Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nick Sisley on Gordons....

Some may recognize the name from the numerous magazines he's written for to earn a buck. He may or may not have extensive knowledge of many of the subjects on which he expounds.
In the early seventies, Nick Sisley was the bird dog editor for Hunting Dog magazine. He also served as a judge of the Western New York State Regional, held on May 15-16, 1971. He and Stan Chiras were assigned the judging of the Open All Age, Amateur Gun Dog, and Open Gun Dog stakes.
The Open All Age consisted of twenty two starters, including two Gordons. All placements in the stake went to GSPs. Two Gordons placed in the nineteen starter Amateur Gun Dog. They were McKevin's Highland Lady, third, and Page's Janie of Cascades, fourth. In the Open Gun Dog (Gordons), eleven dogs competed. Page's Janie of Cascades placed first, McKevin's Highland Lady, second, Page's Dinan Rogue, third, and Ch. Hacasak Commanche, fourth. Mr. Sisley's report of the trial appeared in the August issue of Hunting Dog magazine. He wrote... " Gordons will never compete successfully with English Setters and Pointers. They couldn't go it in Laverack's day and still can't. Gordons are plagued with displastic hips, additionally they have low tails, dead tails, and softness on point. They are inclined to crouch, even sit or lay down when scent hits them. They lack the drive to find birds, speed to carry them from one objective to another, range to cast out along a distant fencerow, running gate and style." Sisley felt that Gordon folks were still breeding to show dogs in the hopes of getting something for the field. The results, he noted, "will be like shoveling shit against the tide." He concluded his comments with his thoughts that an outcross to English Setter blood would be unquestionably the fastest way to improve the range, speed, style, tail and pointing stance of today's Gordons.

Pretty heady stuff... Very insulting also. But, about what one would expect from a hack working a second rate magazine.
As with alot of folks like Nick Sisley, I have much less problem with what he said, than the way he said it and presented it. It also would have been much more palatable coming from a person within the Gordon fold, who already knew that some of his observations were correct, rather than a print media hack who knows little of the Gordon to begin with.
This was 1971, and a Gordon's performance was nowhere near what a Field Gordon can do today. It was also the first time Sisley had ever judged a Gordon in the field, and hasd little knowledge of the breed. Meanwhile, there were Gordons doing what the high and mighty Mr. Sisley proclaimed they could never achieve.
Belmor's Bob White, a Gordon owned by John Littig of Michigan, had just defeated seven other dogs, English Setters included, to win a first place in the Open Derby at the Michigamme English setter Club's trial at Highland, Michigan, on April 11... A week prior to that, Cameron's Lady Pamela (Smith, had placed fourth in the Open Derby in a field of twenty five Pointers and Setters at a trial held by the American Pointer Club, in Medford, New Jersey, on May 4. Similarly, Sangerfield Ebony Knight (Mowbray, placed second on May, 8, in a field of nineteen Setters for the Open Derby win at the Irish Setter Club of Milwaukee's trial in Eagle, Wisconsin. Two weeks later, Belmor's Bob White placed against other All-Breeds in an Open Derby stake at the Irish Setter Club of Minnesota's trial, Prior Lake, Minnesota.

Back around this time, the Gordon was a somewhat warmed over show specimen, but, the tide was starting to turn with the Black & Tans becoming more and more competitive as breeders took up the mantle of the true field dog...

So, the next time you read an article by Nick Sisley, remember, and take what he says with a healthy dose of salt!

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