National Geographic : 1937 Jan
FIELD DOGS IN ACTION The sight of a good retriever in action is a splendid example of teamwork between man and animal. A charge of shot has dropped a big drake out of a leaden sky and it floats on the dark water, almost out of sight. "Fetch!" says the duck shooter to the dull-colored dog which has been lying for hours beside the blind, and the retriever leaps to obey (page 84). Since his head is almost level with the water, he cannot see the distant duck, so he takes directions from his master on the bank, who signals with waves of his hand left, right, ahead, back. They thoroughly understand one another. Sometimes, to guide the dog, the man throws a stone as near as possible to the fallen bird. As he nears the spot the retriever's eyes and nose are busy, and in the dark he picks up the scent which actually floats on the water. If the duck has been wounded and is swimming away, off he goes on that watery trail, until at last he overtakes it among the reeds. But the capture is not a scene of tragedy. Almost as gently as a mother carries her babe, he bears the bird back to his waiting master. A "hard mouth" is one of the deadly sins. English Setter The English Setter is looked upon as one of the world's most beautiful purebred dogs, but its beauty is much more than skin-deep. From the finely chiseled head to the tip of the "feathered" tail, every line reflects grace and intelligence. Its gentle dignity bears witness to a lovable disposition and aristocratic lineage (Plate I and pages 87 and 107). For hundreds of years such dogs have been valuable hunting companions of men. Long before the time of the shotgun, the ancestors of our modern English Setters were locating game birds for hunters equipped with nets. The dogs were taught to approach quietly and then to "set"-sit or crouch-while the net was dropped over the birds. Later they were trained to "point" in an upright pose as they do today. A born hunter, the English Setter is used by sportsmen all over the world as a de pendable shooting dog under all conditions of terrain and climate, though in very hot climes a shorter-coated dog might be pre ferred. In bird-dog field trials the English Setters are always among the most numer ous and popular of entrants. Two men were chiefly instrumental in bringing the English Setter to the height of its beauty and shooting-dog worth. One was Edward Laverack, an Englishman who died in 1877. The other was his friend, R. L. Purcell-Llewellin, of Tregwynt, Pem brokeshire, southwestern Wales, who made outcrosses of other English Setter strains with those of Laverack. Broadly speaking, the pure Laverack type is preferred for the exhibition judg ing ring, while the lighter-built and racier Llewellin is looked upon as having more speed in the field, where fast-goers are favored. For show purposes the male English Setter should be about 23 to 25 inches in height at the shoulder and weigh from 55 to 70 pounds; females less. The body ground color is white with markings of black, lemon, liver, or tricolor (black, white, and tan) distributed in flecks. For show purposes, heavy markings are not considered desirable. Irish Red Setter This handsome, dashing Irishman is wholly red, a rich shade that may be likened to that of the ripe chestnut fresh from the bur (Plate I and opposite page). At shows in the United States and the British Isles, many of the leading Irish Setters are exhibited by women, who ap parently are attracted by the richness and the shining glory of this dog's coat. The Irish Setter is usually a higher dog at the shoulder than the English Setter or its Scottish relative, the Gordon Setter (Plates I and II). Slim and fast, the Irish is longer in leg and has the sloping shoul ders of the thoroughbred race horse. As Irish Setters are high-strung and often temperamental, they develop more slowly and require more patient training than do some of the other breeds. Never theless, they are natural-born field dogs and are found wherever the shotgun is carried. Of old, they were known as "red spaniels," or in Gaelic as madradh ruadh (red dog). One of the leading dogs of the present day is an Irish Setter. Time and again he has won in the best-in-show division at the foremost events in America. When pa raded at Madison Square Garden, New York, no dog is received with more acclaim by the vast audiences than Champion Mil son O'Boy.