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elise pilarski

France has a long tradition of hound packs.  Indeed, France is a country where hounds are such a tradition that more breeds of scenthound originate there than any other.

For those of you who aren’t aware of these traditions, the French hound packs are quite similar to those of foxhounds or beagles in the US or the UK.  Yes, there are plenty of small-time houndsmen who run a few dogs, but these big packs are connected to mounted hunting.

Throughout France, these packs run deer. They used to run wolves, which are now a protected species.

A few days ago, Elise Pilarski was out walking her dogs in the Forest of Retz, when she encountered a pack of deer hounds*.  She phoned her partner that she was afraid the pack might attack her, and not long after, she was found dead. She had been attacked by dogs.

It is not clear if she had been attacked by the hounds or by her own dogs.  DNA tests are being conducted on the dogs in the pack and her own dogs. The pack apparently consisted of over 60 dogs, which is in keeping with the tradition of pack hunting.

Pilarski was pregnant, and she may have given off some sign of weakness towards the dogs, which could have elicited the attack response.  Her own dogs, at least one of which appears to be a bull-breed of some sort, might have caused problems with the pack as well.

When you have that many dogs in super prey drive and a competing group of dogs that could potentially become amped, there could be issues with predatory drift.

Once that many dogs enter that zone, it can be a dangerous situation.

This death was a tragedy, and we await DNA tests to see exactly what happened.

However, it is clear that new protocols are going to be necessary around pack hunts to ensure public safety.

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*Not to be confused with the Scottish deerhound, which is a sighthound.

 

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In an earlier post from today, some of the comments alluded to how mastiffs might attack and how they use larger size, rather than their dexterity, to attack.

I think I’m going to repost this video on dog attack styles from a dire wolf documentary on National Geographic.  Yes, they spell “shepherd”  incorrectly. The weights seem off to me. And they don’t identify which breed of mastiff they are testing here.  A Fila?

But this is still worth watching.

Essentially, mastiffs are supposed be like male lions. They are built to use their massive size to bring down their targets. They are not built for speed or efficient movement at all.

Neapolitan mastiffs were used in southern Italy in a way that simply did not require anything special in terms of conformation other than large size, a large head, and powerful jaws.

The dogs lived very close to  the house. Some were allowed to run loose,  but the dogs didn’t go very far. At night the dogs would either be tied up to the back door on  long chain or released onto the property.

If a thief showed up, the dog’s dark color would hide it in the shadows, and then it would pounce. It would throw its weight around and tear into the intruder with its teeth.

If you knew that such an animal could be lurking anywhere on a property, I don’t think you would want to be sneaking around there at night.

And that’s why they were such effective estate guards.

The guardian mastiffs are built more on the lines of a big cat than a normal domestic dog. When the Spanish and Portuguese colonizers brought war mastiffs ls into Amazonia, many of the native thought they were some kind of jaguar. Even today, the word for European dog in many of these languages is in some way related to their word for jaguar– which also tells you how the Spanish and Portuguese used these dogs on the native population.

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