de la Cruz

Anecdote about running Standard Poodles in AKC field trials in the 1950's

Where did your Poodles come from (I mean, genetically)?

"I'm more sorry than you know to say I have no idea of the dogs' background. I had papers then, of course, but my parents didn't preserve them (although I do have the registration on our first Bulldog in 1945!). Mom just thought of Nappy and Josie as "dawgs". They were kept clipped with scissors in a modified Kennel Clip.

"We lived in the mountains of Northern California on the shores of Lake Almanor. Town was ten slippery, winding miles away and the trip sometimes wasn't possible in the winter. My dad and brother hunted to feed the family; deer, duck, goose, rabbit and squirrel - even mudhen (yuk!) when there was nothing else. Nappy was our "table" dog - when dad was hunting meat for the table, he took Nappy. Josie was less reliable and not as soft-mouthed. She'd sometimes play with the game she retrieved.

"During the late spring, Nappy would lay on the shore until a mamma-duck came by with ducklings. He'd quietly slip into the water behind them and pick up a duckling - then bring it to shore and just keep it where he could smell it. He never hurt them, and we were usually able to return them to their mother. He just loved the smell and feel of birds.

And, where did you compete in retrieving field trials in the 1950's -- prior to the North American hunt test movement?

"There was a field trial near Redding, CA and a man who hunted with dad for sport told him about it. He brought the entry blank and helped dad fill it out. I do remember he left the breed line blank, though he did fill in the AKC number. When we arrived at the field trial, I was suprised to hear someone refer to the dogs as "water spaniels"; I'd never heard of that breed. It was my first (and only) field trial, and all the errors were mine. Nappy was flawless on his retrieves; Josie a little less, but still she brought in her birds.

"Just before the awards were announced, dad was called to the trial secretary's table "to complete your entry blank". He filled in "Standard Poodle" under the breed line. You'd have thought he'd stuck a stick into a hornet's nest. The guys at the table, the judges, even some of the competitors got into a loud discussion. At the end, we were told that the dogs were not eligible to run, as they were a non-sporting breed. So they refigured scores, and moved two other dogs up - Nappy's score had put him in second place, Josie's in fourth. Dad was mad, I cried, and the dogs were ecstatic that they'd had a day to play with birds. I remember we didn't stay for the barbeque.

"That was my one and only foray into field trials. Nappy went back to putting meat on our table. Nappy died in 1957 from complications brought on by a rattlesnake bite. Josie had died earlier, while I was away in college; I don't know her cause of death.

"Oh, during the winter, Nappy pulled a sled for us kids. He was a big, sloppy, loving dog, and the perfect dog for our family.

"BTW, I do have a poodle now, a retired Service dog - a 14-yr old.... We got her from the pound, when her elderly owner was sent to a rest home.... Kelly is small for a modern Standard - 15-1/2 inches, 52 pounds, but except for...infirmities of age she is healthy and happy. She runs the household and the Pyrs all defer to her."

Catherine de la Cruz, 3 Oct. 1999

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