Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge Event

Walt will be at the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge on September 13th. At 6 PM he will give a presentation on the refuge management, it’s habitat, wildlife, and hunting history. Following his talk there will be a reception and book signing. This is a great opportunity to learn from Walt’s extensive knowledge of the valley.

More information is available at the refuge web site Canaan Valley NWR or you can contact the Friends of the 500th Book Store.

The Five Families of Ryman Setters

People have asked us why the five families of Ryman setters are not mentioned in the book. For anyone who is not familiar with this, the story is that Ryman had five distinct families of dogs in his kennel (sometimes referred to as lines or types). Each family had its own set of characteristics- some were smaller, some bigger, some had more go, etc. Ryman’s breeding system reportedly used various crosses of these families to produce his ideal type.

The families are not in the book because we found no evidence Ryman did this. In fact, the evidence leads to the conclusion that he did not. The continuous influx of outside bloodlines, the way they were blended into the kennel, and the direction of the breeding program over the years do not fit within such a system, and Ryman never mentioned the families or used them to describe dogs he had for sale. All references to the families we are aware of came after Ryman’s time.

The Sir Roger de Coverly Story

I knew coming into this project that a lot of the information out there about the Rymans was wrong- the main reason to write the book in the first place was to give a true picture of what they were and an accurate accounting of some of the history of the kennel. Still, I was surprised by how much of the story didn’t hold up. There were a number of unexpected moments during the research when it suddenly became clear that the records didn’t support something everyone believes about the Rymans, or about early English setters in general.

One of the first revelations came early on while checking the Ryman pedigrees against the stud book records- the story of Sir Roger de Coverly. Everyone “knows” that Ryman founded the kennel on his breedings to this dog, but that isn’t what happened. This discovery helped bring into focus how critical it was that every fact was backed up solidly by the records before making it into the book. If we were were going to avoid repeating the same falsehoods, or creating new ones of our own, everything had to be verified, no matter how common the knowledge or how many times the stories have been told. This led to much research into the beginnings of the kennel, what sort of dog Sir Roger de Coverly really was, and how the Rymans fit into the early history of the breed.


Updates Page

We have added an Updates page to the blog that will be used to correct errors in the book and present any new information we come across. The first correction noted is a printing error that omitted a bit of information critical to the story of the show dogs. The last sentence on page 53 was cut off. The full sentence is: 51 English Setters won AKC show championships during the first decade of the century, 41 from straight or predominantly Laverack type show lines.

Anything else we feel is important will be posted, so be sure check for updates.