common practice, and I am informed on good authority that Mr. M.Carthy himself frequently had a small portion of the caudal appendage removed from his dogs. As a brood bitch, Madam Blair proved invaluable, and to every dog she was ever mated with produced most high-class specimens, amongst her progeny being Ch. Duck O'Donoghue, Ch. Dymphna, Rock Diver, and many other winners. This grand bitch came to an untimely end in my kennel some eight or ten years ago, and thus deprived the breed of the most typical specimen I have ever seen. Fifty years ago the Earl of Clancarty had a handsome strain of these dogs, which he crossed with a famous strain owned by Lord Howth, and, in later years, Colonel the Hon. le Poer Trench showed some descendants of these strains with much success. Amongst his many good dogs were Ch. Harp and Ch. Erin, who was sired by Young Patsey, a dog Colonel Trench purchased to cross with his strain, and combined the blood of several famous kennels, to wit, Mr. Skidmore's, Mr. Engleback's, and Captain Montresor's.

MR. F. TRENCH O’RORKE'S IDEAL IRISH WATER SPANIEL. -"I saw! what saw I ? let him see !"

Red were the rags his shoulders bore,
And a high red wig on his head he wore,

as the old couplet runs ; far in the distance, standing out unique and characteristic, unmistakable in outline for anything else ; about 22 inches at shoulder, and scaling about 64 lbs., a personification of strength. His colour was of that rich shade of liver-puce, reminding one of the hue seen on the richest coloured plums that ever hung in a summer's sun, and without a white hair throughout ; in some lights a distinct shade of red pervaded, and this, as his coat grows older, becomes more rusty-looking. (A strange coincidence that his confrères the Irish setter, Irish terrier, and Irish wolf-hound all have a tendency to this rusty red shade !) He was clad in a coat composed of the tightest, densest, close, crisp curls imaginable, entirely free from woolliness, and of a somewhat oily nature, wherewith he could brave the elements, come they ever so severe. His fore legs clad with long ringlets all round, though rather more profuse behind than in front, and his hind legs likewise clad behind down to the feet, but quite smooth in front from below the hocks. His head surmounted with long loose ringlets, about 4 inches in length, growing down gracefully into a well-defined peak between the eyes, leaving his face and brows quite smooth; this, the “top-knot,” afforded the whole head a shorter and more domed appearance than it really had, for his skull was of good length and capacious. His face was peculiarly long and perfectly smooth, this smoothness extending to his cheeks. His nose was large, and harmonising with the colour of his coat; his muzzle square ; his mouth and even white teeth capable of carrying tenderly anything from a wild swan to a jack-snipe. Under his eyes was nicely chiselled, and the “stop” was not too pronounced. His ears were very large and long, set low and far back, lobeshaped, and lying quite close to his cheeks, covered and fringed with long twisted curls, measuring nearly 30 inches from tip to tip across the head. His eyes were not large, of a rich dark hazel-brown, brimful of “native" cuteness ; trusting and intelligent. His neck was long, arched, and strongly set into his shoulders (carrying the head well above the level of the back, and higher than in other breeds, doubtless indicating a clear conscience, merry heart, and frankness of nature, to look the whole world in the face"). His chest was deep, large in girth, but not too wide between the fore legs; his shoulders strong, with ribs well sprung behind them, giving plenty of heart-room and power, and conveying to his body a rounded appearance ; with loins well arched, short, deep, and wide, coupled to the most powerful hindquarters, having long, very bent stifles, and hocks set lower, probably, than in any other breed of dog. His front legs were straight and strong of bone, with feet (not small) well protected with hair both over and between the toes. His tail was very short, and carried straight and stiff, with the merriest action when at work; thick at the root, where it was covered for about 3 inches with short curls, the remainder being quite smooth and tapering to a fine point. His general appearance was quaintness, strength, and power ; he was as active as a steeple-chaser, and withal his action was peculiar, often suggesting he was walking on hot coals. His temperament was that of a very high couraged, impetuous dog, brimful of intelligence, never so happy as when trying to please his master, and he could readily be taught to do anything : invaluable for sporting purposes; no sea was too rough, no water too cold, no hardships too great for him, and when at home he was a child amongst children, and always a gentleman.

Turning now to the notes and criticisms of my contributors on the breed as it exists to-day, I have the following :

MR. F. TRENCH O’RORKE.—There are several typical specimens of the breed in existence to-day, but the chief points


requiring attention are greater uniformity in size, many specimens being oversized and a still greater number being miserably undersized ; light-coloured eyes, which are most undesirable and all too prevalent. The characteristics of good length of stifies and low set hocks, with very short stern, are points in which many of the best specimens of to-day fail, whilst others, though deep in chest, are sadly deficient in barrel-shaped body, being quite flatsided. Of the dogs seen in recent years, in type, I consider Rock Diver, who won the championship at Dublin in 1898, when nine years old, as typical as any. In bitches, Madam Blair I would consider an easy first in type. I have used this breed during many years for every description of game shooting to be found in these isles. I have them trained exclusively to do the work of retrievers, and as such I have found them unexcelled. Easily trained, perfectly steady, with excellent mouths and the best of noses. With the yearly increasing practice of driving game I anticipate this breed has a great future, the peculiar persistency of their spaniel nature making them particularly useful as retrievers for this kind of shooting. They are excellent dogs in the water, and very hardy ; unrivalled as companions, intelligence and good temper being the general rule.

MR. JOHN S. COWELL.- The most conspicuous faults of the present day are (1) light eyes, with haw showing too much ; (2) scarcity of top-knot ; (3) the coats are not the correct pure brown colour, and there is an absence of the short crisp curls. I think Ch. Patsy Boyle and Tissington are the best specimens we have at present of this breed. At the Royal Dublin Society's Show in 1902 1 judged some of the largest, if not the largest, classes of Irish water spaniels on record, and had no difficulty in placing them first in their respective classes. But by this I do not wish to imply that they are perfect specimens of the breed; we have no Irish water spaniels to-day to compare with Mr. Skidmore's Mickey Free, or, referring to a later generation, to Ch, Erin and Ch. Duck O'Donoghue. It would perhaps be too sweeping an assertion to say that the Irish water spaniel is the most intelligent breed of dogs we have, as every fancier will probably hold that the breed he delights in is entitled to this exalted position. I had, therefore, better confine myself to spaniels, and as I have kept every variety except cockers, I can speak authoritatively on the spaniel family, and have no hesitation in placing Irish water spaniels first for intelligence as well as for sporting instinct. Not many months ago I took Madam Lucille Hill, the eminent operatic singer, over Mr. J. J. Holgate's kennels, and when she saw his Irish water spaniels she exclaimed, “What a human look they have in their eyes! They almost seem to look in your eyes and read your very thoughts !” I am always at a loss to understand why this breed has never come to the front for sporting purposes as the other varieties of spaniels have, except in Ireland for duck and snipe shooting, as I know they are capable of doing the work of two or three breeds rolled into one. As well as being such valuable water-dogs, Colonel Trench uses his best show-dogs in mixed shooting over his estates, and also on grouse. I am firmly of opinion that if this breed were taken in hand by expert breakers they would carry all before them at our field trials, and I hope the day is not far distant when we shall see some entered to compete and do the work required by the judges at these meetings, as some of the qualities which other spaniels lack, such as pace, resolution, facing the thickest covert and retrieving, are their greatest characteristics. Then there would be an end to poodle coats, which some exhibits had at Dublin Show in 1902, and were permissible not many years ago, if not an actual sine qua non to win on the show-bench.

DR. RICHARD CAREY.-The type is well established, but what the breed wants is to be taken up by a great many more people than go in for them at present, and thus get it brought more prominently to the front. Volumes might be written on the dog, but, shortly, the Irish water spaniel is the most suitable dog for the sporting man who keeps but one dog, as it can so easily be trained to do a little of everything, and of course for duck shooting is unequalled.

Mrs. F. CARTER MITCHELL.-I am not satisfied with type. I object to the undersized, weedy specimens that are exhibited now. Also to the overgrown, coarse, retrievery ones. Judges should insist more on standard size and weight being strictly adhered to. From a sportsman's point of view there is no better dog than an Irish water spaniel, for land as well as for water when properly broken. They are keen, clever, will stand any amount of work, and there are no better companions. Once a lover, always a lover of the native “curly-coat"! A person who has once owned an Irish water spaniel never seems to give them up.

LADY DUNLEATH pays the following tribute to the sporting qualities of the dog on land : Last year I shot two stags on a Saturday evening rather late. The stalker begged me to leave my Irish water spaniel Dheelish with him, as he wanted to try and track a wounded deer. I told her to drop beside the stag,

which she did, and I then returned to the lodge, ten miles away. The stalker put the deer on a pony and returned to the lodge, but when he arrived Dheelish was not with him. Early the next morning he started across the moor to look for her, and found her lying beside the other stag (which it had been too late overnight to remove), her idea evidently being that when the stag she was put in charge of was taken away it was her duty to transfer her guard to the other. She had not been fed since the night before, and had been out all day. Unless the training of these dogs is begun when they are quite young I find it very hard to get them steady ; my best is one I began to train as soon as it had left its mother, and it is now quite perfect. The breed is a most fascinating one-clever, affectionate, faithful, and cannot be beaten as first-rate and very fast retrievers. I much prefer them to any other sort of retrievers.

Mr. Trench O'Rorke suggests an even more practical use than shooting to which the Irish water spaniel can be put—to wit, clothing its master. Some time ago he began collecting the castings from the coats of the dogs in his kennels, and in about four years saved 8.1 lbs. weight from five animals. From these he had the cloth woven by the cottagers in his locality, from which was made an overcoat, described as “of fair weight, rough, something after the nature of Irish frieze, but softer and more comfortable to the touch, and in general appearance like a very high class specimen of the rough tweeds now so commonly worn." Such an example of ingenuity and originality is as curious as it is interesting, and to the sheep and the goat, the camel and the lama, may now be added the Irish water spaniel as one of those creatures which provides its master with raiment !

The Irish Water Spaniel Club, founded in 1890, is an institution containing over thirty members, a very strong committee, and elects twelve judges by ballot annually. Mr. F. Trench O’Rorke is the Honorary Secretary, and the subscription ti a year. The

« ForrigeFortsett »