Spring 2017 Feature: Little Dogs, Big Hearts
An excerpt from Little Dogs, Big Hearts…If you’re looking for an enthusiastic hunting companion who doesn’t take up much space, works alongside you in the field and still has enough energy to romp with the kids in the yard, then the English cocker spaniel might be just the dog for you.
Texan John Poindexter was trying to squeeze in the last bit of afternoon daylight for a promised quail hunt for his two friends, Allen Foster and Chris Cobb. Poindexter had already had a full day entertaining over a dozen guests at lunch at his recently acquired Cumberland Plantation property overlooking the historic Pamunkey River in New Kent County, Virginia. In the middle of lunch, he had to have one of his favorite bird dogs, an English cocker spaniel, rushed 40 miles away to Richmond for an emergency veterinarian visit. Fortunately, his other female English cocker was available and anxious to go. Foster had also brought along his two English cockers, Fitz and Rex. If you have only a limited amount of daylight to hunt quail, an English cocker will make sure none of it is wasted.
The slender 6-foot-4-inch Texan and the 1-foot-4-inch cocker might look like an odd couple standing still, but when the two hunt together, they appear to be a perfect match, each seeming to read the movements of the other. Briars and thick brush deterred neither, as the cocker went under the growth and Poindexter pushed his way through it. According to Poindexter, “More and more good Texas bird hunters are using English cocker spaniels these days and like most of us, we prefer to hunt with our own dogs.” When bird hunting, the Houston native travels as often as possible with his English cockers so, as he put it, “hunting with a dog that, when crated, will fit under an airline seat is a big advantage.”
Traditionally, in Virginia and much of the Southeast, bird hunters use either pointers or setters for quail hunting. Occasionally, someone will use a Boykin to do the retrieving. However, a number of Southern quail plantations now let pointers and setters find the birds, leaving an English cocker to flush and retrieve them.