29 March 2012

The feeding of the dogs at Cheverny

Cheverny is well known for its château and its hunting dogs. Hunting is a major cultural feature of the life here in the Loire Valley, and even more so in the woodsy subregion called La Sologne, where Cheverny and Chambord châteaus are located.

The hunting dogs at Cheverny castle

The dogs at Cheverny are a special breed, or cross-breed, of "English fox hounds and French Poitevins dogs," according to the Cadogan Loire guidebook. They are taken out hunting twice a week from autumn until early spring — winter is hunting season.

La soupe des chiens

One of the attractions at Cheverny is watching the feeding of the hunting dogs in the afternoon. The dogs are kept in a big pen and kennel a ways from the château. At feeding time — it's sometimes called « la soupe des chiens » at Cheverny — the dogs' trainers put down a line of raw chicken carcasses and kibble as they keep the pack under strict control. The dogs only lunge forward to wolf down the food when they are given the sign. It's quite a sight.

"Pray do not excite the dogs."

An example of the dogs' prey?

It took "just" 30 years (1604-1634) to build the château de Cheverny. Most of the other Loire Valley châteaus are a hodgepodge of architectural styles because they were built and rebuilt, expanded and enlarged, so many times over a period of several centuries. Cheverny is outstanding for its pure lines and nice proportions.

9 comments:

  1. The hounds have breed status and are called les Grandes anglo-francais tricolores. Mostly they are hunting Roe Deer and Wild Boar.

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  2. I'll take your word for it, Susan. Are they all female dogs? ;^)

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  3. Sue and I enjoyed watching the dogs almost as much as the Chateau and Walt's post reminded me of Tin Tin - saw the movie recently.
    The faces on those dogs in your photos are magic Ken.
    Thanks for your birthday wishes but like me you were early. Much appreciated. (62 wow)

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  4. Ken: Sorry - as soon as I published the comment I thought 'oh bugger', but couldn't be bothered to do a comment that said ' sorry, that should be 'grands'.

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  5. Ken, when the Hunting fete was on at Preuilly I couldn't help noticing that all the dogs had "had the chop"... so perhaps "Grandes" is more correct... I presume that neutering the males means that there won't be any accidents... as they are of breed status they would want to record dam and sire.
    My first "father-in-law" got one of their Border Collies cheap [£50] "out of" one of the top "One man and his Dog" sheepdog trial winning females because Wynn Jones didn't know which of his two dogs had sired... it should have been £500 [which in 1978 was a good chunk of money]... he made a good loss on that litter... but people like the "thenwife"'s father got really good dogs at bargain basement prices.

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  6. Leon, I thought your birthday was the 28th. Happy Birthday again.

    Susan, isn't it a pain that we can't edit comments? I make those kinds of typos all the time.

    Tim, we paid 500 € for Callie du Vent des Moissons de la Vallée des Géants.

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  7. I liked the fact that the trainer knew the dogs by name. He also held the majority of dogs at bay and let those that hadn't eaten well at the previous meal get a head start on the others in the pack. It's a great show.

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  8. They are such beautiful dogs.

    I always thought chicken bones were bad for dogs, that they split and damage their insides.

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  9. Jean, an English friend of ours (the woman who gave us Bertie) told me that her vet put her elderly German shepherd dog on a diet of raw chicken, bones and all. Raw chicken bones are okay for dogs, apparently, but not cooked chicken bones. I don't know for sure, but it seems to be true.

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