In Memoriam: Brian Hays

Famed gun dog breeder Brian Hays passed away June 9, 2015, after a brave battle with cancer. He is survived by family, friends, and the dogs he loved.

Copyright © 2015 Mike Gaddis

 

After battling cancer since the early 2010s—and battling it hard—Brian Hays finally lost the fight on June 9, 2015. He was just 60 years old.

If Hays’s name doesn’t ring a bell, this one almost certainly will: Elhew Kennels. Hays inherited Elhew Kennels from its founder, the legendary Robert G. Wehle, upon Wehle’s death in 2002—and was thus entrusted with the custodianship of an incomparable legacy, the Elhew pointer.

“The greatest honor I’ve ever received,” Hays called it, “and a responsibility I take very, very seriously.”

A professional gun dog trainer and guide—my Sporting Classics colleague Mike Gaddis enjoyed wonderful grouse and woodcock hunting with Hays and his dogs at Camp Bonaventure on Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula—Hays was the longtime proprietor of Chokebore Kennels at Addieville East Farm in Rhode Island. It was there that he and his wife, Martha (who survives), continued Wehle’s work, carefully breeding the best to the best, striving not merely to perpetuate the excellence for which the Elhew prefix is synonymous but to make each generation of Elhew pointer puppies just a little better than the last.

When Hays’s cancer made it impossible for him to shoulder the day-to-day responsibilities of operating a breeding kennel, he reached out to another pointer enthusiast who’d been a close friend of Bob Wehle’s, Mel Pfeifle, and formally brought her in as a partner. Pfeifle, in turn, established a cooperative relationship with yet another admirer of the Elhew bloodline, Jerry Havel—the upshot being that Elhew pointers will continue to be bred, raised, developed, and offered for sale through Pfeifle’s Hampshire Kennels in Bradford, New Hampshire (hampshirekennel.com) and Havel’s Pineridge Grouse Camp & Kennels in Remer, Minnesota (pineridgegrousecamp.com).

A gentleman-sportsman of the old school, a skilled, perceptive trainer, and a dog man through-and-through, Brian Hays upheld the Elhew legacy and validated Bob Wehle’s trust. He left the party too soon—but while he was here he filled his cup.

 

Sporting Classics would like to extend its sympathy to Brian’s loved ones. His obituary can be read and the digital guestbook signed here.

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