Here's left-to-right Sheffield, Jenkins and Fergus after a run in the wet woods on Wednesday. Sheffield is my wife's niece's (Laurel) new pup. Laurel and her mom, Cindy, were up this week for a short visit and brought along the seven-month-old setter pup. My first thought was he looked like Ox, our first setter, with his dark head, who died almost a decade ago. We later checked Sheffield's pedigree -- he was out of Round River Kennels in Burlington, Iowa -- and found to my surprise Alderwood Hope and Alderwood Black Jack in his blood. Hope was Ox's mom and Black Jack his grandfather. So of course I had an even softer spot for Sheffield.
Ox, my first real bird dog, got me addicted to grouse hunting. He and Dan Pempek of Alderwood Kennels taught me a lot about grouse hunting. He's pictured here above with my brother Matt in a northwestern Wisconsin covert. Just before this photo was taken he had pointed a black bear hibernating in the open, which fortunately ended well with the bear lumbering off. Ox was 80 pounds plus and wished every day was October. It warmed my heart to know his blood is still flowing, his genes still coursing through the woods and across fields.