American Field
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A Friend for 61 Years

Sigbot "Bodo" Winterhelt

By David Fletcher | Jul 13, 2018
Bodo Winterhelt

We met in 1957 at the Ontario Bird Dog Association trial held on what is now the Toronto International Airport runways. It was the first field trial I ever entered . . . the Open Puppy Stake with a German Shorthair, my first dog.

Near me in the parking area, Bodo was leashing a fuzzy brown obviously continental breed dog. I asked him what breed was that brown ball of fuzz. He stated it was a Poodlepointer. I said, “What the heck is a Poodlepointer?” He explained to me about the breed and that he was the main man in originating this offshoot of the species and establishing it as a recognized breed. He also corrected my spelling to Pudelpointer. A great friendship was born.

We had many conversations at trials of the Ontario Association, Oshawa, London, Ottawa and Thorold in the Niagara Peninsula.

The Pudelpointers Bodo was develop- ing were what he called “versatile” hunt- ing dogs, capable of pointing their game — birds, hares and small Euro- pean deer — and also land and water retrieving of all those species and they could also put their nose down and track game.

Bodo made an outcross to an out- standing pointer male very prominent in New York State trials in the late 1950s, whose name escapes me, and this mating produced some very competitive dogs in trials.

Bodo was also familiar with the elite Shorthair breeders in Germany and was helpful in getting the great Kay V D Wildburg imported to America for Walter Kogut of Brantford, Ontario.

Bodo was born in Germany in 1926, thirteen years old when Hitler invaded Poland. Late in the war he served in the tank corps in Russia. He never talked much about his war experiences.

Bodo’s early employment when he immigrated to Canada was with Dr. Alan Secord, a Toronto veterinarian who was a notable pointer man owning bitches sired by Ariel. Alan Secord was a trialer and no doubt got Bodo going in the Ontario Bird Dog Association.

In the late 1950s Bodo was hired by what he called his “millionaire” employers. They had purchased an island off the coast of Lake Ontario, near Trenton, called Nicholson Island. I had invitations to hunt there once a year before the “millionaires” came. Bodo was the dog man, the hunting guide and he raised the birds for release.

Nicholson Island was a mile offshore and when I arrived on the mainland I would swing a black building door open to show white and Bodo would come and get me with a World War II Army Duck vehicle. There were so many birds on that island, quail, chukar and pheas- ant, your dog was on point constantly.

Bodo’s wife Christa and his children were there in their island home, and we had great luncheons together.

The Nicholson Island occupancy came to an end in the early 1960s. By the late 1960s when I was employed by The American Field, Bodo had charge of another sizeable block of “the millionaire’s” property on the mainland near Kirby, Ontario where Tim Tufts now resides. I took very few vacations from The Field employment and when I had a few days between trial assign- ments I went home to Ontario to visit my elderly parents. On those trips I visited Bodo near Kirby (about 15 miles from my parents’ home). We rode horses over adjoining land and talked for hours in what I call the “Ridges,” a huge section of “crown land” similar to the U. S. State Forest property. About that era Bodo and I judged the Ontario Championship at Richie Papa’s King Township Preserve, which was then a walking stake.

Earlier this year Bob West, Purina semi-retired executive, called me to tell me Bodo was in hospice. We worked feverishly to put together a text and picture, a Bird Dog Foundation Life Patron plaque, and got it to Oregon and presented while Bodo was still able to be honored with it.

Thanks to Dan Hoke for his article about Bodo in the June 30 issue. I did not know Bodo had passed.

Bodo, certainly, during his lifetime, expended huge effort in trying to bring the Pudelpointer to prominence as a breed. Dan’s absolutely right about Bodo, a very generous man and a great dog man. I don’t know if Bodo was totally responsible for the establishment of the North American Versatile Hunt- ing Dog Association (NAVHDA) or if he alone wrote the “Green Book”, but he certainly was a very prominent factor in both.

I will never forget Sigbot “Bodo” Winterhelt, a great friend of 61 years.

 

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