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Story ID:1219
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Newark New Jersey USA
Person:Tae, Mandy & Huggy
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I had about a year and a half to retire from the Air Force. My beloved Cocker Spaniel Freckles had gone to heaven and I believed it was time to get a new Cocker Spaniel. My wife Tae had other plans. She wanted a Toy Poodle. I found an add concerning the availability of a white Toy Poodle puppy in Virginia. We were living in Maryland. I had the evening off but my wife had to work. We had a friend who was breeding Cocker Spaniels and she had a Cocker puppy for sale.

I called the place in Virginia, got directions and made arrangements to go there that evening. The lady showed me the tiny little puppy and I bought it for Tae. I then went to the home of our friend who lived near where my wife was working, and I obtained a black & white parti-color Cocker Spaniel puppy. Now we both had what we wanted.

The two puppies loved each other. We named the Poodle Twinky and the Cocker we named Tarryton because he had one black eye, and a brand of cigarettes of that name were showing people with a black eye saying they would rather fight than switch. The name was quickly shortened to Terry.

The friend I bought the Cocker puppy from called and told me about a puppy match show nearby and asked if I might like to bring Terry and show him. I took Terry to the puppy match. I knew nothing about it but the friend explained some of it to me and I watched to see how others were showing their dogs. I entered the ring nervously. Terry and I won and I was given a ribbon and a small trophy. I was so proud. That was the beginning.

I looked into the business of showing dogs. I obtained some other Cockers of show quality, both parti-colors and ASCOBís. ASCOB means any solid color other than black. One day at a Cocker Spaniel Club match, I saw a buff-colored dog that took my breath away. I had never seen such a beautiful Cocker in my life. I couldnít take my eyes off from him. I began talking to his owners. I could not afford the price I knew the dog to be worth, but the owners had a desire to see to it the dog ended up in the kind of home they wanted, and they worked out a deal to let me have the dog. I borrowed the money from the credit union and purchased him quickly before they had a chance to change their minds. That dog became an obsession with me.

The dog became the foundation stud dog of our show dog kennel. We created a kennel with the name Mountain Stream Cockers. The name was based on the fact that, when I retired from the Air Force, we were going to live in the Catskill Mountains on the banks of a stream.

Later, one of the all-time great Cocker breeders had a female she told me she thought would go well with my stud dog, and I bought her. The litters of puppies that were produced by that combination were some of the very best to be found anywhere. Those puppies began winning everywhere we went.

Among them were a brother and sister from the same litter. The best known of the two was named Mandy, and her brother was called Huggy Bug. We were still new at the game. My wife Tae had become a wonderful handler and she had learned to groom them with great artistry.

There was a national specialty show coming up. It was the world series or the super bowl of showing spaniels of all kinds. It was put on by the American Spaniel Club, which included all bird hunting spaniel breeds. It was the number one main event of the year for spaniels. I eagerly entered a number of our dogs in the show. There was a category one could enter in that we had never seen before but, wanting for us to get all the exposure we could to make our kennel known, I
entered Mandy and Huggy in that category also. It was a category called Best Brace in Show.

It was January of 1974 and the show was held at a hotel at Newark, New Jersey Airport. When we arrived at the show, I approached the woman from whom I had purchased our stud dog, and explained that I had entered the two as a brace. I was of the belief that since the two dogs were to be shown together at the same time they required two handlers, one handler for each dog. Myself not being the best handler, I wondered if she would show the male for us.

The woman was astonished. We being newcomers did not know that one handler took both dogs into the ring and showed them together side by side. Tae was going to withdraw. She did not have a clue how to do that. The woman, Toni, asked if we had a brace lead. Well, no, we didnít know there was such a thing. Toni took us around all of the concessions trying to find a brace lead we could buy. There were none to be had. Toni took two leads and tied them together to make one lead for two dogs. For a few minutes, the two dogs were taken up and down the hallway on the two leads tied together. Then time ran out. Tae was embarrassed and was going to pull our entry. I told her she couldnít do that. I said she would be okay.

The entrants for the brace competition began to line up at the ring entrance. Our hearts sunk. Right in front of us was a magnificent pair of black English Cocker Spaniels. Just ahead of them was a pair of beautiful Clumber Spaniels. We just knew one of those pairs was going to win. First, we had to beat the other American Cocker pairs.

Fortunately, other breeds had to go in the ring before ours. The best pair of each breed had to be decided first and then the winners of each breed competed for best brace in show. Tae watched to see how the others that went first presented their dogs. When the American Cockers were called to the ring, she imitated what she had seen the others do, and our dogs won the breed. So far, so good. We had at least won the class.

Finally, all the winners of each of the breeds were called into the ring. The ring was huge and they all had to go around. Then after the judge went over each of the dogs, she had them moved around the ring again, and she chose her winners. The winners were Tae with our pretty pair of home breeds, Mandy and Huggy.

Our dogs were beautiful and deserved the win, but under the circumstances one could say, that was just DUMB LUCK!


The photo was taken by the show photographer and was published in the American Cocker Spaniel Magazine. It is of Tae, Mandy, and Huggy winning Best Brace in Show.


Please visit my website at: www.fredsstoryroom.com.