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three days actually turned out to be so special. When I started taking the litter out for their first hunting experiences in the marsh fringes near the kennel, it was soon Scout who seemed to find more than his share of the game. From the start, he was an enthusiastic retriever. I am sure he would have happily made many retrieves at a time when he was very young, although I would only give him a few retrieves on any outing.
John working the Saighton spaniels

That shooting season, Chris and Janet Christensen brought a shooting party over after Janet's first National Amateur win with Scud. Jess Sekey was in the party. One afternoon after the shooting was finished, Janet, Jess, and a few others came down to the kennels. I took Scout's litter out for some hunting in the marsh near the kennels. I don't know if Janet and Jess noticed Scout particularly or not, as the whole litter was a good-looking bunch of Springers.

That evening, I received a message from Talbot to see him at the big house (the main house on the estate where the shooting guest stayed). Every evening during shooting parties Gerald, the head keeper, would be in the gunroom cleaning and oiling the guests guns. While he was doing this, Talbot would discuss plans for the next day's shoot. I went to the gunroom and Talbot told me that Jess wanted to order a pup that looked to be a good prospect. I had seen Jess handle dogs from the time he appeared on the trial scene. I was always impressed with his ability as a handler and trainer of Springers. If I were to list what I thought to be the top handlers in the United States at the time, Jess Sekey's name would be on my list. I said to Talbot that Jess was too good a handler to have just a good puppy. We needed to make sure that he had one of our best prospects. The only way we could make sure of that was to get him a trained prospect. Talbot suggested that I have a word with Jess. When Jess saw that we were serious about picking a top trained dog for him, he agreed to put an order in for one. We must have talked a bit about what he liked in a dog, because I think I had a good idea of what sort of dog he liked, besides being a talented trial dog. Now I had to put a dog where my mouth was - so to speak.

"I was beginning to think that I was looking at the dog I had always hoped Spitfire would produce."

I guess that Scout was about seven or eight months old when I decided it was time to start steadying him to dummies. It only took one short lesson to get the point across. I restrained him a few times while on a lead before sending him for the retrieve. Soon he showed no signs of going for the dummy until he was sent. I was amazed at how quickly and easily he learned this lesson. He never broke during all the time he was with me after this one quick lesson. I did some basic introduction to a gun using what we called the "garden gun". It was a 9mm shotgun that gave a very light bang. Everything was going in a most straightforward manner.

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