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

Blast Zone Named Top Cover Dog of the Year, 2018-19.

 

Blast Zone

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.

 

Grand National Grouse Ch. Full Blast standing at stud

Ch. Full Blast

Full Blast, retired from competition, is still going strong.  Still hunting.  Still mating.  Still producing large, vibrant litters of offspring that win in the field and in the woods–be that hunting upland birds or competing in cover dog field trials.

The quality of “Jeb’s” offspring continues to be proven in cover dog competitions with two of his son’s earning their way to the 2019 Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational held at Gladwin, MI. “Jeb” is the only setter sire with multiple offspring entered in the GNGW Invitational, 2019. 

Jeb’s son, Blast Zone. won both the 2018 New York Grouse Championship and the 2018 Pennsylvania Grouse Championship this past fall.  They were events with large 50 dog+ entries.  Followers of championship quality dogs recall that the temperature was reported to be 90 degrees when Blast Zone thrilled the gallery with his relocation on a running grouse, then going on to finish strong in the unprecedented heat.  Reaching back to his sire’s 2013 win of the Lost Pond Shooting Dog (44 entries) in the spring of 2013, followers recall that the temperatures were in the mid-80s when “Jeb” thrilled the gallery with his hunting and multiple bird finds.  The judge called me on his way home after the running to tell me how impressed he was with “Jeb’s” hunting in the scorching conditions.  “Jeb” and his offspring have heat tolerance.  Heat tolerance has become more important as field trial seasons are extended into late spring and summer and global warming has made for many hot days during the fall.

Jeb’s son, Blast Off, owned by Justin Evans won the Northern Michigan Cover Dog Championship, fall 2018.  This win over a large field was one of the most prestigious wins of that recent season.  He added a 1st at the Pennsylvania Open All-Age this spring to his strong record.  The Northern MI win propelled him into the 2019 GNGW Invitational.

“Jeb’s” production record stands at 40 winners produced to date.  These winners have placed 155 times in field trial competition.  What other living cover dog has a stronger record of producing offspring that epitomize the standards of the Grand National Grouse Club?  Recall, “Jeb’s” youngsters have won the Grand National Grouse Puppy Classic three (3) times and our Game Winner won the 2017 Grand National Grouse Futurity.

In choosing a sire for your cover dog female, ask yourself, “What other setter sire standing at stud today has a proven record of quality production as exceptional as Full Blast?”  Pick your sire based on facts, not fantasy.  

Straight Forward Retires

Straight Forward

3-TIME WINNER OF THE SEMINATORE AWARD

Regarded as one of the all-time great performing setters, Straight Forward has retired.  From the fall of 2009 through the spring of 2018, “Cracker” scored 29 wins including 9 Championship placements.  A highlight of “Cracker’s” career was her win of the Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Championship in 2013 at Gladwin, MI.  Her 4-find performance on Day 1 stands out as a classic performance in the history of that event.  Pro Dave Hughes trained and handled “Cracker” throughout her championship career.

“Cracker’s” championship wins were earned across the coverdog geographic spectrum and include the Northern New England Grouse Ch., the NY Grouse Ch., the PA Grouse Ch., the New England Grouse Ch. and the MI Woodcock Ch.  “Cracker” earned her reputation as a versatile dog whose strength was bird-finding coupled with incredible determination in hunting.

“Cracker’s” consistent, high level winning garnered her the top English setter cover dog award, the Mike Seminatore Award, three times.  No dog has surpassed this record of hers.  Her consistency was typified in the fall of 2016 when she was in the championship circle at the New England Grouse, NY Grouse, MI Woodcock and PA Grouse in consecutive starts.  No one can recall another coverdog scoring this many grouse/woodcock championship placements consecutively.

With all this campaigning, it was hard to fit in any litters and when we did get her bred, the litters were relatively small.  She was bred first to Grand National Grouse Ch. Full Blast and in that litter Full Breeze emerged and went on to win among her placements, the Grand National Grouse Puppy Classic in the spring of 2017.  5X wild bird Champion Pennstar sired “Cracker’s” second litter using frozen semen.   Super Storm (Thor Kain, owner) and Deciding Point (Dick Brenneman/Bob Watts, owners) are two winning dogs that we have kept from that mating.  We hold them both in high regard.  “Cracker’s” final litter of just two pups was sired by multiple champion Blast Zone.  From that litter we have kept a winning female, Power Forward (Thor Kain, owner).

Today, “Cracker” spends her days relaxing in the kennels at Bob Watts’ home where she considers herself, rightfully, the queen.  She roams the acre dog pasture during the day with her daughter, Power Forward, and looks forward to getting roaded with the “youngsters” 3x a week.  She always loved to go and get to work and we still accommodate her.  Come summer there will be quail and pheasants on the farm to hunt and in the fall she’ll return to the woods where her big heart has always been.