Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The Cover Girl
The cover of the October, 1986 issue of Sports Afield.
The pictured bitch is "Springset Not Tonight", Molly, the dam of my beloved Duncan, and other great Gordons that went on to do great things... for their lucky owners, and the Field side of the Gordon Setter breed in general..
At the time, these litters were known as Super Gordons, and Super they were..
The family resemblance is striking, as I have pictures of Duncan that are the spitting image of this cover shot.
Duncan was my first "Field Gordon." Back in the mid 1980's and before, we were fooling around with the best stock we could find, which admittedly, left something to be desired.. But these dogs with the old reliable pedigrees containing Sun-Yak, Loch-Adair, and Windy Hills were the foundations of the best the breed had to offer, and even show up in the pedigrees of the once famed Super Gordons.. The dogs that continue to confound and mesmerize todays field breeders with their abilities.
Duncan was a truly great dog in spite of all the mistakes I made bringing him along.. We learned together.. I can still see him as a months old pup who wouldn't get out from under my feet.. I remember thinking to myself that this dog was never gonna' make it... Not bold enough.. Didn't have what it takes! He went on to show me how little I really knew! And for ten years, he made me eat my words.. And I was only too glad to do so.
I did alot of gunning over him.. Often alone, sometimes with a friend, and occasionally guiding for others. That little Gordon never failed to produce birds for the gun! He'd always manage to dig out a bird to save myself or a guest from getting skunked.. I still sometimes come across people that knew him in the field and ask about him, he seemed to make an impression on everyone.
But, he was much more than a gundog to me. He was a constant companion, and best friend. I knew his every movement, and what it meant. I could read his mind, and he mine!
I remember when we were first building the camp in the Adirondacks. He and I would go up for a little hunting, and a little work on the camp.. He usually hung around camp until I was ready to go... unusual for a very birdy gundog. But he was keenly aware that there would be no birds on the ground without myself and the gun tagging along behind him..
We were up for maybe two weeks... the inside of the camp was unfinished. I had a sleeping bag, and he had a bed.. A ladder to get up into the loft..
My wife came up with her family a couple of days before we left, and remarked on how dirty and tired we both looked.. but we didn't feel it. We were both in our element, and we were together, and that's all that mattered!
It's been a long time since I lost my friend to grand mal cluster siezures, and his ashes are buried near the camp under the shade of a tree... the dream that he helped bring to fruition now completed.. and him never to feel the comforts of it.
But, we gave 'em hell while he was alive!
I always opined that God played a cruel joke on man by giving the gunner 60 to 70 years to chase birds, and the friend and companion he needs the most in his endeavors, only ten.. I'll never figure that logic as long as I live, because I would have been perfectly content to finish out my gunning days with that one little dog...
I'll never forget him, and I hope that when we meet up again, he hasn't forgotten me.. I still think of him every day of my life. My only hope is that the premise on which Corey Ford's Road to Tinkhamtown, is based, is correct, and that when I reach that old bridge by the apple tree, Duncan will be on the other side, frozen on point with a wily old grouse pinned...
"Steady Boy, I'm coming...."