For all the decades his hounds have “spoken” to him, Dr. H.L. Todd Addis, master of foxhounds of the Warwick Village Hounds in Elverson, returns the favor with a new book that speaks to them: Our Penn-Marydel Hound, a Historical Anthology. Penn-Marydels were once hunted solely in Pennsylvania and on the Eastern shores of Maryland and Delaware—hence their name. But their reach and reputation now extends nationally, partly thanks to enthusiasts like Addis, who inherited his love for Penn-Marydels from his father, a fellow veterinarian, who founded Perkiomen Valley Hunt in Montgomery County. In anticipation of the Bryn Mawr Hound Show June 1 at Radnor Hunt, “Doc” Addis puts his passion—and his farmer’s pack—in perspective.
MLT: You’ve said that it was your bookshelves of veterinary and foxhunting books that sparked you to write.
TA: By hook or by crook, I have a hell of a lot of stuff—and many of these books have sat here for years. Television became so lousy, and I was more interested in history. Plus, the family will have it now.
MLT: What has foxhunting meant to your family?
TA: There aren’t many who can brag of having an entire family still involved in foxhunting today. One son has his own pack; another hunts with another pack. With 13 offspring (grandchildren included) in the hunting field, well, we can’t even get everyone in one picture.
MLT: But your contributions to foxhunting extend beyond family.
TA: I never sold a hound, but I’ve given them away to start other hunts, or to improve hunts that went from a disaster to those with disciplined hounds.
MLT: How does your book contribute to the history of the hunt in this region?
TA: Until I wrote it, the particulars of the huntsmen, their records— all of it could have been lost. Or it would’ve been lost with their children. Now, it’s there.
MLT: Tell us more about the Penn-Marydel.
TA: The name goes back to 1914—or at least that’s the first reference at the Bryn Mawr Hound Show. But for all these years, the breed was classified simply as American hound and never separated into its own strain until 2008, so they could be bred and registered as Penn-Marydels.
MLT: As the head of an independent pack since 1961, you must be used to playing the underdog.
TA: There are six recognized packs in Chester County, but 35 farmer’s packs. We have no membership, no board and no squabbles. We hunt to hunt.
MLT: What do you most enjoy about foxhunting?
TA: Though I’m 79, when I’m on a horse, I feel like I’m 20. Getting on and off, I feel 90. It’s the hounds’ music and the work of the hounds. I often consider what my mental state would be without the hounds and their music, and all I can think of is depression and how hard it would be without them.
To learn more about the Bryn Mawr Hound Show, visit bmhoundshow.org.