Old Hemlock True’s Bromley

About 8 months ago in September of 2009 my wife Toni and I acquired a new family member. He is an Old Hemlock English Setter and his name is OH True’s Bromley. Bromley carries the meaning from the English of ‘a woodland clearing’ and we thought it appropriate.

The following is a short account of how Bromley came to be in our care.

I wrote it about two weeks after we returned home from fetching him and I had had some time to reflect.

A Miracle Puppy and a Grouse Dog For Us

I was ten seasons into hunting grouse and woodcock in my New Hampshire woods, reclaimed orchards and farm lots. Perhaps its just as appropriate to say that I have been pursued these ten years by a sense of traditional.

My first year’s adventures did not include a four legged friend. That first season yielded no birds to my crisp new vest but my imagination put many there. I spent my time learning how to recognize proper grouse and woodcock cover and scouring the southern half of my state looking for those places that might hold birds.

I had some early success, not so much due to a learned eye nor experience, but rather the many hours that I spent afield. Every once in a while we’d stumble upon a decent covert that held birds. It wasn’t until later years that I have begun to understand just why those early finds held birds.

The excitement at my first grouse flush and the fact that he fell to my shot was just what I needed to keep my interest each time I grabbed my department store vest, gun and put my lab on the ground. I’ve missed many more than I’ve hit since that day. Every time out was filled with the hope and expectation of a bird flushed and Connor bringing the prize to hand with all the joy of a child finding his first two wheeled bicycle under the Christmas tree on a snowy morning.

All of the elements were present and needed only the blessing from above to put the pieces together so as to reward Connor’s work and my determination to follow his nose. Once in a while it came together for us. Most of the time due to my bad shooting and birds avoiding my 8’s we came home with empty vest and poor Connor without the taste of feathers in his mouth.

Yet, I’ve loved spending time in my New Hampshire woods since a child; so the days were not lost and I generally learned something each day spent in those covers.

Just as many other aspiring upland hunters had before me, I read stories.

Stories of how ‘gentleman gun dogs’ would work close in thick cover and find and set a bird so that the fella on the wood end of the shotgun could better anticipate a bird’s flight. Of all of these stories and accompanying photos and sketches, those that froze in my mind involved English Setters. And of those it was the regal looking canines with flowing form and feathers that most caught my fancy.

Those images and stories led me to learn of the Dual Type dog and the how and why they came about.

Of those there were two. The George Ryman dogs that came from that man’s vision and determination to bring about a line that had never been and so was new to this earth. And the other beginning with those dual dogs and always dipping back to that gene pool; the result of the efforts of George and Kay Evans, who likely spent more time afield with their setters than any others. Folks with a dedication and an eye toward setters that have instinct to find and work upland game, be one half of a partnership, look beautiful at hearth and home and provide loving companionship in and out of the field.

These things appealed to me on many levels and I wished to have one of these gentleman gun dogs with which to pursue my new found past time.

About four years ago I had read about a fella, in my own New Hampshire, who bred Llewellin Setters and referred to them as a “classic New England gun dog”. His dogs had the look and reputation describing what I yearned for, so after several conversations and visits, I acquired a tri-colored male. I named him Tucker.

He is developing into a fine woodcock dog, has promise to be a decent grouse dog and is most definitely my good friend and companion.

It wasn’t until some time after, that I really learned of the differences between my Tucker and the Dual Type Dogs, so I decided that when the time was right, that it would be a good thing to have such a dog added to our family.

It was nearly two years ago that I contacted Roger Brown in order to inform him of my interest.

Somewhere along the line at least two and I suspect another individuals spoke kindly of me to Roger, in reference to owning an Old Hemlock Setter. For that I was gratified beyond words and forever thankful.

It is no small thing to have men and fellow upland hunters who so value these dogs, to have thought me a candidate to be included in the Old Hemlock family. No small thing to me.

During the summer of ’09 Roger and I spoke a couple of times of failed pairings and possible litters. Roger informed me of how an available puppy is greatly dependent upon the male to female ratio in a given litter.

There seemed to be a possibility of a pup sometime in 2010, but with no assurances possible–I braced for a wait.

And now I am finally getting around to how this story begins and ends with happiness at the McGranaghan household.

It began on the occasion of receiving a note from Roger telling of a puppy that had unexpectedly become available.

How that came about is a story for someone else to tell, but those circumstances made it possible for us to have this wonderful male orange belton who we subsequently and with great joy named OH True’s Bromley.

Roger told me that he is ours– that he would like for this pup to make a home with us and that we need only make arrangements to fetch him from away off in Minnesota.

As with many these days, money is tight and I have been working part time. I didn’t know how we could pull this off at short notice.

My wife Toni and I had been speaking on the phone back and forth over the next hour or so about these things and lo and behold Toni calls me back one time all excited. She was very excited and could hardly get the words out.

It seems that her boss had just walked up to her desk and handed her an extra week’s check. Something about straightening out the books.

Totally unexpected, timely and just what we needed to drive to Minnesota and back. Needless to say, the two of us were a bit pleased and agreed that this was providence at work. The details with our jobs worked out like the sweet action of my well oiled old Fox and we were set to leave that coming Friday afternoon with plans to arrive at Jim and Barbara Rectenwald’s place on Saturday evening. They very graciously invited us to spend the night and repeatedly called us both before and while journeying, encouraging us to not hurry on their account, but rather take time and be safe.

We arrived late in the evening, and our hosts were not daunted by the late hour, but rather spent much time visiting with us and allowing us that first opportunity to spend some time with our new baby, his litter mate and Becasse the mother.

For Toni and I, it was love at first puppy breath!

We were greeted with an energetic pup in fine fettle and just as anxious as we for hugs and kisses.

We were all weary and the dogs settled in to their accommodations and the rest of us into ours. We retired with thanks in our hearts and excitement also, for the days to come.

The ride home began that next morning as we parted with new found friends and much well wishing.

Nearly two weeks have passed until the time of this writing and OH Bromley has settled into his new home well. He and our Llewellin Setter Tucker are already fast friends as our ‘pack’ has adjusted.

OH True’s Bromley, in keeping with what I have heard and read, is one smart Dual Type ‘Old Hemlock’ setter.

Toni and I could not be more pleased at what the future holds as we look to hunting our New Hampshire and Maine coverts with an Old Hemlock setter.

What a privilege it is!

And to the McGranaghan household–‘A Miracle Pup’.

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~ by John McGranaghan on May 3, 2010.

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