I confess that I love shopping at thrift stores, always searching for that bargain I can’t live without. While perusing through the goodies at one local emporium, I found a 19th Century reproduction print depicting a small, obviously wealthy little boy dressed in a burgundy velvet riding suit, perched on a shaggy black Shetland pony and surrounded by a ragtag bunch of eager but largely undisciplined dogs. The title of the print is “Scratch Pack”, a term used by British foxhunting enthusiasts to describe a pack of nondescript sporting dogs that are sort of thrown together by local farmers – the original “motley crew”- as opposed to a pack of the traditional, blue-blooded English foxhounds which would normally be used for chasing Reynard. The little pony’s eyes are bugging out with alarm as he is heeled by a Saint Bernard, a Parson Russell terrier, a collie, a black-and-tan dachshund (which owing to their short legs are rarely if ever used for foxhunting), a spaniel and other assorted grinning canines. In the background you can just see what probably is the little boy’s father kitted out in his black hunting coat, sitting astride his elegant hunter and keeping a close but wary eye on his son’s progress. It’s an odd-sized print, 18 inches by 26 inches costing only two or three bucks, but most likely will require forty or fifty dollars just for a presentable frame. But I think it might be worth it.
In case you were wondering where I’m going with this fable, the print reminds me of the 2016 Presidential campaign. It has the same mixed bag of bizarre characteristics: a lot of wild, bug-eyed weirdness; a motley “scratch pack” of panting, grinning candidates representing a little of this and a lot of that; tons of money (foxhunting and political campaigning ain’t no poor man’s sports); an air of otherworldly strangeness and many, many concerned if not flummoxed observers keeping a wary eye on the grim proceedings.
For those who are opposed to foxhunting as a blood sport and may not appreciate the comparison, don’t worry. Just think of the American election process as another kind of blood sport, though perhaps not half as humane. In traditional foxhunting it is claimed the fox gets clean away 98 percent of the time. Foxhunting recently was banned in England, so we can’t blame our English cousins across the big pond for our troubles. But the semi-entertaining craziness of our American election process gallops on, scratch pack or no, and no doubt the fox – whatever it may be – will get away this time, too. Tally ho!
Claudia Eddy, Owosso