This week I feature a picture of a Basset Hound from the days when the show Basset and working Basset were much more closely aligned.
In my dim and distant youth in the late 1950s, I had my own small ‘private pack’ of mixed Smooth-haired Dachshunds and Basset Hounds, rabbits and hares abounded and we would be away for hours hunting the hedgerows and stubble fields. We rarely, if ever, caught anything but we had some jolly good sport.
In the mid 1950s members of the Basset Hound Club formed a working branch to "foster the hunting instinct inherent in every Basset Hound” and to promote the policy of the club, "not to differentiate between the two” [a show hound and a working hound].
All members of the Basset Hound Club were encouraged and allowed to enter their pet hounds and see if they would work successfully with a nucleus of kennel hounds. I entered a hound of mine. Full and preliminary certificates were awarded to hounds that achieved certain standards; ability to identify and hold the line as a member of a pack, give tongue at appropriate moments and hunt over country for at least two hours.
In 1972 the working branch was reorganised and renamed the Albany Bassets, which was admitted to the Masters of Basset Hounds Association, with its own registered hunting country in Lincolnshire. In 2002 the Basset Hound Club withdrew its support and the Albany became a subscription pack.
At the risk of putting my head on the block, this featured hound, Ch Blaby Hal, and the late, great Ch Fredwell Varon Vandal (at one time the breed’s CC record holder) are, in my opinion, the epitome of a show hound ‘fit for function’.
Hal was born in February 1964, owner bred by Mrs Doreen Gilberthorpe. He was sired by one
of the most successful hounds of the period, Ch Lymewood’s Howard ex Blaby Biddy. Hal, who was himself a successful show hound, had the distinction of having his full hunting certificate.
Blaby Biddy was by Ch Fredwell Ideal who went back to the imported Basset Artesian Normand, Grims Ulema de Barly, out of Sharron of Snowthorpe who not only had the great male hound Varon Vandal behind her, but
also the great female hound Ch Fochno Trinket.
Howard was a grandson of Ideal and also went back to Ch/Am Ch Bold Turpin of Black Heath, the first imported champion Basset Hound who fulfilled the ambition of his breeder, Mrs Babson of Illinois, of breeding a hound capable of achieving champion status in Europe and America.
Hal’s portrait was painted by the Nottinghamshire born and trained artist, Dorothy Johnson (1902-1988), whose work I have featured in the column before. She was a dog lover and owner, her favourite breed being the Cocker Spaniel and over the years she kept a number of them as pets. She executed many commissions, including many top show dogs, among them the first British champion Pharaoh Hound, Ch Kilcroney Rekhmire Merymut, and one of the first British champion Finnish Spitz Ch Hammon Irmas. n