So...how's that book coming along

Just about every week I get an e-mail or three asking me about the mega-huge never-ending book project®. And I always give more or less the same reply: "it's coming along nicely, thanks!"

And to be honest, I actually do appreciate the questions; they're a good kick in the derrière (that's French for skinny white ass). So I would like to thank everyone who has written, called or asked me in person. I'm grateful for the encouragement and motivation.

So here's a brief progress report on the whole crazy, crazy project. I'll use a FAQ (frequently asked questions) format to cover the main points.

Q: So what exactly is your book about?
A: It's about a subgroup of gundog breeds known as Continental Pointers. They are generally referred to as HPR's (Hunt Point Retrieve) in the UK and Versatiles in North America. Most, but not all, are listed in the FCI's Group 7 Section 1.

Q: How many continental pointing breeds are there?
A: The FCI recognizes 32 different breeds (and some varieties within some breeds). But there are several breeds of continental pointing dogs that are not (yet) recognized by the organization. The book provides a chapter on each and every one of the breeds including the non-recognized ones and even all those that have gone extinct.

Q: Have you seen all of them?
A: Yes. And no. I've seen every one of the officially recognized breeds in their native lands. And I've taken photos of them all in action in the field. I've also managed to see most of the breeds that are not recognized by the FCI except for three that may be extinct or are just too few and far between for me find.
  • The Epagneul de Larzac may be extinct. I've tried for years to find anyone who owns or breeds them, without success. They are (were?) another French pointing spaniel similar to the Brittany.
  • The Perdiguero Galego, a gundog from north-west Spain. The breed was thought to be extinct (others believe it is simply a local version of the Portuguese Pointer). A club was formed a few years ago to revive it, but I have been unable to make contact with the club or find anyone breeding these dogs.
  • The Catalburun or Turkish (Tarsus) Pointer. The breed is still alive in it's native Turkey, and there are reportedly some hunters still using them in the field. I've been in contact with a few people that know the breed well, but have not been able to get all the way to Turkey to see them.
Q:What information do you provide on each breed? And where did you gather it?
A: Each breed chapter is broken down into the following sections:
  • Name: How the breed got its name, what it means in English and how it is pronounced.
  • History of the breed. In this section, I take a good hard look at the available evidence and try to piece together the most likely scenario of each breed's development. In the process, I challenge some long-held assumptions and even bust some myths.
  • Current Situation: Who's breeding them, where are they being bred, how many are there, what clubs represent the breed.
  • Appearance. I briefly describe the coat type, colour, height and overall look. I avoid the common cop-out of just cutting and pasting the published conformation standards. I mean c'mon, world does NOT need another lame book with nothing more than show ring standards for content.
  • Performance. I give a description of how they run, point, track, swim, fetch, and protect (if applicable).
  • Tests and Trials: A look at the performance related events used by breeders to select stock.
  • Breeding programs. Basically a look at what went into the breed to create it...and what may still be going in officially or by the light of the moon.
  • Personal Observations. My own impressions of the breed after having seen it and spoken with breeders and hunters who know it inside out.
  • In a Nutshell. In this section I sum up the pro's and con's of the breed, its hunting niche, clubs, etc.
  • Caution Index: I rate the risk factor associated with trying to find a good one. The range is from moderate to extremely high; no breed is a sure bet, none are rated low or no risk.
  • Homeland: The breeds are presented in sections according to the country of origin. In each section, I offer an overview of the hunting history and traditions of that particular country as well as a description of the gundog scene there today.
Q: So, when will you finish it?
A: My crystal ball tells me "soon", but the fortune cookie I got with lunch the other day said "eventually". The truth is probably somewhere in between.

Q:Will you self-publish or shop it around?
A:I'm leaning toward self-publishing. With print on demand services now offering fantastic print quality and the ability to control all aspects of the content, design and layout, I am very tempted. That does not mean I'd refuse a publishing deal though.

Q:Why is it taking you so long to write it?
A: Short answer: I'm slow.
Long answer: If I wanted to publish a quick and easy book, I could have taken the same route as so many authors of so-called dog bibles: copy and paste a bunch of show ring standards, add a few words based on crap found on the net or put out by the AKC and be done with it. Instead, I decided to write a book based on the best information I could gather from breed experts, well regarded authorities, reputable authors and above all, hunters. And that has meant a heck of a lot of travel. Since I really can't afford to go to Europe and the US more than once a year (if that) I've had to plan my trips very carefully and use the time in between to work on the book...and hunt with my own dogs course! That, and I have a full time job: I'm a photographer/educator/stand-up philosopher.

I should also add that the whole project is one of those "its the journey, not the destination" kind of things. What could be better than combining the three keen interests my wife and I share :dogs, photography and travel? We don't really care that its taken us years to get where we are now. It's been a wonderful adventure.

That said, I should point out that if you have your ass-kicking boots on, remember to send a swift one my way once in a while...I really need to get this book thing done!


  1. Well, when it is done I'll be happy to buy a copy. Sounds great!

  2. Sign me up, Craig! Can't wait to read the words and check out the pictures.

    all best