nimal lovers often complain that fox hunting is barbaric because of its cruelty to the fox. These protests misunderstand the essential nature of the sport. These "hunts" are simply a pretext to bring together three large groups of mammals for a day of exercise and exhiliration. It takes a lot of skill and mutual goodwill for these creatures-- usually numbering about thirty people, perhaps forty of Man's Best Friends, and as many of Man's Third Best Friends as there are of people-- to coordinate as they race at breakneck speed across fields, over hedgerows, and through forests. Everyone is pursuing the trail of a single fox and matching wits as well as speed with him. It is true that the fox ends up the loser on about two days in five, and generally then loses his life at the zealous jaws of Man's Best Friends. But the fox wins more often than he loses, and I can attest that none of his pursuers mark their pleasure of the day any the less for that, especially if they have been given a good run. For it is not the kill that is the true goal of the day, but the simple exuberance of the three groups of friends dashing hither and thither across the countryside in the golden light of a crisp autumn day, with much joyful shouting, barking, neighing, laughing, howling, whinnying, yelping, snorting, and view-hallooing to one another. And what pleasure it is for everyone to come back to the manor house at day's end, tired but happy, to relive the day's adventures over a glass of sherry or an ox-bone or a bag of oats. Fox or no fox, the day's romp has provided people, dogs, and horses with a ROARING GOOD TIME together, and that's the whole point of it!
Of course, one wonders why Man's Second Best Friends never join in the excitement of these fox hunts. They are often invited, but always disdain to participate. As near as can be determined, they regard a day's hunt as simply not to their taste: too exhausting and pointless, too noisy, too likely to get one's coat dirty, and too liable to uncouth displays by normally calm and well-behaved creatures. They prefer to keep watch on the kitchens and fireplaces of the manor house, grooming their fur and disparaging one another while everyone else is running madly about the countryside.
(printer friendly version)