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Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Working Chattie in the Real World

A Working Chatham Hill Retriever goes to water
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One point that Dog people always bring up is the working ability of the breed they love.  We've patiently listened to the complaints that our dogs are not worthy of respect since they've no proven working ability.  That the only portion of the hybrid we've created with any inherent working ability is the Flat Coated Retriever and that the American Cocker Spaniel part of the equation is really just a joke.  Well we always knew better than what the fancy supporters always claimed about Cockers. Pictured above is one of our Chatham Hill Retrievers working in real life as a water retrieving bird dog.  The American Cocker Spaniel breed club maintains this breed is a working sporting dog.  And it was used to flush and retrieve game fowl by our ancestors.  Of course in our modern times its easier to go to the local A&P to get the poultry and meats our ancestors relied upon their hunting dogs to fetch.  Evidence here shows American Cocker Spaniels were in the mix of dogs used.  They are a variant of the Field Spaniels and were often in the same litters as the Springers, Field, English and American variants of Spaniels.  They were sorted within litters according to type in the beginning.  And later as breeding practices became more selective for type the separation was not required as much since the phenotype typically bred true based on size.  But, variants still pop up among these Spaniel litters that type like each Spaniel of the other breeds mentioned.   Its a testament to how the histories of these dogs are very much intertwined.  And the reason why I take what many of the Dog fancy say about no working ability in American Cocker Spaniels with a grain of salt.

A working American Cocker 
In truth American Cocker Spaniels are still used today as working hunting Flushing Retrievers.  And they maintain the working ability that the doubters always said wasn't there.  Apparently they forgot to tell these spaniels that they shouldn't be working anymore.  There are even enthusiast groups that use them on real world hunts as well as trials.  But, my focus here is on real world abilities, because the true measure of a purpose bred dog is not the make believe trials, its the real world abilities of the dog and it's relationship with its owner.  And as our proof of concept we do have Chatham Hill Retrievers out in the real world doing the job of retrieving game under the umbrella of a hunter with a gun.  In this photo you see an American Cocker Spaniel retrieving game fowl on a live hunt.  Clearly not just a cute little lap dog.  And simply put, nothing that the naysayers say applies.