Text and photo: Torsti

For some reason I come to think of an old song by Lee Hazelwood, slightly altered here:
"I am not much to look at, nothing to see.
Happy I'm living, lucky to be.
I've got a master, crazy for me.
He's kind of funny that way."

After a long period of death and sorrow, first our dear Foxy died, then my mother, then the young and unfortunate Irish setter bitch Stila, and finally we got the sad message telling that our mentor on gundogs, Clement Walton, also had gone to the ultimate hunting grounds, I lost my driving force to continue to write for our website. To put it a bit dramatic you could say that dark clouds covered my sky for a long period.

However, when the sun burns long enough from the sky it will finally burn through even the darkest clouds and make them to disperse, giving place for the light to spread over those who thirst for it. Just a week ago we got some new, fresh life into our house, the English setter puppy with the kennel name Ohlsmyrens SUNSHINE. I do not know if the breeder knew about all the dark things that had happened to us but he could not have given the puppy a better name. He hit the nail on the head, so to say!

Equimark, the saviour of the Norwegian ES

Ohlsmyrens kennel has been successfully breeding ES for a long time and they have been very successful in trials, all the way to winners stake. This particular litter, that Sunshine comes from, is very interesting for us for a particular reason, namely a dog in the pedigree that was imported from the USA, the Equimark.

Equimark, the son of the 4 times American champion Tomoka, from the Smith kennel in Georgia, was our late Foxy's mother's grandfather. He was extensively used to improve the Norwegian ES and his sperm was frozen and used long after his death. He was an influential male that really inherited his characteristics to his progeny. A proof of this ability was Foxy and her mother Skedoms Can-Can. Equimark pointed in the American way with the tail straight up towards the clouds, in his case even more than that. Can-Can held her tail in an 45 degree angle and Foxy pointed with a 20 - 30 degree tail whilst Scandinavian dogs, without any American influence often point with the tail straight out horizontally or sometimes even below the back line.

As many of you readers might remember we admired Foxy's strong, bold and courageous mentality, as well as her outstanding stamina and prey drive (="game sharpness" in some places of the world). Now we have Equimark in 3 places in Sunshine's pedigree and in addition there is another bold dog, the Norwegian Finnvellen's Cherokee, which has given outstanding litters. Then there are a couple of Ekebäck dogs, the very old and influential kennel that is known for being the trend setting kennel for the Swedish ES, as well as for the contribution to the modern way of training them. Although genes fade away by time, they will give Sunshine a touch of history and class. I shall remember that when she in the future rolls around in some rotten, smelly stuff she finds on the field...

This is only my personal opinion, but I honestly think that very young puppies are a bit of a bore to photograph. They still lack any pronounced facial expression and the picture is seldom self-explaining. However, they have a body language to communicate with and if caught at the right moment you could get a picture that has a message of some kind. Here it is obvious that Sunshine has her focus on something interesting.

Briz has always been difficult to flirt with for other dogs and Sunshine is not treated differently. Sometimes she looks at Sunshine like if she was something disgusting that the cat dragged into the house on a cold, misty morning and sometimes she comes to me and really begs me to get rid of the horrible, slimy extra-terrestrial creature that has occupied and poisoned her territory and life. However, a very experienced breeder has comforted us and said that Briz aversion will most likely be gone after a few weeks. Briz do actually have a "spaniel phobia" but when she finds out that Sunshine is of her own kind she might accept her, maybe even like her. Time will tell and until then Sunshine can keep on trying, and perhaps in the end get a better reward for her efforts than the irritated growl from Briz, that she receives now.

Run Sunnie, run! See if you can develop the energy-efficient way of moving, that we in Sweden call "the flowing gallop"! It basically means that all the energy is used to push the dog forward and nothing is wasted to move it up and down.

Sunshine, or Sunnie that we call her, has already learned a few things. She can sit at the door and comes when called. After that there will come a period when she does not come when called, only when she pleases to come. That will be the day...

We will soon introduce her to birds on the field, it will be interesting to see her reaction and if she at this age can learn to connect their scent to something exciting. She got a few bangs from the shotgun at a distance today and she showed no fear at all. She will get more of that very often now, until she pays no attention to it at all. Then in the future comes a day when she connects the bang to a falling bird and starts to chase. That will be another headache...

Sunnie is Maud's dog and I may not lie too much if I say that Maud has high expectations on her. Maud is eager to compete in the winners stake now and Sunnie might have the balanced characteristics needed there. For my own part I am interested in how Sunnie develops mentally. So far she has not shown fear for anything and she seems to forget a correction very fast. Courage is the most important characteristic in a dog, if you ask me. Foxy, for ex. was a courageous dog and she never started a fight and had exemplary social competence with friendliness and self-assurance as her primary weapon. Foxy and her equally courageous sisters were not the most ideal of gundogs; they could be very testing with their independent style of hunting. However, for the one who lives with and for their dogs they had some very positive features that at least I like to see in all dogs.

When Maud got the promise from the kennel that she will get the puppy, I again really made an effort to try to find one of the old fashioned, tallish working springer spaniels. On the net I finally, after many years of search, found some old, good-looking lines in Scotland, but I was unable to create any fruitful contact with the kennel. I have to try again later when the coming winter has passed. Until then Sunshine alone will have to brighten our day!
© Text & photo Torsti Mäkinen