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Running Too Much Rabbit?

by Robert L. Mason

          In one of my previous articles, "The Pendulum Swings," I voiced my sincere belief that the pendulum in Beagling has swung in the direction of  "swifter, more energetic hounds."  Perhaps I spoke too quickly. 

Recently,  I received a phone call from my dear friend and long-time hunting companion, Garrett Humphrey.  I attended the American Kennel Club's (AKC) Small Pack Option National Championships with Garrett, on April 20 of this year.  Unfortunately--or perhaps fortunately, as the case may be--I was unable to attend the second day of the trials, and after observing the bitches and attending the AKC awards banquet that evening, my wife and I returned to our eastern Kentucky home.         

In the races I observed on the first day of the trial, the bitches that I witnessed pushed their rabbits at a good clip.  However, Garrett complained that on the following day, the dogs were not allowed to run.         

"They kept picking up the dogs that looked to me to be doing the best work," said Garrett.  "They said the dogs were 'running too much rabbit'."  What are they talking about--too much rabbit?"         

I didn't have a ready answer for my friend, for, while I've long been familiar with the term, I'm not sure that it has ever been reduced to a precise definition.         

Now I've seen many a hound that didn't run enough rabbit, but I'm not sure that I've ever seen a Beagle run too much rabbit.  If a hound is cutting, running hit-or-miss along the line or overrunning checkpoints, that hound is to be faulted regardless of its speed.  In fact, the hound exhibiting these characteristics is clearly not running enough  rabbit.         

On the other hand, if a hound has a nose full of rabbit and is accurately and energetically driving its quarry, leaving a slow-motion parade of inferior hounds in his wake, the devious mind can invent any device it likes to justify disqualification of the Beagle doing most of the work.         

Ultimately, in the field trial arena, it comes down to interpretation of the rules.  And again, in Chapter 10 of The Ultimate Beagle: The Natural-Born Rabbit Dog, I cited Procedure 5-B of the AKC's "Beagle Field Trial Rules and Standard Procedures," wherein "pursuing ability" was addressed and it was unambiguously declared that "No hound can be too fast provided the trail is clearly and accurately followed."           

          I understand and applaud the wisdom of this and many other aspects of the AKC standard.  It's never been about a hound running too much rabbit, but about houndsmen running too much game.  And we are left to wonder what our breed would be like today, had the truly great hounds been promoted and the pretenders eliminated from our breeding programs.         

I make no apology to the politicians in Beagledom who twist and manipulate the rules to the advantage of inferior hounds and their masters.  I love a fast-nosed, front-running hound, a hound that knows his business and is quick to his work, a hound whose every cry sends a chill along a rabbit's spine.  I love a hard-driving, natural-born rabbit dog!

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).