Christmas 1984 brought a new member to my family. Flapper’s Jakespot was born on November 7, 1984. I first saw him two days later. Spotter was a purebred English springer spaniel. He was without doubt the finest gun dog I ever saw, not because he was my dog, but because he was just that, the best.
When Spot was 6 weeks old, I tossed a small furry Christmas toy for him to chase; he did just that and then to my amazement, he picked it up and returned it to my feet. I tossed it again and again he retrieved it to my feet. Thus his retriever training was basically complete. We worked together over the winter, spring, and summer until September of ’85 when the upland bird season began. The excitement I felt on opening day when my 10 month pup accompanied me on his first real hunt might be analogous to that felt by a four-year old on Christmas eve. Giddy would be understatement. Early on we found some Ruff grouse and a shot from my trusty old “Sweet Sixteen” filled the air with feathers as the bird fell dead. Spotter was fast to the bird and brought it, like the fluffy Christmas toy, back to my feet.
Over the years, many more birds fell to my gun and my dog. Spot was indomitable when it came to flushing pheasants; he was a real pro. He would dive into a cattail patch and flog through the thick, heavy bog until every bird was flushed. His lips and nose oft time would bleed from the work he did. He never quit, he had the biggest heart of any dog I have ever met, and he was my friend, my partner, my pal, always. He left a bit over twenty years ago; I miss him and the heartache I feel has been so strong that getting another dog just wasn’t an option for me.
Now, 31 Christmases later, another springer has arrived under our tree. Archibald MacRhuster was born on November 4th and is now part of our family. We call him “Archie”, although at this time “Pooper” might be more appropriate. He is a bit smaller and a lot more vocal than Spot was at his age. He doesn’t retrieve yet and is really demanding. That happens when one is quite spoiled.
I don’t yet know if Archie will be a bird dog, if he will quarter closely, retrieve with speed, or hunt with the steadfast determination that Spot Doggie had. I do know that he has already given us new Christmas memories that will last for our lifetimes. Archie has stolen my heart, and if he becomes a good gun dog, I’ll consider that just another fine Christmas gift.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, be safe, and good shooting.