In 1996 after I moved to Atlanta I spent much more time in the fields and it is not an exaggeration to say that my “teaching and coaching of tennis went to the dogs”! I was privileged enough to get to know a GSP breeder and he produced one of the finest dogs I have ever known. Most of my tennis students knew who Java was because he stayed out on the court with me a lot while I taught. Java truly was a fantastic dog in many ways for me and my family.
When he was a puppy all the other dogs would fight the chain gang jumping and pulling the chain they were attached to and Java would get in the middle lay down and let the motion of the chain going back and forth rub his belly. He was a cool dog. But once you let him off the chain look out–cause he was going to be gone. But he was almost never out of control just out of range. He literally won a major AKC field trial in the morning running for miles and then sat with me on the bank of a pond while I spent the afternoon fishing for catfish. I have so many stories about Java. Here is one I think about often.
Mr. Jones and Java
I really liked Mr. Jones. He was a large and gentle man and a very good man and an excellent bird dog man. I think he was in his late 70′s early 80′s. He trained all of his own dogs to force fetch and they did it with style. I considered it a privilege years back when he agreed to run his best pointer with my white dog Java. Mr. Jones arrived alone at the training grounds a little after me and had about 4-5 dogs in the back of his truck and his 4 wheeler on the trailer. I remember he told me we would need the 4 wheeler.
We took some time to get everything ready. I got Java out and he got his pointer out of the back of his truck. I cannot remember the name now but he was real pretty. I stopped and hesitated because I had my year old son James with me. Mr. Jones said he would hold James inside his big green army jacket and I could drive the 4 wheeler.
We put the dogs on the ground and off we went. They covered the field and traded point after point and back after back on some of the liberated birds along the edges. It was a lot of fun and we really had a great time. After about 20 minutes the dogs got ahead of us and we lost them on the big field. We looked for them for quite a while and could not find them. At that point we decided to head back around to the other side of the field. We began to head back and we drove up and around a curve and there standing on point were the two dogs.
Now we both wished we had cameras cause both dogs were very staunch on point with what might have been a split find facing one another about 10-15 yards apart. They were silhouetted against the fall multi-colored leaves on the low branches and on the ground. We sat there for a little bit and George told me that it would not get any better than what we were seeing right there. Seeing the two white dogs on point at the edge of the woods with the leaves behind them was just perfect in his mind. Mr. Jones turned and asked me if I trained my own dog. I told him I did it with the help of a man in Piedmont, SC named Mo but really this particular dog needed no help and no training. He came out of the box doing it right. Mr. Jones turned to me and he said, “I do not care what anybody else says that is as pretty as it can be. And I do not care what no judge would say cause that is all 10′s!” I said, “Yes sir, Mr. Jones!”
Mr Jones handed me James and went to handle his dog and as usual he was worried that Java would break. But like all the times before I told him he would not break. And he did not even budge when Mr Jones moved in to flush. My dog Java raised up on his toes and stood tall but did not pick up a foot.
Mr Jones had his dog by the collar now and told me to get mine and said, “Let’s go back to my truck right away.” We loaded them up on the Mule. I figured Mr Jones wanted to get another dog out on the ground but when we returned to the truck Mr Jones stopped and said, “That was one of the prettiest runs I have ever seen.” He said, “Thank you J.P. but I am done!” He continued, “Anything we do after this is going to be downhill and I want to go home remembering that run by both dogs.” He laughed, smiled and said, “No judge is ever going to tell me I ain’t got a good dog.” I pleaded and asked him to stay and he said, “Nope, I’m not going to stay. You run your other dogs on those birds cause there is plenty of daylight left”.
That was the end of the day for Mr Jones as he loaded up and drove off with a big smile on his face. I had many more days with Java that were just fantastic to me–lot of people and judges were not that impressed with him but every once in a while he would do it right!–just like that afternoon with Mr. Jones–just for them. But as far as I am concerned he was the best dog I have ever known–all of the time.
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