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....