Showsight Presents the Treeing Walker Coonhound

COONHOUND TREEING WALKER

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JUDGING THE TREEING WALKER COONHOUND

By Amanda Alexander

H er name was Tim’s Creek Faith. She was a five-month-old frisky pup out of a nice Hardwood Echo female and sired by Tim’s Creek Bob. She wasn’t my first Tree- ing Walker coonhound but she was my first coonhound pup that was purchased with the express purpose of campaigning in licensed Nite Hunts. She was starting to put the whole raccoons climb trees and are fun to chase scenario together when I acquired her from Don Abernethy of Hickory, NC. I had known Don Aber- nethy, his father Harold owned a small convenience store, my whole life. I had went to school with his two daughters and his son and had in fact been ask to leave class and report to principal Stone by his wife who often substitute taught at my school. Don was an avid Beagler, turned coonhunter, and the consummate hounds- men. To say that he had a way with dogs is a gross understatement. Whether it be experience or just an inherent way with dogs, Don always seemed to know the right thing to do at the right time with his coonhounds. Faith’s sire Bob was one of the best if not the best coonhound I have ever had the pleasure to hunt with and I was honored to get a pup by Bob. It would not be my last. Faith had beautiful rich colors, and was a friendly tail-wagging dog that lived for a pat on the head and to hear the words, “Good job.” To kill time at the events, I trained and practiced with Faith to compete in the Bench Shows. She would be eligible at the age of six months while her Nite Hunt career was still a few months away. My show career one could say started as a way to “do something” with my dog during the daylight hours.

“MY FIRST WIN AT A COMPETITIVE DOG SHOW

would come not at a small event but at a larger Regional Qualifying Event in Seagrove, NC.”

I would learn a tremendous amount while showing Faith. For the first five shows I attended the lesson would involve losing with grace. My step-brother Terry would attend these events with me and most often it was he that would be fuming at the conclusion of judging. I was being “out handled” as they say and had to step up my game. My first win at a competi- tive dog show would come not at a small event but at a larger Regional Qualifying Event in Seagrove, NC. Th ese events are

scheduled to qualify dogs for the World Coonhound Championship. I would show Faith there against some top breeders and handlers and I would win Best Female of Show honors. As I waited patiently for the o ffi cials to fill out my win slip, I would learn another valuable lesson. Max Sum- merlin was filling out slips along with David Gardin. Both have been my friend from this moment forward. Max handed me the win slip and said, “ Th is is your win slip and this paper states that you are

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qualified for the World Show. It does not say that you should go to the World Show.” David, who had judged the show, would chuckle to himself. I must have had a quiz- zical look on my face because Max would go on and explain to me that while my dog was pretty and had won that day, she was not mature enough, nor the caliber of dog that could win at the World Show. Many would have been angry at these comments, and I would bet that had Facebook been around, these comments would have been shared with the world as well as the all too common statement, “ Th at judge is on my DNS list.” Max would also ask me if I had ever been to the World Show and suggest- ed that I do so as a means of learning more about the show side of the sport as well as the dogs. Th is advice has always stayed with me and makes more sense to me with every weekend trip. I would follow that advice and began attending the shows at all the major Treeing Walker events. It was eye-opening in many ways and it would allow me to me new people and to lay a foundation of knowledge for my future breeding plans. Th e Treeing Walker is first and foremost of performance breed. From its foundation in the Kentucky foxhounds forward it has been bred for speed and endurance. As a raccoon treeing hound, it is challenged by no other breed in excellence. When judging I observe these hounds from the moment they enter the show ring until my mind is made up. As they enter the ring I look for an athlete. We use the term athlete all too often when describing hounds but in the case of the Treeing Walker it is most appropriate. Th e Treeing Walker is a tight made hound, just o ff square, well muscled with the look of speed. Not the racy look of the Whippet but with a look that says I cover large amounts of ground quickly. We have a saying when describing the Treeing Walker, it is a go yonder, get deep and get treed type of coonhound. When evaluat- ing the breed picture this in your mind. It is dark. You are standing in the edge of a freshly harvested cornfield and the tree line is 200 yds away. You point your Tree- ing Walker towards the woods and unleash it. It leaves in a dead sprint. In a few sec- onds it is to the tree line. It opens soon on

“The Treeing Walker IS FIRST AND FOREMOST OF PERFORMANCE BREED.”

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track, trails for while longer and suddenly locates and trees straight away in the woods where you cast. A quick look at your watch shows that a total of 30 seconds has elapsed and a glance at your Garmin tracker will show that the dog is 800 yds away. Th at is the type of animal you are judging. Th is is a dog that was released, found a track and trailed that track to completion a ½ mile away in about 30 seconds. Th at is the athlete I am trying to describe. As the handlers stack the Treeing Walker you should see a dog with its head level, ears relaxed and slender moderate neck falling to well laid back shoulders. Front legs should be balanced substantially with the overall size of the dog and should drop straight down from the shoulder, landing on thick, well-padded, well-arched cat-feet. A palm full of forechest is not as heavily boned as the English Foxhound nor is it as racy as the American Foxhound. From the withers the strong topline should gradually drop to the hips. Th e tail is set just below the hips. High or low tail set is undesirable. Th e Treeing Walker does not have a swayed or roached back. It is a moderate breed with no one part defining it. Th e rear end of the Treeing Walker should have moderate angulation, good turn of stifle, straight, short hocks and again cat-feet. Th e rump should be muscular as it is what propels this dog through the woods at night. When I see the Treeing Walk- er stacked, it reminds me of a dragster waiting on the tree to turn green. Like a great sports car, the Treeing Walker should look fast while standing still.

“THE FINER POINTS OF THE TREEING WALKER HEAD PIECE ARE WHAT SET IT APART FROM ITS FOXHOUND FOREFATHERS. When compared to the American Foxhound, the Treeing Walker head should have a houndier, heavier appearance. More depth of muzzle, slightly more flew and a heavier brow bone.”

Th e finer points of the Treeing Walker head piece are what set it apart from its foxhound forefathers. When compared to the Ameri- can Foxhound, the Treeing Walker head should have a houndier, heavier appearance. More depth of muzzle, slightly more flew and a heavier brow bone. It has a soft, almost “beaglish” expression that mask the competitive nature of this breed. It should never have a hard look for expression. Dark brown eyes and soft textured ears that roll to the front complete this beautiful face. All pigmentation on the Treeing Walker is black. No excessive dewlap, this is not a sloppy looking hound and the underline should start with a deep chest and gradually rise to the loin. Th e Treeing Walker lacks the regal look of the Black & Tan or the Bluetick and instead has a working man look to it. Th e standard calls for tri-colored to be preferred over the two colored variety. Th is harkens back to the days when Walkers were

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“…the Treeing Walker is a well balanced, athletic dog that is POWERFUL AND GRACEFUL AT THE SAME TIME.”

registered as English Fox and Coonhounds in the early 1900s. As the breed split, the color would separate these breeds. Th e American English Coonhound is primar- ily a two color breed the rare tri-color. Th e Treeing Walker is primarily a three colored breed with the rare two colored dogs. Black, White & Tan or White, Black & Tan are the preferred patterns with the predominate amounts of each in order. Th e two colored variety will have white and black. I look for a deep rich red, lustrous black and clean, tick free vibrant white. Ticking is also a hallmark of the American English breed and is undesirable in the Treeing Walker. I send the dogs around the ring and again I am looking for the athletic dog that is light on his feet showing good reach and drive, but not excessive lift in the front nor

kick in the rear. No wasted e ff ort as this is an e ffi cient moving breed. Sickle hocks are a fault and a weakness. Th e outline of dog never changes during this movement. It maintains its topline, head carriage and tail carriage. Th e tail is carried up like a saber. Th ere is a hint of power to the move- ment but not of exertion. Footfalls are well placed and the parts are all in balance with each other. Th e dog comes to a halt and the handler stacks him for inspection. As I approach a Treeing Walker I expect to see no shyness or timidity. I understand that the breed is shown on benches in many venues and I realize that a judging stand- ing over them may be new but I expect them to cope with this with minimal fuss. Th is is a tail-wagging friendly breed and should not be fearful of people. I go over the dog and it is a strong animal with no

weaknesses. I send it on its down and back. As it leaves me, it is not cow hocked or sickle hocked at all as these are both faults. From an engineering standpoint, the hocks are where the most torque is applied and any weakness there will be the first to break. Its rear legs do converge somewhat although it may or may not single track. On the return I want to see the front legs do the same and again, they may or may not single track. Th ey do fall in line and are not flipping to the side. Again the tail is carried up. I send the hound around again and greet the handler with a ribbon at the table. Another Treeing Walker breed winner. In summary, the Treeing Walker is a well balanced, athletic dog that is power- ful and graceful at the same time. It has a look of great speed and power without the raciness of the Greyhound or the sub- stance of the Bloodhound. It has the soft expression of the Beagle and loves to please its owner. It is a competitive breed and the dogs should have that competitive look to them while showing. It has e ff ortless movement that has the look of power, but not of exertion. Th e overall breed type is between that of the American Foxhound and the English Foxhound. Th ink of it as a bigger, houndier Harrier. I have attended many breed seminars over the years and I have found that the majority of spokes- people promote picking breed type over conformation. I have heard Harry Miller on occasion saying the following: Make your picks on breed type and then reward on conformation. I tend to agree with that thought process and I explain it in this way: I can bring a Dalmation into the ring and it can have a perfect front, a perfect rear and it moves around the in perfection. It is still not a Treeing Walker though. I also realize that part of a performance breeds type has to be correct structure so I truly feel a balance in my selection process has to be achieved if I am to select the cor- rect Treeing Walker time and again. Good luck in your future judging assignments.

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We’re called the Treeing Walker Coonhound

Written by: Beth O. (Nance) Snedegar, Alan Snedegar, and Tricia L. Snedegar

In 1922 on a central Indiana farm, a ten-year-old boy was given a small Fox Terrier named Bootsie. The two became almost inseparable, and even slept together. As Bootsie and the boy grew, they spent many happy hours in the woods hunting squirrels. Bottsie was often found sitting up and barking at the base of a tree with a squirrel on the first limb barking back. This young man provided many of squirrels for the family table with a Winchester .22 his father had given him for graduating from the eighth grade. In the mid-20’s, raccoon were scarce in this part of the nation. Therefore fox hunting was very popular with many of the houndsmen. This same young man could often be found listening to the houndsmen talk and brag as they stood by a fire and listened to the music. The boy could go fox hunting with Uncle Charley and his beloved Foxhound Ben, as long as he gathered wood for the fire and kept it going.

Newby was surpassed by no one in the state for their ability to catch a coon. After a brief conversation, the boy was delighted to hear that Queen would be com- ing to his house that very night to hunt the 200-acre timber that lay across the road. Several hours later this young man’s stomach was tired in a knot as the hunters gathered in his father’s yard. It was after dark before Queen arrived, and no time was wasted in turning her loose. She had hardly gotten through the rail fence when her deep bawl broke the silence of the crisp air. The Bluetick female was soon “treed”, but to the boy’s dismay, on a big den. Some of the hunters found fresh coon tracks in the mud coming to the big tree, but nothing was found on the outside and it was too big to climb. When taken off the tree however, Queen instantly headed back into the cornfield from which she had come. Five minutes later, she was opening going the opposite direction and soon crossed the road. Again the hunters found a fresh coon track near the edge of the road, and true to form,

They tried hunting raccoon on a few occasions, but always ended the night by treeing a couple of opossums and running but never catching some mink. About one night out of four they would actually hit a coon track; but by this boy’s 14 th birth- day they had not made a success- ful hunt. One night the dogs treed on a large oak, the hunters set their kerosene lanterns on the top of their head and hanged the bails, but no coon eyes seen. They built a large fire and

Queen had known there were two all along. Opening only three or four times, she was soon into the timber 80 rods to the East. None of the other hounds they had been hunting on those previous nights for the past couple of years had said a word, or shown any indication they knew what the blue female was up to. She bawled again and turned to the north. Soon she had entered another timber and sent word through the cool air that she was “treed”. Upon arrival at the scene, they found Queen on a Beech with the top broken out. One of the men took off his coat and was up the tree before the excited boy knew what had happened.

looked for two hours, but a coon was not to be found. Things began to change, however, when one day in 1926 the boy came riding home from town with his father. Coming the opposite direction down a country road was a horse-drawn wagon with a Bluetick hound named Queen sit- ting on the spring seat. The reputation of Queen and her owner Glen

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He pronounced that the coon was laying about three feet down in the snag portion, and soon punched him out with the air of a two-cell flashlight. The coon looked as big as a shepherd dog to the 14-year-old who’s heart was pounding faster than ever before. At this very instant, the coon hunting bug had bit- ten young Lester Nance, and at the same moment he realized that not all hounds were created equal. This night in the timber near the small settlement called Walnut Grove in central Indiana, the seed was plant- ed that would take 20 years to germinate, but the fruits of which are still harvested 80 plus years later, with no sign of reduction in yield. The experience of the night gave Lester the desire to hunt with Queen as often as her owner, Glen Newby, would allow. After a couple more hunts, Lester knew there was a great difference between the abilities of dogs and set a goal to someday own a hound that could be determined Queen’s equal. During the 20’s, other things were happening with- in a 30 mile radius of this same timber that later affected Lester’s now heart set goal. A traveling sales- man by the name of Shell, had a regular stop in a small town in southern Ohio. Having made friends with a couple of local hunters, he was very impressed by the performance of a Walker Foxhound they called Ring. It was commonly accepted that if you

could find a Walker that would tree, you could catch some coon. Mr. Shell asked about buying the dog, and learned that he had no real owner. All the hunters in town used him and saw that he was cared for. Since no one would accept his offer after two to three years of trying, Shell took the dog to the next town and had him shipped to his brother in Indiana. Ring was a large, black, saddle-back, with a white ring around his neck. He earned the title “straight cooner”, because he was never known to open on anything but a coon track. After his first year in Hoosierland, he was bred to another fine Walker female and from this litter came a well-known female called Spottie. Spottie was bred to a black and tan-colored male called Frank. Frank was purchased for 100 bushel of corn, at a time when few farmers had cash to spare. In 1929, Frank treed 11 coon on the outside, at six years of age. This was an unheard of number, as most hunters pent the whole season getting four or five. These 11 coon were sold for $11 each, which much more than made up for the 100 bushel of corn in those pre-depression days. From the litter of Frank and Spottie, came a female known as Foland’s Queen. Foland’s Queen was of the true Walker style in that she was a hunting and strike dog deluxe, and soon became a natural tree dog. Queen was a trim-built dog that was primarily black

Lester C. Nance reads Full Cry, surrounded by his Treeing Walker hounds Rowdy , King , Boone and Sparkie .

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and tan in color, and fell into a ringing chop when announcing to all that a coon was treed. In November of 1927, Herman Bray of Elwood, Indiana, purchased a Walker Foxhound named Speed. Speed was pure Walker Foxhound breed- ing, but had been outcast by the fox hunters

that he needed to own King in order to reach his dream! Finally, in late October of 1932, Herman priced the pup to Lester for $25. Lester had only $13 cash to his name and the depression was in full swing. Lester told Bray he would give the cash and two 100- pound bags of “Peet’s” pig mineral for the then unproven seven-month- old pup, King. Since Bray fed that brand of feed, he knew they cost $7 each to buy and agreed to the deal. Lester had secured

because he would stop a fox chase to tree a coon when he got a chance. Speed was an open trail- er, had a loud tree voice, and was a true tri-color. Bray paid the unheard of price of $75 cash for him at four years of age, when a good dog could be bought for $35. The first season that Foland’s Queen and Speed were hunted together, a diary was kept of all their hunts. They struck 29 coon tracks and treed 27y. This was quite a good season for the times and the num- ber of coon to be found in that area. In January of 1932, Foland’s Queen and Speed were mated. Lester was well aware of this cross and made a trip to see the litter of 12 when they were about a week old. He made arrangements with Bray to get two females from the litter. Bray kept all five of the males, since he wanted to hunt them some before making a decision which he wanted to keep. At five months of age, Lester and Bray took these seven pups hunting with Speed. That night, no coon tracks were struck, but one of the pups went hunting with Speed while the rest stayed near the lantern. This blanket-backed male which had been named King, finally began to bark lost when Speed left him behind, but found his way back. A few days later, they took the same seven pups down on the White River to see how they would take to water. King and Lester’s female were the only two that took right to the river like ducks. A short time later, Lester lost both his females, one to a car and one to distemper. Bray agreed to let him hunt Speed, Queen and the five males, so they would get some experience. After several shake-out races, and going in to trees with the two old dogs and only one of the pups, King, up on the wood; Lester knew

Lester with White River Boone ~ circa 1949.

for $27 the hound that would be the first-ever adver- tised as “Treeing Walker” and the foundation of the breed which would not get recognition by the United Kennel Club, Inc. (UKC) for another 13 years. White River King became Lester’s constant com- panion. He went with Lester as he graded roads for the county. King rode in the truck seat, and if a squir- rel or groundhog crossed the road, the door would open and the chase would be on. Three nights before the season officially opened, Lester slipped in to the same woods where he had seen his first coon in a tree. At eight months old, White River King opened on a track in the corn and was soon in the timber. For the next 14 years, a familiar voice would tell Lester in the night air that the coon was up the tree. Lester found King on a big cottonwood, and backed up a little to shine the tree with his lantern. The eyes of that coon shown in the night like Times Square on New Year’s Eve to the excited 20-year-old man. He knew the pup had treed a raccoon, and now the coonhound world was headed into a different direc- tion than ever before. Fourteen years later, Lester returned to this same tree with King wrapped in his hunting coat. On that day in December 1946 Lester had the sad chore of laying in his final resting place, not only his personal friend, but the foundation of a new breed, and the beginning of a new era. This hound had always given his best, was always dependable. He was a coon hunter’s coon dog! Twenty-three years after his death,

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he would be among the first half-dozen to enter the Treeing Walker Hall of Fame held with the Treeing Walker Breeders & Fanciers, Association (UKC). That first year King soon developed a hatred for the masked bandits, but more importantly, he improved his talents for catching them. In the decade of the 30’s Lester and King became very well-known in Indiana as the most dedicated hunter and hound in the sport of coonhunting. Their catches were well documented all over the state, not only for catching coon, but also for the fact that Lester broke him to run fox in the daylight. King proved just as apt at catching fox as coon, but at night would not open on a fox even when put with the Foxhounds, a feat that Lester had to prove on several occasions to those who did not believe. By the end of the decade, Lester tried to find a female he felt worthy of breeding to King to begin a breeding program. The best female he knew of was King’s littermate, Peggie. No breed was at this time formed, nor organizations issuing pedigrees on Walker-type coonhounds, so Lester Nance was breed- ing for ability and only ability. He selected what he

of ear, but payed special attention to what was between the ears!” This statement was the basic premise of his entire career as a breeder, and I believe the major reason that the Treeing Walker Dog has become a dominant force of the coonhound world. Sparkie would become one of the most important parts of Lester’s breeding program, and a very top cooner. Sparkie, at the age of 13 years and in failing health, was entered and came home the winner of the National Treeing Walker Days in Bloomington, Illinois. Also in 1942, Carl Sloan of Atlanta, Indiana bred his fine Star female to King. From this litter came White River Rowdy, and White River King II. Rowdy would become in later years the backbone of the females in the White River Kennels, then and now. She was in Lester’s opinion the greatest trail hound he ever followed. She was a dog with personal- ity and the brains to make a tough coon track look easy. In 1950 a pup out of Rowdy called Nance’s Ring would win Best Male of Breed in what was then one of the most prestigious coonhound events – Leafy Oak. Ring was to become the sire of Little Topper, one

of the early titled dogs in night hunt competitions and the sire of Nance’s Little Topper, which later sired many top big fame and coonhounds. In 1983, 41 years after her birth, Rowdy was voted into the Hall of fame, another of Lester’s proudest moments in the Treeing Walker breed. Beginning about 1942, Lester was looking for somewhere to register his line of hounds and made contact with several orga- nizations. Since he had been involved with the purebred live- stock business, he realized the value of having a proven and known pedigree that could be shared with others. Both AKC and UKC showed no interest, so he turned to Full Cry maga- zine, which had started a reg- istry in 1940 under the direc- tion of Bill Harshman. In 1943, White River King became the first Treeing Walker registered in this group; very fitting since he

felt were the two best cooners in Indiana besides King, and bred Peggie to one of them. This litter was born in 1941, and his pick was a female called Gin. She showed enough promise before her first birthday that she was bred to the other male he had selected and this litter was born in January of 1942. From this litter came N & K Sparkie, the female he wanted to breed to White River King. In July of 1944, Lester ran an ad in Full Cry magazine that the litter by White River King and N & K Sparkie were for sale at $35. This litter was line bred to King, who at the same time was at stud for $25. This was a mile- stone to the coonhound world, as it was the first time the words “TREEINGWALKER” were ever seen in print as a strain of breed of hound. Lester stated in this ad that he “did not breed for length

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was first advertised within this new breed. Two years later, after much discussion and negotiating, Dr. Furhman, then owner of the United Kennel Club (UKC) agreed to meet with a group of breeders at the home of F. C. Reeder in Loagansport, Indiana. Small groups of avid, dedicated coonhunting houndsmen were able to convince Furhman to accept these spot- ted dogs, but as a part of the English breed which he already recorded. They had to accept the name English Coonhound (Walker Treeing) or nothing at all, so the new breed started off as a strain of the English breed. Within a few years the breeds were complete- ly separated with the breed registered as Walker Treeing. It wasn’t until the late Mr. Fred Miller took ownership in UKC that the English was dropped and they were actually called Treeing Walkers on the official pedigree.

states used for big game hunting – lion, cougar, and bear. You will find the Nance strain in the large tim- bered Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where coon, bob- cat and bear are the prey. While many enthusiasts in other regions of the United States, simply coonhunt. In the 80 years since Lester Nance first treed a coon, many changes have occurred. A new breed has been formed, a competition hunts started and have reached a high level of intensity, conformation shows flourished, publications have begun, the faces have changed, and the equipment demanded by hunters is as different as night and day. However, the goal is the same. It still takes a dog with desire and ability to achieve that goal. The mountain is still there for those who set their sights high enough.

After a long battle with Parkinson’s dis- ease, Lester Nance, of Arcadia, Indiana joined many of his beloved hounds, hunt- ing friends and their Lord, on December 9, 2001. Etched in the headstone is White River King, from a photo taken in 1933. The cemetery is located near a creek where Lester used to hunt, and empties within two-three miles into the White River, and about four miles from where King was buried in 1946. Along with his registry and breeding accomplishments, Lester was blessed with three grandsons, Kip and Trent Gordon and Mic Newby all residents of Indiana; all of which hunt as much as they can with

The dreams of the young boy had reached new levels; he no longer had to keep the fires. He was the fire that was the center of their attention.

The first meeting of the (UKC) National Treeing Walker Association was held at Lester’s home in 1946, where he was elected president. The first National Treeing Walker Days was held in 1951 at Arcadia, Indiana. A son of White River Boone won the hunt-making the dreams of a 14-year-old boy and the goals of a breeding program a reality. In 1946, Lester was impressed by a hound owned by Bernard Hole of Indiana called Boone. Lester purchased the dog for $500 and three years later White River Boone won the second held American Coon Hunters

Association (ACHA) World Hunt. Finishing second was White River Rowdy, Lester’s favorite. The dreams of the young boy had reached new levels; he no longer had to keep the fires. He was the fire that was the cen- ter of their attention. By the early 1950’s, with both King and Boone gone, and King II, Rowdy and Sparkie at ten years of age, Lester concentrated more on the swine business and raising his family. His hearing was beginning to fail, which hindered his ability to follow the hounds. He was diagnosed as having Parkinson’s disease which created a whole new set of priorities in his life. By 1955 he withdrew from active completion in the coonhound world, but all serious and avid coon- hunters knew they were welcome to stop at his place any time. Several people continued the breeding that Lester started, and the strain lives on today. From central Indiana and the times of coonhunting with lanterns, came a strain of Nance blood in the western

their sons, and have some of the closest relatives to the “originals” as possible. They process the apprecia- tion and drive that Lester passed along to them, and in their own way have contributed to another generation devoted to the breed. Daughter Beth (Snedegar), who can be found in many of the old pictures and records, played an active role in breed activities for 25 years, and has shown many Treeing Walkers to local, state, and national show championships. Beth could often be found curled up with Rowdy when she was small. Today, Granddaughter Tricia Snedegar plays a very supportive role in advancing the Treeing Walker breed into the AKC Hound Group, by exhibiting her hounds nationally in the Miscellaneous Group as breeder-owner-handler. Another milestone that is proudly displayed by this family of nearly 90 years a love, devotion, and dedication of a breed called the Treeing Walker Coonhound.

90 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE • O CTOBER 2010

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