Sunday, June 18, 2017

Introducing Toby

Outside of a newborn baby, nothing can excite (and disrupt) a household more than a new puppy. After a year of researching Ryman setter breeders, getting on a waiting list and a long flight home to Montana with a whining pup under the seat, Toby the English Setter is home.

Perhaps more than any other, there is a lot of variation in the breed. Why the classic Ryman variety, vs. the more available Llewellyn and field trial stock? Mostly range and speed.  Having had both the 40 pound firecrackers and the 65 pound plodders, I have seen the trend with the small-frame,  big-running dogs running faster and wider. My preference is for an all-day hunting dog, not a 60-minute field-trial sprinter. On many blue grouse and chukar climbs, you leave the car at 8AM and return at dark.

Yes, training can dictate a lot when it comes to range and biddability. But, you can't make a race horse out of a plow horse. Genes are a big part of it.  If I only hunted Huns on the prairie, I wouldn't mind a pointing dog 800+ yards and occasionally out of sight.  But, when you also hunt ruffed grouse in the Midwest and blue grouse in the high country, a compromise is needed. Since the 80s, my Dad and I have had a variety of setters, mostly good, with a couple of stinkers in the mix.  All of this is good bar discussion and comes down to personal preference.  Just don't get me started on the Cover Dog moniker. Don't we all want a cover dog?

Back to Toby.  Toby comes from well-planned dog genes, a product of Firelight Setters in Kansas and October setters of Idaho.  Both large frame breeders, with beautiful ticking, Toby would look the part in Norman Rockwell or on a George Bird Evens dust jacket.  The fact that both breeders are avid bird hunters, on on wild birds, is an added strength.  Toby will see his share of sharptail this fall.  And, if he develops as expected, he may get a shot at some woodcock and ruffs, Huns, chukar and bobwhite too.

As far as the household being disrupted, a late September baby boy will need to play nice with the setter pup.  To be continued.......