Picardy Spaniels in North America. The Year in Review

In 2016 there were fewer than a half dozen Picardy Spaniels in North America. By the end of 2017, the number had risen to nearly 30 and for the first time ever, a litter of Picardy Spaniels was whelped in Quebec. Over the last 12 months North American hunters and breed enthusiasts have imported pups from the UK, France and Germany and three Picardy Spaniel kennels are now officially registered with NAVHDA, including one in the UK, a first for the association.

Here in Manitoba, despite below average bird numbers, our Picardy Léo had an awesome 2017 hunting season. Here is question/answer format video I cobbled together of clips of Léo in the field, forest and water during the season.

One of the highlights of the season was Lisa's shooting. She was on fire! With her trusty side-by-side and Kent Bismuth ammo, she out shot me and her nephew CJ.

Another thing I really enjoyed in 2017 was helping folks connect with Picardy breeders overseas and helping them get good pups. When Lisa and I flew to Europe last spring we stopped over in the UK to bring back two pups for hunters in Saskatchewan. Seeing the smiles on the fellows' faces as their new pups jumped into their arms at the airport made our year! Thanks to social media, I was also able to help other folks have pups shipped in from overseas  or even to fly to France to pick up a pup. Jamie Simmons for example, not only got a great pup, he hunted for a week in France and made several new French hunting buddies.

Once Jamie returned from France and the jet-lag had worn off, I asked him a few questions about how and why he ended up flying half way across the world to pick up a pup. Here's what he said:

How did you 'discover' the Picardy?
I discovered the Picardy in a random Google search for “Spaniel” which produced the names and pictures of the different breeds. The Picardy and Blue Picardy caught my eye as I had never heard of them before. I was instantly intrigued and wanted to learn more about them. I found the North American Picardy Alliance web site and inquired where they could be found via the contact link on the site and soon received your initial email. I had also searched Facebook and found several breeder pages as well.
How did you "meet" Quentin online?
I had viewed Quentin’s ad on a Facebook page and then you mentioned it as well and offered to call him to check references, etc. That meant a lot to me as a vote of confidence.

How did you and Quentin communicate on line?
All of our communication was through Messenger on Facebook. I spoke no French and he spoke almost no English so most of the communication I translated through Google Translate. I attempted to learn some French before I left but there just wasn’t enough time between when I made the decision to go (late September) and when the pups would be available (early December). Quentin had worked on his English some during that time, but we found that Google translate on my phone was easier for normal conversation. It was a hurdle but it worked well enough to communicate with him and his friends/family.

Why did you decide to go get the pups instead of having them shipped?
Honestly, cost was a big factor. With 3 kids and modest income, I wasn’t real keen on spending a lot of money on a breed of dog that I knew very little about and had never seen before (besides meeting yours once). When Quentin offered to take me hunting if I went over there, well that sealed the deal! Not only would I be getting a new pup, but also the experience of a lifetime!

Was it your first time there? What did you learn about France and the French people?
My time spent in France was mainly spent hunting and hanging out with his friends. It was not a tourist trip! We spent 3 days in the “Duck Hut,” although the migration was very slow while I was there. Most complained that this was their worst year ever for ducks, but the experience was still unbelievable! I would equate it to hanging out at deer camp, but with the ability to run out in the dark and shoot ducks on the water with a scoped shot gun! We also spent a morning chasing Bécasse (European woodcock) and I managed to bag my first! We spent another morning/evening chasing pheasants, rabbit and duck. We took one day and went to Blankaart Castle in Belgium where there is a large waterfowl preserve surrounding it. Very neat place! On the final day we did a large pheasant with 25-30 other hunters.

This was my first trip outside North America, but definitely won’t be the last! I learned that the French spend a lot of time hanging out and conversing with each other over meals and drinks. It seemed at times that we were eating non-stop! I also learned that Johnny Hallyday (their version of Elvis) passed away while I was there and was the topic of a lot of discussion among his friends and family. I also learned that most do not speak English (at least where I was), but the people were very accommodating and very nice! 

What surprised me was many of Quentin’s friends and family offered for me to stay with them in their homes on my next trip to France. I thought that was very generous and I look forward to seeing them all again. 

What was it like seeing your pup for the first time and hunting with their mother?
It was very neat to see Gyda (Nyda) for the first time. Out of the same little, both he and his parents were keeping pups, so there were 4 of them running around when I arrived. It was fun to see how the interacted (fought) with each other and vied for attention. Hunting with their mother, Ilka, was reassuring that I had a made a good decision. She ranged well, seemed to have a good nose on her and had a very strong desire to hunt!

How was the homecoming for your pup? Kids must have been thrilled!
Homecoming was great! It was fun to see the kids reaction after being gone a week and bringing home a new member of the family. They were happy to see me, but I think they were more excited to meet their pup! Travel was a bit stressful, but everything ended up where it should be. I would do it again now that I know the ropes.

Since she's been home, how has your pup adapted? What is her personality like?
Pup has adapted very well! It took her about a week to adjust to our time (7 hours different than France), but once we got over that she sleeps all night (most nights). She has her puppy moments, but I still cannot get over how calm she is. She loves to cuddle, but isn’t over the top with having to pet all the time. After a bit, she just finds her pillow and lies down. For 4 months that is crazy! She is also very gentle with my kids (ages 4,8,11). Her personality seems laid back with a kind of whatever attitude. She doesn’t get worked up about anything besides a little whimpering in her kennel. Vacuum, loud noises, kids yelling have no effect on her. I can’t wait to get her in the field!

I'd love to hear from other members of the growing Picardy family in North America, so post your 2017 stories in the comments below!

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