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Denny Crick's Best Chance dog was down first. The dog hit scent but could not locate the bird. After some time, Denny pushed the dog on and a bird flushed after the dog left the area, as I recall. In my opinion, this dog must have been one of the favourites for the title. He had a tremendous trial record and appeared to me to be an extremely positive bird finder. I thought no one could assume anything in this series.
Saighton's Scud, sire of Scout, retrieving to Janet Christensen
showing both the soft mouth and kind eye that Talbot loved.
photo courtesy of Janet Christensen

Scout was running flat out when suddenly he hupped. A pheasant had flushed wild some distance up the course. It reminded me of Scout automatically hupping to a hare that was trying to sneak away two and a half years earlier, when he was still in Wales. I couldn't believe it when once again on his last bird, the bird flushed wild - unseen by Scout - while he was clattering about working the scent in the icy cover. The blind retrieve was longer than in the Amateur. Jess gave Scout the command to "go back". This time Scout went straight back and found the bird in a straightforward manner. (Later I heard Jess had trained for this situation between Nationals.)

To say that I was thrilled when Scout was announced as the 1983 National Open Champion would be a gross understatement. Not only had Spitfire produced a dog so much like herself, but one who also went on to win both the Amateur and Open Nationals. By sheer chance, I was there to see it. I couldn't have hoped for more. The first three placements were sired by Scud. Scout won, and both Samson and Solomon looked like they could win future Nationals. To have dogs of the calibre of Scud, Scout, Samson, and Solomon running in one National was a great thrill for me to see. The Saighton dogs were never better while I was there.

It was a sad day for Hazel and myself, a few years later, when Jess sent word that Scout had passed on. Although he hadn't been our dog for some years, he remained very special in our minds. Recently I heard from Jess that Scout has been inducted into the Bird Dog Hall of Fame. Both Jess and I agreed he was a very special Springer.

Spitfire lived to the ripe old age of fifteen. She led an active life until the time of her death. She was my constant companion on many long walks through the British countryside. She flushed grouse on the Yorkshire moors and saw the red deer of the Exmoor with me on holidays long after she retired from working. A week before she died with kidney failure she was swimming in the sea near my home on Anglesey where Hazel and I moved after leaving Saighton's Kennels.

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