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Love of Gundog Trials Ain't What It Used to Be

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December 22, 2010

Love of Gundog Trials Ain't What It Used to Be

By Chad Love

Do you have an interest in the history of international retriever field trials? Do you have $80,000 sitting around? Well then, here's a deal for you...

From this story on scotsman.com:
"Peter of Faskally", a Perthshire estate dog, was feted as one of Scotland's best-performing gundogs in trials at the turn of the 20th century. Owned by Archie Butter, the owner of Faskally Estate near Pitlochry and a well-known Labrador handler, Peter went on to father 32 field trial champions. The painting, which features another of Mr Butter's Labradors, Dungavel Jet, and is coming up for auction at Bonhams, is by Maud Earl, a British-American artist who was best-known for her paintings of well-known canines. Ms Earl, who famously counted Queen Victoria and Queen Alexandra among her patrons, was born in London, but emigrated to New York in 1916 and died there in 1943.

The painting, which is expected to sell for between $60,000 and $80,000, is set to be one of the star attractions at the Bonhams sale Dogs in Show and Field, which is being held at its New York auction house on 16 February. It is also going on display, along with other highlights from the exhibition, at Bonhams' flagship London showroom for four days next month.

A spokeswoman for Bonhams said: "The Butters were very adept gundog trainers and in the decade running up to the First World War Labrador retrievers owned and trained by the couple appeared consistently on gundog trial leader-boards. "In 1910 Peter of Faskally was the only retriever to win two open stakes in one season and in 1911 was the first champion to compete in an entry composed entirely of Labradors.

"His studwork left a significant legacy - no fewer than 32 of his progeny won or were placed in stakes during the following decade and he is known to be the original bloodline for all present day chocolate Labradors." Rave reviews of Peter's performances gripped the nation in the run-up to the First World War, with reports appearing in newspapers including The Scotsman.

Laura Turnbull, an expert at Bonhams, said: "We are extremely excited to be offering such an important work this coming year. "Impressive in both size and content, this painting encapsulates all that is exceptional about Maud Earl. An inherent understanding of her subject is combined with a grandeur that befits such an important dog."

The painting is a fascinating bit of retriever history for someone with deep enough pockets to afford it, but what I find really interesting about the story is the paragraph describing Peter's widespread popularity among the general public. It points out just how popular gundog trials (both the pointy and fetchy kind) used to be.

James Lamb Free's classic "Training Your Retriever" (1949) even has a section in one of its chapters entitled "Etiquette for the Spectator." But as interest in watching and following competitive gundog trials has waned—even among the ranks of modern hunters who apparently prefer more television-friendly, antler-centric outdoor fare—the spectator galleries at field trials have disappeared. Which is a shame, because there's nothing more exciting than watching a well-trained gundog and handler work together.

If you've never attended a field trial or hunt test, do yourself a favor and seek one out this spring. There's a competitive venue and organization for virtually every breed and style of hunting out there, from retrievers and pointers to flushers, versatile dogs and hounds.

And who knows, maybe one day when a commissioned painting of some famous future FC goes on the block at Sotheby's or Christies, you probably won’t be able to afford it, but you can at least tell your grandkids, "I saw that dog run way-back-when."

Comments (3)

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from Charlie Nichols wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

I love watching gun dogs work but like Chad states, antler centric (I like that) seems to be the only thing folks want to watch. Fine by me....I would rather be out hunting upland birds with wife and dog than any other sport. Second place is turkey hunting. i attribute the lack of upland enthusiast to the lack of good upland habitat and that came about from the environmentalist ending the cutting of timber on our public lands. Heck a lot of the states don't even have a small game biologist anymore. Sad that gun dogs are not enjoyed by more because if you get a kid behind a dog hunting, whether rabbits, squirrels or birds...you get a kid that will love to hunt. Sitting in a stand or over a bait pile won't keep a youngster entertained for long. Following a dog that is working that nose....sends shivers up me spine!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Charlie Nichols wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

blackdawgz I got to agree with you. There has to be a lot of politics in trialing. I have watched field trials on television but wouldn't want to hunt grouse in WV with one of them "dawgz" that runs harder than a quarter horse. I like a close hunting dog myself here in our woods and meadows.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tobycornholessheep wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Toby Bridges is an idiot, encouraging people to illegally posion wolves with xylitol. Peoples dogs and other rare animals will be killed because of this moron.
XYLITOL IS TOXIC TO OTHER ANIMALS BESIDES WOLVES!

http://www.wkyc.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=88329&provider=gnews

Artificial sweetener kills all canines, not just wolves
Sunday, December 12 2010 @ 01:14 PM MST
by Toby Bridges
" many hunters are now making sure they have a plastic baggie with a healthy dose of the sweetener whenever they head out for big game. And if they are successful, they are leaving many very sweet gut piles behind. Likewise, if they happen upon a wolf-killed elk or deer carcass, they are also dousing those down with Xylitol as well. And this has had the environmentalists in an uproar. So much so, that when the LOBO WATCH website shared this news, these groups went overboard to try getting the site shut down for good...but it didn't work. Their accusations, blogs, petitions, threats, and public comments just brought more attention to the LOBO WATCH efforts to keep the spotlight burning on the wolf issue - and to bring in more followers."

"While Xylitol is safe for humans, it can be harmful to dogs. The compound doesn't affect glucose levels in people, but when ingested by dogs it can cause a dangerous surge of insulin. (In as little as 15 minutes, the blood sugar of a dog that has eaten gum containing Xylitol may register a marked drop in blood sugar.) At higher doses, Xylitol is believed toxic to the canine liver."

SOME BACKGROUND ON TOBY:

http://wolves.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/toby-bridges-again-busy-talking-a...

http://www.tonydean.com/issues2a72e.html?sectionid=8993

http://howlcolorado.org/2010/06/07/anti-wolf-web-site-proposes-illegal-p...

http://randywakeman.com/HowToBlowUpASavage10ML.htm

http://www.nchuntandfish.com/forums/showthread.php?p=351363

http://nebraskanews.blogspot.com/2006/09/lets-just-eliminate-primitive-f...

http://shootersforum.com/showthread.htm?t=33197

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from Charlie Nichols wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

blackdawgz I got to agree with you. There has to be a lot of politics in trialing. I have watched field trials on television but wouldn't want to hunt grouse in WV with one of them "dawgz" that runs harder than a quarter horse. I like a close hunting dog myself here in our woods and meadows.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Charlie Nichols wrote 3 years 16 weeks ago

I love watching gun dogs work but like Chad states, antler centric (I like that) seems to be the only thing folks want to watch. Fine by me....I would rather be out hunting upland birds with wife and dog than any other sport. Second place is turkey hunting. i attribute the lack of upland enthusiast to the lack of good upland habitat and that came about from the environmentalist ending the cutting of timber on our public lands. Heck a lot of the states don't even have a small game biologist anymore. Sad that gun dogs are not enjoyed by more because if you get a kid behind a dog hunting, whether rabbits, squirrels or birds...you get a kid that will love to hunt. Sitting in a stand or over a bait pile won't keep a youngster entertained for long. Following a dog that is working that nose....sends shivers up me spine!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tobycornholessheep wrote 3 years 15 weeks ago

Toby Bridges is an idiot, encouraging people to illegally posion wolves with xylitol. Peoples dogs and other rare animals will be killed because of this moron.
XYLITOL IS TOXIC TO OTHER ANIMALS BESIDES WOLVES!

http://www.wkyc.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=88329&provider=gnews

Artificial sweetener kills all canines, not just wolves
Sunday, December 12 2010 @ 01:14 PM MST
by Toby Bridges
" many hunters are now making sure they have a plastic baggie with a healthy dose of the sweetener whenever they head out for big game. And if they are successful, they are leaving many very sweet gut piles behind. Likewise, if they happen upon a wolf-killed elk or deer carcass, they are also dousing those down with Xylitol as well. And this has had the environmentalists in an uproar. So much so, that when the LOBO WATCH website shared this news, these groups went overboard to try getting the site shut down for good...but it didn't work. Their accusations, blogs, petitions, threats, and public comments just brought more attention to the LOBO WATCH efforts to keep the spotlight burning on the wolf issue - and to bring in more followers."

"While Xylitol is safe for humans, it can be harmful to dogs. The compound doesn't affect glucose levels in people, but when ingested by dogs it can cause a dangerous surge of insulin. (In as little as 15 minutes, the blood sugar of a dog that has eaten gum containing Xylitol may register a marked drop in blood sugar.) At higher doses, Xylitol is believed toxic to the canine liver."

SOME BACKGROUND ON TOBY:

http://wolves.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/toby-bridges-again-busy-talking-a...

http://www.tonydean.com/issues2a72e.html?sectionid=8993

http://howlcolorado.org/2010/06/07/anti-wolf-web-site-proposes-illegal-p...

http://randywakeman.com/HowToBlowUpASavage10ML.htm

http://www.nchuntandfish.com/forums/showthread.php?p=351363

http://nebraskanews.blogspot.com/2006/09/lets-just-eliminate-primitive-f...

http://shootersforum.com/showthread.htm?t=33197

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