I first met Sorrel a few years ago when I lived in Plymouth. Our paths met through a mutual interest both in horses and the countryside, but it was Sorrel’s larger than life character on that first meeting that I’ll not forget. Always smiling, always laughing, and always looking to help others out.
After moving from Devon into Somerset we kept in touch, chatting regularly. I was thrilled when a session for her and her huge dog Walnut was booked. Walnut wouldn’t be your average dog, she’s actually pretty flipping rare. Just a few years ago only 24 puppies were born (compared to an average of over 33,000 Labradors), which might help you understand quite how rare! In fact latest figures say there’s only about 800 in the world, which puts them on the vulnerable list and in a more precarious situation than Pandas…
Walnut is an Otterhound.
And she’s pretty flipping lovely too.
♥︎ ♘ ♥︎
Known as the Amiable or Clown Hound they really are a soft and gentle dog, despite their size. First used, as their name would suggest, in the pursuit of otters in the 18th Century the breed has been struggling since the hunting of otters came to an end around 40 years ago. In their heyday, they were a much used hound by royalty; Elizabeth I was a huge fan.
Times change and with forms of hunting or land management either banned or restricted over the years breeds like the Otterhound found themselves in trouble. Their numbers declined. There’s been an ease in the decline in recent times, but the breed is still very much in danger.
When you meet one though, oh my word, your world gets much brighter.
On the day that Walnut was included in a session I sat in the car with Alice, my friend. Alice is also my ‘Co-Pilot’ on some days, my extra eyes and hands. I punched in the first postcode and started to tell her what was on the list. When I mentioned Walnut I swear she squealed! She told me all about her desire as a young adult to own one and had researched breeders heavily. Unfortunately she wasn’t allowed such a big dog at home. Otterhounds need space. We aren’t talking acres, but you need space for them to move about comfortably in the house. Think of them as a huge shaggy moving rug that stands about 27″ at the shoulder.
Sorrel bred Walnut from her original Otterhound, Charity and by a stud dog called Uther. Born in 2014 she was one of 5. Sorrel and her partner kept 2 from the litter. Now that’s some serious passion to a large breed with 3 in your home! The breed colours in their dense, harsh waterproof coats include Grizzle (Walnut is a Red Grizzle), Black and Tan, Wheaten, Blue, and Sandy. Sadly Charity died last year but Sorrel is still in touch with the rest of the litter, an important factor in keeping the breed safe. Walnut greeted me with her usual tentative approach, until she recognised me and then she shoved her head in my lap. Soon we were up in the paddock behind Sorrel’s home and just having a fabulously easy time together.
This breed has a very slow shambly walk. Like it’s really hard work to move. It’s quite funny really because when they pick up speed into a trot or a lope they are really active and free moving. You can see how they used to keep pace in life and work in the rivers. Their coats repelling the worst of the water.
It was an absolute joy to spend time with these two. They are clearly besotted with each other and although her litter brother has now moved away, Walnut is a very happy hound indeed. She has everything she could ever want with Sorrel. So much space to roam and they go pretty much everywhere together. It’s not Sorrel’s car, it’s Walnut’s!!
Just watch out for the tail of a happy Otterhound… it may cause trouble!!
♥︎ ♘ ♥︎
Have a fabulous week ahead…
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