IT had all the hallmarks of a normal christening – a vicar, something to wet the baby’s head and a party at a pub afterwards.
But this was not the christening of a baby human, it was the christening of baby hounds.
For four hunts from West Yorkshire the tradition of christening Fox Hound puppies takes place every year and has done since the 1800s but has never happened at any other hunt.
So, with Paul and Tina Hartley, new landlords at the Plough in Sleights coming from West Yorkshire and the Goathland Hunt having links with those hunts it was decided to bring the ceremony to Whitby too.
A ‘vicar’ performs the ceremony, reading a piece by Saddleworth poet Ammon Wrigley and then wets the hounds’ heads with a special mix of punch.
The ceremony also had special significance because it had been feared the three puppies being christened wouldn’t survive.
Graham Pickering said: “Four were born alive, one was dead and after two days the puppies were fading away and we had to make a rash decision to take the two bitches away and hand rear them.”
Also overseeing proceedings was Andrew Rogers, master and huntsman from the Pennine Fox Hounds.
He said: “It was a tradition that was started all those years ago when hunting started in the area and it has just kept going but doesn’t seem to have got out of that area but why, I don’t know.
“Every time we have some puppies we have a christening three or four times a year.
“It has been going on for 140 years and we are very proud to keep it going.