The Dog Days of Pennsic
Lady Kiltigern MacClibarn
Hound coursing returned again to Pennsic as a demo on Saturday morning. The coursing began with the Queens in attendance, Morgan of Rye, HRH Æthelmearc; Caia Snowdon, HRH An Tir, and Mary Rose of Burgandy, HRM Atenveldt leading the hounds to the coursing field. The hounds in attendance were three wolfhounds owned by local veterinarian Rozen Maureen O’Cu, a veteran courser and agility contestant and newcomer to the SCA; and two Greyhounds owned by the Æthelmearc Hound Mistress Katla Ulfhedinn. The power of the Irish Wolfhounds was confirmed by the two Queens trying to control one three legged Wolfhound, Erin.
The first dog to course was Valkyrie, a brindle greyhound. Released by Anna Ophelia Tarragon, HRM East, Valkyrie overran the course at the far end as her momentum carried her past the turn and she lost sight of the lure in the grass. The lure was rerouted past her so she could catch sight of it and chase it to the end.
Next up was Erin, a six year old Wolfhound who lost her front right leg to bone cancer in March; now that the cancer is in remission she is back to coursing. She was eager to run but was a bit slower than the greyhound. She was slipped by Tessa the Huntress, HRM Æthelmearc. At the end of her run Erin grabbed the lure happily to make sure it was “dead.” This is the hound’s reward for a job well done and gives them a reason to chase it each time.
Dublin was up next. He is the son of Erin, and was also the largest of the Irish Wolfhounds on site at approximately 40 inches and 135 pounds. Slipped by Moira O’Morchoe, he bounded happily around the course, never reaching his full stride. The 125 yard octagon course was too short for him to reach his top speed. He usually needs 100 yards straight to reach full stride, then room to keep running. So the Irish Wolfhounds were loping along in a bit of a silly manner that was a lot of fun to watch.
The last of the coursers was an Irish Wolfhound puppy, Liadhain – “Lia,” who is still in training. She was allowed to play with the lure before it was moved. At “Tally Ho” she ran immediately to play with Dublin. She was caught and led along the course by Asa Beiskalda, HRM Lochac, following the lure before being released. This time Lia followed it to the end without a problem to the cheers of the crowd.
Lia and Erin were put away to rest for the day as Valkyrie and Dublin took turns coursing a few more times. Claudia Lisabetta Senatori deFirenze, HRM Outlands, Caillin MacKenzie, HRH Calontir, and Mary Grace of Gatland, HRM Gleann Abhann each took a turn at releasing Valkyrie. Dublin was slipped by Xorazne Artzruni, HRM Calontir.
However Erin was so eager to run that her owner gave in and let her course one more time. Mary of Carrigant, HRM Northshield slipped Erin, who ran along smoothly and bit the bag at the end to the laughter and cheers of the crowd.
Also in attendance was the greyhound Txikurra (pronounced Secoura) who is a retired SCA courser at age eight because of a pulled hamstring and some old age related ailments. She still enjoys the attention and atmosphere of events.
All dogs are welcome to join in SCA canine activities; however due to the limited access allowed to the dogs at Pennsic, only local dogs were in attendance and these happened to all be hounds. All dogs are checked before and after coursing for injuries. Dewclaw injuries and rope burns caused by the lure rope are the most common injuries incurred. Taping a dog’s leg can help protect them from injury.
Æthelmearc has included in their canine activites tunnel work for terriers using portable tunnels and would like to start agility coursing using natural-looking obstacles. They are also offering dog classes this year: Viking dogs, Then and Now, taught by Katla Ulfhedinn; Pooffy Dogs: Lap dogs in History, by Ashraf, and a Known World Canine Meeting led by Katla Ulfhedinn.