2009 American Brittany Club Gun Dog Championships
by Tom Maneely, Executive Field Representative
Michigan’s Ionia State Recreation Area once again hosted the ABC National Gun Dog Championship which began October 20, 2009. Few imagined that this would be a first for the Brittany breed when the running began, but at the end one dog stood above the others in both stakes. Rising above the 54 dogs in the Open Championship and 43 dogs in the Amateur Championship was FC/AFC Peter Gunn owned by Jim and Drew Carter, which was crowned 2009 National and National Amateur Gun Dog Champion, a feat that had not been accomplished before in the history of the American Brittany Club.
The ABC Gun Dog Championship evolved from the ABC Gun Dog Classic with the first ABC recognized Championship being run in 1985. In 1986 the event gained AKC recognition. The Championship rotated locations until 1996 when it moved to the beautiful and challenging grounds at Ionia. The event grew over the years with the entry reaching 104 dogs in 2000. In response to the large number of entries the event was split into Open and Amateur stakes in 2002. Up until this time this Championship had been strictly foot handled. With the split, the two stakes also came the change to allowing horseback handling in the Open but the Amateur has remained a walking event.
Running an event of this magnitude is an enormous task. Chairman Brian Hendrickson, Co-Chairs Judy Kiracofe (Open) and Sue Lehosky (Amtr), along with Secretary Cheryl Orange did a top notch job of running this important event. They, along with committee members John Perry, Jim Henderson, Jim Carter, Jeff Currier, and Denny Sullivan, had all the bases covered and all the jobs required done in fine fashion.
The event began with the Open Championship. Judges, Ken Chenoweth, Ed Janulis, and Bill Landress proceeded over the 54 dogs entered in the one hour stake. Bird work was abundant, with nearly all dogs shown on multiple contacts. They were looking for dogs that handled with ease, had high style on their game, and showed the savvy to use the cover to the best advantage. They found their Champions in Peter Gunn a five year old dog that fit the description of what they were looking for. The judges commented on Peter’s easy handle, his good training, and game finding ability.
The Amateur Championship started on Saturday October 24th with Kevin Byrne, Wade Haines, and Lyle Johnson preceding. These three experienced gentlemen knew what they were looking for in a Champion. After careful evaluation of 43 dogs they also awarded the top placement to Peter Gunn. In this foot handled event Peter repeated the type of performance that he had presented in the Open Championship. He hunted the likely objectives with intelligence which lead to multiple finds, all of which he handled with superior style and manners. His handler walked the course at a relaxed pace which allowed Peter to show his natural ability to the fullest.
Peter Gunn, who is owned by Jim and Drew Carter, is the first dog in the history of this event to garner both the Open and Amateur titles. Several dogs have won either the open or amateur twice but none have done what Peter did in that week. Peter came into the Championship as an experienced 5 year old, having already finished his FC and AFC titles. He first qualified for this event when he was only 19 months old, being posted as one of the top 6 dogs in that renewal. He has been posted 4 times at the gun Dog Nationals. His long list of wins also shows Shoot to Retrieve wins. He is a son of the well known Brittany NAFC Walker’s Gunner. Peter’s mother is a daughter of 32X NSTRA Champion Nolan’s Last Bullet. One could say that winning is in his blood.
Many other dogs put in very nice performances. The judges had their hands full in evaluating the nation’s top Brittany gun dogs. All the placed dogs demonstrated their bird finding ability and their good training on multiple finds. Ionia is one of the top areas in the nation to showcase a gun dog and all the placed dogs did a remarkable job of handling the tight areas, along with the open fields, that make up this fine area. The quality of the entry is evident in the titles that the placed dogs have earned on their way to this championship. Congratulations to all the placed dogs!
1st FC/AFC Peter Gunn, owner/handler Jim Carter
2nd Sniksoh Sally, owner Phil Corlew, handler Bob Burchett
3rd Oz II, owner John & Allison Cotton, handler Kevin Stonehouse
4th FC/AFC RC’s Ruff Rider, owner Rob and Carol Richter, handler Rob Richter
1st FC/AFC Peter Gunn, owner/handler Jim Carter
2nd DC/AFC Sweetwater Billy Tucker, owner Larry &Susan Bates, handler Larry Bates
3rd NAGDC/FC/AFC High Hopes Fly By Nite, owner Albert & Cynthia Cropek, handler Al Cropek
4th FC/AFC Coos Rylee, owner/handler Ray Gorman