Animals > Dogs
This late medieval hound is made of oak and retains its original polychrome decoration. The coat is a mixture of black, brown, tan and white with a marbled finish; it has red jaws and protruding tongue and a long tail that sweeps up over its hind quarters and ends in a flowery flourish on top of its back. The ears are flat and the eyes seem fixed, as if in play, on an object on the ground. It has a large black collar and gives the impression of a devoted pet dog.
It closely resembles the dogs seen at the feet of effigies in stone, alabaster and, occasionally, wood. It has a number of original nails through the paws where it must have been attached, but its original function can only be surmised.
The domestic dog is shown feeding from a triangular dish beneath his master’s coat of arms. The carving is so primitive that the legs resemble a human’s pair of boots and the ears are placed improbably side-by-side but it is, nevertheless, a powerful image.
On this panel the 17th century huntsman sets off for the hunt, a spear in his right hand, a hunting horn hanging below his left hand, followed by five cheerful and enthusiastic hunting dogs. These are probably running-hounds waiting to set off once the lymers, dogs used for their ability to pick up a scent, have located the quarry.
The huntsman is wearing light armour as he might be in danger of being shot, speared or gored. Occasionally some of the dogs wore mail, a very little plate armour or leather body armour and a brightly-coloured feather so that the hunters could easily distinguish them from their prey.
The running-hounds needed to enjoy their work because it might well last all day. The best could follow the scent in the air and on the ground and would not be distracted by the scent of a different animal. Hunting dogs were highly esteemed and well-looked after and would be rewarded with part of the kill at the end of a successful day’s hunting.