“Strideaway” was conceived on the porch of the Davis home in Minter, Alabama in April of 2007. I was down for a photo shoot for the Davis Kennels website. From opposite ends of the field trial spectrum, Mazie from the all-age world, me from the grouse woods, we felt the same admiration for field trial bird dogs and had the same concerns centered around our love of this great sport, pointing dog field trials — in particular American Field sanctioned field trials for pointers and setters.
We talked of famous dogs and the tremendous performances that secured their place in history, the amazing places around the country where field trials are held, the men and women who hadn’t yet told their stories or passed on the knowledge they garnered over a lifetime working with bird dogs. Weren’t there many others who shared our desire to hear from these men and women and to read again the stories of those no longer with us? Their lives and those of the courageous bird dogs they owned, trained and handled — ancestors to all our modern pointers and setters — have come alive through the bird dog performances published in the pages of the American Field for the past century. Weren’t many of these reports worth reading again to remind us of where our extraordinary dogs came from?
So, we mused on about a place on the internet…a website rich with information gleaned from past American Fields and directly from respected members of our field trial community itself — the trainers, handlers, scouts, the judges and reporters, the owners, the veterinarians and others. For some it could be a place to reminisce their own participation and continue to contribute to a sport they love; for those new to it, an archive of history and knowledge, and for all, a source for up-to-date information on topics ranging from handling to health issues, upland game birds to field trial grounds around the country.
Bird dog history buffs will recognize the name Strideaway. This from A. F. Hochwalt’s The Modern Pointer, published in 1923:
Strideaway, by King of Kent, out of Pearl’s Dot, was probably the most talked of pointer in the derbys of 1893 and 1894. It was he that defeated the great setter Topsey’s Rod on two occasions in the finals for absolute best, and he was placed several times besides that, but as a sire of performers, he only left one. He was studded in the east, however, and perhaps because he was not so accessible to breeders of field trial pointers, he lacked the opportunities. His owner, Mr. Damon, bred him quite extensively, but among the bitches which he crossed with him were many of entirely new blood in this country: imported ones, with which he expected to develop a new line of breeding. This, however, did not prove the success he hoped for, although Strideaway was responsible for a number of handsome dogs which became prominent on the bench. He was a dog with a rather plain head, but of good body conformation, built on racy lines. In color he was white and liver.
“Racy lines”…yes, that was appealing but it was the dog’s name we both liked. “Strideaway” implies independence and a strong and easy gait …characteristics we think all field trial dogs should possess.
The photograph of field trial competitor “Pal O’ Mine” (Fin) worked perfectly to describe what we had in mind. She was a tough little bird dog whose ancestor’s included Blackwater, Nell’s Rambling On, and Fiddler. Fin pointed wild quail in Texas, chickens, pheasant and huns on the North Dakota and Canadian prairie, grouse and woodcock throughout the mid-west and northeast and had thousands of quail shot over her points at Davis Quail Hunts. She died, unexpectedly, of cancer in June of this year, three weeks after placing in her last field trial.
Strideaway Goes Live!
In July of 2008, Strideaway was officially launched as the first online publication dedicated exclusively to the great American sport of pointing dog field trials. From that time to the launching of this current website, we posted over one hundred and eighty illustrated articles, short stories, fables, other types of media including podcast interviews, major circuit championship maps, and photo galleries of field trial grounds and upland game birds.
From the first, our plan was to invite knowledgeable field trial participants and others in related fields to contribute to Strideaway. Our contributors’ efforts would directly support field trials. Strideaway is in the process of incorporating and will then file for not-for-profit status.
The Unforgettables & Other True Fables
We dedicate this website to the one and only fabulous Bill Allen. He has been our most ardent supporter from day one. A newspaper man by profession, Bill reported major circuit trials and wrote an outdoor column for the American Field from 1957 to 19xx. We posted dozens of Bill’s colorful fables till one day it struck us that Bill’s writing really belonged in the pages of a book. And thus the idea was hatched to publish the collection that makes up The Unforgettables and Other True Fables. In 2010, the first edition of The Unforgettables sold out, hot off the press, and a second edition was produced. It continues to be a great seller, available only in our store. This year we will pursue an e-version of the book. We are forever grateful to Bill for his generosity, support, humor and wisdom!
With over 320,000 visits to our website and 1,535 facebook fans at this writing, countless emails and other communications expressing enthusiastic support, we are encouraged and believe that there is much more that can be done with continued support and help from the field trial community. We want to extend our reach to more areas of the country where field trials are held and hope to present articles from many more contributors.
Thanks to all who have helped make Strideaway a success through their generous contributions. Special thanks to Tom Word for the many wonderful short stories he has so kindly shared with our readers. The Strideaway store will soon be the exclusive source for the hardcover versions of Tom’s books. Much gratitude goes to Shawn K. Wayment, DVM (our very own Bird Dog Doc) for the in-depth veterinary articles he has written specifically for our readers. As an avid upland bird hunter, his perspective is highly valued. Also thanks to Kim Sampson for her inspiring stories and photos and to Barbara Teare who has given us permission to re-publish her excellent portrayals of field trials and memorable field trial dogs.
Many thanks to all who have given Strideaway and the Armstrong-Umbel Endurance Classic their support. We hope you will continue to have faith in our efforts.
Mazie Davis, Chris Mathan