Dr. Andrew F. Zoll (1916-2006)

by Brad Harter

Born in Mansfield, Ohio on Aug. 20th, 1916, Dr. Andrew F. Zoll passed away peacefully and in the company of his family at his residence on July 15th. 2006. Enjoying excellent health for most of his 89 years, Doc was the epitome of a father, bird dog man and a field trial competitor. Throughout the sixties, seventies, even into the nineties, Doc and his son Andy competed throughout the Midwest with their fine string of pointers. The trial was never over until Doc had run Buddy, Susie, Kissy or one of the other great dogs that he had both bred and developed. Dogs were more than just a part of Doc’s life, they were his oxygen. Not only were Doc’s dogs polished performers that could win any place they competed, they were also adept at parlor tricks. A graduate of the Ohio State School of Dentistry, Doc practiced for more than 45 years in the Mansfield, Ohio area. Often one or more dogs would spend the day in the office with Doc where they were all taught to sit quietly in the chair while he patiently cleaned their teeth. This was long before any of us were learning of the benefits of regular dog dental care. Maybe this was one of the reasons Doc’s dogs often out birded all the others in a stake.

 Although Doc’s beginning had been with Red setters bird hunting during Ohio’s golden pheasant years, it would be the line of pointers that he and young Andy would develop that would hold Doc’s infatuation for more than 50 years. They had started with the best of bloodlines tracing directly back to Palamonium & Wayriel Allegheny Sport.

 Doc’s dogs went everywhere with him and they were at home in his camper just as they were in the field. Once, when I entered Doc’s camper early in the morning unannounced, I was quickly admonished and asked to turn around while he finished dressing Buddy. He quickly reached up to his bed, slipped Buddy’s collar on and then informed me that everything was alright. This was pure Doc, his wild sense of humor and the special relationship he had with his animals.

Doc was competitive in everything that he did, whether it was on the tennis courts, fishing for walleye in Canada or Lake Erie or beating you at a field trial. For Doc, it wasn’t just about winning but more about just being the best that he was capable of and giving his dogs that same opportunity.

Doc had a special compassion for people as well as animals. Once when I was fishing with Doc and Andy in the far reaches of northern Canada, he sensed that I was having some discomfort. I finally confessed and told him I was bothered by a wisdom tooth that was acting up. Doc’s eyes lit up! He shared the fact that he hadn’t done any real field dentistry work since World War II and quickly assured me that he was a master at extracting wisdom teeth. Fishing through his tackle box and lure making equipment, Doc found all the tools that he would need and soon had them boiling in a pot on the fire. A small bottle of medicinal Canadian whiskey surfaced that Doc had kept hidden away from the rest of us. His defense was that he had only brought the whiskey exactly for this type of emergency. I wasn’t really in favor of this operation, but if you knew Doc, you also knew that once he had his mind on a mission, there really was no stopping him. With the hands of a surgeon, the same hands that made dentures and intricate fishing lures with such amazing skill, my troublesome wisdom tooth was out in minutes. For Doc, this was the same kind of enjoyment he received whether pulling in a walleye or flushing birds for his dogs. His love of life and his compassion to make everything right in the world were the trademarks that set Doc apart from the rest.  

Doc’s support to the field trial game went almost unmatched in the middle states region. He and Andy were always available with a string of entries and a horse for anyone needing a mount. When a group of us formed the Ohio Ruffed Grouse Field Trial Club, Doc was one of the first to call us with his support. He promised to enter his dogs while openly admitting that none of his dogs had ever seen a grouse. His word was his promise. Doc was there at the very first trial running old Buddy on foot through the hills of southern Ohio. The bell was all new to Buddy but soon it went silent and Buddy was found on point. There was no bush or typical quail cover to flush in and Doc was a little awkward kicking leaves in the woods for his dog. Nothing flew and when Buddy was asked to relocate, this broke, old bird finding machine would not take a step. Doc finally went down on his hands and knees and peered under a log only three feet in front of Buddy and not five inches off the ground. Doc stood up quickly and exclaimed to the judges: “just exactly what does one of these grouse look like anyway?” One judge described the bird as mostly brown and about the size of a chicken. Doc commented: “this was exactly what my dog has pointed and it is sitting right there, up tight under that log.” The judges found it hard to believe that a grouse was sitting that tight with Doc no more than a foot from the bird when he had crawled up in front of Buddy. They ordered Doc to flush and shoot. Doc took one lunging kick at the log and out flew the biggest owl you could ever have imagined. Doc quickly fired his gun and sent Buddy on, thinking he had just won the first ever Ohio Grouse Trial. Buddy failed to win that trial but over the years Susie, Buddy, Beau, Kissy, Jill and scores of other fine dogs would carry the Zoll banners for both Doc & Andy, usually sending the rest of home with only yellow ribbons at best. Doc and his eldest son, Andy spent countless hours enjoying life and the world around them. Doc lived with young Andy and his wife Becky these last five years. Doc is survived by his four children; Andrew Allen, Annette Lynn, Timothy Lee & Cynthia Christine, Andy’s wife Becky, Doc’s former wife; Hazel, fourteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

 In his lifetime Doc would accomplished the ultimate goal. He managed to leave this world a better place; for dogs, horses and people too! May he rest in peace; flushing birds in front of his dogs with the dying sun and pulling fighting walleyes from the deep cool waters of a lake.