Ukrainian women, hunters and their dogs, it is under this title that the Federation of Doubs Hunters publishes a moving report in its magazine ” The Comtois Hunter » concerning the reception of five Ukrainian women by a hunting team on foot: the Loue-Lison rally. The crew’s dogs made it possible to free speech, facilitate contacts, bring people closer together and generate the first smiles found.
A trying journey, from Kyiv to the barns of Céry…
When on February 24 Russia begins the conflict with Ukraine, the whole family decides to organize itself to be able to welcome possible refugees. Many contacts are made and five Ukrainians will arrive in Besançon on the morning of April 25, their faces marked by the fatigue represented by this veritable expedition of nearly 46 hours and 2300 km covered. The first train is taken in the night, fear in the belly and lights extinguished under the strident alarms of the anti-aircraft defense of Kyiv. Destination Lviv (Leopold) then Poland, Germany and France. Three women and two children therefore leave their homeland for an immersion in the unknown. And this unknown will be significant for city dwellers who previously lived in large cities. Indeed, they do not know that they will arrive in a family of hunters for whom hounds are at the heart of their daily concerns and that the way of hunting they practice constitutes more than a passion: a real way of life. !
Hunting dogs liberate speech and heal the wounds of the soul…
On the entrance gate is the motto of the crew: ” With them and for them »… Like a welcome message that says a lot about the values of this house. Barely the luggage placed in the different rooms and despite the fatigue, young and old wanted to see the dogs. This moment was magical for all. Hervé will tell us “ From that moment, the ice broke. The Ukrainians forgot for a moment their stress, their fatigue, their distress and their sorrows, all occupied with stroking the dogs, cuddling and kissing the puppies, marveling at the sight of the pack. Surprised and already conquered, they asked a thousand questions on this subject: Do they have a name? Why so many dogs? What are they for ? Do they live with you? … ”
The Ukrainians and the Venerie… without bias!
Finally, and against all expectations, hunting took an important part in this welcoming process. The last hunting season having just come to an end, outings in nature with the dogs allowed the crew to explain to their new friends the principles of hare hunting. The latter, seduced by the clothing of the crew, declared themselves to be admiring of the pageantry that surrounds this practice, believing that it reflected the image they had of France and its history. City dwellers ignorant of everything about hunting, the Ukrainians of Céry showed no a priori with regard to hunting or hunting in general. Capable of a tolerance and a lofty view that many of our fellow citizens no longer have towards hunting practices, they have sincerely adopted this particular and so strange context in their eyes.
A great adventure…
In the end, this beautiful human adventure and also an extraordinary hunting adventure, the dogs of Vénerie constituting a real bridge between people that nothing was supposed to bring together; both a subject of conversation among others but also a parenthesis of tenderness and affection. The Loue-Lison rally initiative shows that hunters are also women and men rich in human values and capable of compassion and empathy, far from the clichés brandished by our opponents!
“We were forced to leave our homes, our homeland to take the children to safety. We could not walk with children in the street, the sirens sounded several times a day. So we arrived at the Château de Cery. We are extremely grateful for the way we were received. With all my heart and soul, we don’t know how to express our gratitude! The children are particularly happy here with the 50 dogs we discovered! Our girls love dogs and the greatest happiness for them is to feed, stroke, play with puppies. These dogs are incredible, they will remain forever in our hearts! Not a day goes by without us hugging or kissing them! They are the most beautiful, smartest and kindest dogs in the world! We seem to be in a fairy tale, in the “branch of paradise” on earth. For the first time in two months of war we can sleep normally, in safety and see the smiles and happiness of our children! Enjoy the beauty around and feel at peace! We are incredibly grateful to this family for the warm welcome and all they do for us.”
Text and Photos: Hervé Cart