Bird dogs, with rare exceptions, are the best-natured dogs in the world. They are affectionate to a degree, and not at all quarrelsome. At the same time, there are some good fighters among them. To me, a handsome pointer or setter is the finest dog in the world, not only as to looks—and they are undeniably in the front rank as to that—but their other qualities are not less
Good bird dogs cannot be thrown off of a “point” until the birds are flushed. You may lose a dog in cornfields or high cover for half an hour and find him stanch on a point in tall weeds or grass. Once a stand, always a stand until the birds rise. One of the best dogs in the South came to a point once on a narrow-gauge railroad, the bevy being in a grass-grown ditch alongside the track.
His owner, a quarter of a mile away, saw a train bearing down and made a frantic attempt to get to the spot and save the dog. He fired his gun and did his best, but the train got there ahead of him. Casablanca made inquiries when he got in a tight place, but that dog was a soldier and “held the point” until the train ran him down.
There is nothing in the shooting that is quite so thrilling as a bird dogs is coming to the point. The rigid form, the wrinkled nose, the flashing eye? all the essence of passionate intensity is pictured here. A few yards away is the bevy. The winds move the leaves of a nearby tree, and toward a clump of weeds at the edge of the corn, the dog’s nose is pointed. He is like a stone. They sometimes come to a “buttonhook” point, their heads curved round to lift or right, in the shape of a buttonhook. They will point with a dead bird in the mouth that they are retrieving. You can lift a dog up by his tail so that his hind legs are off the ground, and once he is dropped he will still hold the point.
For their thousand and one noble and splendid qualities? for their “bird sense,” general intelligence, fidelity, good temper, affection, beauty and love of hunting bird ? the setter and the pointer are to me the finest dogs that were ever bred, bar none at all.
Jack The Dog:
Jack was a dog about the size and build of a Gordon setter. He was evidently a cross between a setter and some variety of spaniel but had none of the spaniel characteristics. His coat was dark brown, rich and glossy.
What made him still more valuable as an all-around dog was the fact that he would point any of our game birds, such as quail, prairie chickens, woodcock or jack snipe.
Jack was a splendid retriever, being an excellent swimmer, He had a very sensitive nose, and was a wonder at finding wounded birds in any kind of cover, whether in the rushes, long grass or brush. He was very intelligent and tractable, something you cannot say for many retrievers, particularly the Irish water spaniel.
When shooting mallards or pintails in the corn-fields Jack would watch the flock closely after you fired to see if any fell at a distance and if a duck began to lower its flight from the flock he would start after it, knowing the bird was mortally wounded and would fall.
Many times when hunting with a party of hunters we would miss Jack for a time and directly he would come running up carrying a wing-broken duck, probably wounded the day before, which he had found hidden in the long grass or rushes.
He would cast off to find a bird in any direction you indicated to him by a wave of the arm when at a distance in a corn-field or on the marshy ground when he had to retrieve more than one bird from a flock and it was necessary for him to make several trips to get them all.