Showsight Presents The Pointer

PURSUIT OF AN ART FORM

by SuSan Olivia lewiS ThOmpSOn Solivia Pointers

W hen I was a little girl, my neighbor had “bird dogs” —Pointers. Th ey were kept in a small pen, and I felt really sorry for them. Th ey were so kindhearted, friendly and gentle (“...in his expression are the loyalty and devotion of a true friend of man”). After school most days I would go see them, and put my hand through the fence to pet them. Watchful of the time, I would vamoose each day just prior to my neighbor’s arrival home from work, because if he saw me near his dogs he would jump out of his car, slam the door, shake his fist and scream, “Don’choo pet ’dem bird-dawgs, ’cause ’den ’dey won’t hunt!” (“ Th e Pointer’s even temperament and alert good sense make him a conge- nial companion both in the field and in the home.”) Th ose dear dogs made a lifelong impression on me, and I knew from the age of eight years that I would make this breed a part of my life. Pointers have been purebred for cen- turies. Th e breed’s foremost historian, William Arkwright, prepared an excel- lent history of the breed which all serious Pointer fanciers should own, Th e Pointer & His Predecessors (Arkwright, 1901). He did extensive research for at least eight years,

tracking references about the breed by pri- or authors, interviewing other breeders to record their knowledge of the breeds’ for- bears, sending letters, reviewing artwork which might lead to more information as to those involved with the breed—all without modern day computers and inter- net. It is an exhaustive, extensive work, and we are most grateful to him for this huge e ff ort. Mr. Arkwright was born into a fam- ily that raised Pointers, and his father pro- duced quality hunting dogs of exhibition caliber. Sadly, his father only lived a few weeks after William Arkwright was born, but left specific instructions with his ken- nel manager that his son was to be taught everything his father knew about the rais- ing and training of his Pointers, and about the breed in general. Th e wise and kind “favourite keeper” of Mr. Arkwright’s father, Charles Ecob, complied with these posthumous instructions and set young William on a course which resulted in his devoting his life to this breed. People are drawn to this breed as to any magnificent work of art. Th is breed has been the subject of artists for centuries. Pointers are among the most immortalized by art- ists of all purebred dogs. Th e head(s) of the Pointer are distinctively THIS breed, like

no other, and simply beautiful. Th e head, face and eyes of Pointers are irresistible. Th ere are TWO allowable heads under the AKC breed standard! Parallel planes (the top of the head is on the same plane as the muzzle) and a head with a dished muzzle (the muzzle is slightly concavely dish-shaped, similar to an Arabian horse muzzle) are EQUALLY ACCEPTABLE (“...the muzzle is of good length, with the nasal bone so formed that the nose is slightly higher at the tip than the muzzle at the stop. Parallel planes of the skull and muzzle are equally acceptable”). Th ere are gradations of the dished muzzles ranging from pronounced to very slight dish. Th e TOP of the head (topskull) of a dished- muzzle Pointer should still be in a parallel plane to the ground. Th is is true in a par- allel-planed head as well. If the top of the skull slopes backwards towards the dog’s neck, then the head planes diverge and are considered “o ff .” Ensure that the bottom of the dog’s muzzle is in a parallel plane to the ground to observe the plane on the top of the head. Further about how the Pointer breed standard (AKC) di ff ers from other breeds is mention of TWO allowable bites: “Jaws ending square and level, should bite evenly

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , O CTOBER 2014 • 187

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