The Bitchline : Rabbit Hunter
In the early 1960’s, the young Beaglers hailing from the Lawrenceville area of Pittsburgh, PA, began to feel comfortable with their established club grounds located in Culmerville (Gibsonia). These gents, Joe Brender, Harry Sweeney, Herman Palumbo and several others, started many a Beagle pup by dropping it over the stone wall of the Allegheny County Cemetery — allowing for a quick sight chase on a cottontail rabbit.
When the boys later gathered at Central Beagle Club, the third oldest AKC Member Club, the competition with their hounds soon became hot and heavy. Herman Palumbo wasted little time before he ordered a Beagle to meet the growing challenge of AKC competition. When the shipping crate finally arrived and was opened, he immediately thought he had been taken. Harry Sweeney asked, “Where did you get that skinny runt?”
Herman went to work, running and training his little bitch. He named her CLIFF’S FRECKLES, out of Field Champion CLIFF’S RUSTY and CHENOKA SUNNY. The sire and dam gave a double cross of PEA RIDGE SANDY and Fld. Ch. DOC’S MOLLY. FRECKLES soon began to draw the attention of all the competitors in and about Central Beagle Club. Those repeatedly going afield with this open-marked bitch became more and more impressed with her running ability.
Dated September 1, 1963, P.B. Everett, then Secretary of the American Kennel Club, issued Championship papers for CLIFF’S FRECKLES, HA-280528. Herman Palumbo did not stop there. The following year FRECKLES became The United Clubs Field Champion. Pressing on, F. C. CLIFF’S FRECKLES won the Pennyslvania State Grand Field Champion title, followed by the award of Field Champion of Field Champions. An Outdoor People photo hangs on the wall of the clubhouse at Central. Next to this photo hangs the Top Dog Award presented by Joy Dog Food Co. to Herman Palumbo and his dog, CLIFF’S FRECKLES.
The story continues. We’ll never know if Herman Palumbo knew the dogs in FRECKLES pedigree or if he simply trusted the breeder. Regardless, FRECKLES was bred to F. C. WILKIE’S RED TOMAHAWK. H.P. Herman Palumbo quickly campaigned and finished (Fld. Ch.) H. P. CLIFF’S GOLDIE.
A cross of the PLEASANT RUN and TWINK-L-HILL bloodlines was successfully brought into the mix. The story does not end there but only gets better ….
Herman Palumbo was on a roll. He soon took Fld. Ch. H.P. CLIFF’S GOLDIE to Fld. Ch. VERHINE’S ADAM. This brought the blood of the famed WILCLIFFE BOOGIE and the popular PEARSON CREEK STUTTERING SAM (by ARGO BOBBY) into a growing and glowing red pedigree. A houndsman by the name of Elmer Schleiden had taken notice and was following every step in this most successful breeding program. It was time for him to get involved. Elmer purchased a female pup out of the ADAM x GOLDIE cross. He named her PINE VALLEY GOLDIE.
PINE VALLEY GOLDIE soon demonstrated a powerful nose combined with exceptional line control and close check-working ability. Her mouth was superb with a booming voice bearing down on every track. At one point, as a young neophyte at Central Beagle Club, I came to realize that “blowing holes in the ground” was an expression of reality for this excellent field trial performer.
Elmer Schleiden would literally pack his lunch and spend the whole day training his hounds. On one very hot day in mid-July I watched a rabbit burst out of the brush and sprint fifty yards down the center of the dry dusty access road. Soon two hounds, GOLDIE and one of her sons, tracked out, made a ninety degree turn in the middle of the dust-covered road ….
PINE VALLEY GOLDIE and her son nailed every track — no twisting, no spinning, no wavering or floating. One behind the other they pounded each set of tracks with a sledge-hammer delivery that truly blew out the dust from both sides of the track. Junior likely did not find the same heavy fresh scent on this stretch as they tracked, one behind the other. Line control for both hounds appeared natural with no lost motion. Turning off the road was smooth and decisive.
Records show that Fld. Ch. PINE VALLEY GOLDIE won the International Futurity, 15” bitch class. She went on to be declared Grand Champion of Champions. For H.P. this was “all in the family.” For Elmer this was the beginning of “great expectations.”
Elmer Schleiden bred his GOLDIE to F.C. PEARSON CREEK BARBARIAN producing F.C. PINE VALLEY QUEEN. He then crossed QUEEN with F. C. DICKIE’S ART yielding F.C. PINE VALLEY BEAUTY II. BEAUTY II was taken to F.C. PIN POINT SAM. This line breeding produced F.C. PINE VALLEY SAMANTHA.
Needless to say, these (FC) Field Champion titles were not automatic, given or taken for granted. Lots of packed lunches — days, weeks, months and years were devoted to training the hounds. Elmer had a small “starting pen” and started each litter of pups as soon as possible. He did not keep lemon and white or blonde pups. Black blanketed tri-colored hounds got his attention. For Elmer, the line-breeding required that he frame his pedigrees and hang them in his office. He bred for nose and mouth. His common denominator for linebreeding became F.C. DICKIE’S SYNDICATE.
Fld. Ch. PINE VALLEY SAMANTHA was taken to Fld. Ch. WIND CREEK LIMBO. This breeding produced PINE VALLEY JEWEL .The fact that JEWEL never finished could be viewed as the end of a fabulous bitch line. Not exactly. The line breeding was to be continued and compounded.
JEWEL was bred to F.C. CRABTREE’S CHAN. From this breeding came PINE VALLEY CHAN. PINE VALLEY CHAN was a big fifteen-inch male. He was the epitome of decades of breeding the best hounds in a well-planned and superbly orchestrated line-breeding program. CLIFF’S FRECKLES was the result of inbreeding a Field Champion bitch. Compounding the best qualities of high caliber bitches and dogs over many generations produced the exquisite PINE VALLEY CHAN.
This miniature foxhound was soon started and gave the same classic performance in the field that Elmer had come to expect. However, two strikes were likely posted on the board. For one thing, CHAN was a male. Secondly, he was an “Official AKC Fifteen Inch Male.” This hound was released by Elmer Schleiden at an interesting point in his life. Having invested a lifetime in the sport — competing with Beagles in AKC field trials — he sold PINE VALLEY CHAN to a young Don Sudac. Don knew what he had and what he spent. He sold CHAN to a friend, Barry Tierney. Barry, in turn, sold the great CHAN to Dave Herchenroether.
At this point I can say, “the great CHAN.” Dave and his father, Blair, a mentor to many, always campaigned hounds in a grand fashion. To wit, Dave entered PINE VALLEY CHAN at the International and was awarded a Fourth Place. One of the judges at the event offered to buy CHAN and was shocked, no doubt disappointed, to find that no dollar amount would allow for the purchase of PINE VALLEY CHAN. CHAN continued to be a spectacular performer. Fld. Ch. PINE VALLEY CHAN won fourteen AKC-Sanctioned field trials in a row. He received an NBQ in one event where the gallery was found to be standing on the line at the gate into the running grounds.
F.C. PINE VALLEY CHAN produced many good hounds over the years. My favorite was F. C. JACKPINE JEB. But that is another story. Instead, let me put a wrap on this. The consistent and potent line breeding described herein is the reason field trial hounds perform as they do.
We need give due respect to the standard of performance — well written over a hundred years ago. Thank you James McAleer and all the pioneers who envisioned and recorded the standards for the Beagle breed. Hats off to all the breeders, competitors, and judges who recognized and repeatedly affirmed the qualities of our AKC field trial Beagles.
F.C. PINE VALLEY CHAN
PINE VALLEY JEWEL
F.C. PINE VALLEY SAMANTHA
F.C. PINE VALLEY BEAUTY II
F.C. PINE VALLEY QUEEN
F.C. PINE VALLEY GOLDIE
F.C. H.P. CLIFF’S GOLDIE
F.C. CLIFF’S FRECKLES
F.C. DOC’S MOLLY
When breeders of hounds speak of a “bitchline,” I believe the above is what they visualize.
By David Bagaley