Spaniels in Suburbs

    and Mountains


"How We Came To Be A Family"

Windmill Hill Kennels

"Rough Shooting Springer Spaniels"


Our Cabin in the Suburbs


by Donna


It began like all good stories – about a dog.  Not just any dog but an English Springer Spaniel named Bentley.  But I am getting ahead of myself.


Tony and I “met” in 1999 – I put that in quotes because we met many years before in high school.  We didn’t “hang” in the same circles – we were probably the most polar opposites that you ever saw.  He hung out with the guys who were always getting in trouble and me – well I was Ms. Goody-Two-Shoes Preppy Girl who spent all her time dreaming of being in NH skiing….


I graduated in 1973 and moved to NH for college and to live at our family’s vacation home in Jackson NH; Tony was lucky to graduate a year later and a week after that he joined the Army and spent the next 22+ years serving in Airborne, Ranger, and Special Forces units around the globe, retiring in 1996 in Pensacola, Fl.


So how did we meet?  Tony was living in FL and spending the summers in RI working on a lobster boat; I had moved back to RI in the 1980s (but still traveled to NH 3 out of 4 weekends a month).  In 1999 both of us were divorced and like a lot of people had posted on an internet site looking for someone to love. 


After a series of horrible dates over 3 years I finally decided if I wanted a “man” in my life I would get a dog – not just any kind of dog, but an English Springer Spaniel.  I had a springer many years ago – her name was Aimee and she died at a very young age….I never got over losing her but I started looking at springer spaniel rescue sites.  I wasn't in a rush – I was fairly specific in the age I was interested in – a male, approximately 3 years old – a dog that would be able to hold his own with my parents 2 “wild-hair fox terrors” that I took care of.  It took about 8 or 9 months, but one day I got a call from the NE Springer Spaniel Rescue group that a family needed to find an immediate home for their springer; they asked me to go see him if I was interested.  Well I showed up and the people handed me his bed, some toys and closed the door….yikes!  I was not ready for that but Bentley was just what I was looking for and he looked like Aimee’s twin.  We got into my car and headed home to RI – poor guy – he had no idea what was going on and he was crying and I cried too – for him, for me – what have I gotten myself into?  But I now had a guy in my life again.  And the 2 of us forged a bond that was unbreakable.


Shortly thereafter Tony and I connected.  It turns out that Tony had a field springer growing up that he would go hunting with.  I was pretty happy at this point with my new guy Bentley, but was open to having another “new” relationship and Tony was not going to take NO for an answer – especially when he found out I had a springer…..soon the two of them were going off on adventures on their own when I couldn't join them; I went from living alone to sharing my life with a ESS and a retired Army Ranger….


Since 1999 we have had other dogs join our family – in 2003 we adopted a 10 month old Brittany named George from American Brittany Rescue.  This little guy had a tough time before he came to live with us – his family had no idea of what life with a Brittany entailed – lots of exercise, non-stop endless energy.  It took a while for him to learn how to “behave” and to trust people.  Bentley helped him with that.  It turns out that Bentley’s former life wasn't all that pleasant either.  He had a terrible mis-trust of people – men in particular – and suffered from “fear aggression” and something else that is termed asspringer rage”.  Most dogs exhibiting rage are immediately put down but Tony and I learned how to manage his issues and we had a happy life together – Donna and her “boyz”.   Bentley was George’s protector – we never saw any aggression towards his “little” brother.  And George adored Bentley – he gave Bentley a new “lease” on life – you couldn’t help but be happy around George – despite the mischief he caused.


After Bentley’s passing in 2009 we knew we needed someone for George and also for us.  There was such a huge void that needed to be filled.  Tony had always wanted to get back into Upland Bird and Waterfowl Hunting.  In fact, he had hopes for George and had started to slowly train him but it turned out that George is gun shy – in fact he is noise phobic.  So we started to look for an ESS – but not a “bench” ESS but a Field ESS like his boyhood dog Schnapps. 


We spent 6 months contacting breeders, looking on line at various ESS sites without success.  You see it is tough to get into this “circle” of Field ESS owners if you are not field trialing your dog.  One day I got a call from Kevin Battistoni saying “I heard you are looking for a dog – I might have one for you”.  Intrigued, we drove to Crosswinds Kennel to meet Kevin and see his dog. 


Let me preface by saying that earlier that Fall I read an article about a man and his dog “Zip” who had contracted a mysterious illness in an article Mysterious Illness Strikes NFC FC AFC CFC Crosswinds Warpath “Zip”. .  When we got there and he started talking about his dogs and breeding philosophy something clicked and I asked him – “are you the owner of Zip?”  “Yes” he said.  How is he?”  I asked. With tears in his eyes he told me that Zip had died several weeks earlier and they still had no answers…. It turned out the puppy for sale was a granddaughter of Zip, which had me a little concerned.  It turns out that concern was unfounded when they finally determined that Zip had a rare form of cancer which he wrote about in a follow-up piece Epilogue for NFC FC AFC CFC Crosswinds Warpath “Zip”.


Back to the story……So Tony, George and I arrive at Crosswinds Kennels and meet Kevin.  We hear all the dogs barking in the background.  Kevin had two young dogs that he was thinking of selling - a 10 month old female named Crosswinds Tempest; and a 9 month old male named Crosswinds Justice.  Kevin asked if we were ready for him to “let loose the hounds” – and right then and there the yard was flooded with 15 or so English Springer Spaniels of all sizes and colors.  I think we were in shock but soon we were having a great time with them all – and George had teamed up with Justice and was having a grand time!  There was one “quiet” gal that came up to Tony, sat down and put her front paw on his foot.  “That’s Tempest” Kevin said.  We went inside, sat on the floor and got to know Tempest and Justice some more and to listen to Kevin talk about Crosswinds.  Tempest was in Kevin’s lap – “she’s a one owner gal” Kevin said.  “She doesn’t give her heart easily.”  We went to our hotel that night to talk about Tempest and Justice with plans to meet again in the morning to see the two of them in the field. 


Let me say here, that if anyone ever gets the opportunity to walk the field with Kevin and for him to impart pieces of his wisdom and knowledge of English springer spaniel, jump at the chance.  To this day, it is a thrill for me to walk alongside him at a field trial and listen to him explaining what is going on.  We saw both dogs in action in the field.  I had fallen in love with the “looks” of Justice but he reminded me too much of George as a wild child.  Tempest on the other hand, was just amazing to watch.  After a couple of minutes, Tony told Kevin that he wanted Tempest – how much was he willing to sell her for? It didn’t matter how much Kevin said - it could have been double that and we probably would have paid that or any price.  The deal was made and we headed back to finalize the papers.


Back at the house we met Kevin’s wife Betsey and she started to tell us more about Tempest’s pedigree – her Momma Player (Crosswinds Warpaint) and Daddy Pilot (Crosswinds Heir to Camelot) who was Betsey’s field trial dog.  When we were talking she looked at me and told me “you know, you are taking my favorite dog”.  I could see how much Tempest meant to the two of them, yet they had quite a few dogs and were planning 2 litters that Spring so hard decisions needed to be made.  Kevin loaded Tempest up in a crate that we had to borrow (we were not prepared) and her blanket – which she carries around every day – and we headed home with our little girl. 


Our lives had come full circle.  Tony and I started out with the love of a dog – an English Springer Spaniel named Bentley.  And we were starting anew with another springer – Crosswinds Tempest of Windmill Hill.  Since that moment there have never been a single regret and literally thousands of mements of excitement and pleasure. Tempest healed our family that was suffering after losing Bentley. We knew at that moment life was complete.

                                                         Up in the Mountains of NH
          "Bentley"                        "George"                        "Tempest"
                     "Brigit"                                              "Zoe"
Going Home - Partridge Season is Over