New Cocker Spaniel Club Holds First AKC Hunting Test
by Vickie Dahlk
Cocker Spaniel Hunting Enthusiasts of SE WI (CSHESEW) put on their first AKC hunt tests on Saturday, July 24 and Sunday, July 25, 2010. The hunt tests were held on the Class I field trial grounds in Mazomanie, Wisconsin. Both events were filled to the limit of 45 dogs each day. With temps in the mid-80’s, mosquitoes galore and just a slight breeze, it was going to be a challenging couple of days for both the dogs and handlers.
The tests started at 7:30 a.m. with Junior starting in one field and Master starting in another (Senior dogs followed Junior). Workers for the hunt test had their jobs lined up and were ready to go. Entries consisted of several of the spaniel breeds approved to run in AKC hunt tests. Of the 20+ dogs in Master each day, and the 20 + Junior and Senior dogs combined, breeds entered were Cocker Spaniels, English Cocker Spaniels, English Springer Spaniels, Airedale Terriers, Boykin Spaniel, Field Spaniels and Clumber Spaniels. Thanks to the hard work by the hunt test committee and several club members, the tests ran efficiently and quickly and many dogs had success by either qualifying each day or coming close to earning a qualifying score.
CSHESEW has been around for almost 20 years. The club started in 1991, known as Cocker Spaniel Hunting Enthusiasts, (CSHE) with a handful of cocker enthusiasts who wanted to run their cockers in AKC hunt tests. Several clubs in the area helped CSHE during training practices with gunning and training tips. Training days were set up with professional trainer, Jason Givens of Lighthouse Kennels. These popular training days called Practice with A Pro (PWAP), taught all attendees to be better handlers and trainers. The club grew in 1996 as lists on the internet were formed and people joined the club to promote the Cocker Spaniel in the field. The name of the club changed to Great Lakes American Cocker Spaniel Hunting Enthusiasts (GLACSHE) at that time.
In 2001, GLACSHE became a member club of the American Spaniel Club (ASC), which is the parent organization and breed club for Cocker Spaniels. That same year, GLACSHE applied for AKC recognition so that they could hold AKC licensed hunt tests. The application was declined by AKC, where members of GLACHE were told to join one of the other local spaniel clubs in the area as our membership numbers did not meet the AKC’s requirements. Disappointed but not ready to quit working, the club decided to concentrate on training their dogs and helping others.
GLACSHE began holding multi-day field training seminars twice a year, and have continued to hold seminars to this day. The seminars are open to all club members and anyone who is interested in learning how to be a better handler no matter what experience level. The seminars prepare people how to train their flushing dogs for hunting, AKC hunt tests and AKC field trials. Several professional dog trainers have been invited to lead these seminars including, Raymond (Jerry) Cacchio, Dan Lussen, Martin Deeley, Trish Jackson and Tony Roettger to name a few. Many people have benefited from these seminars and have seen improvement in their dog’s performance and in their handling skills over the years as a result of the expert advice received from these talented people.
In 2004, the club held an Instinct Test/Evaluation in conjunction with the ASC Cocker Nationals that summer where more than 40 people came out to the field to see how their dog reacted to birds. This popular event has continued each summer during the ASC Cocker Nationals. It has given a chance to all who do conformation, agility, obedience and other performance events a chance to see if their dogs have the natural ability to be trained for field work.
2005 brought another well-liked event called “Take Your Spaniel Hunting” (TYSH). The club gets together at local game farms to give people a chance to hunt with their dogs. This event is open to all people and their dogs who want to hunt; gunners are available for those who do not know how to gun. 2005 was also the year that GLACSHE applied for AKC recognition for the second time. The application was submitted but much to our dismay, we were turned down once again. We were told that there were already too many clubs in our territory that held hunt tests.
GLACSHE continued to hold training seminars, ASC Working Dog Tests, Instinct Tests, PWAP, TYSH days and group training days. Last year, in the spring of 2009, we decided to try once again for AKC recognition to obtain licensing to hold AKC hunt tests. The application was submitted and after a few minor changes to our constitution, a name change to Cocker Spaniel Hunting Enthusiasts of South East Wisconsin (CSHESEW), to better define our territory, and a strong membership, the AKC gave us the go ahead to hold a hunt test.
Today, we are now a licensed AKC club for hunt tests. CSHESEW will continue to hold annual training seminars, ASC Working Dog tests and group training days. And, with the success of our first hunt tests this past July 2010, we are looking forward to many more hunt tests in the years to come.
We would like to thank Tom Meyer, AKC field representative, and his co-workers at AKC who helped us in our journey to become a licensed AKC hunt test club.