That’s a cool story. There’s hope for this big blue and green rock.I'll try to keep this short. One of my first experiences hunting quail about 35 years ago, on a preserve, I had the chance to hunt with a couple young, good dogs (1-English setter, 1-English Pointer) and one great dog "Jim", an English setter. First half of the day was the young dogs as they needed the time afield and training. Now I knew a wee bit about what was expected of the dogs, not much about training so I was as interested in that as much as shooting, but the two gents I was with needed me to kill birds, not miss (no pressure, right?). Fortunately I mostly held up my part. The young dogs did pretty well on being broke to wing and shot, at least I thought so - not so much on retrieving. After a bag lunch, "Jim" was added to the pair of young dogs. Some more training for the young dogs on how to back. After a little practice, the young dogs were starting to get the idea but still wanted to creep in a little. Now to the "meat" of the story. We had all dogs on point with Jim up front, other dogs properly backing - what a pretty picture! Jim's owner had his turn, walked ahead and flushed a single. With a successful shot, the bird was falling - right into an island briar thicket about 40' x 60'. Fell right in the middle of it. Head high briars, only could see several feet into it. Young dogs started circling the thicket as Jim went straight to the edge and started in practically crawling. After about five minutes surveying this thicket, I would not have went in there for $ 100, much less one bird. Not that hungry at the time LOL. Young dogs still circling, cannot see Jim, but hear him rustling around in there. After about 15 minutes, here comes a bleeding, all scratched up Jim with the quail in his mouth. Owner replies "He always retrieves - no matter the circumstances, always". After a time-out to tend to Jim's scratches and patch him up a little, he's ready to go again as the sun is beginning to set. After one more find, shot and retrieve by Jim - I am pretty impressed with this day with Jim. At this point, I asked the owner how many people have you brought hunting that wanted to buy Jim - "All of them" he replied, "but you cannot buy Jim". He did however offer a me a pup from the next litter if I was interested. I declined as I was at the time too young and dumb to care for it, much less train it. Owner replied "One thing to remember when you get a dog - either you train him/her, or they will train you." Great bit of wisdom there I have since concluded.
Now, as Paul Harvey would say - "time for the rest of the story". Several years later in talking with some friends, the subject of bird dogs came up as did "Jim". I now find out that Jim is a direct descendant of "Tomoka" - I suspect most of you know that name, I did not at the time. Not only did every hunter want to buy Jim, but many well-known breeders had offered big money, free flights, even Lloyd's of London insurance to have this dog at stud. All to no avail - yet the owner bred him to many local friends' dogs whom he trusted for nothing but a first choice pup, many for nothing. Quite a gentleman and quite a dog!