As soon as I saw the enclosure–a low fence with lined with boards on the bottom–I knew it was something I’d only dreamed about: a perfect beagletown. My husband David and I picked Clover Hill Farm in the Berkshire’s for a week’s vacation basically because they have a hammy dog, Snoopy, on their website under the title “featured beagle.” That implies multiple beagles. Sure enough, owner Carolyn Henderson has five beagles, down from a peak pack of 10–along with a couple dozen horses, two goats, a miniature horse, donkey and a bunch of waterfowl.
We’ve visited at a poodle farm in NH, gone to bassett hound waddles, but we’ve never stayed someplace designed for our own dogs. Beagles are notorious escape artists and wanderers. People say that they just follow their noses. I think my Huckleberry just follows his heart. He has no hunting instinct or secret plan. When I’ve seen him run off–or try–he’s just having fun and not thinking. Typical beagle.
Huck and Moxie can’t fully enjoy the off-leash hours in Prospect Park because we’d never see them again. They were among 200-some beagles sprung from a NC testing lab by the power of an undercover PETA video, but at least three of the dogs have been killed by cars when they got off leash, freaked out and ran.
But Carolyn let them first check out the smaller pens, which have a shed-sized beagle structure and a beagle-operated door to the house. Nextdoor is ducktown, which has a heated house for the non-flying ducks and geese. But since it’s been so warm they’ve spent the winter by the pond, which is in the the huge beagle pen in back of the house/inn.
Carolyn made sure they wouldn’t traumatize the ducks before giving Huck and Moxie free reign. Luckily, Huck focused on eating dog poop and Moxie on eating the duck’s food, not the ducks. So, for the first time since last summer, Huck and Moxie got to have CRAZY-BEAGLE-FUN-TIME, wherein they run in circles, rassle, roll and act like it’s the best day of their lives. As an added bonus, Moxie joined our daughter Ginger in sledding in a freak, late snowstorm.
Ginger giggled at the horses and dogs. Carolyn’s mother, Gram, let her use some extra toys they had around. But the thing Ginger liked best was was watching a girl ride a horse around the indoor ring.
The resident beagles would occassionally join us, especially Snoopy, who loves to sit in laps, and the serene Woody, who wags his tail superfast when you talk to him.
The main work of the farm is boarding horses, which were mostly thoroughbreds but also included a fuzzy draught horse, a donkey and Carolyn’s 29-year-old animal. Carolyn talked to each of them as individuals, calming those impatient when others got getting fed first or special treats. She pointed out which horses to avoid with the dogs, which acted grumpy but were fine and which were the sweetest.
I can understand that there’s probably more of a market for boarding horses than entertaining beagles, but this farm could just bill itself as a beagle vacationland. Can you imagine the beagle meetup? Where else can you go with a baby and two beagles–all cheerful, adorable but demanding travelers? And my husband David are even more demanding, wanting a half day drive from New York, something rural, but with restaurants–and any of the things anxious new parents might want. We went on hikes nearby in Vermont, but we would just conclude that we could all have more fun back in Beagletown.
|Where to SEE WILD HORSES and horse sanctuaries|
|Where to SEE DOG EVENTS like basset hound waddles, Halloween parades, dock dogs|
Read about our beagles and their adventures
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