Marker's litter was born in August of 1995. It was a "circumstantial" breeding to Derby Champion, Greenwings Chances Are Slim. Slim went on to become a Canadian National Amateur Champion and an American Field Champion. He also won the Bronze medal in one of the first Super Retriever Series. If Gene hadn't had the one bad eye, he would have noticed that Slim got into an old fall, which racked up too many negative points to keep him from getting the Gold.
I had taken my wonderful brood bitch, Rushcreek's Bold Tigeress down to Madison, Ga. to be bred at Mike Long's kennel, to FC Westwind's Chances Are. This was to be "Tigger's" last litter. She had previously been bred to NFC Gusto's Last Control, owned by Mac and Lyn DuBose, which produced a Master Hunter. I had watched Chance run field trials and had also seen some of his Derby dogs run. I liked him a lot...of course, he ended up throwing Slim a Derby Champion belonging to Gene Anderson. Anyhow, I kept calling Mike to see if he had gotten my bitch bred and the answer kept coming back, "no"...Chance doesn't want to mount her...he has been having that problem with other bitches. I told Mike that this being a last breeding with no time to find another stud, that I had to get her bred. I asked, “do you have another stud at your kennel?"...the answer came back, "just Slim" the Derby Champion by Chance. I said breed him to her before she stops ovulating.
Boy, did that breeding turn out to be great! It was bountiful fate from up above! What a beautiful litter of puppies. I kept the pick yellow female and named her Rushcreek's Bold Chance in honor of Chance and Westwind's Bold Tiger. There were at least three Field Champions in Tiger's litter, telling me how strong that cross was...also, my bitch Tigger's dam was by FC Lakeridge Charlemagne, Sanna Carey and Sweetpea Thompson's dog. What a great Champion he was as was his sire, FC Itchin' To Go, that belong to Pam and Dave Bird. I looked over the black males and decided to go against my normal pickings and took the largest black male. I always figured the largest male puppy was lethargic and dominant and too independent. It all goes back to original fate of the pup that comes out the largest gets the most milk and pushes the other pups around more. My feelings about yellow females prevailed somewhat, too. I always looked at them as softer and harder to train in my line of dogs. I was wrong twice! What great puppies. We won first and second in every puppy trial we ran with "Liz" the yellow female usually beating "Marker" the big black male. I always said to myself, "yeh, but that will change one day". Anyhow, Liz was harder to train than Marker. She would buck me and Marker just wanted to please. He was easier for me to put through my finished dog (all-age) training program. However, Liz turned out to be a flawless trial dog. She performed like a champion at master hunter trials all over the southeast. Marker became my hunting partner and best buddy and lived in the house with me. Liz stayed in the kennel and became a really good brood bitch. I never did her right from a personal standpoint...she ended up getting Mastitis that went into Mammary Cancer. I lost her too early in life and then felt guilty for not loving her more...I shot a pigeon on land and a duck over water before I had to take her to the Vet's to be euthanized. It hurt me greatly...we did all we could do to save her, but the oncologist at the University of Georgia stated that she would not recuperate.
Liz and Marker became my second two Master Hunters out of Tigger. My first two were Rushcreek's Sweet Sassafras and Rushcreek's Bronco Chief. Sassy was a great little Derby dog and completed many series. Chief ran four Qualifyings and Reserve Jammed two and Jammed the other two. He was right there, but I could not travel every weekend to make him QA. I ran him in an Amateur or two, but he never finished in the money. I did finish the Master Nationals in St. Louis with Chief in 1996. He and Sassy both were great hunting dogs. Sassy loved hunting the Wateree River for Wood Ducks out of my boat the most. She didn't take up much room along with decoys and other paraphernalia. After two ACL operations, I retired her with my daughter and son-in-law, Chris and Lesley Usher. They loved her until she passed away at an old age!
Marker threw many Hunt Test Champions in UKC and AKC. He sired many great finished hunting dogs that I trained for hunters that traveled all over the USA, Canada, and Mexico. Many of those would have been Hunt Test Champions, but the owners couldn't part with them to go on "the circuit". One of his pups, Bernie, was made a pet by the Bernard's(The Patriot) who used him as an extra in many of their movies they directed. He was big and gorgeous just like Marker. Harry Knight, my good friend from Virginia got a great pup named Annabelle. I picked her out of a litter by Marker and Top Ducks Virginia (Ginny). Harry wanted to sell Ginny because she was too high strung for him to hunt with, so I purchased her with the understanding that I would give him a pup back. Annabelle was one of the easiest and smartest dogs I ever trained. Annabelle is still alive at this writing and hunting all over Canada and the Dakotas with Harry. He and she are slowing down a bit, but still enjoying their lives together. Harry has many great stories about her hunting prowess. Harry was National President of DU back in the '80's and is a great guy! He visits when he can at Rushcreek and loves to listen to how I analyze everything and spout out my philosophy about training these dogs I feel like I developed. Soon I will have carried my half of the breedings into the fifth generation at Rushcreek. We have shipped dogs all over the USA for 30 years. If I could hold on to one accolade, it would be that I am one of the few people in the dog world that has bred, trained, and handled my own dogs to their Championships. We have done it 15 times...now I am slowing down and don't travel as much. I am spending my time teaching young trainers and hunters how to handle their dogs. I have trained four people that have made either all or part of their living training dogs. I developed a 30 hour training program called "Think Dog". I market it on my website, www.rushcreekretrievers.com and at www.DogsAfield.com. Dwight Neal did a great job of putting my DVD together, which is the textbook.
I bred Marker and Ginny many times and got great pups. Ginny was by FC Westwinds Bold Tiger and a Wilderness Harley to Go bitch that belonged to Harry. It was a great linebreeding that worked well for me. Some of the dogs were tough to force fetch, but once done with that, they excelled in the field. I learned about linebreeding from reading Robert Wehle's works...both his DVDs and his books. His philosophy basically was to select the best dogs from each litter and to breed away from faults and toward strengths. It worked for his line of Elhew Pointers (I owned and trained three myself) and for connecting my lines based on Westwinds Bold Tiger and the Itchin' To Go/Air Express line.
I plan to write more about Rushcreek Dogs...I just finished the book "Edgar Sawtelle" about a family that bred a line of dogs for three generations. It's a work of fiction, but reminded me of what I have strived to do as scientifically as I am capable of. I was a Manager and Engineer at DuPont for 32 years and became a problem solver/troubleshooter. My last job was to get an area started up that no one could get to run. I learned a lot from a PHD in Chemistry about scientific notation and being able to back up theory with fact before making a change in a process. All of that has influenced my thinking on how I breed dogs. I believe that sometimes you have to look at the best qualities to let prevail to make the best product...one that people want to purchase over and over again. My dogs have gone from generation to generation in families as hunters and trial dogs. They will do whatever they are asked to do...they are very intelligent with great temperaments. They are willing to learn if you know how to teach. The responsibility is ALWAYS on the Teacher, not the student! Use that wisely.