Places you may have seen Abby:
Bass Pro Shop Outdoor Show FT.Lauderdale, FL and Orlando, FL
Quail Creek Plantation Okeechobee, FL
Dorchester Gun Club: Savannah, GA
Sports Authority Catalog USA
Treasure Coast Retriever Club FL
Palmetto Retriever Club SC
Central Florida Retriever Club FL
Charleston Retriever Club SC
March of Dimes FL, SC, NC
Big Heart Toy Drive WPB, FL
Outdoor Expo SC
On the front seat of my truck all over the Eastern United States
The Story of: UH HRCH Thackerville’s Abigail SH
Abby Was born March 24, 2001 at RushCreek Retrievers located in Camden, South Carolina owned and operated by Matt Rush. RushCreek's Black Marker MH was the sire and was a wonderful dog and great companion to Matt. Roberta’s Aunt Jemimah owned by the Watson family in S.C. was the Dam - leased to Matt for this breeding. Unfortunately, due to complications, 3 of the 5 pups in this litter didn’t survive leaving only Abby and her sister. Abby faced her first adversity at a very young age. An employee of Matt’s at the time tried to get Abby’s mom, “Jemimah” out of the whelping pen but scared her instead causing her to run off for a good 7 days leaving the two and a half week old puppies alone, too young to feed themselves. The pups had to be bottle-fed and were taken up to the house to be raised by Wendy and Allie who were friends of Matt’s. Bottle-fed and played with 4 or 5 times a day until they were old enough to eat puppy food, Abby and her sister prospered.
I had put a deposit down on this litter as soon as I saw Matt’s dog Marker work. I knew I wanted a Marker puppy for my kennel. Because I had my deposit in so early, I was entitled to first choice of one of the two surviving female pups. I spent 3 days with the those 2 little girls, watching their every move, trying to decide which one I wanted; when finally, May 12, 2001, I just laid down in the grass with them, closed my eyes and grabbed the first pup that had laid on my left side – which, of course, is a very scientific method. Abby was mine!
It took me a week to come up with a name that I wanted for this special little girl, “Thackerville’s Abigail”. In that week I thought of names such as: Abracadabra Black Magic, Magic, Misty and Midnight Lace; but none of them seemed to be just right for her. In the end Abby suited her well.
Everything went great for Abby from the start. She fit right into the family so we decided to take her up to Matt’s for a little 4th of July celebration with our other retrievers Daisy and Dixie in tow. It was a great time! All the dogs played, the kids played; life was good until we got home and Abby faced her second hardship in her young life. Upon our return home, I let the big dogs out of the truck. The kids got out of the back seat and I grabbed the cooler from the back and headed into the house. Once inside, I started looking for Abby so I could put her in the crate for the night; but there was no Abby! I assumed Alex had brought her in because she was always with him. He hadn’t seen her. Thinking we accidentally left her in the truck, I went outside to check, still no Abby. This was extremely odd, as we all knew she had come home with us because she barked half the way home.
Becoming increasingly concerned, I grabbed a flashlight and began looking around the house. Being a black dog, it was impossible to see her in the night shadows. The search area grew to include all the neighbors’ houses until eventually the entire neighborhood had been covered and still no Abby. I asked all the kids in the area if they had seen her but to no avail. With it being the 4th of July, there were plenty of strangers in the neighborhood shooting fireworks and visiting friends, which allowed ample opportunity to pick Abby up undetected. I felt in my heart that someone had indeed picked her up and she was gone forever. However, I continued searching until 2 am, at which time I went in the house and started a flyer campaign. By 5 am there wasn’t a stop sign or power pole in a 3-mile radius that didn’t have a sign on it. I called the local newspaper to place an ad and I called all the local shelters, veterinarian’s offices; even talked to the mailman as he passed by. I had explored and covered every possible avenue in attempts to find my missing puppy.
Exhausted, I tried to get a little sleep around 3 pm of the following day, but just couldn’t. I could only lay there and think about the situation. I had played over the events of the previous day in my head for the thousandth time when I decided to go out in the garage and cut some stakes to make signs for the baseball field and play grounds. I had to keep looking for Abby.
In the garage I had 6 sheets of ½” plywood leaning up against the wall with boxes piled up against the open ends. As I was plugging in the table saw, I heard what sounded like a rat scurrying around. I sat and tried to figure out the direction the noise was coming from. I fully planned to make the poor hapless rodent the target of my pent up anger at Abby’s loss. After narrowing down the area, the noise was coming from to the boxes at the end of the plywood, I selected my weapon – a 28 inch Louisville Slugger! Clearing a nice swing zone, I went in for the kill. Slowly I pulled the plywood back, layer after layer until I was at the last sheet. I stood there for a minute hoping the rat would move or make a noise to give me a better idea of where it was. As I pulled the last sheet of plywood away from the wall and pulled my arms back to swing - - there sat a little black puppy with a “Where the hell were you?!” look on her face. I dropped the bat and grabbed the dog all in what seemed to be the same motion. I have to admit there were tears shed that day and they weren’t by the dog.
Here’s what appears to have happened. Abby had followed everyone into the house and saw me heading to the garage where I intended to prepare food bowls; little did I know Abby was following close behind. Somewhere between the fireworks and the darkness of the garage she climbed on the boxes and fell in behind the plywood. The space was too small for her to turn around in, and the other end was completely blocked off, so the only way out was the way in and dogs can’t jump backwards very well. Needless to say, she didn’t leave my side for days.
At 6 months of age, Abby was moved out to the kennel and began her formal training. Up to that point she had only received Obedience training. She showed great potential and it was decided to run her in a few hunt tests where she went 4 for 4 in her first - the Junior hunt test. It was simply far too easy for her.
JH Title November 3, 2002
I dropped out of the hunt test world for a while for personal reasons during which time I went to work, as a hunting guide dog trainer at Quail Creek Plantation with Abby as my number one pickup dog and the unofficial mascot on the hunt buggy I drove. All the hunters loved her style and working ability coupled with her great personality; this was rewarded with the privilege of riding with the hunters while the bird dogs road in the trailer.
During this time, we were invited to Dorchester Gun Club in Savannah, Georgia to guide duck hunts. Abby picked up over 50 ducks in one morning hunt. After the hunt I decided to take Abby back in the marsh and picked up birds that might have been left behind by the other dogs and guides. She was able to find 12 birds that morning, All her retrieves where blinds I had no idea where she might find them. I just pointed her into the marsh and told her to hunt them up. All I did was carry them back to the cart for her.
I decided it was time to breed Abby. On April 26, 2004 I bred Abby with SHR Oak Branch McCooks Mr. Rusty. This litter produced 5 yellow factored black puppies - 3 girls and 2 boys. One of the female pups went to McCooks Labs as the stud fee. She is doing very well in her training and will be competing in the fall hunt test season. The first pick male was bought by an avid duck and dove hunter in Clemson, SC and is with me being trained as a hunting dog. The other 3 pups are enjoying life laying on the sofa chasing balls and bringing joy to their new families. Shortly after deciding to get back into Hunt tests, I ran Abby in a UKC Seasoned test. True to form, she passed 4 for 4 again, receiving her HR title.
HR Title November 5, 2004
I went straight to Finished with her and she passed the next three tests with ease. A part of me wanted Abby to get her title at our local club “Central Florida Retriever Club” so I didn’t push as hard for her to get the 4th and final pass. We were running a Sunday event at Camp Woody in South Carolina where she made all the mark’s without fail when, on the blind retrieve, I stopped her on a whistle and gave her a right over cast and she turned to the left so I hit the whistle again. This time she took the cast and was heading to the bird then decided to veer off to the left yet again. I sat her, gave the right cast one more time and she went left so I pulled her from the test. The Judge stated "she can still pass the test if I wanted to cast her again". I explained to him how I expected more from her and how her behavior would never pass in the “Grand”, therefore I didn’t want her to get accustomed to ignoring my commands, not to mention the CFRC test was only 2 weeks away.
At the CFRC test, Abby nailed all her marks and only took two casts to the blind (one more than I wanted but a good performance never the less).
HRCH title March 5, 2005
Breeding time again! April 23, 2005 I took Abby to Atlanta, Georgia to be bred with GRHRCH Yukon’s Dynamite Drake MH.
I picked her up on the 6th of May from the Tankersley's in Atlanta. We did a bitch check with three different males then made the decision to run her in the Upland test in Camden, South Carolina, the final upland test for her title.
We had run the Upland test at the same time as the finished tests; she was 4 for 5 for this title due to an error on my part. I didn’t shoot at the bird on a flush, therefore when I DID shoot I forgot to give her a sit whistle and she ran about 50 feet and picked up the live bird, which is good for hunting but bad for hunt testing.
UH title May 8, 2005
We wanted to run in the Fall Grand this year but due to us breeding her it looks like it will be the Spring Grand before she will be ready to run. Abby will be competing this fall and winter for her Master Hunter title in an attempt to get her to the Master Nationals.
So the story continues...