By Howard Nichol,
Brentwood, Tennessee

HR Catherine's Dolly & HR Catherine's Little Brownie

In the not too distant future we'll be publishing a hunting tale about two Boykins, HR Catherine's Dolly and Catherine's Little Brownie. But for now, I would like to present some facts about these amazing little brown spaniels. First and foremost they are retrievers. They live and breathe to go get things that fall. Labs, Chessies, Goldens, et al go get things that fall. These guys are right there with them. You can't beat them in the Dove field. And they are great for Duck hunting, especially out of a boat. At the completion of a retrieve you just pick up dog and duck together and drop them in the boat. Try that with a 75# Lab! But most importantly, they are spaniels and that presents an endless list of possibilities. Because they are spaniels, they have a strong genetic drive for hunting by flushing game. They also have the spaniel trait of staying close and looking back often to check in with the Alpha Dog (That's you big guy!). Staying close, they naturally have the tendency to quarter back and forth out front. Not that the bigger retrievers can't be taught these things. They can. But it is not their strong suit. You can teach pointers to retrieve, but it's not their strong suit either. And you would not usually take your German Shorthair duck hunting.

Boykins, however, have those flushing spaniel genes right there on top and they didn't come by them by chance. The records show that there were Springers, a Cocker or two and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers used in the early breeding program. But, the retrieving and flushing instincts were really solidified by breeding American Water Spaniels (AWS) into that small pool of Boykins in the beginning years.

The flushing and retrieving instincts of the American Water Spaniel are incredibly strong. The American Kennel Club (AKC) requires field trial dogs to be either of the flushing or retrieving classification. The majority of AWS owners are determined to keep their dogs highly skilled at both disciplines and so have rejected the AKC's requirement to choose. American Water Spaniels, therefore, do not compete in AKC field trials.

In Boykin-ville we don't have that problem. The AKC does not recognize the Boykin breed. The United Kennel Club does, however. The "HR" in HR Catherine's Dolly is "Hunter Retriever" a title awarded by the UKC to dogs who successfully pass a standard of excellence at a given number of retriever hunting tests. The UKC is soon to start an Upland Hunt Test similar to the Upland Flushing Test that Springers and Cockers run with the AKC now. Wait until these little brown dogs show the top notch retrievers of the UKC how they flush quail and pheasants, sit at the sound of the gun, mark the bird's fall and then make the retrieve when commanded. All this with a bite so soft, that if the bird is alive, he will be sitting there in the dogs mouth looking around when the Boykin returns.

We haven't talked about what great house pets Boykins are. That is another story in itself. If you know spaniels, you already know how gentle they are and what a strong desire they have to please. So if you are looking for a dog with the endless energy of a Springer, the drive of a Lab, the gentleness of a Golden and the do-it-all abilities of a American Water Spaniel in a smaller package, Boykin Spaniel is his name.

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Last Updated: 1/7/99