After spending three full months at Stoney Lick Farm, our latest litter of fox hounds puppies have returned to their New Jersey home, filled to their furry brims with love. These nine little darlings are the sons and daughters of Barnacle, a foxhound we raised on the farm a year and a half ago. Named for the first initial of their mother, Artful, the puppies soon were christened with names within a food theme: Almond, Acorn, Allspice, Apricot, Apple, Agave, Artichoke, Angus and Altoid.
At just eight weeks old, the pups were quite shy upon arrival – not sure what to make of their new home away from mama. Soon, however, our Head Start summer campers made them feel quite special as they were greeted with squeals and amazement. As our kindergarten-bound five year olds picnicked in the grass beside their pen, the puppies cocked their heads at the fence, taking in all the chatter and chaos. It is moments like this that the puppies are here for – to become socialized and exposed to new noises and faces. It is this education which will prepare them for life as adult hounds, when they will be public figures in the community where they live – parading down the dirt roads on their regular walks as a pack. During outings like these, they must have all the wiggle and wag to fearlessly greet their neighbors in cars, on bikes, and on foot.
In addition to their human socialization, these puppies also were exposed to farm animals and machines. It is of great importance that these foxhounds see chickens, cats, horses, cows and goats as friends, not something to chase down. Becoming friends with our dogs on the farm is also crucial, as they will encounter many a house dog in their life, whom they must not chase, no matter how yappy the dog may be. The puppies showed off their education well on their final walk around the pond as they passed by Ali, our neighbor’s dog whom they hadn’t met before, with just a half-interested sniff. Having thus completed their socialization training, they will go on to walk in an organized pack and, after that, go out hunting!