Blast Zone, handled throughout the year by Thor Kain, has been officially announced as the winner of the Mike Seminatore Award as the top all-age English setter cover dog for 2018-2019. Shortly after this announcement in early May, the Nestle company proclaimed that Blast Zone had won the 2018-19 Purina Cover Dog of the Year award which goes to the top cover dog irrespective of breed.
These awards are the highest competitive honor that a dog competing in the woods, hunting for grouse and woodcock, can received. We are honored by this recognition.
“Strike” earned these awards based on his strong performance during the fall when over 90% of cover dog championships are contested. Named the Champion at both the New York Grouse Dog Championship and the Pennsylvania Grouse Championship provided the points “Strike” needed to lead a field of outstanding grouse dogs who challenged for these overall season recognitions.
“Strike’s” win of the New York Grouse Dog Championship will be recalled as hotly contested as 57 pointers and setters vied for this coveted title with more than a dozen contenders having well handled grouse finds. Held in first half of September, this championship kicks off the fall schedule and the expectation is that the dogs could face some warm weather running conditions. This year the temperatures were hot, brutally hot. When “Strike” ran near the early afternoon the thermometer read 90-degrees, according to the judge. “Strike’s” relocation of a running grouse at the midway point of his hour hunt will be recalled for years to come. After a 5-minute search he was found on point. Sizing up the situation Thor sent “Strike” on. He raced 30 yards and repointed. Thor flushed but no bird lifted. He sent “Strike” on with a tap on his shoulder and he went directly 50 yards forward this time and stacked up, high on both ends, sucking in air with his nostrils flaring. This time, as Thor flushed, the grouse was pinned right in front of “Strike” and the bird roared out–Strike immobile. He finished strong to cap a memorable hour.
At the conclusion of the NY Grouse Championship, Dick Brenneman and Bob Watts transferred ownership of Blast Zone to Thor Kain.
On the back of the New York win, “Strike” went to the other big-time east coast grouse championships in Pennsylvania with Thor at the controls. 54 of the best cover dogs competed. “Strike” ran a powerful, forward hour over rugged conditions. His ‘to-the-limits’ of the cover effort showed his desire and the confidence that Thor has in him. At the halfway mark Thor realized he did not have “Strike’s” bell. He dispatched scout John Stolgitis and after a 10-minute search the call of point rang out. Buried in a thicket, Strike had a grouse pinned in front when the handler and judge arrived. Standing tall and tight for the flush and shot completed a thrilling grouse find. From here Strike continued hitting the objectives down the stretch in a forward, driving effort for the entire hour.
Receiving these awards confirms what we have known about “Strike” since he was a pup–this is an exceptional wild-bird finding, wild bird-handling setter. All the talent we witnessed in “Strike’s” early development carried through in his performances in competition. We kept saying that “we’ve never had a dog who at such a young age could find and handle wild birds so efficiently”. Now “Strike” has proven it to the bird dog world. As many know, “Strike” began his life with Bob Watts and his puppy program. “Strike” has also been with early life co-owner Dick Brenneman, especially benefiting from Dick’s winter Texas quail hunting trips where “Strike’s” been the #1 guide dog for years. These periods aside, “Strike” has been and continues to be Thor’s dog. He got him into hundreds of wild birds as a mature pup and derby–“Strike” handling most all of these with adult manners at the shot! Like we said, we haven’t seen a dog with these kinds of bird skills before. Thor’s the one who finished “Strike” and campaigned him to his wins including the National Amateur Grouse Championship in his first season of all-age competition. Thor and “Strike”, a combination who have earned the highest recognitions in the cover dog realm–the Purina Cover Dog of the Year Award and the Mike Seminatore English Setter Award.