Strideaway Review in Sporting Classics
Thanks to Tom Davis for the terrific review he wrote for his column in Sporting Classics on Strideaway and Bill Allen’s Unforgettables and Other True Fables!
If you haven’t discovered Strideaway, the website devoted to the history, traditions, and culture of pointing dog field trials (strideaway.com), you’re in for a treat. Created and managed by field trial fanatics and pointer fanciers Chris
Mathan of Maine and Mazie Davis of Alabama (Mazie’s husband is legendary professional trainer and Field Trial Hall-of-Famer Colvin Davis), the site’s a true labor of love.
Make no mistake, though: There’s nothing homespun about it. Quite the contrary, in fact. Gorgeously designed with cutting-edge graphics, the site features articles about past and present greats both two-legged and four-; podcast interviews with prominent judges, handlers, breeders, and veterinarians; videos, photo essays by Mathan (whose work is stunning), even fiction. It’s really a kind of high-end e-zine for admirers of class bird dogs and the competitions that honor them, with new content posted every couple months and all of it archived. The price for a subscription? Exactly what it costs to fire up your computer and type in the address.
That’s the dangerous thing about jumping on Strideaway: It’s all too easy to lose track of time and find that the hour you budgeted has ballooned to two or three. At least in my line of work I can justify it as “research,” sort of.
Tom Davis review features a photo of Texas Wild Agin (handled by Allen Vincent) at the 2013 Florida Open Championship.
Strideaway also offers several unique products, including notecards, window decals, “Setter Revenge” T-shirts and caps (in honor of Shadow Oak Bo’s historic win of the 2013 National Championsip), and a book that gets my highest recommendation, The Unforgettables and Other True Fables by Bill Allen.
As an evocation of a time and place—Allen’s milieu is the bird dog/field trial world from 1940 to 1980, roughly—this book has few equals. The legends are here, yes, but so too are the rogues and rascals, and Allen brings them to life in all their warty glory. His essay “Class!” is perhaps the definitive statement on that most elusive and desirable of qualities in a dog, while “Vick’s Hotel” is a powerful memoir of growing up in the ferociously segregated South—and learning an enduring lesson about the value of a man’s dignity.
If you’re a dog person of any stripe, you need to read this book.
…still available in the Strideaway Store!