Rich Tuttle Endorsement for the Hall of Fame
I have to start by apologizing to my good friend for my neglect of not doing this 10 years ago. As a boy I purchased a pup out of Sam Lís Rebel for forty dollars. The only thing I knew for certain was that he was the Grand Nat. Grouse Ch. I had never heard of Rex Gates, Hoyle Eaton or Bob Wehle. However, I knew the name Rich Tuttle.
Letís get to the hall of fame. We always tend to sacrifice true credentials for friendship and political gains among other reasons. Most H.O.F.,s become watered down in time. The most important credential in my opinion is the impact that that a person has had on the birddog world. Itís not about whose customer you are or the chs your professionally trained dogs have won. Wealth doesnít provide you a free ride into the HOF. Providing a plantation to run on is wonderful and greatly appreciated by all but itís not a ticket to the HOF. Iím sure the individuals that provide the venues do it from the kindness of their hearts and the love of the sport and donít expect an induction into the HOF.
Enough of my opinions. In 1981 I decided my athletic career was over and I needed something to compete in so I went to Marienville, Pa. to see if grouse trials would interest me. I went to the all-age dogs to watch a few braces. Iíve competed in NFL football games, PGA tour events and Nat Ch soccer games. However, when Rich Tuttle brought his dog Sam Lís Nova to the line I felt both excitement and anticipation. I was once again the teenager that had a Sam Lís Rebel pup. I was fascinated watching Rich handle his dog. He did it differently than everyone and the difference was obvious. That was what made me get into field trialing (one man). Our friendship had somewhat of a rocky start. With our first confrontation Rich told me to go back to Pittsburgh where I came from and I told him to go to hell. Thus we became great friends. I hope I can explain why we have dropped the ball by ignoring Rich Tuttleís induction into the HOF. Rich lived in Johnsonburg, Pa and worked shifts in the Johnsonburg paper mill. He lived right in town with his 4 run dog kennel in his small back yard. He trained dogs for Sam Light, a HOFíer. His pay was never more than $40 a month. He usually had 2 dogs to train and compete with, and his only customer was Sam. He competed in cover dog trials from the forties thru the eighties. He won some twenty Chís in a thirty-year period when there were only three a year to compete in. In retrospect, thatís an impressive winning percentage. Thatís not the reason why he should be in the HOF. Letís talk about the man Rich Tuttle and I only hope that I have the ability to give you the insight to see who he really was. For example, if he knew what I was writing he would look me straight in the eyes and call me a damned fool. Too bad Richie, Iím doing it. A typical day for Rich would be to work the night shift at the mill, come home and eat breakfast and head to one of his many runs in the grouse woods. He then would return home and sleep for several hours and then head back to the woods for the last few hours of daylight. His wonderful wife Kay would prepare dinner and he would get ready for work at the mill. The three greatest enemies in his life were May, June and rain. He loved running a birddog more than life itself. He was a master of the ground race. Complete work he would say, is the key to a great ground race. They must complete what they started and believe me he could train them to do just that. None before or since could do it better than Richard Tuttle. His competitive spirit was second to none. He once ordered me up and out of the stake while training. ĒPick your dog up and go back to the truckĒ, he said. Once again I told him to go to hell. We both laughed and kept going. WE would come back after a session and he would sit a tell Kay the entire three hours in detail. I lived three hours from Rich and many times would go to his home and train for several days. We would sit in his living room and talk for hours. He would ask if he ever told me about how Rebel won the Grand? I would always say no and he would describe the day. I would sit and listen intently to the story that I had heard many times. The excitement in his voice and the twinkle in his eye made you want to hear it again. I was fortunate to be hearing birddog history by the very man that lived it and created it. Thankyou Uncle Richie (as I always called him) for the memories.
The man in a nut shell. During the depression his father tripped and was shot in the stomached while deer hunting. Rich, a young boy, had to run two miles to the road for help. His father died four days later. His brother Larry, whom he idolized, died suddenly as a young man. Rich was not a warm and fuzzy guy. If you didnít want the truth, then donít ask. He was honest to the point of being silly. Tougher than two coats of paint. He lived a common life and was perhaps the wealthiest guy I ever met. A bird dog was his life, and he lived it.
Back to the HOF. Impact and contribution you say. It was him and him alone that impacted the setter breeding more than any one. For a thirty- year period he bred more setters the any other person. The Sam L prefix is in more pedigrees than any other prefix. There arenít many setters today that donít have that prefix in their pedigree. If you wanted your dog bred you had to travel to his home, there was no airport. The HOF was meant for people like Rich Tuttle. WE have let him down. Heís a part of birddog history and itís hardly fair to let that slip away. Rich Tuttle is a HOFíer in the purest sense of the word. Letís not ignore his life and his dedication and contributions to our sport. This isnít just cover dog history, itís bird dog history. He impacted us all. When my generation is gone so will the legacy of Rich Tuttle be gone. We canít let that happen. Once again I ask the committee and the voters to get it right. Letís all say to Rich and his wife Kay-THANKYOU.
Sorry Uncle Richie for not doing it sooner.
Your true friend,