Blast Zone Receives Setter Cover Dog of Year Award

Blast Zone officially received the Seminatore Award presented to the top English Setter at the Grand National Grouse Field Trial banquet in Milan, New Hampshire in early November, 2019. The Seminatore Award is a part of the Setter Award program that was started when it had been 30 years since an English Setter had won the National Championship for horseback field trail dogs held at Grand Junction, TN. The English Setter Awards schedule recognizes horseback shooting dog and derbies as well as Cover Dog all-age dogs and derbies. The cash awards and recognition are meant to encourage breeders and trialers to accelerate the development of outstanding English Setters.

The Seminatore Award is named after famed New England professional trainer, Mike Seminatore. MIke was known as deeply involved in developing and competing the Chief line of English Setters that had great success in the woods and fields throughout New England cover dog territory. As a point of interest, Bob and Dick’s first dog in their partnership was Wire. Wire was sired by Mike Seminatore’s well-known male setter, School Boy Jim. Bob and Dick owned Blast Zone as a young dog. Ownership officially passed to Thor following his win of the New York Grouse Championship. Even so, Blast Zone–call name “Strike”–was with Thor Kain since “Strike”recovered from an automobile accident at about a year of age. “Strike” has always been “Thor’s dog”.

Thor Kain, owner, trainer, and handler of Blast Zone, was on hand to received the Seminatore Award. It’s an impressive accomplishment for an amateur to win this award as professional trainer/handlers travel the cover dog circuit from August to April, from Maine to PA to Michigan to Wisconsin. An amateur, holding down a 9 to 5 job, can hardly make the series of trial competitions the pros can but Thor and “Strike” prevailed in big entry championships in NY and PA and that clinched the Seminatore Award for them.

Blast Off wins RU MI Woodcock Championship

Blast Off

Justin Evans’ Blast Off was named RU Ch. at the MI Woodcock Championship October 11, 2019. Mark Forman handled “Sam” to this win which adds to his other championship wins as he earlier won the Northern MI Coverdog Championship and RU Ontario Grouse Championship. “Sam”, son of our Full Blast, scored 2 woodcock finds to go along with his always strong, searching ground effort.

End Game

Making the weekend even sweeter for Justin happened when his pup End Game, sired by Blast Off, won 1st at the Nittany Valley Open Puppy in his first start. We’ve been watching this pup over the summer and he has made an exciting impression in workouts and now under trial conditions.

Power Forward wins Nittany Valley grouse trial

Power Forward, sired by Blast Zone, racked up her third win this fall in the third start of her all-age career by winning the 1-hr, Open All-Age at the Nittany Valley grouse trial held October 12, 2019 over “The Barrens’ gamelands in central PA. Abby turned 2 in August and has transitioned from thrilling us in workouts to producing the same results under field trial conditions. At Nittany she coupled a strong, powerful ground effort with a woodcock find at 35. Her find demonstrated her remarkable bird finding and bird handling skills. She was standing with her typical high head and high tail when Thor and the judges located her. She was riveted to the spot when the bird flushed and shot rang out. Her finish in the last minutes showed the conditioning that Thor Kain, her handler, put on her as well as “Abby’s” innate desire as the cover was at times thick and heavy.

Power Forward continues winning ways

Power Forward

Power Forward, our ‘just-turned- two’ daughter of Blast Zone, went to her second shooting dog stake at the Sandy Valley Bird Dog Club on September 14 and came away with her second win at this level. Pitted against 20 other pointers and setters, “Abby” placed 2nd place in the Amateur Shooting Dog stake.

It was a perfect day at the new Sandy Valley Bird Dog Club’s first trial held over the Freeland Kennel Club grounds in eastern PA. Freeland has hosted bird dog competitions for well over 50 years. Bob won some of his first placements at Freeland fifty years ago this year. Today the grounds are groomed for bird dogs and they have never been so attractive and enjoyable for showing a hunting bird dog.

“Abby” broke away near the refurbished club house. Flying in the excitement of being turned loose, she reached out running along the tree lined fields. At the first turn we found her ahead pointing into the wooded edge. Birds were flown with “Abby” steady. Through the switchgrass and mowed strips of broomgrass she powered ahead. As the course went through a stretch with thick cover the judge warned handler, Thor Kain, that there were three quail sitting in the middle of the gravel path ahead. Just then “Abby” emerged from the cover and started down the path, slammed onto point and the birds made their escape without much flushing effort. “Abby” stood like a rock. In the last field below the clubhouse, “Abby” stood tall well 100 yards ahead looking into the field edge. Thor showed confidence in her as he walked at a normal hunting pace to her stand. Birds were flushed and from here “Abby” made the turn to home and finished still energetic and cracking ahead.

We’re excited with the strong start “Abby” has made to her shooting dog career. We’re looking forward to the rest of the fall campaign.

Power Forward off to a winning start

Power Forward

Power Forward, our female sired by Blast Zone ex Straight Forward, turned two in August and she celebrated her second birthday by boldly entering the DuBois-Beaver Meadows Open Shooting Dog stake. Thor Kain, her amateur trainer/handler was at the controls. 36 of the top walking shooting dogs from our region, including several recently named National champions, were handled by the best pros in the region, vied for placements under near ideal late summer conditions. “Abby” brought little experience to the matchup. She hadn’t been to many trials and never pointed a bird in competition–other than one derby callback. Naturally, having just turned 2, she had never been entered in a shooting dog stake.

While the odds were stacked against her, this meant nothing to “Abby”. She broke away hard and fast and was soon on the edge of bell range. Little was seen of her in the opening minutes but her bell rang out ahead, in the pocket. When she was spotted, she was driving from one objective to another. As we entered the woods-covered part of the course, she came by a few times, obviously concentrated on her quest. While many of the competitors have been over these grounds multiple times, “Abby” was new to the scene. She made the 90-degree course turn at 15 and powered ahead. At 18, point was called ahead and she was in a thicket with her bracemate backing. Thor put the bird in the air promptly with “Abby” a statue. From here “Abby” continued with class, tail cracking, down the course, through the woods. At 24 her bell stopped and Thor sent out Bob Watts to scout for her. She was found near a stream with the same intense, straight up pointing style she exhibited on the first find. No bird could be flushed with Thor covering a wide area. Then the judge spotted a quail coming out of a hollow log right in front of “Abby”. It was put to flight with “Abby” motionless. From here “Abby” kicked up her heels finishing, still hunting, well ahead and going strong in the afternoon heat.

At the pickup we all knew we’d seen a special start on a shooting dog career by a very young dog. While it was thrilling to see “Abby” perform so well at the trial, it was no surprise. We’ve seen her handle literally more than a hundred wild birds with perfect manners starting when she was barely a year old. Over the decades we’ve had only three dogs who were this ultra-precocious. “Abby”, her sire Blast Zone, and “Abby’s” half brother and Pennstar offspring Super Storm each could, at barely a year of age, find wild birds consistently, get them pointed and keep pointing them until you find them,–no matter how long that takes- -and then be steady-to-wing and shot at the flush. Each of these dogs was trained by Thor.

One 2nd place win does not make a career, but it’s a promising start and we’re excited by her step forward. We know we have a special dog in “Abby” and we’re thankful for that.

Blast Zone pups show potential

Lila
Nell

While we have not bred a litter for a couple of years, we continue to develop pups who come to us as ‘stud fee’ pups. Currently we are working with two youngsters born in 2019.

# 1. Lila, sired by Blast Zone ex Rick Simpson’s female, is a big strong female. She is powerful on the ground. She runs hard, likes to roll, and while she casts to distant objectives, she manages to stay to the front naturally. Lila is serious about her hunting as noted by the fact that she doesn’t feel the need to come in and touch base with her handler as many pups tend to do. She swings by at 20 yards and keeps going with her mind on game finding. Lila’s been pointing wild (mostly woodcock) and released birds consistently. Her pointing style is straight up. Lila’s bold personality makes her a good one to work with. She wants to please.

#2. Nell, sired by Blast Zone ex Jeremy Avery’s female, is a lithe female youngster whose athleticism is apparent when you see her get over the ground smoothly and gracefully. She’s younger than Lila and is just now starting to reach out. Always staying busy, Nell, is very cracky in motion–eye-catching on the move. She is a calm dog and likes to be worked on the board. Nell wants to please and her trainability is obvious when you get your hands on her. From her picture you can see that she looks heartstopping on point. Tail straight as an arrow every time.

Throughout the fall, we will hunt both these females. At the moment both are on track to be winners and with more time and training we will see if they are of championship caliber.

Straight Forward, still got it?

Straight Forward

Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational Champion Straight Forward, (“Cracker”) is retired but she still loves to point birds and looks great doing it. Now ten years old, she’s enjoying retirement at Bob’s kennel. She has an acre to run in and is joined each morning by her kennelmate, Grand National Grouse Ch. Full Tilt (“Callie”). “Callie”, now 15+, is in the house overnight. Each morning she can’t wait to get out with the other dogs. “Cracker” is still spry enough that she gets roaded with the younger dogs. Just as earlier in her life, “Cracker” is a hard worker in the harness and pulls and drives throughout the workout.

Meanwhile, “Cracker’s” pups from the three litters she whelped continue to compete in the best of competition. Multiple winners Full Breeze (sired by Full Blast), Deciding Point and Super Storm (sired by Pennstar) and Power Forward (sired by Blast Zone) are all out of Straight Forward and all have been in competition this fall. Power Forward, the youngest of her offspring turned 2 years old this month and was 2nd at the DuBois FTC, Open Shooting Dog, 36 entries. 8/19).

Many regard “Cracker” as the best female that Dick and Bob owned in their 38-year partnership. It’s very satisfying to continue to build the breed on her genes and instincts.

Grand National Grouse Ch. Full Blast at Stud–Dick still managing the matings.

Ch. Full Blast

Our multiple champion producing sire, Grand National Grouse Ch. Full Blast, continues to be available at stud.  “Jeb” lives with John Kritco, the owner of Lion Country Supply.  John has bought a farm outside State College, PA and converted it into a private shooting preserve paradise.  A decades-long friend of ours, John will give “Jeb” the perfect retirement with lots of hunting opportunity.  John lives just a few miles from Dick Brenneman and when females come to breed to “Jeb”, Dick will supervise the matings.  Dick has successfully managed the mating of well over a hundred dogs in our 37 year partnership.  Your female will be in good hands.

To date Full Blast has produced 40 winners with over 150 wins.  He has produced the winner of the Purina Cover Dog-of-the-Year Award (2018-1019) our Blast Zone as well as Justin Evan’s Blast Off, winner of multiple grouse championships.  He also has produced offspring with great potential as evidenced by his siring the winner of the Grouse Futurity and three times he produced the winner of the Grand National Grouse Puppy Classic.

Super Storm scores 2nd at Dubois Open Derby

Super Storm, our derby sired by Pennstar ex Straight Forward, scored a nice win in May at DuBois-Beaver Meadows Field Trial Club.  “Fed” had two dug up finds to go with a hard hunting 30 minute effort.  In the opening minutes “Fed” rimmed the big field, then dug into the woods ahead searching intelligently for game.  He also backed his bracemate on two occasions.  Both the finds and the backs were executed with shooting dog manners.  Down the stretch “Fed” seemed as fresh as he started, busy ahead, hunting.  We look forward to his first shooting dog season in the fall.  Also, we have been very pleased with the first litter of pups sired by Super Storm.  Dr. Roger Clark, Illinois veterinarian, known for his commitment to hunting dogs of the highest quality built on cover dog bloodlines, bred his Keystone Red Rage female to “Fed”.  The pups are just a few months old but they already show real potential: busy, enthusiastic (but can be calm when you pick them up or put them on the board), snappy, bold, straight-tailed, quick to point are qualities we see in these youngsters whose owners who send us videos of their development.

CHANGE HAPPENS

After 38 years there has been a shift in the partnership between Dick Brenneman and Bob Watts.  We are still partners in coverdogs.  Our active coverdogs for competition or breeding are Full Blast, Blast Zone, Full Breeze, Game Winner and Deciding Point.  In 2019 Dick decided not to start any more pups together with Bob.  Dick and Bob will play out the careers of the winning dogs we work with together, although the dogs will remain in Dick’s name.

Enter Thor Kain.  Several years ago, my friend pro trainer Tom Gingher told me that he’d found a young man who was vitally interested in competing bird dogs.  Tom was highly impressed and encouraged me to meet the guy and see if I could help him, mentor him as he got involved in competing bird dogs.  That young man was Thor Kain and Tom was exactly right in seeing a highly competitive person with outdoor skills, dog training skill potential, sincerity, open-to-learning fast, respectful of dogs and people and enthusiastic to work with.  Add to these traits the hard work ethic of Thor’s (up at 5 am daily–I’ve never seen anyone work as hard or put in as much time with his dogs at Thor) and you’ve got the ingredients for success.

It wasn’t long until Dick and I gave Thor a prospect of ours with high potential but whose training had gone off the rails–All In, call name “Chance”.  Eventually, with both Chance and Thor learning, Chance’s 9-find performance won the Region 2 Amateur Shooting Dog Championship.  Dick and I gave Thor more dogs and he made winners of them as well.  Thor kept learning and growing in his dog training/handling skills.  He got involved in the leadership of the Pennsylvania Grouse Trial Club and the Grand National Grouse Trial Club, becoming Grouse Futurity Secretary.  At times we asked Thor, as an amateur, to handle some of our dogs in trials.  He won more than his share including impressive wins with Straight Forward (1st PA Open All-Age, 2018) and Blast Zone (Champion, New York Grouse Dog Championship, 2018). As an amateur handler, Thor could not collect the purses at these events.  Following the New York Grouse Ch., Dick and Bob transferred ownership of Blast Zone to Thor.

With Dick having decided not to start any more pups and with Bob still wanting to retain his role as the one who starts and develops young dogs, Bob decided to team with Thor moving forward.  As young dogs come along through stud fee litter picks and matings, the partnership of Bob and Thor will take ownership and work the same winning formula that Bob and Dick have used for 38 years.  Bob will be the “Minor League Manager, starting and developing the pups and youngsters.  The pups who don’e have top flight potential are sold as started dogs to serious hunters who offer a great home.  Those youngsters who have the proven potential will move to the “Major League Manager”, Thor, usually at derby-age.  Thor has access to several outstanding wild bird covers which have aided his training regimen.

Currently Thor and Bob’s active dogs are Super Storm, Power Forward and 2019 pups “Lila” (Blast Zone ex Claremont Lucky Brynn), “Hawk” (Super Storm ex ) and “Nelly” (Blast Zone ex Bridgeware Mt Pemi).

There you have it.  Change happens.  Dick and Bob’s dogs and their winning bloodlines are continuing.  Dick and Bob are not done winning.  We have some fine dogs for campaigning with the continued use of the skills of professional Hall-of-Famer Dave Hughes.

The new amateur partnership between Thor and Bob represents a new generation with an ongoing commitment to bird dog excellence, building on lines and strategies that have proven themselves in the Dick and Bob era when they historically became the only kennel to win the “Grand Slam of Grouse Dogs”–winning the Grand National Grouse Championship (3X), The Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational, The Grand National Grouse Futurity and the Grand National Puppy Classic (2x).

Many thrills with our dogs in training and trialing lie ahead.

Dick, Bob and Thor