Dual Ch Banchory Bolo
(29-12-1915 to 10-07-1927).
A history of the Labrador must certainly include mention of this remarkable dog. His sire was Scandal of Glynn and he was a most intelligent dog, a charming and beloved companion and a great game-finder. Unfortunately, he died of canine typhus at the early age of five. He was the first Labrador I ever owned.
Owing to the 1914-1918 war breeding of all dogs was rightly severely curtailed, but Scandal had one litter bred by the late Sir John Harmood Banner, Bart. This litter consisted of thirteen puppies, of which only one was a dog. This dog later became Dual Champion Banchory Bob, but he passed through many vicissitudes before he attained that dignity.
I first saw him as a mere infant three days old and did not again see him until February 1918. His father, Scandal, died in 1917. I was devoted to this dog and could not find one to replace him. I had several very good dogs, all most charming in their various ways, but I could not discover one among them that would fill the gap left by my beloved Scandal.
Eventually my husband thought of Bolo (or Bully as he was then called) and finally traced him. He had been through various hands, and various trainers had tried to train him. He was offered to me with the proviso that if I could not make anything of him, I was to have him destroyed. In fact, he had what human beings would describe as a really bad police record. However, I accepted him gratefully.
It was arranged that I should meet him at Liverpool Street Station, so one February morning in 1918 I went there to greet him and found a disconsolate, surly dog, heavily muzzled. I took him to the house we had in Grosvenor Crescent and left him off his chain in my bedroom. It took me nearly an hour to catch him, so terrified was he. He must have got a chill on the journey — it was bitterly cold. He was ill for nearly three weeks. During those weeks he gained confidence in me and could hardly bear me out of his sight. When he got well, I took him with me to Scotland and started to train him to be steady to the gun. This I did by at first shooting rabbits with a rifle out of a pony cart. He gradually learnt not to run-in and eventually became one of the steadiest dogs I have ever known.
We then moved down to the place we had in Shropshire, and I got Bolo ready to run in field trials. Unfortunately, he went with me one evening to the stable yard where he heard one of the stable boys cracking a whip. The old terror came back to him, and he bolted. Finally at midnight I gave up searching for him and went to my room, leaving the front door open. At 5 a.m. Bolo came into my room and got into his basket. When I was about to go to my bath an hour later, I was horrified to see big splashes of blood on the floor. On examining Bolo, I found he had two very deep wounds on his chest, a tear three inches long in his groin and his hind leg and hock torn so badly that the bone was visible. I was urged to have him destroyed but this I would not do. The nearest veterinary surgeon lived eight miles away; there was no telephone, and I knew he would be away at a market town another eight miles away; so, with the kennel man I had then I put twenty-three stitches into Bob. He was so good and lay perfectly still until it was all finished. Of course, there could be no question of competing at field trials that season.
The following season he became a F.T. Ch., winning the Open Stake at the Western Counties Field Trial Meeting and the Scottish Open Stakes in quick succession. He soon qualified as a Bench Ch., thus becoming the first Dual Champion Labrador.
It was as a sire that Bolo proved of such enormous value. As he was always with me, he was not heavily used as a stud dog, but I think every litter sired by him contained a winner at trials and on the show bench. Most of the Labradors winning at trials and at shows today are descended from him. It was not because of his brilliance in these spheres that I valued him but because he was the most intelligent, the most human, dog I have ever seen. He was remarkably quick to learn and once he had learnt anything he never forgot. He was invaluable as a tutor when I was training young dogs — one could always rely on him to do what was wanted. He loved children and would dress up for them and play the buffoon with obvious pleasure. If I was out on the high road and he saw anyone he thought looked at all doubtful in character, he would walk just in front of me until whoever it was came level with me; then he would get between the suspect and me and then keep close to my heel. He was always gentle with little puppies and never sought a fight with other dogs. He had quite the best nose I have ever seen in a dog and with apparently the greatest ease he would collect runner after runner after several other dogs had failed. I have never had a dog with such great natural ability or one so anxious to please me in every possible way. I loved him dearly and it was a real and great grief when I had to have him put to sleep to save him from suffering. It was ten years before I had another personal dog, and that was a smooth Champion Griffon known to her friends as Binkie the Beloved. I am sure Bob’s mantle fell on her little shoulders as did that of Elijah on Elisha in days of old.
Bob’s name was known practically throughout the world. Many were the offers I had for him, but I could not part with a dog which loved me so dearly and which I loved equally well. He had a beautiful head, when looking through the book in which Lord Knutsford kept a record of his Labradors and their parents, I found a photograph of him with the inscription: ‘A perfect Labrador’s head.’ He had the most intelligent and kindly expression. In hindquarters he excelled, and he transmitted this feature to his progeny.
Of him The Field wrote:
- A Prince Among Dogs
If ever evidence were needed of the character of a great dog, and of his influence on the generations following him, it was to be found at the Retriever Championship Trial held at Idsworth last week. [December, 1932.]
After two withdrawals, there were twenty runners in the Stake. Out of the fourteen who gained prizes or diplomas eight were descended from the same Field Trial Champion.
They were: First, Main, grandson; Second, Banchory Becky, great grand-daughter; Equal Third, Bryngarw Flute, grandson, and Pee Wit of the Rhins, great grandson; Reserve, Rotchell Jock, grandson; and three others who were awarded diplomas of merit — Beningbrough Taffy, great grandson; Tutsham Brenda, great grand-daughter and Banchory Tern, grand-daughter.
All these look back to the same ancestor, Lorna, Countess Howe’s famous Bob, who in his time was among dogs as Agamemnon was prince among men.
Quotation from the Labrador Retriever Stud Book, by the late C. Mackay Sanderson:
In order to assess the imprint from Lord Malmesbury’s Tramp in its wholeness and right proportion a separate feature has to be accorded the line from F.T. Ch. Peter of Faskally through Scandal of Glynn, which joined its fullest expression with the emergence of Dual Ch. Banchory Bob. Between the period which had given birth to Tramp and the advent of Bolo some forty years later, no single figure had arisen which had exercised such a great and moulding influence on progress. Bob’s coming may be said to have breathed a spirit of new life into the breed, the prestige enjoyed by this dog as a competitive and stud force giving lasting impetus to Labradors’ fortunes and subsequently his name runs like a golden thread through all the vital streams of progress. Bolo was undoubtedly triumphant and predominant during his period, his dominance being referable to qualities other than are actually wrapped up in his prestige as a stud force. He came at a time when prestige both in a competitive and breeding sense was being put to rigorous tests. Behind the full story of remarkable expansion during the last period lies the priceless contribution made by Bolo and his descendants. In the interval since Bolo caught the imagination of the public, we can discern certain events of change and significance and the feats of this remarkable dog and his progeny give joy to the memory as one contemplates the advance which followed. The name and fame of Bolo will always be indissolubly bound up with the Banchory Kennel of Lorna, Countess Howe of which he was such a distinguished inmate.
Side note of Interest: Chava Labs working lines all trace back to Banchory Bolo in their lineage.
Material reproduced for educational purposes from:
The Labrador Retriever
Lorna, Countess Howe and Geoffrey Waring
Published by Arco Publishing Company, Inc, New York – 1975
Chapter 4 – Some Famous Labradors at Home and Abroad, Pages 40 – 43.