Spaniel Journal Home Page

The Bookshelf
reviews by Bill Fawcett

The Working Springer Spaniel
by Keith Erlandson

The Working Springer Spaniel

Before I start this issue's book review, I would like to spell out what it is I am trying to accomplish in these Spaniel Journal Bookshelf reviews. It would be presumptuous for me to cast judgement on either the training methods or writing style of the authors. Training methods vary from region-to-region and indeed from dog-to-dog. Therefore, I see my purpose as one of making clear the nature of the methods presented in the books and leaving it up to the reader to decide if that is of any interest. Or as the old song goes: "I'm not singing the blues, I'm just telling it the way it is."

At trials, and on the internet, I run into trainers who are very (excuse the term) dogmatic about training methods. They, and they alone, are right - and the rest of us are idiots. Frankly, I find those who are open minded about training methods to be much more pleasant. Ultimately, what we are all trying to do is to get inside the dogs mind. Sometimes there's not much there. This is also the case with some trainers, so I guess that explains their success.

Writing styles amongst authors, particularly in the dog training genre, vary greatly. A good trainer is not always a good writer, which is why Bill Tarrant wrote the books for Delmer Smith, a well known pointer trainer. I place much more value on the expertise in the book than the method in which it is presented. Like training methods, training writing varies greatly. I personally respond to a linear presentation, others do not. So in these reviews, content rules over presentation.

Occasionally the two come together. Keith Erlandson's book "The Working Springer Spaniel" is an example of this. Erlandson has written for spaniel publications for many years and so is no stranger to the typewriter (or word processor, I suppose). He also has a depth of experience with both Cockers and Springers.

His writing style is not as we are conditioned to seeing in a training manual (in a linear fashion). But that is probably due both to Erlandson's personality as well as the content of the book - which is not just "what to do", but "what the dog is". Back to getting between the pup's ears.

And this is what I like about this book - Erlandson, having trained more spaniels in a magnitude far exceeding the average Joe, understands the dog.

The Working Springer Spaniel was published in 1995, making it fairly recent, as far as spaniel books go. The book (and Erlandson) is blunt and straight forward. At one point Erlandson states "I will nail my colours to the mast at the outset and state that I am completely opposed to the breeding of gundogs for the purposes of showing per se." Elaborating on this statement, he says: "I find it extremely irritating when show people tell me that the arbitrary breed standards which are laid down for show dogs will actually enhance a dog's performance because it is the 'right' shape. A dog can be physically sound without in any way conforming to a 'standard', but the overriding consideration is what is going on in the dog's mind."

In a like manner, Erlandson drops a few snide remarks about certain bloodlines that have portrayed themselves as "working" stock. Tell us how you feel, Keith... really!

Much has been written about the "Origins of the Spaniel" and indeed Erlandson takes a shot at it. His spin on the whole affair is worth consideration. Following this chapter is a chapter on the "Relationship between Dog and Man".

Page 1

| Next Page | Archived Book Reviews | NEW! The Bookstore |

| Ballistic Products | Bookstore | Our Sponsors | The Bookshelf | Spaniel Resources | Letters | Archives | Spaniel Journal |
| Bill Fawcett | Pamela O. Kadlec | Martin Deeley | Anna F. Schroeder | John DeMott | Loretta Baughan |

Copyright © Spaniel Journal 2002, 2003 all rights reserved worldwide