At the annual meeting of US Complete Shooting Dog Association held in Gettysburg, PA, August 8, 2021, Thor Kain was recognized for earning the honor of “Amateur Handler-of-the-Year”. This NATIONAL award recognizes the points Thor earned by having his dogs win at amateur US Complete field trials over the past fall ’20-Spring ’21 season.
Thor was active in campaigning his multiple shooting dog, derby and puppy entrants who garnered over 30 wins. He traveled to events in CT, RI, MD, PA and Ohio to compete. In winning this recognition, Thor propelled several of his dogs to National US Complete Dog of the Year honors. Thor owns, trained and handled his National US Complete Amateur Puppy (Super Storm Cliff), National US Complete Amateur Derby (Super Storm Liz) and National Amateur Shooting Dog (Super Storm). Others in his string had first place wins that propelled him to this recognition which he earned by a wide margin over other long-time and talented amateur handlers. The others dogs in his string who won for him are Super Storm Atlantic, Deciding Point (owned by Dick Brenneman and Bob Watts), Power Forward (deceased) and No Limit.
After traveling to competitive trials through the fall of 2020 and the spring of 2021, our now 4 year old setter male Super Storm, amassed more points from his wins than any of the other scores of entrants in these trials to be named the US COMPLETE AMATEUR SHOOTING DOG-OF-THE YEAR.
Super Storm, call name “Fed” (think GOAT tennis player), has been a favorite of ours since his puppy months. Whelped in 2017 he came from a litter of 4 pups sired by 5x wild bird champion Pennstar ex 9x wild bird champion Straight Forward. Both of these dogs were owned by Bob Watts and Dick Brenneman. We had a difficult time getting the great bird finder Straight Forward mated. We either missed her heat cycle or it was too shallow to detect or she didn’t want to cooperate in a mating. Finally, we turned to using frozen semen that we had stored from Pennstar. It was the first time we had tried to do a frozen semen mating. Dr. Melissa Goodman, a world acclaimed canine reproductive specialist, had collected the semen from Pennstar years earlier and she supervised the AI mating. Not wanting anything to go wrong, we had professional whelper helper, Jeannie Grejda,, oversee the birth. We weren’t taking any chances, leaving the process to the super experienced pair. It all went perfectly.
As with virtually all the pups from the from Bob and Dick’s matings over the past 40 years, the pups started their life at Bob’s place. Here enter Thor Kain. Our pal, local gun dog trainer/pro Tom Gingher had recommended that we try to get this new guy set up with a good prospect. Tom claimed that this new guy (Thor) was really committed to learning about and working at getting a winning setter. We had come to know Thor at bit but Tom’s promoting of Thor was what convinced us to let him have a top pick from this litter. After a look at the pups, Thor chose “Fed”. “Fed” in many workouts was impressing everyone with his knack for finding and getting wild birds pointed. He was evidencing the traits of his spectacular parents in this regard. Straight Forward, “Cracker”, has a national reputation in the grouse woods for uncanny bird finding. Pennstar, “Rock”, found wild birds all over the country in trials and hunting with rarely seen ability. It was no fluke that “Fed” was proving to be a bird finder. And when he found birds, he personified that adage as “he looked like a million bucks on point’. His tail is absolutely poker straight and near 12 o’clock every time he stands game. Additionally, “Fed” showed drive and desire to hunt for birds. On top of that, he has a lot of snap and quickness on the ground. Very flashy, very cracky–both traits he still maintains and that attract and hold a judge’s attention. This is what Thor saw over the course of months and why he chose Fed from the litter. It’s also why he chose to name his prosperous kennel after “Fed” as well–Super Storm kennel.
Winning the US Complete Amateur Shooting Dog-of-the-Year takes determination and consistency. No one wins every trial. You have to go to a number of events to win as often as it takes to earn Dog-of-the Year. You have to win regularly to outscore the many worthy competitors. “Fed” was challenged by a number of outstanding dogs from various regions of the country. He displayed consistent, high-level performances reflecting his God-given abilities and Thor’s training skills. Deserving of special mention is Dean Avillion’s excellent pointer female, Huckleberrry’s Lucky Penny, who was the RU in this award falling short of Super Storm’s point total by just a handful of points. In addition to the other stout competitiors, Super Storm had to beat the other dogs in our string. Our Deciding Point and No Limit both had first place wins in amateur shooting dog stakes where “Fed” ran. Our Power Forward and Super Storm Liz also earned amateur shooting dog placements where “Fed” was entered.
Here are a listing of Super Storm’s amateur shooting dog wins, 20′-’21.
1st, Peter Ecker Amateur Shooting Dog Classic
2nd. Sandy Valley Bird Dog Club, Amateur Shooting Dog
3rd Ridgerunners Bird Dog Club, Amateur Shooting Dog
2nd, Mountain View Bird Dog Club, Amateur Shooting Dog
1st, Northern Bucks Bird Dog Club, Amateur Shooting Dog
It has been a lot of fun and a lot of work to develop Super Storm to this point and rewarding to see him prove in a public way, at trials, all the hope we had for him as he developed.
Super Storm Liz concluded her derby-age career with a 1st place win at the Odean State BDC Amateur Derby, held May 23, 2021, Thor Kain took Liz and the rest of the string of dogs he and Bob Watts support to their last trial of the ’20-’21 season. With one weekend of trials yet to run, Liz is leading the US Complete Amateur Derby of the Year points total. This win adds to her lead in this year-long competition.
While we have run Liz exclusively in shooting dog stakes this spring (and she has delivered by winning at this stepped-up level) in this last event for her this season she ran as the true derby she is. She did not disappoint. Her two finds handled with adult manners coupled with her fast, hard driving and snappy coverage of the grounds propelled her to the 1st place ribbon.
It’s been a remarkable derby season for Liz who has earned the admiration of many of her competitors. We look forward to her shooting dog career which will continue in the fall, but first Liz gets a well-deserved rest.
Deciding Point, Bob Watts’ and Dick Brenneman’s setter female, went to Rhode Island for our team’s last field trial of the ’20-’21 season. She came home with her handler, Thor Kain, and the 1st place ribbon in the 14 dog Amateur Shooting Dog stake.
“Bek”, as with all the competitors, faced temperatures in the high 80s and the challenging course at the John Stolgitis, Sr., Wildlife Area. The grounds are marked by sandy soils that are hard on a dog’s feet, wide open spaces that require a dog to reach and thickets that require dogs to dig in and hunt hard. It’s a tough test and “Bek” was up for the challenge. Her 30-minute heat featured her connecting on two well-spaced finds on which she exhibited great intensity and perfect steady-to-wing and shot manners. As always, “Bek” hunted with enthusiasm, determination and exceptional class. She’s always been known for delivering an eye-appealing hunting effort. She got stronger the longer she was down.
Whenever she competes, “Bek’s” class often is a point of separation. She comes by this trait through her genetics. Her sire, Pennstar, was known for producing this type of dog and her dam, Straight Forward, more than held up her end on this characteristic. Together her parents earned 15 wild bird championships. No wonder expectations for the planned frozen semen breeding from which “Bek” emerged along with her littermate brother, Super Storm, have always been high. The two have not disappointed as Super Storm leads for the US Complete Amateur Shooting Dog-of-the-Year going into the last week of the season. Of course, we are pleased that our investment in the frozen semen mating worked out and provided two dogs that we can have fun with and hope to improve the breed through.
Super Storm Liz delivered an impressive performance at the inaugural Sugarloaf Mountain BDC, May 8, 2021 to garner her first shooting dog win. “Liz” was second in the 18 dog field that featured stiff competition from contenders that included a handful of champions.
“Liz”, still a derby, moved up to take on the big boys. Following her five first place derby wins in the fall, we felt she was ready and she more than came through for us. Handled by Thor Kain, “Liz” and her bracemate, Dean Avillion’s Huckleberry’s Lucky Penny, put on what I felt was the most exciting brace of shooting dogs I’ve seen in year. “Penny” too was in the winner’s circle when placements were announced.
Both dogs got out of the gate fast and were spotted after several minutes standing way to the front. “Penny” was to the right and “Liz” 150 yards ahead. The walk to both stylish, straight-up pointing style, dogs took several minutes. “Liz” had her bird accurately located. When Thor arrived he dispatched the quail promptly. From here both dog reached far to the front scanning appropriate objectives along the way. Both dogs showed no let up as they traded finds and backs. Point was called for “Liz” found forward with “Penny” backing–both intense, stylish and solid for the flush and shot. They continued with both dogs racking up 2 finds and back. There were other shooting dogs with many more finds but the drive, desire, speed, pattern, sharpness of finds and style were unmatched. At the pickup both ‘girls’ were still going strong with both handlers exhausted physically and emotionally from a performance that reflected their hard work and the high level of ability that both dogs have and that were brought to evidence in their performances that day.
Super Storm Cliff added another placement to his record at the Sugarloaf Moutain BDC Amateur Puppy, May 8, 2021. “Cliff” was third in a strong stake run near the conclusion of the spring ’21 season. He delivered his typical forward, slashing ground effort over the manicured grounds of the Freeland Kennel Club, Weatherly, PA. Thor Kain handled him for the Kain/Watts partnership.
While “Cliff” gets the job done on the ground, the things we like best about his happy, responsive ‘love to train’ attitude, smart bird finding and has excellent composure and style on point. We are looking forward to his derby campaign next season.
With this placement, “Cliff”, sired by our Blast Zone concludes a year marked by hunting efforts that have propelled him into the points leadership of the US Complete Puppy-of-the-Year Award.
No Limit, owned and handled by Thor Kain, earned another first place Amateur Shooting Dog win at the Ridgerunners Bird Dog Club trial held April 24, 2021. “Zoey” has now a skein of three 1st place shooting dog wins this spring to add to her record. She’s on fire! Consistency at a high level seems to be her formula this season. “Zoey” was fast over the ground and very snappy with her flashing tail reflecting the excitement she exudes while hunting. She is captivating to watch. Running as a bye dog, her 30 minute hunt was punctuated by three finds on quail. Her finds were spaced out rather equally over the final 20 minutes of her heat. On her finds, “Zoey” pointed with a straight, 12 o’clock tail. Her intensity throughout the flushing effort was riveting. At the flush she was motionless on each occasion. After each find she went forward with drive. Even though the temperature warmed considerably during the day, “Zoey” showed no signs of being affected as she finished strong and going away.
Super Storm Cliff scored another 1st in the Amateur Puppy stake held April 24, 2021. On back-to-back weeks , “Cliff” again laid down a strong, forward hunting effort to secure the top spot. This time the Freeland Kennel Club was the venue. Groomed for bird dog hunting, Freeland is an authentic place to show a hunting dog. A mix of switchgrass, planted sorghum rows, brushy islands and woods’ edges give a dog a chance to show that they recognize objectives and that they know how to apply themselves in these different cover environments. “Cliff” struck out from the start with enthusiasm. Light on his feet for a big dog, “Cliff” gives off an aura of excitement with his flashy running style. Throughout he was forward and going to the right places for Thor Kain, his handler. When edges were presented, he went down them searching for game. He finished strong on a warm day.
Deciding Point, owned by Bob Watts and Dick Brenneman, registered a well-earned 2nd at the Sandy Valley BDC Am. Shooting Dog stake on April 17, 2021. “Bek”, littermate to Thor Kain’s male Super Storm, is from the frozen semen mating of 6xCh. Pennstar to 9xCh. Straight Forward.
“Bek” has been a grouse/cover dog all her life. She’s been through the Watts/Brenneman school and then she was in the hands of pro Dave Hughes for campaigning. When grouse trials in the east were generally cancelled this spring, it was decided that she would benefit from field trial experience in quail shooting dog trials. Thor Kain volunteered to work with “Bek” and get her ready to compete in US Complete trials. Thor had an extra burden in getting “Bek” ready as she had whelped a litter of 9 pups sired by Maximum Resistance in January of this year.
Grouse/cover dog trials are run on grouse and woodcock. “Bek” has mastered the art of handling these wild birds. Quail trials are another ball game and Thor understood that “Bek” had to make adjustments to her hunting pattern and in her approach to handling released quail. “Bek” has made the transition successfully.
On this Saturday, running over the grounds of DeCoverly Kennels, “Bek” ran hard to likely objectives. She was rewarded early with a sharp find and then on two occasions spread over the next 20 minutes she backed her bracemate. High and tight on all these bird encounters, “Bek” was still firing on all cylinders as she reached ahead to an inviting bottom in the closing minutes. Well ahead and out of sight, blocked by tall switchgrass, “Bek’s” bell stopped ringing. Thor knew where he had last heard her and in time found her stacked up with arresting intensity and style. The flush and shot went ‘according to Hoyle’ as time expired. Likely this last find was what pushed her effort into the second place spot over a quality field.
Super Storm Cliff rendered an exceptional effort in hunting over the grounds of the famous DeCoverly Kennels, Falls, PA, April 17, 2021. From start to finish “Cliff” applied himself to the cover and objectives that were presented. He drove with speed and great eye-appeal from one objective to another exuding class and enthusiasm the entire time. He was forward, athletic in his movement and unrelenting. At the finish “Cliff” was as fresh as wehn he started. He came with tail cracking to the call of his handler, Thor Kain.
In over 50 years of competing bird dogs, I (Bob Watts) have seen our young dogs win the Grand National Grouse Puppy Classic twice and the Venango Puppy Classic three times along with a number of other puppy classic wins. “Cliff’s” performance this day is certainly in the top 5 running and hunting jobs that I’ve witnessed.