A GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
The influential Grappler-Footloose line comes full circle.
CAPTAIN IAN FARQUHAR, Master of the Duke of Beaufort’s Hunt in England, has been a regular traveler to the United States. But a particular visit he made in 2005 to visit Moore County Hounds Joint Master Dick Webb ended up being much more than a collegial reunion: It launched one of the most infl uential bloodlines in U.S. hunting. Traveling with Farquhar was a Beaufort bitch named Footloose ’03, who was carrying a litter of 11 puppies that eventually would be dispersed among six American hunts — and go on, either themselves or through their offspring, to be infl uential in the show ring and in the hunt fi eld.
THE FACT THAT THIS LITTER, sired by Beaufort Grappler ’03 and entered in 2006, spread its infl uence so far and wide is due, ironically, to their inauspicious start in the states, though the pedigree itself was promising, as Farquhar recalls.
“Dick was a good friend, and he was very keen on the orthodox English then,” says Farquhar. “He asked me if I’d bring some over. Footloose was a line I liked a lot. The ‘Fo’ comes from Heythrop Forelock ’96, and there’s a good line to Duke of Beaufort’s Mostyn ’92. There’s a line to our Whitbread ’97, Footloose was a line I liked a lot. The ‘Fo’ comes from Heythrop Forelock ’96, and there’s a good line to Duke of Beaufort’s Mostyn who is a very, very good dog, indeed, and he was out of Mostyn’s sister, Motion ’92. So it’s a double-cross to Mostyn.”
Farquhar also considered the litter’s sire, Grappler, “a very good all-rounder” whose get had performed well for the Beaufort, and the pedigree also included an unexpected — but evidently benign — element. “There’s quite an interesting line there that goes back to Exmoor Coastguard ’92, who had just a little bit of harrier blood,” Farquhar explains. “It didn’t come out very much, but it is there. ... Grappler was a nice looking dog, which is a start. He had a good voice, he had a good nose, and he was a very honest dog as well.”
It was exactly the kind of English blood that Moore County’s Webb treasured. But Moore County’s huntsman at the time, a relatively new arrival, was a Penn-Marydel man and less than keen on English hounds, Webb remembers.
“He hadn’t been with me very long when I brought the bitch over, and then we had all the puppies, but he didn’t want to have any part of the English hounds,” Webb says. “So I was forced to draft them.”
The first of Footloose’s puppies to find a new home was Famous ’06, who went to Marty and Daphne Wood’s Live Oak Hounds shortly after weaning. The Woods liked what they saw. Two other Footloose puppies, Greenwich ’06 and Gretchen ’06, had been entered at Moore County, but when the Woods heard that the rest of the litter was unlikely to get much use in the Penn-Marydel regime getting underway at Moore County, Marty Wood contacted Webb and offered to take more of Footloose’s puppies. Webb, eager to see the bloodline get regular use in the fi eld, quickly agreed.
“So we wound up with Live Oak Gravel ’06 and Live Oak Grateful ’06, and we already had Famous,” Wood says. “I want to say that all of this happened in November, because as soon as we got them we took them out, got them acclimated to the pack, and then took them hunting. It was a very quick introduction. We didn’t waste any time, because Famous was a cracking bitch. We knew the potential. And it was also a good shot of English blood into our pack.”
Ultimately, the rest of Footloose’s puppies by Grappler ended up with Why Worry in South Carolina, Fox River Valley in Illinois and Georgia, Arapahoe in Colorado, and Blue Ridge in Virginia. Why Worry, like Live Oak, took three puppies. One was Grantham ’06, who has gone on to be a prolific sire. “He was grand champion of the Carolinas Hound Show, his son was grand champion of the Carolinas Hound Show, a dog named Braveheart ’09, and then a grandson named Banker ’13 was grand champion there, too,” says Thomas. “He was just an extremely athletic hound, and extremely smart,” Thomas says of Grantham. “When we first started with him, he’d had nothing done with him, so it was just like starting a puppy. One habit he had was he drew really, really wide. He 'd hunt hard, but he was very biddable and never any problem.”
After several seasons, Why Worry sent Grantham to Hillsboro in Tennessee, which hunted and bred him until his death, but Thomas never lost touch with the hound he calls “a fabulous, grand hound.”
“Grantham was one of those hounds that you only find once in a lifetime,” he says. “Everybody knew him, and anyone who hunted with us, when they first saw him, they’d say, ‘Who is that?’
They were just extremely smart hounds with drive and voice,” he says of the Grappler-Footloose litter. “I mean, Grantham would just light up the woods ... I’ve never seen a dog like Grantham that stamped his hounds and passed on a lot of his qualities. When we fi rst started him, he didn’t want to show at all. He was very shy. He’d go in the show ring and sit down. Then my wife and one of the girls who whipped-in for us worked their behinds off and fi nally got him to show. And once he decided he was going to be a show dog, he was just fabulous. He really was a ham!”
At Live Oak, Marty Wood was seeing equally wonderful things. “That litter were just good, hard, typical Beaufort hounds,” he says. “They’ve got great stamina. The bitches’ mouths had lots of volume but were somewhat high, but Gravel had a roar like a lion. And he hated a coyote. They were just really good, hard-hunting hounds.” The hunts also found that the litter’s best hunting and showing attributes also frequently carried on into subsequent generations. “They did,” says Wood. “We bred Famous to our Architect ’04, who carries our best stallion line, back tail-male to Live Oak Drummer ’89. Farrier ’10, one of the dogs of the litter, was made grand champion of the Virginia Hound Show in 2012. His litter sister, Live Oak Fable ’10, was grand champion of the Virginia Hound Show
Why Worry Braveheart ’09, the son of Grantham ’06, carries on the family tradition as grand champion at the 2010 Carolinas Hound Show. COURTESY GEORGE THOMAS
AN UNEXPECTED GIFT Moore County Joint Master Dick Webb, who with Beaufort’s Farquhar was responsible for bringing this productive line to the States, understandably watched its successes with a certain amount of wistfulness. He calls drafting the Grappler-Footloose litter “the big loss to me.” In recent years, Webb is delighted to report, some of the litter’s famous blood has returned to the Moore County pack, now hunted by David Raley. “We’re thrilled to have it back,” Webb says. The genes’ return was serendipitous. A friend of Raley’s, Shakerag Huntsman John Eaton, sent a bitch to be bred to one of Moore County’s Penn-Marydel doghounds, and, when she whelped, he sent a couple of the puppies back to Raley.
“In the meantime, Mr. Webb had been talking about maybe getting some more English blood again, and he was always pretty distressed that those Footloose puppies had all gone away from here,” says Raley. “Meanwhile, these pups come up to me and John gives me the pedigree, and I just happen to notice that it’s Footloose on the bottom line. I’m like, ‘Well, look at that!’ I immediately reported it to Mr. Webb and said, ‘Funny you should mention that you wanted to get that back; I just happen to have a couple of pups.’”
The Shakerag bitch in question was Shakerag Tarnish ’13, a granddaughter of the Grappler-Footloose litter’s Live Oak Grateful ’06. Raley remembers Footloose well. “She was a tri-color with a big, black blanket and a lot of ticking,” he says. “She was pretty light, kind of lean. She almost looked a little more like a Fell type — definitely not an old English type, more of a modern English type.”
Footloose herself never left Moore County, which kept her into her dotage and then buried her there. Raley notes that one of the Moore County Masters recalled her as a far-ranging hound, a fitting trait, considering how widely her blood has been distributed. And, back in England, Farquhar still takes pleasure in her descendants’ successes.
“I’ve seen them at the Live Oak, and people have sent me reports of the American shows,” says Farquhar. “And it’s always very nice to see them doing as well as they have done. I think they have, between them all, made quite an impression, haven’t they?”