The  early years of Givendale Spaniels                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             The English Springer Spaniel is in my opinion the most complete all round breed of gundog, for me no other can come close to this hardy little dog that gives its heart and soul during a days shooting, all weathers and conditions and all species , nothing seems to phase a good Spaniel , the three dogs you see in the picture above are proper working IKC spaniels , chosen by me over a period of two years , knowing exactly the dogs I was looking for led me to all four corners of the country and believe me many , many dissapointments.

The type of spaniel I was looking for had to be from no or very little recognised field trial breeding , I was using as my father would say stockmanship looking at the parents and studying the pups their natural instincts and abilities and their looks which to me is very important , you have to like a dog to love and respect it, watching pups playing and moving can show you the future in a dog is it confident , intelligent a quick learner and has it stamina all these things can be seen by observing for a while.

I can honestly say I saw lots of poorly bred dogs , dogs not bred by compatability or looks but for bits of paper, people seemed to have forgot the basic elements of selective  breeding or as I mentioned before stockmanship,  just because the stud dog was a FTCH doesn,t guarantee good spaniels if the bitch covered is an ugly ill made dog, and I saw a lot of ugly ill made dogs , whippet style modern field trial dogs that had the credentials but would let you down badly on the shooting field.

Field trialing used to be a showcase to the shooting community of the best bloodlines available for people aspiring to own or breed quality working spaniels, but I believe the two domains have seperated that is to say we now have two types of English Springer spaniel the Field Trial & The Worker, what I think is wrong with todays Spaniel society is the shooting community and Field Trial breeders are not accepting the plain fact and truth of the situation, I as much as any man admire a good Field Trial trainer who can train these trial dogs to such competence and obedience to be able to perform to such high standards for short periods of time and reasonable cover eg  David Lissett who couldn't admire a man of such quality and achievement but going back to my previous statement it is a different world from the showmanship of David Lissett and his 20 or 30 Spaniels for trialing to that of the hunting man from Co Clare who needs two working Spaniels that will hunt any cover in any weather for long periods of time looking for woodcock buried tight in really heavy cover , they are without any doubt whatsoever a totally different dog than the ones David is winning awards with so why is it people are still fooled into the FTCH pedigree hype of todays spaniels why not admire the two different dogs for their own distinctive abilities and draw a line under it and move on, Field Trialing has become a field sport in its own right and Working Spaniels are something totally seperate, however it is fair to say in all certainty that the working spaniel can still trial but the trialing spaniels can't or certainly struggle to work.

Fizz was the first dog I found she was eight months old and had no training at all but I liked her a lot she was a loving affectionate good looking dog with that low swingy arsed action, she is a ground scenter and sweeps the floor with her nose at double quick time, quartering very naturally and at stylish speed, she has turned out to be a very reliable gundog with a great nose in any situation land or water, I remember one december evening duck shooting I shot two widgeon a left & right that fell one at 40 yards behind rushes and one way out at about 50 to 60 yards again with rush beds inbetween, imagine the dogs eye level view she obviously couldn't see them fall herself sitting in rushes , but none the less after a few corrected swims she swam around the first rush bed and picked the closest bird to the left, the second duck was a long way out and a fair bit of time had passed since the duck had dropped so I called Fizz back to the bank sat her up pointed the gun at the duck and fired another cartridge on command she swam like an arrow to the first rush bed went around it and straight on to the duck some 40 yards away all I can assume is she followed the shot scent a certain distance and whos knows what the rest of the way but I must admit I admired her so much for those two very difficult retrieves at near dark.

 After many more viewings of pups up and down the country I went to portloaise , Co Offaly  to see a man called Dennis who had two bitch pups left out of a litter and by god I wish I had bought both of them , the one I did eventually pick after a couple of hours studying ( Kes ) has turned out to be one of the most fearless Spaniels I have ever seen, this dog would kill herself to hunt and retrieve , when every other dog tires she keeps going eventhough you can see she's tired she never gives up . Ive never known a dog with such a heart and so much courage and she truly is worth her weight in gold and is the epitimy of what people call a woodcock dog, but let me tell you of another nights duckshooting, having fed a small lake for many weeks leading up to september the 1st I had a good number of ducks coming in at evening so I settled in on the 1st night expecting to bag a few ducks at dusk  but just before dusk two characters with automatics turned up who didn't have permission to shoot on this land and cut off my flight line as the ducks began to stream in they blazed away firing the guts of 60 cartridges due to their greed to not let me get a shot the ducks were too high and they were rubbish shots, however they eventually managed to hit one duck, that crashed onto the lake in among the rushes it was a diver and only slightly winged they sent out their two black labs that swam for ten minutes trying to pick the duck but gave up as the duck kept diving, I must admit to being slightly fed up with these two ignorant guys so I told Kes to get on after at least 15 minutes I thought I had done the wrong thing fearing they could shoot Kes thinking she was the duck , but just as I was putting the whistle to my mouth Kes cornered the duck in the margin rushes and picked the duck, I waited as she swam the 60 yards back when she reached the bank I couldn't help saying as loud as I could " Fetch it on Kes good girl " taking the duck and one we had shot off another lake earlier we walked back to the jeep with me still saying good girl Kes and a smile of satisfaction on my face , so it just goes to prove greed  gets you nowhere especially when your not a very good shot. 

Jack was the last dog to find and the last piece of the jigsaw as the story goes it was a winters evening the roads were terrible with ice and snow but I'd been chatting with a man in galway so decided to set off and look at his pups he assured me they great looking pups so I was looking forward to seeing them we arrived during late afternoon, I can't describe to you my total dissapointment after shaking his hand and following him up his driveway to the rear of his house, there were 6 pups in an outside run in that weather all bedraggled filthy and ugly all different sizes and shapes, the bitch was in the next pen and she looked no better , I looked them up and down without saying a word what I really felt like saying is not repeatable so politely I said no sorry they are not what I'm looking for and with my wife at my side we began to walk back down the drive, the guy followed saying whats wrong with them , I just repeated sorry they are not the type of dog I'm looking for , he was persistant in asking what was wrong with them and I can tell you we were glad to get back in the jeep and drive away, after a mile or so I said to Berni there is another litter of pups , well 2 left actually at Spiddal the other side of Galway about another 30 miles , so we thought to hell with it we had gone this far so I rang the guy and he gave us directions, when he let the 2 pups out we picked Jack or ( Codi Sam ) straight away he was a beauty and had such an arrogance and manner about him it was only when Jack was about 6 months old I decided to check out his breeding and discovered he had 8 generations of Newflame Gundogs from Derbyshire in him , Rytex free and total top class pedigree of pure working spaniels, boy was that a piece of luck that we decided to drive on that night to look at Jack and his brother.

Jack has turned out to be an outstanding gundog , he is super intelligent and trainable, great on land or in water loves heavy cover and is extremely potent in the bedroom department , having sired over 40 pups in the last 4 years, there is certainly a lot of lead in his pencil.

Since those early days and the realisation that we had found an incredible trio of spaniels and an incredible foundation of gundog attributes to build on we have been amazed how every single pup to leave the kennels has gone on to be an outstanding gundog for their loving proud owners , as we keep in touch with nearly all of the owners of Givendale Spaniels we have had incredible feed back regarding their spaniel and to hear comments like " Best Spaniel I have ever owned "  " Toughest Spaniel I have ever seen "   really swells our hearts with pride and gives us the passion to keep going forward