When Connie uses her "school teacher" tone of voice, even I listen!  After she spends the week teaching thirty fifth-grade students, Bobbi and I are afraid not to listen.

          I handled Mary Lou.  She is a free spirit compared to Bobbi.

          We had a cast of six dogs and were having trouble getting a rabbit up.  One of the dogs struck a line and the chase was on.  One of the handlers yelled the Beaglers dreaded, four-letter word, "DEER".

          I started to run after the pack and was behind the judge when, after about twenty-five yards, he called to me that Mary Lou was coming back.  I thought, "Mary Lou coming back?  That deer must really smell bad!"

          I took a few more steps and saw Mary Lou running towards me.  I leashed her and praised her for her behavior.

          When the hunt resumed, I was handling Mary Lou and LPGRC Big Meadows Amy.  Amy handles just like my Bobbi.  The gentleman who started handling Amy could be heard in the distance calling his hound.

          Mary Lou struck a track and could not get it straightened out.  With five seconds left, Amy saved Mary Lou's bacon and the chase was on.  When the hunt was called, Mary Lou was the winner.

          When we got back to the clubhouse, I saw Connie sitting with her leg supported by a chair.  She asked how Mary Lou had done.  I answered, "She won!"  To that, Connie replied, "Darn it!"  My dog wins and I get a darn it from my wife?

          That was when I found out that Bobbi had also won her cast and, on the way out, Connie had stepped in a hole and twisted her ankle.  She was hoping that I could handle Bobbi.

          In the second round, "Hop-a-long" Connie took Bobbi and I handled Mary Lou.  Again, one of my dogs was matched up against Tank.  This time it was Mary Lou.  It was now 87 degrees and I was running a very out-of-condition hound.

          We went to an area behind the First Capital Rabbit Hunters new club house.  We were running in waist-high weeds with a road cut through it so that you could get a look at the rabbit.  The dogs jumped a rabbit and none of them was impressive.

          When they jumped the second rabbit, they were like a different pack of hounds.  They really pounded the rabbit.  During one check, a totally exhausted Mary Lou came over to the group of handlers and sat down with her tongue hanging out.  After a short time, Tank claimed the check and Mary Lou resumed the hunt.  When the cast was over, Tank was the winner, but Mary Lou was a close second.  In the over-all trial, Mary Lou came in third.  Not bad for a hound that was run three and one half hours in the previous ten weeks!

          Bobbi came in eighth over all.

          A third and an eighth place finish out of fifty-six hounds.  None of the dogs were a slouch.

          Needless to say, I was very proud of the girls from Blue Ridge.

Should you have a concern regarding the health of your Beagle(s), you should contact your veterinarian. All information on this site is presented solely for educational and informational purposes and should not, at any time, be considered a substitute for seeking or receiving veterinary care for your Beagle(s).