In an article in early 2017, Covertside Online shared how the foxhunting community benefited junior Evan Dombrowsky as he overcame medical challenges. Last April, we profiled the success of the Foxhound Retirement Program. These stories intertwine as Evan, even at a young age, has already observed the full cycle of hound life and the importance of good stewardship. His mother, Beth Dombrowsky, reflects on the lessons learned in kennels and at home.
Children's natural love of puppies can develop into appreciation for the responsibility to care for hounds throughout their lives. Beth Dombrowsky photo.
The show doesn't go on without the hounds. At the end of the day, we wouldn't be foxhunting without them. Our hounds are an integral part of a day's success. Getting our juniors involved with the hounds at an early age cements the importance of hounds to our sport. This bond allows our youth to understand the hounds are not machines, but souls who share the passion of our favorite pastime. All of us, as we progress through the ranks of our hunts, can be good stewards of our hounds.
Juniors can build rapport and a sense of responsibility through caring for and showing hounds. Beth Dombrowsky photo.
While under then Loudoun West (VA) huntsman, Martyn Blackmore, my son Evan walked out hounds and at times watched from his carseat as I helped in kennels. He learned the individual hounds and their personalities in kennels before he hunted behind the pack. Once Loudoun West and Fairfax Hunt amalgamated and under Loudoun Fairfax's huntsman, Andy Bozdan, Evan kept visiting with his friends in the kennels. As Evan grew, Andy shared hound knowledge with him. Evan enjoyed showing hounds and learning the finer points of hound work from Andy.
Huntsman Andy Bozdan and Sprocket visit Evan following one of his surgeries. Photo by Erin Bozdan.
Evan's most memorable days out hunting in the beginning were when he could see the pack working and he could pick the individual hounds out as he watched. Probably the best day was one early Sunday morning when Evan saw "his" hound Sprocket and his littermate Spanner strike on a line. Evan was so excited he exclaimed, "Did you see that!?" before the field moved off. Then, at Evan's first Thanksgiving meet, Charlie came running right past his pony. As he called "Tally Ho!" the hounds came rushing by. Evan carefully noted who was in the lead; saving the information for discussion at the dinner table.
Littermates Spindle and Sprocket are retired together in the Dombrowsky household. Photo courtesy of Beth Dombrowsky.
When Andy Bozdan went on to found the Foxhound Retirement Program, our family became a foster family. Evan currently helps house train the hounds coming out of the kennels. This not only entails potty training, but also the general rules of the house to assist the hounds in becoming loved members of their new families. Evan has retired the two hounds with whom he won the Virginia Hound Show junior classes to our home. He appreciates his hound friends for their dedication to the sport.
Not every friend of the hunt or member can retire a hound to their home, yet everyone can make a difference in their own way. Ask your huntsman or Masters what can be done to specifically thank your hunt's hounds.