American Field

Remembering Great Dogs with Tommy Olive

By David A. Fletcher | Jul 26, 2021

Morrice, Mich. — Robert Franks of Dewitt, Ark., wrote a wonderful article —an interview with Tommy Olive — about three great dogs that I happened to report and write about many times, many years ago.

His article revived my memory and inspired me to write a little more about the three exceptional bird dogs.

When I came on the scene as a reporter for the American Field in the mid-1960s, Tommy Olive was working for Hoyle Eaton as a scout, helper and dog trainer. He took his charges hunting, shot birds over them and worked on their ability as retrievers, all very beneficial to the pupil. The three dogs in question were Riggins White Knight, Red Water Rex and White Knight' Bullet.

I saw quite a bit of Riggins White Knight. Tommy Olive is dead right in telling of the dog's great attributes."Bud" was smart, no question about that. One thing was immediately notable about him. He was 99.9 percent white. You could not mistake him with any other dogs in the field. Weather was not a factor for "Bud". He would perform in an ice storm, gale winds or whatever Mother Nature threw at him, and perform well.

He was always a big running dog. He went as deep as he had to to find birds. He went at full throttle all the time. There was no other way for him to do it. He had an uncanny habit of showing across the front, especially a relief to us in the gallery if sighting him was anywhere near the out of judgment mark. He was rarely out of judgment. You didn't want him to be out of judgment. His field trial wins and production as a sire are legendary.

A son of Riggins White Knight, White Knight's Bullet was also a great dog, his field trial career cut short by physical problems. I happened to be the Field reporter for two of Bullet's great wins —  the 1967 Southwestern Open Championship, and 1968 Quail Championship Invitational. There were many other wins but those two were outstanding triumphs.

The third dog mentioned by Tommy Olive was Red Water Rex. Rex did not go full bore every minute he was down, He set a pace he could last with and it was a very good pace nowhere close to a slowdown. He was smart enough to know he needed to last for the duration of the heat.

At the Southwestern Championship, the old area we called the "Sanitorium" grounds at Booneville, Ark., were heavy with briars in portions of the courses. To find wild birds there, and in those days there were no released birds, a dog had to crash the briars and take the punishment. Rex had the desire to go to the quail despite the briars and he paid the bleeding price. Many an evening Hoyle had him in his motel room treating the bleeding slashes. Remarkable desire to find birds in this dog.

Another thing Rex did that I personally admired was his stature on point. It was outstanding but occasionally there was something Rex threw in that was a bit unusual. If the quail had moved off a bit, out of his scent cone, at times Rex would begin to dig a hole with his right front foot. To me it was an intelligent signal to Hoyle — let me relocate and get those birds pointed again for you. He did just that on many occasions.

And there is another story. On one occasion I was sent to report the Texas Open Championship over Dr. P. T. Kilman's place at Malakoff, Tex. Good grounds, plenty of native birds. On one occasion I spotted a good looking older dog in Dr. Kilman's kennel. I asked him which dog that was. He replied, "Tiny Wahoo," Red Water Rex's sire. I asked him to bring the dog out of the fenced kennel and I took his picture with the Championship winning group.

Dr Kilman and I had quite a conversation talking about Tiny Wahoo and I happened to mention Rex's digging with his right front paw apparently to tell handler the birds had moved off. I added, "Sometimes he would dig that hole six inches deep." Dr. Kilman replied, "That's nothing. Tiny Wahoo would dig one a foot deep when he tried to tell you something!"

Good story, thanks Robert Franks. I have read most of your articles with interest over the years. Thanks,Tommy Olive, for remembering all those great dogs' attributes. All three dogs were outstanding, and I will personally remember them as long as I live.

[Three of these dogs were elected to the Field Trial Hall of Fame: Red Water Rex, 1973, Tiny Wahoo, 1974, and Riggins White Knight, 1975.]


Comments (1)
Posted by: Robert L Franks | Jul 26, 2021 16:26

Thanks Mr. Fletcher.  I enjoyed your article as well.  I did an article on the Southwestern trial when it was held in Booneville.  Contained in that article are first hand descriptions of both Red Water Rex and White Knight’s Bullet.  I have not been able to pull it up on the Field website but it is a great read.  It is in the American  Field Christmas edition approx. 2013.

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