The American Brittany Club

Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs

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The American Brittany Club

by Leslie Andreas

The American Brittany Club's 2004 National Amateur Championship took place November 22 to 26th. This was the premier one hour stake for amateurs handling all age Brittanys in the country. This stake has been considered as a Championship since 1966. Prior to 1966, it was run as the American Brittany Club Amateur stake with 45 minute heats. The stake has been held on these grounds at the end of November every year since 1987. This year 48 dogs were drawn and all came to the line with no scratches.

Winning the event was FC Just Call Me Roy, owned by Tom Ettinger, Londondery, Vermont and handled by Ken Cherry, Warrior's Mark, Pennsylvania. Runner up, DC/AFC Shady's Tia Maria, owned by Clem and Marilynne Little, Enumclaw, Washington with Clem doing the handling honors. In third place was FC Smarteyes-Joker, owned and handled by Steve Ralph, Forest Lake, Minnesota. Rounding out the placements with fourth was Ch. J & M Clark's Trademark, owned by James and Mary Crawford, Houston, Texas and handled, as usual, by James. The winners came from all corners of the country. With three of them just four years old and one of them just hitting his prime at six, these dogs will be around for a long time to come.

We had a judging panel consisting of Rich Barber,(returning from last year)Reynolds, Illinois, Bob Reynolds, Kansas City, Missouri, and Harold Davis, Pooleville, Texas. Rich Barber is a professional trainer who campaigns Shorthairs but has trained dogs of just about all breeds. Bob Reynolds has a rich background in pointer trials, running and judging since 1969. Harold Davis has been trialing pointers since 1961, and was for a time a professional. All three gentlemen were experienced dog men, knowledgeable, attentive and positive. They did a fine job in sorting out what they saw. It would have been hard to have found a more competent trio to do the job.

The trial is run as a continuous course with three one hour venues in use. All courses consist of likely quail habitat, with edges to run and open fields to show the dog in. There are also places on all three courses that test the dog's ability to handle. Mowed strips and feed plots are groomed so that quail will most likely have good chances of survival. Traditionally, a thousand quail are released in September. This year Red and Larry released fifteen hundred quail, and we did see an improvement in the number seen on all courses. I was not at the 2003 National Amateur so I am depending on last year's report, which claimed that 57 entries had a total of 12 game contacts. This year we had 20 pieces of dog work with 48 entries, and in addition 14 covies were rode up by handlers, scouts, and dog wagons. The birds had acclimated well and were strong flyers.

The weather, as always, is a big factor in the running of the trial, and is the one thing that is beyond the control of those in charge. Our weather came in the form of rain, lots of it, mostly falling during the night, but still affecting us greatly. It caused us to adopt a somewhat slower and safer pace at times, as the fields were sodden, and footing treacherous. Any break in the clouds seemed to bring the birds out to feed. We would lose Tuesday afternoon to a rain storm, but with Friday open it made it easy to complete the stake during better running conditions.

The American Brittany Club owes a great deal to the sponsorship of this and many other championships to the Purina Company.

In addition, quality and coveted prizes were supplied by Christie Enterprises (saddle to the winner), Tri-Tronics and Tracker. Their continued goodwill ensures that we can go on enjoying this wonderful sport. Ray Pelton attended and presented the Purina Dog of the Year award, which was coordinated by Dr. Robert Rankin, held following this championship.

Booneville, as usual, was a hospitable host to those in attendance. We had good hearty meals available to us at the club house all week long, provided by Jake Barber and family, calling this service the Bearcat Too, after his restaurant in town. With social events scheduled almost every night through the week, the clubhouse was well used. Meals every night included a traditional Thanksgiving meal for the extended Brittany family who gather here every year to celebrate bird dogs. Larry McAnally and Red Bailey, as well as their part time assistant, Brad Wells, had the grounds in good shape and took turns driving the dog wagon during the running of the stake.

Jerry McGee and his field trial committee consisting of Ron Zook, Tom White and Tom Milam are to be congratulated on a smooth well run trial, without even a little glitch. Tom and Linda Milam did a lion's share of the organizing and were involved in the day to day running. It took a lot of planning and a lot of help to run and everyone involved deserves a pat on the back. Ed Tillson served again as field trial chairman. Jack Murphy was the course marshall. Paul Katzel co-ordinated all the gallery marshalls (with three each morning and afternoon). I am sorry to say that I didn't get the names of all of the gallery marshals, my fault, as I was trying not to look backwards and see all the fun I was missing by not riding in the gallery. Will Langley, our wrangler, was back again from Michigan, and provided in shape horses that were dependable and smooth. The dog wagon chores were handled by Darlene Dow, Ruth McGee, Nancy Clenenden, Linda Milam and Joan Donnell, with coffee and doughnuts at the break between course 2 and 3. Marilynne Little served as hospitality chairman, making sure everyone was signed up for meals, and organized a fund raising live auction with donations from all over the country, as well as chairing the calcutta. She had help from many people, Sue D'Arcy, Linda Milam, Darlene Dow, Bill Landress and Mary Karbiner, to name a few. Mary Crawford, the field trial secretary, handled the thankless job of the pre-trial and post trial paperwork with efficiency and grace. She has served in this capacity for several years, and claims she is taking a much deserved break next year. Janet Chase appeared in time for the meeting to give the Club treasurer's report. Janet has held this position for many years and is so very good at it. Lyle and Marge Johnson, the AKC reps were here early in the week, as always welcomed back by their Brittany friends who have fond memories of when they were dog trainers on this very circuit. Mary Jo Trimble, the ABC club secretary and one of those people who work so hard for the breed and the sport of field trialing was also present. Her husband, Ray, is the tireless coordinator for the Purina awards which are held after the running of this stake.

Another person who provided a great service was Linda Langford, who posted a synopsis of every day's running on the internet. Anyone who has had to stay home, when they wanted to be here, knew how much these little bits of news meant.

As for me, your reporter, this was the first time I have been to the National Amateur in the past seven years, although I have been to most of the Open stakes since then. I had forgotten how much fun it can be and just how many people show up, that wouldn’t be staying for the National Open stake. (I had also forgotten that Christmas falls right after I get home, and I won't make that mistake again.)

Much missed were Frank and Donna Pride, owners of last year's winner, Pride N Joy's Bunch of Annie. With her entires arriving late, Annie couldn't run and the Prides elected to return to Maine and supervise the building of their new home. The usual custom is to hold a party in honor of the previous year's winner, sponsored by the owners. The Prides donated the cost of the party to a homeless shelter, but a party was held in her honor anyway. The hat was passed to pay for the band and the meal, and a toast was made by Tom Milam to a great previous champion, Annie.
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