Origin & History
"The Patamoke hunters were a suspicious clan. The most important thing in their lives, more important than wife or church or political party, was the totality of the hunting season: "You got to have the right gun, the right mates, the right spot, the right eye for the target and, above all, the right dog. And, frankly, I doubt the Labrador." The pups did not sell.
Tim had faith. He talked with Lucifer constantly, encouraging him to leap more quickly into the cold water. He showed what ice was like , and how the dog must break it with his forepaws to make a path for himself to the downed goose. Using every training trick the Choptank had ever heard of, he tried to bring the handsome Labrador along step by step.
He failed. In January, when the real ice formed along the edges of the river, the men went hunting along the banks of the Bay itself, and when Jake Turlock knocked down a beautiful goose, it fell on ice about two hundred yards from the blind - -"Hey-You-Dog, get the bird!"
And the big Chesapeake showed what a marvelous breed he was by leaping into the free water, swimming swiftly to the edge of the ice, then breaking a way for himself right to the goose. Clutching the big bird proudly in his jaws, he plunged back into the icy water, pushed aside the frozen chunks and returned to the blind, entering it with a mighty, water-spraying leap.
"That's what I call a dog," Jake said proudly, and the men agreed.
The Watermen (from CHESAPEAKE) by James A. Michener
The Chesapeake Bay can be identified as a large indentation halfway down the East coast of the North American continent. It's a submerged valley where rivers meet sea. The indians called it Great Bay; in their language Che means Big, Sepi means River, and Ook means Many, or many in one. From this early name "Chesepiook", comes "Chesapeake".
The history of the development of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever can never be know. Dogs was used on the Chesapeake bay to recover the waterfowl which were shot down in great number, especially at the time of the migration. The dog for this work must not only love water, birds and retrieving but he must be physically strong and able to resist extremes of temperature and rough icy waters.
All stories of the beginnings of the retriever breeds seem to go back to a "water spaniel". Crosses with pointers, setters, newfoundlands and hounds were made. For long time it was generally believed that the special attributes of the Chesapeake Bay Dog derive fromtwo Newfoundland puppies, called Sailor and Canton, rescued from a shipwreck in the year 1807.
The gentlemen landowners were intensely interested in all the livestock on their farms and worked to improve the strains of the dogs as well of the farm animals; their were sportsmen, and valued highly the dogs that made "ducking" supreme among the sports of the Chesapeake area. The Chesapeake of those days spent much time with their owners and the childrens of the family; they were part of the family and highly valued.
On both the Eastern and Western shores of the Chesapeake Bay a very definite type of dog was developed. They varied in coat - curly like an Irish Water Spaniel, wavy like a Newfoundland, or straight lika a Pointer or Hound - variances which came from the outcrosses made, and in size and weight. But their temperaments and great abilities were fixed.
Chesapeakes were shown in a bench show for the first time in Baltimore in 1876, under the classification of Chesapeake Bay Duck Dogs. There were two strain competing, quite unlike each other. The gentlemen present decided to have a meeting to discuss the possibility of improving the breed, as well as to standardize the names of the types. It was decided three classifications were acceptable: the otter dog; the straight-haired dog; and the curly haired dog.
In 1878 the first American kennel Club registration of a Chesapeake was recorded: "Sunday", a male bred by O..D. Foulks and owned by G.W. Kierstead of La Porte, Indiana.
All research into the history of the Chesapeake Bay Retriever always seem to lead back to the Carroll's Island Gunning Club.
In the heart of what was once the best duck shooting on the Chesapeake, located where the Gunpowder River meets the Bay, a duck hunting club was originally started on Carroll's Island as early as 1830. The original Club, sold in 1856 to a group from New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, then became the Carroll's Island Gunning Club. The Carroll's Island Gunning Club and their kennels seems to be a pivotal point between the disseminated branches of the still-forming Chesapeake Bay Dogs, Brown Winchester and the Red Chester Ducking Dog strains of the breed and the modern Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Although the first dog show entries of Chesapeake Bay Dogs in Baltimore in 1877, and the resulting first standardisation of the breed may have aimed breeders in the same direction in their breeding goals,
the Carroll's Island Club and neighboring gun clubs up and down the Atlantic coast put those resolutions into practice.
Across the Gunpowder neck, on a point of land northeast of Carroll's Island along the Bush River, William B. Hurst along with Harry S. Hurst and George Franke purchased 261 acres to form a gunning club in 1887. The farm was the site of some of the greatest waterfowling on the eastern seaboard. The rig of live decoy ducks kept on the Hurst farm numbered 600. The Hurst's dogs were one of the earliest recordered strains of Chesapeakes and were know as Lego's Point strain of Chesapeake Bay Dogs