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Thread: My Old Friend - a walk down memory lane.

  1. #1

    My Old Friend - a walk down memory lane.

    I have always been around working dogs. Growing up on a working farm they were a mix of terriers and sheep dogs. But I have always had a soft spot for springers.

    A friend that is long gone had a lovely liver and white bitch called Beccy. He introduced me to to springers, rabbiting, keepering and much more.

    One spring she had pups and I ask him to keep the last for me, I was only in my low teens at the time and darnt let on to my parents a puppy was on it's way to be my responsibility.

    He arrived as a bundle of fur one evening, mum went into shock a dictated the pup stayed in the barn with the working collies. (I think he managed no more than 45 mins before he was in the kitchen laid out in front of the aga with mum in love with him!)

    I honestly had no idea what I was doing with him...but he was far cleverer than me and was very keen to learn. He was from a strong working line, KC registered with the odd FTC and FTW in his line and bright as a button. First and foremost though his breeding was honest working springer rather than champ material.

    I joined the South West Gundog Society and spent many a happy evening learning how to handle him after school and during the holidays.

    There was no way he was going to be a champ but he grew into a fantastic alrounder. He would sit all day in a hide with me whilst decoying, loved crouching in a drain during an evening flight for a duck, very happy to work a hedgrow for a pheasant or rabbit, loved water in all it's forms other than waves on the beach, a great dog to take out lamping for rabbits or a quite mooch about.

    I have no idea how many hours he spent with me but there were not many I regreted.

    Is he grew older he slowed down but the meerest glimpse of a gun and he became 110% animated. He lived to shoot.

    I went away to university and wished he could come with me but it was not to be but I went home as often as I could. Uncannily he always knew it was me when I went home and was waiting for me at the back door.

    He suffered a major accident, run over by some person who was speeding around the lanes by the farm house whilst I was away at uni. Dad found him 3 days later thown in a ditch by the side of the road, it was July and he was very dehydrated, on deaths door.

    My uncle was a vet and he worked on him for a good few hours, literally 100's of stiches, stainless steel leg pins, skull plates and weeks in care but he came though. He suffered from arthritis in is last few year but that tail never ceased to wag......

    The old chap was never able to work again, his rear left leg lost most of its power meaning he struggled jump more than a foot. He would come out with me for a gentle walk about but could not doo a full days decoting or beating.

    I then met my wife to be at the time, my old lad fell in love with her and made a bee line for her when ever she came to visit. It was her knee he would rest his chin on at the dinner table.

    When we got married my wife gave me the most amazing wedding present, a portrait of Sport (for that was his name, Sport of Crablake) with my parents farm house in the back ground. The picture is hung pride of place in our current house.

    It is based on him in his later years but the look is perfect, the way he used his eyes melted many a heart. His old collar is hung no more than 18" from where I am typing this and I know there are great great grand pups of his working to this day.

    It is some years since he graced my life, he was a frustrating so and so at times but I still miss him!

    I do regret I have so few photos of the old chap but he lives on in my heart. His memory though has a down side for me, he will always be hard to follow.

    I am sure we all have our old friends no longer with us, funny how the work their into our memories and pop up from time to time....


  2. #2
    What a fantastic story Sanders. I've got a lump in my throat the size of an Ostrich egg!

    I lost my red Lurcher 'Poppy' to cancer, Christmas last year and I still find myself calling her name when I call the other dogs for a walk or their meals. I cried like a wounded bear when she died. I have so many great memories though.

    My favourite being the day she saw an elderly Sikh gentleman in the park. He was wearing a bright red turban. Poppy ran at him and knocked him flat! She then pulled off his turban and ran around the park with it in her mouth, occasionally flinging it in the air as it unravelled. I tried to apologise but I was p1ssing myself laughing so much that it seemed abit insincere.

  3. #3
    blimey sanders that is some story my friend
    and something i can relate to as my user name is based on my old english springer stone
    although stone is still with me at the ripe old age of twelve and going death and starting to loose all his marbles he still enjoys a half day beating or picking up , and lives for the gun no matter who is carrying it
    i was there at his birth and at seven weeks old was given to me by the gundog breeder/trainer as my birthday present since then the breeder has passed away and slowly is his affix
    ,he is a whitlocks dog
    having worked for the breeder for many a year there is a lot of sentimental history of my life that stone is a part of, being one of the best springers i hav ever owned and trained with many hours put in to acheive this when he goes so will a large part of my life

  4. #4
    Well Jerry, you bought a tear to my eye!
    Anyone who has owned a springer will know exactly what you mean. I have a Liver and White Dog who is coming up for 4 and full of it. I was always a lab man but now I have a springer, I would not go back. They are great dogs and keen as mustard.
    Nice memories to have mate.

  5. #5
    Thank you for sharing a very personal memory with us all Jerry. As hard as we all think we are as grown men, it is always very hard when you loose an old companion. And although most say never again, some how or other we end up getting another dog, although we always remember the moments we shared with the previous.

    What a wonderfull gift from your wife for you, well done to her as well. Will catch up with you soon on that stalking promise.

  6. #6
    150 years ago (well at least it feels like it ) I watched a TV program with Hugh Falkus and it changed my life I think. He was walking through some fields towards a favourite fishing spot followed by two faithful happy labs. Apparently he would always have two. An old one and then a younger one to learn from the old master and take his place as and when the time came. Eventually the walk came to an end and whilst leaning on his thumbstick he recounted the story of a ‘friend’ long since gone, that had been very poorly and whom the vet had recommended to be put down. Instead of leaving the dog with the vet he took him out for a last walk to the spot on the river bank where they had spent many happy hours together, and put him down himself. He dug a hole, wrapped the dog in his old barbour, put him in the hole and placed a heavy slab over him. He regularly visited that spot and was able to re-live many exploits with an old and valued friend. I watched this program thirty odd years ago. I saw it once and I cried as I watched it and listened to the emotion that can only possibly occur when you share something very special.
    Not too long after seeing the program I went to university and bought my first black lab dog. We lived in a caravan to start with until we got thrown out because of the mess he was making. He came to lectures and tutorials, he was very popular with the girls and became a lifelong friend.

    I shall bore you with just one story. We were out at a friend’s dairy farm one evening when he scented a partridge. The bird took off and flew straight over a slurry pit. My dog threw himself off of the side of the pit in an effort to catch the bird in mid air and only succeeded in plummeting through the crust on the surface of the slurry. I saw the dog jump off of the top of the pit, but the rest was unsighted. I legged it to the pit as fast as I could to see him with his front paws on the surface with the rest submerged and scrabbling like mad to get out. Obviously he had nothing to get any purchase on, so was going nowhere. He was probably four feet from the side and I knew that he had no chance. I sat and watched him drown, or I shot him. Climbing on to the surface was just not a possibility. So I did the stupid thing. Putting the gun down I clambered on to the surface, inched over to him and dragged him out. Just as we were getting to the bank my leg went through. Fortunately I had a hand hold of some grass so was able to pull myself up the bank, smelly, in shock, but happy.

    He is now wrapped in one of my old shooting jackets with a huge stone to mark where he lies.

    I think about him often and will never forget him.

  7. #7
    I have had dogs all my life, long as I can remember. I cry like a baby every time I lose one and always swear that the current dog(s) will be the last, of course they never are. I always adopted the Faulkus method and had young dogs to fill in immediately a sit were, and lessen the loss. My current pair, springer collie crosses that we took on as an act of mercy and turned out to be excellent gun dogs, are 12 years old and feel it! When they were young and fit and I was younger and fitter, virtually every day they were out for ducks, geese, rabbits, peasants all types of game. Over time the harsh Highland climate has wreaked havoc on them and there joints are stiff, they are deaf from too much gun fire, but they are as game as ever and the sight of a gun turns them into pup's all over again.

    However my wife has decreed that we are really to have a dogless time, only for a while, apparently we have places to go and people to see. So I know that in the near future I have heartache and dehydration to look forward to, until the next time that is. Why do we put ourselves through this? the pain and the loss is very real just like losing a family member, worse if truth be told I like my dogs a lot better than a lot of family. I think the answer is that the love, loyalty, companionship and pure pleasure that we derive from their company whilst we enjoy our outdoor pursuits, outweighs any loss and upset that we, not the dog, feel.


  8. #8
    My old friend was called Sam, a black and white springer, I bought him from a local keeper from an ad in the Derbyshire Times.
    I went to look at the litter and he was sat scratching himself at the back of the bunch looked up at me pushed his way across to where I stood looked up and nudged me.
    I called my girlfriend and begged her to let me have him she reluctantly agreed, as she had never had dogs before, but she wasn't sure we could keep him at her aunts house qwhere we were living.
    So on the way home I took a speculative detour him to show my mum and dad on the way home hoping maybe he would melt the old dragons heart and he could stay at their place, everyone was glaring at me as it had been very firmly and unilaterally agreed there were to be no more dogs after our last one had pasted away.
    During the pleadings Sam jumped out of the box he was in pee'ed on my mums persian carpet and we were both shown the door and told he had to go!!
    However as luck would have it he didn't piss on the aunts carpet she did the falling in love with the puppy thing and were no longer homeless, were were going shooting a few weeks later and he travelled faultlessy all the way to Scotland in our little fiesta sat in the back window watching the traffic, after that we couldn't keep him out of a car he would sit for hours in my Landy just on the off chance we would go for a ride somewhere, we went everyewhere together until I lost him to illness several years ago..
    I was inconsolable he had turned out to be one of the once in a lifetime dogs.
    I have two of his pups I love dearly, but they just aren't Samdog.
    He would open any door, fetching the sunday papers was one of his best tricks, if we had an unsuspecting audience, I would look at him and he seemed to know what was afoot, I'd tell him get the papers [when the lad dared to stuff the paper through the letterbox his fingers did not hang around long or they would be ] Sam would bring me the sunday broadsheet, I would look at him crossly, tell him no not that one bring the "comic" (news of the world my girlfriends aunty insisted on buying, and still does, some thing never change)
    He would look up at he spit out the big paper trot into the hallway grumbling to himself, and bring me back said comic.. and sit wa\iting for his bonio reward
    He was mad as a hatter no thorn bush, regardless of how thick, was going to stop him getting a runner, in he flew feathers would fly and out the otherside came spaniel nose full of thorns, bird in mouth loking very pleased with himself.
    Best friend I ever had

  9. #9
    My old Springer died 2 years ago and he still follows me everywhere I go.

    He was a large-framed liver&white - and a handsome dog! Can a dog have charisma - he did!

    I got him at 8 weeks, and was determined that he was going to be "my dog". Took him everywhere. To the lavatory. To the office. I travelled a great deal in the UK and in his puppy days, he was on my lap in the car.

    When he was 6 months, I began his formal training. By 15 months we went shooting together. The lad was a natural! Except on 'cock - no idea why - but they were food, not a retrieve.

    Having recognised this as a possible problem (!) we went back to school and when he was 18 months, I felt confident enough to take him back to the shoot (DIY, drive/walk, biggest (not best ) day ever, 86 head including 17 various) and he did not disgrace himself on 5 difficult 'cock retrieves.

    Weston Park - Gundog Scurry - don't do that much, but he was GOOD!

    We came 146th out of 155 and the last 8 were poodles - ***k competitions!

    We had a wonderful life together for 12 years more until I had to retire him for his own good. He became a family pet and went through all the indignities of being dressed up by grandaughters ets - he loved it!

    Sadly, a couple of years more led to olddogitis and we had to go to the vet together for the last time.

    Had to carry the old boy in and needed to stay for the final moments.

    You know the funny thing? When I found him (or he found me) I named him Mac.

    I am Scottish, and Mac means "son of" - and we all know that a
    dog is a SOB.

    Worst name for a dog I ever inflicted. He was a cracker.

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