Steven Ashworth: Children and hounds — let the chaos commence! *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    “Nooo!” I call, as yet another random object is posted through kennel railings by grubby little hands with a cheeky laugh — just one of the many joys of having children growing up in kennels. Like any young entry, a child fitting into kennel life brings a mixture of emotions, excitement all round, an abundance of energy and desperation to help, so let the chaos commence!

    The usual “kennel timetable” is thrown out the window as jobs take twice as long with a 20-month old apprentice. Wanting to encourage the keen youngster means forfeiting your time to doing things twice over, and then — properly — a third time as he is soon distracted by a low-flying pigeon.

    “Nap when your baby naps,” the professionals will tell you, clearly having never worked in kennels. Their mid-morning nap in the tack room leaves us running around at full speed, powering through as many of the less “child-friendly” jobs in kennels. First bit of advice: this is when to wash kennels down. Toddlers, dog muck and high-pressure hosepipes are a nasty combination that no one wants to endure before breakfast.

    Naps never last long enough and the child is soon up and busy making mischief. Note to self, must close all doors and lock all latches, as the toddler’s ability to walk means being able to reach handles and come into kennels to greet me who, in the mad rush, has left the nearest lodge until last and filth is now spread all up Baby’s trousers and new Clarks shoes.

    Always add at least an hour on to your daily routine solely for these “clean-ups” and outfit changes. Also note, even in mild weather, hosing off the mess will only further annoy Mum and delay proceedings.

    Magic…or havoc?

    Walking out is everyone’s favourite part of the day, and the kids are no exception. He’s been wrestled back into his pram and, on seeing the hounds come out the gates towards him, stops fighting his restraints and beams from ear to ear. Ahh magic, everyone’s happy, we’re under control, everything’s going to go just perfectly.

    Wrong. The first 15 minutes are brilliant, he’s joining in with commands and shouting “back” to the hounds pushing past his pram. Even his older brother joins in and tells the stragglers at the back to “get on”.

    But halfway through he wants out, he’s bored of being in his pram and is causing havoc. Meanwhile, older brother is wishing he was in the pram as he gets carried up the lane by two doghounds on couples, sitting on the chain between their shoulders shouting, “Whoa, whoa, whoa”.

    Luckily for us, both children are grasping the commands used around the hounds, so when your little one runs off in Tesco, a sharp “back you” does the trick just fine.

    The hounds’ chorus

    Kennels are done and it’s time for a well-earned brew for us parents. Happy hounds means a sing-song at our house, and they strike up a beautiful chorus. Always a joy.

    I take a closer look, only to find my boy standing at the railings, chest pushed out, hands behinds his back howling along with the full pack.

    People say never work with children or animals, I say how boring! I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 28 June 2018