Big congratulations to member Robert Carver and his ESS Ringeaux, who competed in the AKC Rally National Championship and finished 9th in Rally Excellent. Robert graciously agreed to share his story (and some photos) with us. Thanks so much, Robert, for the interesting read!
A Newbie’s First Year in the Ring by Robert Carver
When opportunity knocks, sometimes it pays to answer. So when I qualified for the 2015 AKC Rally National Championship in my first year showing my dog Ringeaux (pronounced Ringo), I decided to take the leap and attend. Even though I have owned English Springer Spaniels in the past, Ringeaux is the first dog I have gotten serious about training, and the prospect of competing at the national level was intimidating. Although Ringeaux swept through Rally Novice, Advanced and Excellent as an "A" dog (with an "A" handler) with high scores, I knew that at this level, I would be up against dogs and handlers with far more experience and the judging would be much more strict. One of the things that convinced me to attend was watching a video from the previous Nationals, and seeing how other dogs and handlers performed. After seeing the video, I thought, "Hey, we can do that", and I figured that at the least it would be an awesome learning experience. So after speaking with my wife and others in our local club, the Louisiana Capital City Obedience Club (LCCOC), I decided to send in my entry form, and make the commitment to attend. I set my goals as (1) to have fun, (2) don't embarrass myself, and (3) place in the top 10.
To prepare, I downloaded Excellent level course maps from the previous Rally Nationals and from any other source I could find, and began to practice the individual skills with an eye toward being more precise. I set up courses not only at our club's regular practice location, but in other places like parks, where I could depend on lots of distractions. Initially those practices weren't the best, but with time, effort and advice from folks in our club, things began to come together and we began looking more and more like a team that could be competitive.
When the week of the Nationals arrived, I packed up my car and got on the road. I arrived for check in on Thursday, March 12th at Purina Farms, and walking into the main exhibition hall where the rings were set up, there were hundreds of exhibitors and their dogs, and it was at that moment the nerves really set in. After check in, I set up Ringeaux's crate and spoke with a few other exhibitors, many of which offered advice and good luck to an obviously nervous newbie.
2015 AKC Rally National - Purina Event Center
Arriving the morning of the event, we soon met ESSFTA members, Jon & Sandy Pidde, and Marley Loomis. Getting to talk with them was really helpful, and they made me feel welcome and offered encouragement. Just one more reason to love the Springer community! Checking in at the ring, we received our course map, and although difficult, it wasn't any more so than other courses we had practiced on. Since we were in the 2nd group, I was able to spend some time watching the first group and see where they might be having problems. The judge was very strict and some of the scores were very low. One thing that many had trouble with was a broad jump with a short takeoff and landing with an almost immediate left 270 to execute. So if you didn't have control of your dog from the moment his paws hit the ground, you were in trouble. Thankfully, getting control after jumps is one of the things we had worked on a lot. When our group and turn finally came around, Ringeaux was definitely acting nervous and distracted, but that was just him picking up on my own anxiety. Once we stepped off, things began to click, and I was delighted when we finished with a 93! I believe that if he (and I) had been a little more settled, we would have done even better.
When our second run came along in the afternoon, Ringeaux and I were both much more relaxed, and it really showed. We spent a little time in the practice ring, but for the most part, we were ready to go. Once we entered the ring, Ringeaux was poised and looked fantastic. Everything fell into place, and we left the ring with a score of 99, giving us a cumulative score of 192. Many of the folks there were surprised to learn that he was still under two, and that this was only his third event ever because he looked more seasoned than most dogs his age and experience. After what seemed like forever, the top 10 finishers in each category was announced in no particular order, and when they came to Rally Excellent and announced #350, I realized we had made the cut and I had met the goals I had set for myself. Finally they announced the final placement, and I was thrilled to learn we had placed 9th, making him one of two English Springer Spaniels to place in the top 10 (the other finished 8th in Novice) at the Nationals.
Ringeaux, owned by Robert Carver
Overall, this was a fantastic experience and I encourage others who have the opportunity attend a national level event to take advantage of it. Yes, stepping on a "big stage" can be pretty intimidating, but the outstanding facilities, professionalism of the AKC's staff, the many beautiful and talented dogs, and the really nice folks in attendance, really made it worth it.
2014 OBEDIENCE SPRINGER OF THE YEAR OTCH BIRCHROSE'S ROCKET MAN UDX2 OM4 VER Gunner Owned by Shannon Shepherd
Stats: Average 396.83 out of 400
Photo by AKC 2014
There is no greater illustration of teamwork than in the competitive obedience ring. A dog and handler moving as one on a heeling pattern, a dog running in with his dumbbell or article to present it to his handler, or the invisible lines of communication between the team, all of these magical things are what make up great teams. While I work for precision, I strive for engagement and attitude. More important than scores, is the joy that I experience in working with this wonderful dog. Together, Gunner and I have continued to improve and excel in the obedience ring since we first entered the Novice ring in August 2011. I have lofty expectations for obedience, and Gunner continues to meet all of them with his animated style and love of the game.
2014 was a year filled with exceptional runs and awards. Gunner picked up 10 High Combined awards and 11 High in Trial awards, including both High in Trials at the 2014 ESSFTA National Specialty. He also earned an additional 257 OTCH points and two UDX titles.
Even more important than the awards and accolades is the fact that Gunner has taught me a lot about my training and how I want my dogs to perform in the ring. The hours and hours of practice is where our relationship is built, the 7-8 minutes that we spend in the ring is just where we get to show it off.
My heartfelt thanks go out to Yvonne Stickelman at Birchrose Kennels for entrusting me with my boy, as well as Rob Satoloe at Birchwood Kennels for vouching for me when I first walked into his home to meet his wonderful Springers. Gunner is first, and foremost, a loved and very spoiled member of our family and I feel very privileged to be representing the Springer breed in the ring. As my first Springer, he has set the bar very high, and he’s not even finished yet. Earning a single parent club award is an incredible feat in our breed, which has many outstanding dogs, but to win all three top awards in one year is definitely something I will not forget.
Thank you to the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association for recognizing the work of ALL of the obedience and performance teams.
2014 UTILITY SPRINGER OF THE YEAR OTCH BIRCHROSE'S ROCKET MAN UDX2 OM4 VER Gunner Owned by Shannon Shepherd
Stats: Average: 198.67 out of 200
Photo by Pawsitive Impressions
Gunner’s favorite class, by far, is Utility. Scent articles, go outs and directed jumping…so much fun to be had. For those who have not shown in Utility, there are over 52 ways to fail this class. So, the fact that anyone passes, is sometimes amazing just by itself. But for a thinking dog, which loves to work, it is a chance to show off his skills and technical ability in the ring. It is a chance to show how well he can work away from his handler, and how he can do it quickly and accurately.
Gunner is a dog that people cannot help but stop and watch work. His love for the exercises is evident, both in the obvious joy during the exercise and his Springer bounces in between them.
Thank you to the ESSFTA for awarding Gunner the Utility Springer of the Year award. He has been an amazing partner in the ring and I look forward to continuing to impress judges and spectators with his working style and love for obedience.
2014 OPEN SPRINGER OF THE YEAR OTCH BIRCHROSE'S ROCKET MAN UDX2 OM4 VER Gunner Owned by Shannon Shepherd
Stats: Average: 199.0 out of 200
Photo by Pix 'n Pages
One of the most impressive and challenging parts of Open is the eight minutes of out of sight stays that dogs must perform in a line up of other dogs. Asking a dog to have utmost attention and engagement during the class exercises, and then stay in the ring without you, is hard for many dogs, including Gunner. However, his commitment to this exercise and his obvious joy at performing the class exercises, earned him two coveted UDX titles in 2014.
The love Gunner has for obedience is visible on every exercise in the ring…the drive and animation in his heeling, his drop on recall (sometimes with an accompanying bark!), and his dumbbell and jump work are fluid and seamless. He is a natural retriever and loves his dumbbell, so the fact that he gets to chase it down twice in one class is even better.
I would like to thank the ESSFTA for awarding Gunner the 2014 Open Springer of the Year.
2014 NOVICE B SPRINGER OF THE YEAR MILO MCGEE FROM HIRDLER HILL CD Milo Owned by Jon Pidde and Sandy Pidde
Stats: Average: 198.67 out of 200
Photo by Sandy Pidde
I am thankful to the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association for the recognition of Milo’s achievements in novice obedience. In 2013 Milo had to have the TPLO surgery to repair a torn cruciate ligament. We have had to overcome the effects of having Milo on leash for a long time. After 9 months of Rehab he was ready to start training for competition. On leash was fine but off leash had turned into FUN TIME. All of my previous dogs were really into keeping me happy and Milo is more into having fun his way. He is just now starting to get serious about working as a team with me. My wife is convinced that Milo will be the best dog I have ever had. She might be right because he went High in Trial on his first novice leg at an all breed show.
Going forward, this summer Milo will be starting to do hunt tests and working dog events as well as competing for his open obedience title. I am looking ahead to many years of field and obedience with Milo.
2014 NOVICE A SPRINGER OF THE YEAR CEDARWOOD'S MCQUEEN CD BN CGC Potter Owned by Myron & Carol Scharkey & Patricia K Welch
Stats: Average: 192.83 out of 200
Photo by Laurie J Erickson Photography
Potter was born 8/30/2011 in Rochester, MN (Sire A/C CH Cedarwood’s Storm Watch ex Dam CH Cedarwood’s Chocolate Diamond). Potter was 10 weeks old when we got him from Cedarwood Kennel. Like his sire DJ and grandsire James, Potter is slow to mature for the conformation shows.
While waiting for Potter’s physical maturity, he has attended Sioux Falls, SD Empire Kennel Club conformation classes, obedience training and received his Therapy Dog (TDI) Certification. He is a very adaptable lovable dog and people friendly. His ever-charming good looks, poise and ability to adapt to any environment allows him to compete with ease. His first meet at Ham Lake, MN “Beginners Novice” average score was 196.33/200. Present daily routine includes fun outdoors, obedience training and therapy visits at VA hospitals. Plans for a AKC Championship remain in the future.
2014 RALLY SPRINGER OF THE YEAR KIRWIN ALL AMERICAN CARY GRANT CDX RAE3 OA OAJ Owned by Ruth Burgart
Stats: Average 199.66 out of 200
Photo by Cathy Baker
Thank you so much for honoring Archie with the 2014 Rally Springer of the Year Award. From day one, Archie has been a loving, "larger than life" presence in our household, and very attached to me. When we moved to Florida, he quickly became the mascot of our gated community. It seemed that everyone knew him and greeted him eagerly on our walks, or yelled "Hi, Archie!" from a passing car. As a young dog, he loved Rally, almost always placing in the top four dogs, and mostly First. In Lakeland, FL the judge announced to the audience that Archie was the best working dog he'd ever judged.
When he was two years old, that came to a dramatic halt. Two weeks after my husband died, Archie was entered in a Rally trial in Greenfield, MA. As we started the course, he ran out of the ring. A month later at the Nationals in Lexington, KY he acted like I had never trained him at all. Due to this drastic change, I stopped trialing Archie for almost three years, wondering why he had changed. I thought he didn't like competition anymore, but a dog communicator informed me that his world had crashed around him because my world had crashed when my husband died. Very sensitive to my emotional state, Archie couldn't concentrate on anything else. Finally, we tried competition again and I saw the old Archie.
His accomplishments included High in Trial obedience awards at the Chattahoochee ESS in Atlanta, HIT Obedience and Rally awards at Eastern ESS specialties in RI and trials in Melbourne and Davie, FL, to name a few. I can always count on Archie's consistency in the ring and I love how he's so focused on me. Now, if he'd just let me go to the bathroom by myself!
The 2014 National Amateur Championship was run at the beautiful Pyramid State Park near Pinckneyville, IL commencing December 1. Tremendous thanks to President/Chairman George Reichert (with much assistance from his wife Arlene), Field Trial Chairman Pat Hempel, and Secretary Jan Johnson for a well run event. Ralph Botti and Alice Stewart judged the trial.
Congratulations to Danelle Oliver and 2014 NAFC Ferndelle's Flying Cloud of HCR MH AJP AXP ("Acey", 2X NAFC Beggarbush Clipper x HCK Ivey's Joyous Chaser MH), owned by Danelle and Lawrence Oliver, bred by Mark Nix. Danelle and Acey also received the Don Cande award for the best looking female dog in the competition.
ESSFTA members also placed second (Bill Cosgrove with FC AFC Ivanhoe's Mr. Tuxedo) and fourth (John Hall with FC AFC Apple Creek's Miss Liberty), as well as earning a Certificate of Merit (Skip Smith with AFC Sunrise Zach of Farview). Congratulations, gentlemen.
For full information and coverage of the event (thanks, Mary Kemper!), visit ESSFT.com.
For handling the first AND second place dogs at the 2014 National Open Championship, as well as handling the 2014 National Open High Point dog, NAFC FC AFC CNAFC CFC CAFC Flushingwing Annie, and winning the Hogan Award as the high point professional handler. What a year for you, Jim, and for Wildwind Kennels, well done!
Congratulations to the 2015 Hall of Fame inductees:
Mr. John Isaacs
FC AFC CFC Ru-Char's Jr. Regent
The Induction Ceremony will be held at 9 a.m. on February 7, 2015 at the Bird Dog Hall of Fame in Grand Junction, TN. The two Hall of Fame field trials to celebrate the annual inductions will run February 4-7, 2015. Premiums and other information will be posted at www.essft.com as it becomes available.