Fresh off his first magazine cover appearance—on Garden & Gun’s October/November 2021 issue—Calvin, an English cocker spaniel, is getting lots of attention. Online, dozens of readers have commented and emailed about the one-year-old pup. “Never have I ever seen a more beautiful animal,” wrote James L. Edwards of North Carolina. “Never!” Offline, Calvin has become something of a local hero in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.
“This cover has made this little tiny celebrity status for him,” says Andrew Hyslop, Calvin’s owner and the photographer who shot the cover. On Hyslop’s recent dove hunts, his buddies have asked to have their photo taken with the new model. At home, Hyslop has opened the door to kids with the magazine in hand, requesting a photo with Calvin. Neighbors have stopped the pair in the street. “People had always loved Calvin,” Hyslop says. “But once that cover came out, they were so happy.”
A couple years ago, after hunting in Georgia with a friend’s affectionate cocker spaniel, Hyslop dreamed of having his own. “I haven’t met a cocker I didn’t like,” he says. A canine companion was always a part of Hyslop’s home, but when his older dog passed away, his family went months without another. Then, Hyslop connected with Jay Lowry of Ryglen Gundogs, who breeds English cocker spaniels. After five months, Lowry told Hyslop there was a dog for him—a fluffy white and brown pup. “Just remember, he wants to please you,” Lowry told Hyslop. “You just have to show him how.”
Hyslop and Calvin became an inseparable pair, sharing a close understanding with one another that Hyslop says he has never had with another dog. “He’s turned out to be the best dog I’ve ever had.” Calvin celebrated his first birthday on the day Hyslop found out his photo and his dog would be featured on the G&G cover.
Months before, on the day of the shoot, Calvin, Hyslop, and Hyslop’s eleven-year-old son, Jake, drove to Ashbourne Farms in La Grange, Kentucky, a place familiar to the dog and photographer. Calvin sat on the porch of a rustic cabin restored by Austin Musselman, Ashbourne’s owner and a friend of Hyslop’s. Shooting the cover was a challenge in the summer heat, but with the help of Calvin’s favorite toys and coaching from his son, Hyslop made it work. “That cover shot wasn’t only special because it was a cover,” Hyslop says, “but it was my photo, my dog, in a special place special to both of us. I couldn’t have rigged that in my head.”