In the next two months some of the finest gun dogs in the country will get together in the field with their handlers and owners and in two climactic title events will bring to a close the 1955 spaniel field trial season. At Amwell Shooting Preserve near Lambertville, N.J. the weekend of November 19-20, the American Spaniel Club will hold its National Cocker Spaniel Championships; and on December 1-4 at the Crab Orchard Wildlife Refuge, near Herrin, Ill., a phenomenal dog called Ludlovian Bruce of Greenfair, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph C. Quirk of Greenwich, Conn, and handled by Larry MacQueen, will defend his title in the National Springer Spaniel Championships.
Sparkling performances in the spring events had promised a good season with stout competition in the fall trials, and this prediction has been fully realized. One of the best trials in recent months was the springer spaniel open all-age stake of the Cocker Spaniel Club of Long Island (September 24-25), where field competitions for both cocker spaniels and English springer spaniels were held.
A CLOSELY CONTESTED FINISH
In a closely contested finish in the springer trial, Ludlovian Bruce of Greenfair came through with a performance which carried the day. As a large gallery of field trial enthusiasts watched the final heat in silence, this eager white-and-liver-colored English springer increased the tempo of his slashing pace and wheeled into the rough cover to his right. Ahead of him a big cock pheasant flared from the thick bramble cover with a loud squawk and an explosive roar of wings and streaked for the safety of the woods line ahead.
The dog stopped instantly, dropping to his haunches, and sat marking the game bird's flight, every muscle aquiver with intense eagerness. "Ride it out," signaled the judge, and the gunner held his fire in recognition of the request for a "long fall." At the crack of the gun, the pen-raised bird crumpled and slanted down into the high cover which bordered the woods, foretelling the difficult retrieving task for which the judge had hoped.
Out in the cover some 20 yards in front of his handler the spaniel still sat steady, restrained only by the memory of his training and indicating his impatience by an occasional backward look. The judge was testing the dog's gun manners under pressure. After an interval he signaled the handler to "send him," and at the voiced command to "fetch," the dog was off and back at a gallop in a few minutes with the downed bird delivered tenderly to hand.
It was an example of spaniel field work at its best: a hard-paced ground-covering heat, with the course properly quartered, a proof of fine scenting ability, willing handling response, perfect steadiness to wing and shot and a difficult retrieve properly executed. International Field Trial Champion Ludlovian Bruce of Greenfair had added another first place silver bowl to his owners' well-filled trophy case.
It was not an easy win for Bruce over the rough courses on the magnificent estate of Marshall Field at Lloyd's Neck. He was pressed hard throughout, and the judges, Mr. Robert Moulton of Norristown, Pa. and the writer were forced to hold a third series, in addition to a water test, to settle the issue.
A number of new imports from England have recently appeared on the scene, and springer spaniel competition is growing stronger each year. In fact, the three dogs that were placed below Bruce are all imported contenders. Ludlovian Scamp of Greenfair, kennelmate of the winner, placed second; Saighton's Samson, owned by Robert McLean of Philadelphia and handled by the well-known trainer Arthur R. Eakin of Carversville, Pa., was third; and fourth place went to Rivington Countryman, owned by Dr. and Mrs. Samuel Milbank of New York and Fisher's Island, N.Y. and piloted by the doctor, who has long been recognized as one of the top amateur handlers in the country.
ENGLISH IMPORTS DOMINATE