Tribute To Huntleigh’s General Powell “cole”
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Thread: Tribute To Huntleigh’s General Powell “cole”

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Oct 2007

    Default Tribute To Huntleigh’s General Powell “cole”

    It was the third week-end of our fall 2009 field trial season. Cole, four years old, and Buck, three years old, were scheduled to run the Open with Greg Lister in Pinkneyville, Illinois on September 18, 2009. My third open dog, FC Gauge, was running with Bill Eckett at a different trial. The grounds in Pinkneyville are only one and a half hours from my home so I planned to attend on Saturday morning if at least one of my dogs was still running.

    Friday was a humid day. It is my understanding that the judges set up a quad in heavy cover for the first series. I was told that the test dog only picked up two birds and seemed to be overheated. Numerous dogs ran this set up without incident. Cole was the first of my two dogs scheduled to run in the afternoon. He picked up the first three birds and was sent for the fourth. Debbie Bohnsack told me that he took off like a rocket for the fourth bird. At some point Greg and others lost sight of him. Greg blew the come in whistle to no avail. A search was begun for Cole but he was difficult to find due to the heavy cover. By the time he was found it was too late. He had overheated, collapsed and died.

    I was on a business call at approximately 4:00 p.m. Friday. I saw that Greg had called my cell phone several times. Once I got off the business call I checked the message from Greg. I was expecting him to call to let me know if either Cole or Buck was going to be back for the second series on Saturday. I listened to the message and he was crying profusely asking me to call him right away.

    I called Greg and he told me the news. He was at the veterinarian's office in DuQuoin, Illinois. I was shocked and did not know what to do. Should I drive to Pinkneyville or DuQuoin to bring my boy home? I got in my truck and looked at the temperature – it was 83°. Before I could leave downtown St. Louis I received a phone call from the vet’s office in DuQuoin. They wanted to know if I wanted Cole’s ashes sent to my home. At that point, I knew there was nothing that I could do so I went home. His ashes arrived yesterday.

    One hopes to pay tribute to his dog following the National Open if his or her dog is fortunate enough to be a finalist. Instead, I am doing this as a result of Cole’s untimely death.

    I purchased a Shadow puppy in January 2005 but subsequently found out that Susie Rich was breeding FC Theda to NFC Patton. I spoke to Susie several times and decided to send a deposit. I was excited to be able to get an NFC-FC puppy.

    Beth Harman whelped the litter at her home in Iowa and the puppies were born on March 5, 2005. She raised and socialized puppies. Beth would forward photographs of the litter on a regular basis. I spoke with Beth and Susie numerous times and with their help picked out my puppy.

    Beth and Susie indicated that they were going to try to stick with a military theme when naming their pups. I had always liked the name Cole and decided to name my puppy after Colin Powell, Huntleigh’s General Powell “Cole”. When Cole was ready to come home Dave Hemminger picked him up from the Harman’s and brought him to St. Louis.

    I decided to send Cole and my other puppy, Raider, to Rick Stawski who specialized in young dogs. Both puppies went on Rick’s winter trip to Georgia/Florida on January 1, 2006. After the winter trip Cole and Raider returned to Minnesota with Rick Stawski and Raider placed in a derby that summer. Rick informed me that he had a buyer for Raider and thought that I should sell him and keep Cole. I was confused since Raider had just placed in a derby. Rick asked if I was interested in a derby dog or an all age dog. It was his opinion that Cole had the potential to be a great all age dog and Field Champion.

    Rick ran Cole in the derby at Mid-Iowa in September 2006 and he placed. Greg brought him home from Iowa and we were on our way. Cole ran additional derbies that fall but I don’t recall the results. Greg took him south to Jeff Horsley’s place in Alabama in February 2007 and ran a derby in Georgia. He placed second finishing ahead of the high point derby dog.

    Cole turned two on March 5, 2007 and began running the qualifying stake a few weeks later. I remember him finishing the St. Louis Trial in March or April 2007. The next highlight of his career came at Mid-Illinois. I was at the trial and got to see Cole run the first two series. Steve Hamilton and Debbie Bohnsack were judging. Cole was looking good but unfortunately I had to leave the trial to attend a party in St. Louis that evening. I made it home and was driving to the party when Greg called and told me that Cole had won. Cole was qualified all-age at twenty-six months old with the win.

    The fall 2007 field trial season arrived. Cole was only twenty-nine months old and had already won a qualifying but was not ready for the Open. He placed in several of the early season qualifyings. The Bootheel Retriever Club was holding a derby/qualifying event and I asked Greg if we could enter Cole in the qualifying and Bucky, who was fifteen months old, in the Derby. The four of us (Greg, me, Cole, and Bucky) headed to Cape Girardeau for the event. Cole hit the landmarks hard and lined the land blind. The water blind was difficult but Cole made it through. I was concerned but Greg said not to worry because it was a tough water blind and we did not see the other dogs work.

    The fourth series was a water triple with a long retired gun. Cole hit it hard. We watched the other dogs run and I felt that Cole had one of the best jobs. I was optimistic that we would place but was not expecting first place after the tough water blind. The judges announced their placements and Cole had won. He now had two qualifying wins at approximately thirty months old. We arrived in St. Louis and aired the boys at my house. Cole promptly peed on my boots.

    Cole had been entered in the qualifying at a St. Louis Trial which was being held the week after Bootheel. He was able to run because he was entered prior to his second qualifying win. I was hoping he would end his qualifying career with a third win but it was not meant to be. He ran a good trial but came up short and finished third or fourth. I remember sitting in the back of the gallery during the water marks. Cole hit the water as hard as any dog I‘ve ever seen. A member of the gallery inquired as to who owned that dog “Cole” and stated that he had never seen a dog with so much style. I did not say a word and realized then that I had a special dog. He could mark with the best of them and he sure did have style.

    Cole’s qualifying career was now over. After a few months he went south to Alabama. I made the trip to train with Cole and my other dogs. The spring of 2008 arrived as did Cole’s third birthday. He ran the Open in the spring and fall of 2008. I think he jammed one of his first Opens but did not place in any of the trials.

    It was back to Horsley’s in the winter of 2009. Greg left Alabama and on the way home stopped to run the Central Arkansas Trial a week after Cole’s fourth birthday. I received updates from Greg after each series but he was coy about Cole’s performance as he was afraid he might jinx the dog. In the end, Cole won the Open. I was told that he was the clear winner. Greg indicated that he received some inquiries as to whether the owner would be willing to sell Cole. Greg told me that if I received any calls to please not sell the dog. It never entered my mind.

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  3. #2
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    Oct 2007


    (Cole Tribute Continued)

    Cole continued to run well throughout the spring 2009 season. He placed fourth in the Open at Lincoln Trail and fifth (Reserve Jam) at Mid-Illinois.

    Cole had a win and five and a half points in the spring 2009 trial season. The summer of 2009 was unseasonably cool and Greg was able to get a lot of training in with Cole. We were looking forward to the fall 2009 season. Cole only needed one and a half points to qualify for the national and four and a half to earn his title. I felt that these goals were very realistic in light of his performance in the spring of 2009. Everything came crashing down with the phone call I received on September 18, 2009.

    Hopefully, Cole’s death will have a positive impact on our sport. All trial participants should put the welfare of their beloved dogs first. Please take the conditions, i.e., weather, terrain, set-up, etc. into consideration. In my opinion, the combination of these things resulted in Cole’s death. If you feel your dog may be put in harm’s way due to the conditions then make your feelings known to the judges and/or field trial committee. If you are not satisfied then scratch your dog. No amount of points, nationals or titles are worth what happened to Cole and what I’ve been going through. Take it from me. I learned the hard way.

    Cole was a special dog with loads of talent and a sweet disposition. When he was on the line he was all business. I feel both privileged and blessed to have been the owner of such a great dog. He truly brought joy to my life in the short time that we were together.

    I want to thank everyone who sent their condolences, etc. I received dozens of cards, telephone calls, personal condolences, not to mention all of you who have posted comments on this web site. One very special tribute was paid by my buddy, Keith, an Open judge the next week-end at the Missouri River Trial. After the test dog ran Keith had the bird boy’s shoot a round of birds for dog number 19, Cole, who had already been entered in the Trial prior to his death.

    I felt many emotions over the last few weeks including anger, pain, guilt, etc. I have decided to direct my energy toward making a contribution to our sport in memory of Cole. The last few years I have hosted the cocktail party and dinner after Saturday’s events at the Mississippi Valley Retriever Club Trial. Our fall trial is October 9-11 at the Busch Wildlife area and I will be hosting the cocktail party again. I am donating numerous items and will have a raffle/auction. The proceeds will go to two retriever related charities: 1. The Auburn Veterinary Sports Medical Program; and 2. The University of Missouri Veterinary School. I hope that anyone who is attending the trial will come to the dinner.


    John M. Hughes

    Cole and his Littermates by Beth Harmon - 2005

    Fall 2007 - Bootheel Qualifying win with Greg Lister

    Huntleigh's General Powell in his final trial taken by Tammy Bell 9/18/2009 just after delivering the flyer in his final, uncompleted series.
    Last edited by john h.; 10-09-2009 at 02:15 PM.

  4. #3
    Senior Member Chris Atkinson's Avatar
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    Jan 2003
    Macon, IL



    I've made your post a sticky in tribute to Cole. A great many of us have lost our dogs recently. Cole was one who went out in both the most tragic, and yet perhaps the way he would have preferred most.

    I remember getting ready to head down to River King for the Qual the following day. A good friend of mine, who helped find Cole out there in that cover, called me to advise on the tragedy.

    Here's to the memory of Cole. May all of our beloved retrievers enjoy every day and every retrieve and may we all do what we can to optimize safety for all.


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  6. #4
    Senior Member Andy Carlson's Avatar
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    Jan 2003
    Otis, ME


    Cole certainly was a special boy. I can only imagine how hard this has all been. I think it is great that you are able to find a way to make some thing positive come from a tragic situation.


    "You can't win until you are not afraid to lose."

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  7. #5
    Senior Member TroyW's Avatar
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    Nov 2006


    My sincerest condolences John, I can't imagine the feeling.

  8. #6
    Senior Member Lady Duck Hunter's Avatar
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    Jan 2003
    half way between Cat Springs and Raccoon Bend - Texas


    Cole's tragic tale brought tears to my eyes especially when I saw the photo taken by Tammy. It is proof that you can never take the future for granted. May God ease your pain and allow the memories to fill the emptiness.
    When it stops being fun, I will find something else to do with my time and money.

    The Lady

  9. #7
    Senior Member Rick_C's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
    Ontario, CA



    I cannot imagine what you're going through. Your story gave me goose bumps and is a wonderful tribute to your boy.

    I'm so sorry for your loss.

    Rick Curtis
    Rick Curtis ~ Currently in Ontario, CA by way of Spokane, WA and Northern CA.

    Little Man Caught It On The River SH ~ "Ace"

    Handlers Handle, Dogs Dog, Judges Judge

    "If you train a young dog for momentum, precision will arrive. If you train for precision, demanding perfection, momentum will depart."
    ~Rex Carr

  10. #8
    Senior Member Pals's Avatar
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    Jul 2008


    Very, very sad. What a special dog.
    -please accept my condolences for your loss.

    Nancy Pals

  11. #9
    Senior Member Sharon Potter's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
    Wisconsin Rapids, WI


    I am so sorry for your loss....hopefully Cole's story will prevent other losses. The dogs always have to come first.
    Sharon Potter

    Chesapeake Bay Retrievers...too many to list.

    Team Huntsmith

  12. #10
    Senior Member Miriam Wade's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003


    I too can't imagine what you must be feeling.Your tribute painted a picture of a dog that many get once in a lifetime and many more never find. You certainly gave him every opportunity to shine and took great pride in his accomplishments. The picture of him on line would be one that anyone would take notice of, but instead it's heartbreaking to know that he was in the final few moments of his life.

    I do agree with Chris that he died doing what he loved and while that me be of little comfort-I hope it gives you some.

    Your tribute has made a difference to many-I'm sure.

    While we're hunting this weekend-we'll think of Cole and shoot a bird for him.

    "You can put pressure on a dog, you can’t take it back…"

    Mitch Patterson '07

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