SPANIEL HISTORY ( part 7)
By Eudore Chevrier (1886-1982)
Father of North American Springers
I am not an advocate of wild spaniels. Obedience is important and we all desire dogs that handle well and that respond promptly to the handler’s commands. But if I were judging trials, I would certainly enthuse over a dog with the hunting heart and with that burning desire to find game, which invariably makes the truly “Greats” among field-trial winning Springers. This invincible quality, coupled with style, keen nose, the natural bird-finding instinct, fast tender retrieving and reasonable obedience is surely the mark of the champion. I would place such a dog far above some mediocre hunter, who might have turned a flawless performance. A disproportionate amount of credit is given to a dog that simply looks for and follows his handler’s directions like an automaton.
Field Trials were instituted to bring forth great natural hunters and retrievers capable of breeding into future generations of Springers their much-to-be desired qualities.
THE SHOW SIDE
All these years the show side of the Avandale Kennels was very busy in breeding and making inumerable Show Winners and Champions. This I left pretty well to my very able Show Handler, George Kynoch. I now give him full credit for the skillfull way in which he built up an unbeatable line of black and white Champions. Of course, we conferred continuously about the breeding plans and discussed individuals by the hour. But I always let George have his own way in the breeding of the show dogs, for he had bred hundreds of Show Champions of all breeds in his long life of show business. I always told him that shows were a painful necessity and were only a means for an end. The end being the popularizing of the Springer breed in America, an objective I had set out to attain in 1914. I swore that if I ever had to choose between my show dogs and my hunting dogs, the show dogs would have to go. For I was first, last and all the time a hunting man. However, I did enjoy all the show honours one man could win, with one breed of dogs!!
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN 1925
I can look back with pride at what Avandales did in 1925 at New York, Newark and New Haven, as George and I did the three shows in one week. We took away 66 Prizes in the Springer Classes. In some classes we won first, second, third, fourth and fifth, if such a thing as fifth is placed. For that is the way the Judge placed them, when the other competitors were dismissed from the ring.
By this time I had the greatest Springer bitch that was ever shown, in International Champion Marvel of Avandale, bred by me and thereby hangs another tale. I had bred the imported dam to Powder-Horn and sent her off to a farm in Stonewall, Manitoba to rear her litter. I spotted that grand bitch as a puppy, when she was less than three months old. I took one look at her, immature as she was, and whistled loudly. She was the grandest Springer I had ever seen, and still a puppy.
INTERNATIONAL CHAMPION MARVEL OF AVANDALE
Not long after that she was shown against her Sire, in a Winnipeg show judged by the late and dear old Charley Hopton and he placed her Best of Breed and predicted a wonderful career for her. He was correct in his prophesy, as she went on to win “Best in Show” twenty-five times, in some of the biggest shows in America, including Toronto Exhibition and Chicago, both with over 1200 dogs entered. She was shown all over America. She was a masculine sort of bitch, weighing 53 pounds, but so beautiful in outline, that when George Kynoch posed her and held only the tip of her tail, she would stand there like a statue, attracting the admiration of every one.
Sheila (her kennel name) was more white than liver and had some tan markings on her jaws. She had a most beautifully chiseled head and a muzzle that was absolutely superlative. She had bone and substance, with a spring of rib I had not seen since Springbok. Her outline was classical, perfectly proportioned in every way. Even at seven years of age, when other spaniels have been long in the discard, Sheila was still winning and being admired by all. And that was after having had many big litters. When Sheila was about seven years old, I paid a very fine sculptress, Billee Lang by name, to make a head study of Sheila and she posed daily for Miss Lang in her studio, sitting up on a chair like a model.
The next time, I sent George Kynoch alone to New York. It was in 1927 and he had Marvel and a grand male in the International Champion L’ile Messenger Boy. Suffice to say that they won “Best Dog” and “Best Bitch” and “Best Brace” and “Best of Breed” (won by Messenger Bay over Marvel). No man can ask for more. I have lost count of the ribbons, cups and prizes won by my Springers over the years, but it was over eight thousand when I stopped counting them!! Silver Cups by the hundreds. Champions by the dozen.
THE GREAT SIRE IMPORTED AND TRIPLE INTERNATIONAL CHAMPION
– L’ILE MESSENGER BOY
When my dear old friend David McDonald, of Dundee, whose L’ile Kennels were world-famous and who sent me some of my very best Springers and top Labradors, wrote to me to say that he had a great young stud dog for me. I knew the puppy had to be a good one because Dave McDonald, in my opinion, was the best Judge of Sporting Dogs in Great Britain. His opinion of a dog proved sound and correct, a great many times, in my deals with him. I cabled that I would buy this black, white and ticked son of Flint. I left him in Great Britain, where he was piloted to his Show Championship in the able hands of Mr. H.S. Lloyd. When Messenger Boy arrived in Winnipeg, I was thrilled at the sight of him! He was a strikingly beautiful dog and combined size with quality.
He had a well-proportioned body, grand front and legs, superb hind-quarters and a reachy neck, with a most beautiful head. A deep, square muzzle pronounced stop, dark eyes and a placid and friendly expression. No wonder that my astute show handler, George Kynoch jumped with joy as he went over the dog. “Mister”, he said, “this dog will win anywhere!!” And he surely did, as the redoubtable George quickly made him a Champion in Canada and in the U.S.A. thus making him a Triple International Champion.
In 1927 at Madison Square Garden, he won “Best Brace” with my Int. Ch. Marvel of Avandale and “Best Springer” in show. He won “Best Springer” and also “Best in Show, All Breeds” at many other big shows. As a sire he produced dozens of winners and many Champions. His line carried on for many generations of black and white Champions and producing Sires, through one son Int. Ch. Adonis of Avandale, sire of Ch. Aristocrat of Avandale, who in turn sired Irvine of Avandale, sire of Int. Ch. Dunoon Donald Dhu, sire of Ch. Rodrique of Sandblown Acre and you all know how many winning sons and progeny descend from that great sire!!
Another son of Messenger Boy who made history, was Errand Boy of Avandale, whose dam was the great Marvel of Avandale. He sired many winners and the line also carried on the many winning generations. So that Messenger Boy left an indelible impression on the Springer breed in America. He stood twenty and a half inches at the shoulder and weighed fifty eight pounds. He was a first-rate shooting dog and his stock proved to be the same.
Whatever the purpose, the true sportsman and hunter will find the greatest pleasure and satisfaction when working with my favourite breed, – the English Springer Spaniel.
This is the last of the series of 7 articles by Eudore Chevrier (1886-1982) we started in our Fall, 1988 issue. All were from original Chevrier writings and were condensed and edited by John Eadie. We hope you have enjoyed them. We plan to continue “Spaniel History” in future issues and will be drawing primarily from old “Springer Bark” articles.