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Memories of Scud, His Littermates, and Associated Stories
by John DeMott
- Photos courtesy of the Author

Saighton's Scud was born on the 4th of June 1977 from the breeding of Saighton's Seeking to Sophie of Saighton. "Seeker", as he was called, was only a few weeks old when I first arrived at Presaddfed. He was a big, strong, good looking puppy and stood out very early on. Seeker was out of Sting, a son of the famous Stinger and Silla of Saighton, who was a litter sister to Sophie and Slattery of Saighton. Slattery won many American open stakes under the handling of Dan Langhans in the mid 70's.

As I recall, Seeker was about twelve weeks old when he was given to David Jones (of Strong Kennels fame) to train up. David was clearly very handy training a dog and had a truly outstanding black Labrador called Bob. Talbot did not like seeing anything but Springers working on the estate (especially if it was an outstanding dog) so I think he was quite keen to get David a really good Springer so he would not take his Labrador out quite so often. Also Sting had been the resident stud dog, but was getting past it and was now Mrs. Radcliffe's housedog, so Seeker looked a good replacement as resident stud dog. David and Seeker got on well. Soon David had Seeker leaping over gates and fences retrieving dummies in a most impressive manner. Although David trained other Saighton dogs, Seeker was David's main working dog for the rest of his time at Presaddfed.

I always found Sophie to be a very likeable bitch. She had very little formal training - if any, at all. I certainly did not do any formal training with her. I'll always remember some years later. The owners of a nearby estate had their working spaniels killed by a neighbouring farmer when the spaniels had wandered onto his farm and were worrying his sheep. As it was just at the beginning of the shooting season, they asked if we could lend them a spaniel to get them through the shooting season. We lent them Sophie. A month or two later they were hosting one of our shooting parties. I was quite interested to see how they were getting on with Sophie. They were pleased with her and I soon saw why. Sophie would get in front of the gun and work a perfect spaniel pattern with no whistle or handling. All one had to do was walk behind her. She was as natural a worker as I have seen.

Saighton's Scud in Oregon

As I recall, this breeding was the first time we used Seeker. Scud's litter consisted of four dogs. It was always Talbot's general policy not to sell any Saighton bred bitches. They were only kept for breeding purposes. Apparently this was also the policy of Selwyn Jones, the owner of the famous O'Vara Springers. Mr. Jones made very few exceptions. In 1937 or 38 he made one and let Talbot have an O'Vara bred bitch. The bitch was registered Saighton's Skip and was the beginning of the Saighton line. Talbot said he knew of only one or two other people who were ever allowed to have an O'Vara bred bitch. In my fourteen years at Saighton's kennels I can only remember two bitches, fully Saighton bred, sold on.

By the time Scud's litter had come along, I had been through the full cycle of rearing a litter, developing them, training them and selling them on to their new owners. I was able to find my way around the locality without getting lost. I could usually tell if the locals were speaking in Welsh or English and could usually understand what they were talking about - if they spoke in English. This was not the case when I first arrived. I was becoming locally fairly universally known as "John the Dogs". It was a Welsh tradition not to use surnames when referring to someone, as almost everyone was a Jones, Roberts, Williams, or Davies. The only way you could tell who someone was was by giving his first name and then what he did or where he lived. If they were a farmer, you would call them by the name of their farm.

When barley or wheat was planted on the estate, grass was planted with it. When the crop was harvested, the grass would be left and in November, rented to hill farmers for winter grazing. It provided good training ground for September and October, as the pheasants would start coming out of the woods and onto the stubble fields. The grass provided just enough cover that some of the birds would squat in it, which a young dog could flush. Generally there was a good amount of scent to keep a young dog's interest up.

There was such a field about a quarter of a mile down the road from the kennels. I must have had about three litters

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