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Josine Blodwen

Frizzy Shmendrick

Professor Sniveler


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The Hughes-Chaffee Dual Match Of 1991



Though seldom talked about anymore, and virtually unknown among the younger, newer trialers who fancy that history is unimportant, we are fast approaching the 20th Anniversary of what has become known as The Great Hughes-Chaffee Dual Match of 1991. But for people who were there, and saw these two wily handlers duke it out in the bird field at Gladwin, Michigan in 1991, this will bring back some memories. Recently, some grainy videotape footage has surfaced of that 1991 affair, and my memories of that event which you are about to read will add to and enhance the video, which will be put up on the web for all to see and draw their own conclusions from.

As can clearly be seen on the video, Chaffee had long hair back then and Hughes had his locks tucked up neatly under his “lucky” train engineer's cap. At the beginning of the video, Hughes stood at the line confidently with multiple champion Kingway on the leash in front of him. Both dogs tore away to the front, but shenanigans from the Hughes camp began in short order as “point” was called when, clearly, “Pep” as Kingway was called, was emptying out; a ploy to try to psych out Chaffee. Kingway rarely needed any urging to run, but Hughes laid on the whistle in an obvious attempt to confuse his brace mate. There was a lot at stake and Hughes was pulling out all stops.

As a good-sized gallery looked on, Kingway was then on point with the Chaffee charge backing, but Hughes continued to blow the whistle as he approached. The effect was predictable. The backing dog moved up past Kingway. The dog stopped briefly where Chaffee whoaed hard, and actually stroked the dog's tail up. Both handlers whoaed the dogs hard throughout, and though the Chaffee dog had clearly moved away from the backing situation and eventually went on, Chaffee refused to take the dog up.

Hughes took his good old time getting in front of his dog, but eventually was flushing, and by rights, should have been flushing on his own. But Hughes apparently had the judge under his spell and when the bird did not immediately flush, the judge came right in, and flushed the bird for him, allowing Hughes to shoot from a greater distance than otherwise and, even so, the shot was clearly delayed. The gallery, nevertheless, broke into applause. Hughes then had trouble catching Pep at the end and required additional help to finally round him up.

As he was handed the blue ribbon, Hughes showed little emotion, was reluctant to shake hands and just stood there after receiving the ribbon, looking at it several times as if to say, “Isn't there supposed to be a check with this?”


The video will confirm these details.

Video of Chaffe / Hughes Trial Brace



The video from a junior handler's stake from 1991 with Amber Chaffee and Mark Hughes, both about 4 years old at the time. Amber was assisted by her dad Scott, and Mark by his mother Dorothy. Kingway was eight and a half, retired, and had won the Inaugural Seminatore Award the previous season (1989-1990).

See if anyone can answer the following two questions:


Who was the young man in the blue shirt judging?


Who was taking the video ( whose voice was narrating)?



This picture is just in from Florida,  allegedly a dog trainer is causing some commotion at Disneyland !

 Reports are that Disney Security has been alerted and is on the lookout for the culprit.


 Disney Training Picture

Exit Smiling:

The American Field, of course is THE source for information regarding field trials. Those who write these reports, God bless ‘em, are largely amateurs who do the best they can and , by and large, do a fine job.

Sometimes, however, some of the reports contains things that have not come out quite as they were intended. While it is not our goal to make fun of anybody, these written ‘bloopers’ of sorts can make us smile and realize that neither the dogs nor those who write about them are perfect. The following are lines taken straight out of the Field and italicized along with some written commentary.

Putting On A Trial

Apparently not all trials are run on game birds as one report read:

 "It was a bluebird morning, lots of birds seen, but not many pointed."
Putting on a trial is a lot of work and a person has to do multiple tasks. So a report read,

 "Will ______ made sure that the birds were released for each brace and secured a port-a-john. "

I suppose you could say he was responsible for a lot of flushes.
Social events are important but sometimes they get out of hand and run a little long as indicated by a report which stated,

 "After Friday’s running, a social hour was held, followed by a catfish dinner on Saturday."
One report said,

 "Nan ______ combined her beauty and knowledge of bird dogs when she teamed up with charming Horace _________ to judge the open puppy."

 They obviously have dual-type standards for their judges that require looks and performance, a situation that, likely, most clubs that
run long trials cannot afford to do. For example, I would imagine that the Sunshine field trial club will have a heck of a time getting judges for their next renewal given that a recent American Field reported of their current trial

 "The Sunshine Trial has run for over thirty years…,"

 I would imagine a lot of potential judges are likely to say, if it runs more than ten years I won’t be able to judge it.


Ways To Describe A Winning Performance (that the owners would NOT want to use in your stud ad)
"Of all the words that can be used to describe what a dog does in the field Barshoe King brought to mind, refreshing."

"His derby age charge, Skipper, fresh from summer camp in North Dakota,had everyone’s head spinning like that movie ‘The Exorcist.’"
The champion "ran in miserable weather, getting worse every minute."



Well the pamphlet finally arrived. I quote it in its entirety: "New Disease Identified: Field Trial Dogaholism
"Honey," she said, as he gobbled down his cold supper, "Do you think you could try to get home a little earlier and spend a little more time with the kids."

"Well," he said matter-of-factly, "I would like to, you know I would, but the spring trials are just around the corner you know, and I have to get Jake into shape and Buffy is really shaky on her birds. I don't know what is wrong with her."

It was his standard response, at least the 'I would like to, you know I would' part. The second part varied according to the season. Last month the second part was "Hunting season is winding down and these dogs really need to be gunned over." Before that it was, "the fall trial season is in full swing," and so on.

It was hopeless to discuss the situation, she realized, but she prodded him anyway. She knew, even as she prompted the discussion, that she stood no chance at all of changing him. But she did receive a tiny bit of satisfaction in the belief that she might make him feel a little bit guilty. "Your kids barely know you any more," She continued, "In fact, they don't even call you 'Dad' any more. They refer to you as 'that guy with the dogs.' "

"Aw. Ain't that cute. That's my little Jenny and Joey. I remember them."

"That's 'Ginny' not 'Jenny.' " "Of course it is honey, you misunderstood me. By the way how old is she now...eight?"


"Ooo....she's old enough to be able to help out some with the check cord work "
If this story sounds even remotely familiar, you may be married to what several experts now are referring to as a Field Trial Dogaholic or FTD. The pathology of the disease has been identified by psychologists Sarah Pertunnska and William Reeser of the University of Shaboykin. The results of their research were published recently in the Journal of Canine/human Dual Psychology, a university publication with a circulation of 18. The 6 year study was done efficiently and thoroughly and only cost the American
taxpayer 3.4 million dollars.

"I guess it's actually my fault," says Mary (not her real name) as she dabs her eyes with a Kleenex and sniffs, "I saw the signs before we were married but I married him anyway." Mary refers to a specific event that happened when she was engaged to 'Tom.' She made an accusation based upon her suspicions.

"He was scheduling a lot more time for the dog than with me and I felt hurt." she recalls, "So I said to him right out, 'YOU LIKE THAT DOG MORE THAN YOU LIKE ME.' When he thought for a moment and replied, 'Just a little' I should have taken the hint and dumped him. But I didn't." The researches caution that though the disease usually affects men, there are women afflicted also. Reeser and Pertunnska outline plan of action but recommend early intervention. They specifically have identified 10 behaviors which are characteristic of FTD's. If your significant other exhibits 5 or more of these behaviors, he or she is likely an FTD.
Here are the ten:
10. Looks past rows of flowering Dogwoods in bloom, and bright colorful gardens of flowers to some obscure patch of woods and says "It looks good back in there."
9. Has missed family events and gone to field trials instead.
8. When you hear him getting excited and he is, at the same time, using words like ‘good looking’ and "firm," he is less likely to be talking about a woman’s body and more likely to talking about a dog turd.
 7. Has a vast reserve of energy which can be used for walking braces, training dogs and week long hunting trips but cannot be tapped into for household chores.
6. Believes that the only news and information that he needs to be a good and productive citizen can be obtained from the American Field.
5. Can recite every ancestor in his dog's pedigree for 6 generations but cannot recall his grandmother's maiden name.
4. Knows all the trial dates but frequently forgets birthdays and anniversaries.
3. Says running dogs "relaxes him" but always comes home from the trial upset and feeling he 'got hosed.'
2. When he sees another car beginning to slide through an intersection he yells "WHOA!"
1. When his child was born On December 18th, he tried to get the doctor to change the birthdate to January."
For a course of action , please remit $19.97 for a complete program.

My depression continues.


Josine Blodwen

It is my natural tendency to look for the positive in any situation. As I wrote in the first letter, when I saw Josh ‘going to the dogs’ I was in denial about the situation for quite a while. I thought it was just a phase. When it looked as though it was going to stick, I began to see that there might be good in it overall. I read somewhere, for example, that serial killers and murders often are cruel to animals. Being that he loved Cher, I thought that was a good sign. At least I hadn’t married a serial killer. I imagined other wives whose husbands did not like dogs, or didn’t have any dogs at all; wives who could never be quite sure if their husbands would snap and begin a murderous rampage. At least had that tiny bit of self assurance.

Then I reasoned that going hunting and to field trials was better than going to bars and drinking and carousing. This bird dog stuff, I came to believe, was  better than a lot of other things he could be doing.

Information on stopped me in my tracks. "When someone becomes gets hooked and becomes a bird dog/field trialaholic, the spouse or significant other goes through five distinct stages.

 Stage 1: Denial.

 Stage 2: Rationalization.

 Stage 3 Depression, and

Stage 4 Resolution (Acceptance or rejection.)"

 Clearly, "rationalization," the second stage, was the one I was in, so I stopped to read. Among the tidbits was written , "With collars that deliver electric shock to dogs, don’t be fooled into thinking that training is all gently and completely free of cruelty, though this does not mean that your spouse is definitely going to be a serial killer." And this: "Don’t fool yourself into thinking that trials are just about dogs. A 1999 study showed that more alcohol was consumed at the Plessy Gully Championship than at an average Fraternity

All of this pushed me right into Stage 3: Depression, much quicker than I had expected. The web site insisted that everyone be certain that their spouse is indeed a trial dogaholic, before any decision making and/or corrective action can be taken. For $19.95 plus shipping, the next step ‘to be sure’ was to order a pamphlet "Tens Signs That You Might Be Involved With A Dogaholic." It worked out real well. I was depressed at that point, and I like to buy things when I am depressed. I ordered immediately. The information was "too sensitive" to be put out on a web site. "Dogaholics would see it and learn to cover it up making it harder to recognize." It is on the way now (Thank God for credit cards).

The web site offered one other important piece of advice: "Don’t give the ‘either the dogs go or I go’ ultimatum until you are fairly sure you want to leave."



Josine Blodwen Letter #2

"How did your day go?" I asked.

"Fine," Josh replied. He looked away, sipped his coffee and several minutes passed.

"Is your mother feeling better?"

"Yes." More silence.

"Everything okay at work?"

"It’s all right."

Wow. I got three words out of him with that last question. Three and a half if you count "it’s" as one and a half words. That’s a record for Josh recently for questions of this sort. Then I brace myself. I don’t want to do it. But I have to. I just want to hear my husband talk instead of mumble. I want to hear him speak to me in complete sentences. I want to see him smile as he talks,- to hear some passion in his voice again, even though I know I will not like the subject matter. I take a deep breath. "How did…uh… how did Cher go for you at the trial yesterday?"

He changes right before my eyes. "Oh you should have seen her." His eyes light up. The stoop goes out of his shoulders. My question has gone into him like a bolt of lightning into Frankenstein; put life right in him. "She was down with Henry Willig’s dog on course 7, and she pointed down by the swamp blah blah, yada yado, hum-ho…" I sit there and listen and pay no attention for fifteen minutes. Seems like an hour and fifteen minutes. I don’t understand it. He spends hours trying to get that dog to understand words like "come" and "whoa," and how to respond to various ‘toots’ on the whistle. He spends even more hours thinking about what Cher
does in all sorts of situations ; her posture and behavior and such. He tries to figure out what she is thinking, and how she is going to behave, by reading her tail and her body language. Basically he spends much of his waking hours figuring out what this dog is thinking and having the dog figure out what he is thinking. He is obsessed with communicating with this animal.

By contrast, I am of the same species, we speak a common language, and we are married and I can barely get three words out of him.
I did an internet search today and found a support group ‘’ I need help.



Relationships  Part 1 

A letter from Josine Blodwen: 

   At first I didn’t want to accept what was happening.  In retrospect,   I was in denial for many months.    After all,  he was my friend,   my beloved,  my betrothed.   I never thought it could happen to Josh… to us. 

    There were signs,  red flags;   clear as a bell now.    I ignored them at the time.  He didn’t seem want to be with me as much.  That could be expected,  I reasoned,  after three years of marriage.

      Then  he would not come home from work right away.  He would disappear for entire weekends.   The phone would ring late at night and he would talk for hours.  He thought I was sleeping.  I would hear the name “Cher” mentioned over and over again.

    The fact was that my Josh was spending a lot more time with Cher than with me.   It was with Cher  that he was slipping off with after work.  They would go to a secluded spot in the woods. 

    Cher was cute.  No denying that.  It was a mistake to let her into our house in the first place.  She was young and was living in poor conditions.  There were marital problems and the lady  said Cher had to go but that  Cher’s brother could stay.  We felt bad.  She needed a place.  We fixed up a spot in the garage.  Then  Josh insisted that it was too drafty out there and she should come into our house.  I reluctantly agreed to let her stay in the basement.  Then Josh  thought it was too damp down there .  Now she has the run of the house and I have found her sleeping in our bed several times.

    I knew when I met Josh that he was a sportsman who liked to hunt. Bird hunting is his passion. It was something I tolerated,  but had no interest in myself.  I wish I had.  Cher loves to hunt and so spends hours with my husband. I stay home alone for most of this time.  They go on trips and I found out they stay in the same motel room.

    Now he thinks of little else but Cher,  hunting and field trials.  I think I rank about 4th on the list,  maybe lower.  She sits on his lap in the evenings.  I just sit there and shake my head in wonder at how much of me has been replaced by  Cher… Josh’s bird dog.

J. B.


Frizzy Shmendrick


Dear Frizzy,

My dog Wiley performs very well on wild game, but comes completely undone on planted birds. Unfortunately it is quite a long trip for to get to wild birds and there is a game farm/hunt club only about 5 miles away. He has embarrassed me several times at this game farm in the past where he just kills and retrieves them instead of pointing them. The final straw at the game farm came last weekend. I hedged my bets by only having a third of my birds (quail) released while the other 2/3rds remained in the bird bag to see what was going to happen, not wishing to just throw them out for Wiley to slaughter. Wiley caught and killed about 4 then disappeared. When next seen, he was in the field with an orange bird bag. He had somehow sneaked around grabbed the bird bag from the back of the ATV and had killed those birds too. I never got to shoot. Once again, he is fine on wild birds, but there is not enough sport on wild game to suit me. How do I train him to point planted, pen-reared birds as well as he points wild ones?

Wondering In Buffalo

Dear Wonder- Buff,

 Wiley performs well on wild birds because he knows he cannot catch them. He can catch birds on his own at the game farm and so is obviously smart enough to know the difference. That intelligence is a good thing.  

 Lookit. The name of the game is to put birds in the bag. At pen-raised game preserves the birds ALREADY ARE IN THE BAG. Then they take them out of the bag and throw them around with the hopes of putting them back in the bag after a lot of walking by you and running and work by your dog. Usually all of this effort results in LESS birds in the bag than were in there at the start. This makes no sense at all and your dog  is obviously Wiley enough to realize this. He also tries to make the best of it by saving you as much ammunition as possible and you still do not appreciate his efforts. I am completely opposed to the notion of getting your dog to handle planted birds. Not only does that require lots of work, and work is a four letter word, but it is just BAD all around. Years ago when these game bird farms started popping up, many people faced the same dilemma that you are faced with right now. Dogs were chasing and catching these birds and little shooting at birds took place. Most chose to figure out how to train the dogs so that  they pointed these birds and held so that the gunner could flush and shoot. Clearly, they made the wrong choice. Had they allowed the dogs to do as they pleased, these would have culled the weak flying birds out of the breeding stock long ago. The result today would have been a pen raised bird that behaves like a wild one, and Wiley would have been right at home. THEY made the wrong choice to train dogs to handle weak flying birds. Don’t make the same mistake now.  

 Enjoy him on wild birds as often as you can.

And hang in the WonderBuff,

Ole Frizzy is on your side.

(Frizzy Shmendrick is the author of "How To Become An Expert On Dog Training by Writing About Dog Training" and more recently "How To Become An Expert On Dog Training By Pretending To Be An Expert On Internet Message Boards")

Dear Frizzy,

My pointing dog does most everything right, but he is very vocal. He gets so excited when I turn him loose that he barks frequently as he hunts. Then when bird scent stops him, his excitement builds even further and he howls and whines as he points. He is a good bird dog but all of this noise detroys the ambiance of a hunt. Is there anything I can dog to stop all of this?

 Wearing On My Nerves In Garbington

Dear Wear Garb,

Even if there were no advantages to the behavior described, training a dog out of these things is hard work, and work is a four letter word.

But there ARE, in fact, distinct advantages to what your dog is doing which makes it all the more unwise to actually attempt any work to end these habits . Other people have to really struggle in the field to keep track of where their dog is while your dog is actively sending you that information.

You don’t need to put a bell on him: he let’s you know where he is by barking. You don’t need a beeper collar either because his howling and whining let you now that he is pointing and where he is pointing. Not having to use a bell or a beeper saves you more money; money you worked hard for.

The hound people have known these advantages for centuries and so have come to appreciate a dog with a good voice. So appreciate your dog for what he is and don’t be trying to change him so readily.

Of course, I know that the sound of a barking and whining dog does not fall to well upon the ears of some, so to help you out even further, I have a collection on CD called "Funky Frizzy " which is me singing Hip Hop tunes. Listen to that on the way to your covers, and for the next few hours, believe me, ANYTHING will sound good by comparison, even a barking bird dog. ( Funky Frizzy CD: $24.95 post paid. No Refunds. If the CD doesn’t function, both you and your family will be thankful. Believe me) If you don’t want to spring for my CD because you’re a tight wadded cheapskate (and I love and admire you for it) you could probably get by by listening to about any other Hip Hop tunes, and you will likely achieve the same effect. And hang in there Wear Garb. Ole Frizzy is on your side.

(Frizzy Shmendrick is the author of "How To Become An Expert On Dog Training by Writing About Dog Training" and more recently "How To Become An Expert On Dog Training By Pretending To Be An Expert On Internet Message Boards")


Dear Frizzy,

This a bit of a disgusting topic and I hope I do not offend any of your other readers. I have a dog that happens to be a very good bird dog, is fun to hunt birds with, but he has a sickening habit around the kennel of eating his stool. Worse yet, if he can get at them, he will eat the stools of his kennel mates as well. I find this very offensive. I have tried all of the marketed products as well as every home made cure I have some across, but nothing turns him away from a chance at fresh droppings. Is there some way to train him out of this horrible behavior?

 Nauseated in Newburgh.

Dear Nausy New,

Sure you could break him of this, but why on God’s green earth would you want to? If you have a dog that not only is very good in the field but also cleans the kennel for you , buddy, you’ve got yourself a dream dog.
Your problem is that you need a new way to think about this. You need to think of him not as a "poop popper" or a "turd taster", but instead think of him as a "recycler," a dog who is generous enough so as to to pick up after himself - and other dogs - and re-uses it. If this alternate thinking doesn’t work and the behavior is still intolerable to you, please give me a call. I will be happy to take him off your hands for you.

And hang in there.

Ole Frizzy is pulling for ya.


Dear Frizzy,

I have three wonderful dispositioned littermates from a litter that I raised here. Their names are Rack, Shack and Bednigo. These pups are two years old now and they hunt well, handle like a glove, and are wonderful around the house and yard, but they are driving me nuts in the field. They have unproductives and lots of them. I hunted them one at a time yesterday and, between the three, I flushed 26 times without a bird. I then put them away and took a walk for a couple of hours, just me and my shotgun. I jump shot three birds hunting just like I used to before I got hooked by these bird dogs. Whether it is faulty genes in these dogs and or poor training that have caused them to false point, I don’t know. But when I bag more game without dogs than with them, something is not right. Is there some way to get them over this problem?

Birdless in Binghamtom

Dear Birdbing,

There are ways to work with these dogs but they are time consuming and difficult, which is why I never really looked into or experimented with them. "Time consuming," when used to describe anything that requires an output of effort on my part, makes me very skeptical. Ditto for "difficult." "Time consuming" AND "difficult" pretty much removes any training technique from my consideration.

Besides, you need to work WITH your dog’s strengths, not against them.

The solution to your problem is to go out with the goal of hunting birds without a dog, just like you wrote about, and like many others who don’t own dogs at all and still enjoy bird hunting. Now. Here is the little twist: While you are hunting ‘dog less,’ turn your dogs loose. Turn them loose all three at the same time. I know this seems contradictory to hunt dog less with three dogs running around, but look at it this way: They cover more ground and every time they point, you know there is NOT a bird there, which considerably cuts down on the area that that you need to cover that might actually have a bird. If you had enough of these false pointing dogs, you could go straight to where the birds are, simply by the process of elimination. Just ignore the dogs when they point and go where they are not pointing, and your odds of are increased of finding a bird …

 and hang in there Birdbing,

Ole Frizzy is pullin for ya.

(Frizzy Shmendrick is the author of "How To Become An Expert On Dog Training by Writing About Dog Training" and more recently "How To Become An Expert On Dog Training By Pretending To Be An Expert On Internet Message Boards")

Dear Frizzy,

After dabbling in bird dogs for many years, I am thinking about going for broke by starting an extensive breeding program and selling puppies and such. I have always believed that breeding stock should be thoroughly trained and hunted over to determine their competence in the field, and so that people interested in puppies can see the parents work in field situations if they wish. My problem is that, while I can afford to keep a number of dogs and brood bitches and such, my family obligations and other commitments will leave my with no time do very much training and hunting of so many dogs. I am therefore planning to send each dog to a trainer for a while for training and evaluation. Of course, with so many dogs, the costs could add up. I would like to minimize that expense as much as possible. I am not interested in having any of these dogs completely trained, only evaluated and worked with to the point where I can show the dog in the field for folks who want to look at them. How long should some rudimentary training and a good evaluation process take with a competent pro?

Going For Broke

Dear Broke,

I can’t speak for competent pros, but I will answer your letter.

First off: You WILL be broke if you continue with your mistaken belief that the breeding stock should be evaluated and trained. You need to get that thought out of your head. At various kennels and backyard operations there is a long and distinguished tradition of NOT getting the breeding stock into the field much or at all. These are the geese that lay the golden eggs and by the time you have raised a puppy to breeding age you have a lot of money into them already just in the feed. Why put them at risk?
Besides, the minute you spend all this money training and evaluating dogs, and going through all this effort, you will realize that most of the pups are not going to get into the field or trained much either.

You need to condition yourself to a new way of thinking: A dog that is not trained or experienced has only raw genetics to work with and display. None of that training or experience can be transmitted to the puppies. It is irrelevant. In fact the very purpose of training and time a field/experience is to make a dog better than he is, which another way of saying that they cover and hide genetic weaknesses.

Look at it this way, if someone wants to see your dogs in the field before buying one of its offspring, and you can’t talk your way out of it, two things can happen when you show the dog: either he will do well or he won’t do well. If you have done nothing with him in the field and he still does well, impressing both you and the prospective buyer, it amounts to a demonstration of raw genetics. What you see is what you get. The dog is a natural. It’s all breeding and genes. The pup will likely be a natural too.

You win. If, on the other hand, the dog does not do well, "What do you expect? The dog has not been out at all… but that does not mean the puppies will be bad…" You break even. Now consider the same 2 outcomes when the dog you are showing in the field HAS had some time, effort and training. If he does well… duh… he should do well. That is expected, and it still leaves the question of whether his ability is natural or is he just well trained. You break even. If the dog doesn’t do well, despite the time and training…you lose.

So to summarize the results of when you show a dog the sire/dam to a potential puppy customer:

Dog does well /dog does poorly

Time, effort, money Trained and experienced dog: break-even /lose considerable

 Dog w/ no field time or experience: win /break even minimal
The right and proper path is clear. Leave that dog in the pen or on the sofa. Save your hard-earned money.
Hang in there

Ole Frizzy is on you side.
(Frizzy Shmendrick is the author of "How To Become An Expert On Dog Training by Writing About Dog Training" and more recently "How To Become An Expert On Dog Training By Pretending To Be An Expert On Internet Message Boards")


Dog Training "On The Frizz" with Frizzy Shmedrick

Dear Frizzy,

I am just getting into bird hunting and would like to get a dog. I don’t know what breed to get so I wanted to ask your expert opinion. Whatever the breed, the dog must be good looking and have a great personality. What do you suggest?


Dear Undy,

Before you GET any puppy or dog, I would suggest that what you really need to GET is the proper priorities to help you make an informed choice.

‘Looks’ and ‘personality’ should be low on the list when choosing a hunting dog. In fact, ‘ugly’ and ‘bad personality’ are tops on my list. The way I see it, your chances of getting good looks, a great disposition, AND natural hunting talent in one package are pretty slim. Odds are, a dog is going to fall short on one or two, but rarely will fail on all three. If a dog is ugly and has a bad personality, which is what I look for, chances are thus increased that he will have natural hunting talent. Let’s face it: There are a lot of dogs out there that have lived and reproduced because of their good looks and nice dispositions… period. But if dogs have a bad personalities and are ugly as sin, good skills and hunting talent are likely the only reasons that such dogs would have been bred at all.

My advice is for you to check out the prospective sire and dam ahead of the litter. Don’t evaluate the parents of the litter in the field. That is time-consuming requires that four letter word ‘work’ to accomplish, and there are still no guarantees. An easier way is to look at sire and dam for ‘ugly’ and ‘bad personalities.’ It’s quicker and easier.

And what, you may ask, are you to do if you are so unfortunate as to get an ugly dog with a bad personality AND is worthless in the field? Well that is the beauty of this system: You get rid of him. No problem. With a good looking, great dispositional dog, you or some member of your family are likely to get attached to the dog and then your stuck.

Take my advice:
go for the offspring of ill-tempered brutes and you won’t be sorry.
 And don’t worry. Old Frizzy is pulling for ya.


Training Methods  “On The Frizz” With writer Frizzy Shmendrick 

Dear Frizzy,
A friend of mine named Weems is into field trials and I got a bird dog from him that he didn’t want. Now I’m just on old boy bird hunter and my dog works just fine for me. He points ‘em, I shoot ‘em, he gets ‘em and brings ‘em back. The problem is that Weems can’t stand to watch this dog work or point. According to Weems the dog isn’t fast enough and doesn’t handle the terrain, or doesn’t quite handle his game quite or with the right style. I don’t know much about these trials but I’m thinking about going to one and trying to figure out what is wrong with my dog. What do you think?

Dear Potential Trialoholic,

My advice to you is to not listen to Weems and not go any where near those trial folk. Not that they aren’t nice folk, mind you, those trialers, but they are responsible for the plague of high expectations. The best way to explain the danger is with my friend Jake Fartsworth. Jake use to like to drink a glass of Port wine in the evenings for medicinal purposes. For the ‘Ole Fart,’ as we are fond of calling him, a day was not complete without a glass of Port. It was this way for years. He loved it. Then he got tangled up with the widow Struther. Marge Struther is a wine conna-sewer or something like that. She got Jake trying all different wines - ‘educating his pallet,’ she called it. Next thing you know, they’re hitched, and they both subscribe to The Sipper, a highfalutin wine tasting magazine for people with more money than sense. Well this has gone on now for a couple of years and Jake comes to enjoy this wine conna-sewering stuff. Can’t get enough of it. Last week, Jake and Marge received a bottle of wine that costed 129 dollars mail order. I asked how he liked it. He said it was okay, could have used a bit more "body," and that it left a bit of a "watery aftertaste." Jake sniffed, "I’ve had better." And here is the point that is not to be missed. He says that he has advanced in his appreciation of wine and that he is ashamed and embarrassed about what he used to drink before he got into the conno-sewering. But the way I see it, all that money, time and effort, have only gotten him to where he finds all manner of fault and is not satisfied in the least with a 129 dollar bottle of wine, when he used to enjoy bottle after bottle of 5 dollar Port with no complaints. Well it’s the same way with bird dogs. The tiniest little flaws that a hunter wouldn’t even think twice about’ll get you thrown out of a trial. Those trailers can’t appreciate anything. So stay away dear Potential Trialaholic, far away. It is low expectations that lead to contentment in bird dogs. Enjoy your little gun dog bottle of Port and don’t let anyone tell you he is no good.

Hang in there. Ole Frizzy is pulling for ya.


Dear Frizzy, 

     My dog flags on point about half the time.  The other half the time,  usually when he is real close to the bird,  he lies flat on his belly on point.  What can I do to correct these faults?


My dear Perf-Wad,
  You are suffering from  a condition that has  created more work and robbed more people of joy in their bird dogs than any other cause.  It is a disease called high expectations.  It is my life’s calling to avoid as much work as possible and to teach others how to do the same.  Nothing is more important to this sacred calling than to cultivate low expectations.  Your dog is what he is.  Learn to like it and you will be much happier.

 So what if he flags on point?  He still has  the bird out there and he is less likely to be lost on point in cover  because that movement of the tail is catches your eye more than a motionless dog.  I would then move him up until he crowds the bird and lays down.  That way he is completely out of the way of the shot.

Dear Frizzy,
   First of all,  I do not own nor will I use a shock collar. Don’t believe in them.  I have an 8 month old setter who points and holds like a veteran with a check cord on and obeys every command like disciple. But once off the cord he scoops and chases birds at will, goes his own way paying no attention to me whatsoever and will not come until he is good and ready. I have taught him “come,” “heel,”  “this way,”  and “Whoa,” for hours on the cord  but at every opportunity off the cord, he refuses to listen. When I yell “HERE” at him he hears “go away,” When I yell “THIS WAY” he hears “go over that hill for a while, and  ignore me,” and when I holler “WHOA!” he hears" hit the gas pedal.”   What can I do Frizzy? I am at my wit’s end.

Dear Endowits, 
   I agree with you on the shock collar.  Shock collars cost money which means you have to do some type of extra work to pay for these newfangled training devices.  Then you into even more work to learn how to use them right.  You bought a dog to enjoy hunting.  You did NOT spend money for a dog  for the purpose of spending even more hard earned funds on training aids.  And your time is better spent with a glass of some favorite beverage and your feet propped up in front of a TV than trying to figure out how these gadgets work and how to use them without ruining the dog.

    You obviously have a dog that simply enjoys doing things contrary to your wishes.  For such a dog there is one good strategy. The principle is not difficult. I’ll walk you through the “come” command and then you can easily and readily apply the method to all of the other other commands that your dog is disobeying. The key to the technique is that you must convince yourself that you want him to do what he is actually doing. When you  yell “come” and he goes the other way,  you must learn  to believe that you really  want him to run the other way.  You must be sincere and convince yourself of this.  Once he realizes that you really do want him to run away,  he , because he tends to do the opposite of what you want,  will come to you.

    But now you are thinking,  what if he still doesn’t come ?  Well that’s the beauty of this method. If you have really been sincere in your attempts to believe that you wanted him to run off at the command “come,” then a few weeks of practice will have convinced you that “come” really does mean “run off.”  At that point,  what the heck,  he’s doing what you want him to do and you can’t be too disappointed in that.  It’s a classic ‘win-win’ situation.

   Just remember. It’s not what how the dog is thinking,  it’s how you’re thinking about how your dog is thinking that matters.  Keep plugging away.  I’m pulling for you.
Frizzy Shmendrick is a columnist and author of the book “How To Become An Expert At Dog Training By Writing About Dog Training.” 

Professor Sniveler

Products We Need

As I page through a the latest Lion Country Supply catalogue, I see some new products but not enough to suit me. There are many problems that we field trialers have that are in need of creative solutions. It is high time someone stood up and publicly listed some products that we need to solve these problems and make for a better life for us trialers.

Once made aware of the problems, some clever inventor could make some solutions happen.

Number 1: Air bag For Horses

Ideal for horseback trialers and judges, it is a device worn by the rider like a jumpsuit. It would likely be funny looking but would still be an improvement over what most wear now at the trials now. There would be sensors built into the saddle and both stirrups. When the feet and butt lose contact with these sensors, the airbag is triggered and blows up instantly all around the rider. There could also be voice activated device to trigger the airbag also when phrases like, "OH MY GOD!" are uttered in sheer panic.

Number 2: Elevator stirrups.

The battery packs are in the saddle bags. You push a button and the stirrup descends. You put your foot in, push the other button and it raises you right up. Long overdue.

Number 3: Scout Monitor

A device worn on the scout’s wrist like a bracelet and patterned after those electronic devices worn by convicts on parole. They can’t be removed without the special key and send signals to both judges as to where the scout is at all times.

Number 4: The Turd Buster

I envision a co-operative effort between Innotek, Danner Boots, and Purina. It would start with Purina putting small amounts of some substance into the dog food; perhaps some metallic substance, that has no effect on the dog at all, and just passes right through. Innotek then comes up with a device that detects this substance and issues a warning buzz from a small speaker. Danner boots then fits their boots with these devices. As a result any time you foot is headed for a pile of dog crap, the warning buzz goes off and the messy situation avoided.

Number 5: Fantasy Field Trial

It would start with a complete pedigree list from which you would select and breed dogs from. Then they would compete against others in trials right there on your screen. For those who like to breed dogs on paper, this would be the ideal product since they are now able to trial the dogs too in the comfort of their living room. For those that like trials but rarely actually go to any, it would be perfect as well, and would be more enjoyable than hanging around all of the internet message boards.

Number 6: Bell Screener

These would be hearing devices that are worn like ear muffs and while they do not magnify sound, they zero in the sound of your brace mate’s bell and block it from reaching your ears. That way when you are braced with the guy whose dog ranges all of forty yards but whose handler chose to put a bell on it that is only slightly smaller than the Liberty Bell, you can still hear your own bell in the distance. As an extra feature, the device could also electronically eliminate the voice of the other handler who, as his dog is making small circles around him, is yelling at it as if he is trying to turn his dog off of an 800 yard cast. An extra selling point is
that it similarly works on spouses.

Number 7: The Annoying Handler Device

The handler counterpart to the e-collar and the bark collar. Too much noise from whistle or voice and the handler automatically receives a shock. The device is also equipped with GPS and other measuring devices. If the handler exceeds the proper pace, several powerful shocks automatically put him or her back into compliance. Both horseback and walking versions should be available.
Well, there you have it. I’m sure that there are others that I missed that will show up in future columns but these ought to keep some ambitious inventers busy for a while.
Ira Snivelor,br /> PPh.D.

Professor Snivelor

The Ploy

Clarky is young handler running a nice dog in a championship. His dog Muttnut is piling up bird finds and is running good too. In the gallery are a combination of observers both unbiased (I don’t have a dog in this fight, I am just watching) and also rival handlers with a stake in the matter and who badly want to win. Perhaps someone observing has a dog already that fnished with bird work.

Muttnut has a woodcock at 7, grouse at 12, 17, and 22, another woodcock at 34, another grouse at 49, all well-handled, and now the bell stopped again at 55. Clarky walks in to flush and the dog moves at the flight and is ordered up. Clarky comes out shaking his head, Muttnut on the leash. One by one, people from the gallery, fellow competitors in particular, file by the disappointed handler shaking his hand, patting him on the back and saying things like:

"Sorry man. You had this thing in the bag."

"That’s a shame Clarky. That was the best performance I have seen in a long time… until THAT happened."

"I don’t see how that could have been beat."

"You had it won hands down!"

Clarky, though disappointed , is heartened that people saw the greatness in the dog. He is particularly complimented by rivals handlers telling him how wonderful his dog was. In fact most of the comments about great performances came from the rival handlers, which means a lot for Clarky considering that these other handlers are his competitors. In fact, among the unbiased yet still knowledgeable observers in the gallery, Muttnut was doging a good job; some would say, ‘ a very good job.’ But words like ‘great’ and ‘best I have seen’ and such all came from the rival handlers.

Of course Clarky is too young and too new to recognize what is really happening: The Old ‘Compliment The Dog That Can’t Beat You’ Ploy. Here’s how it works:

Trial veterans well know that had Muttnut NOT been ordered up on that bird , but instead fnished well with seven wild birds in his pocket, those exact same people that said "you had it won" and " best performance I have seen" and "in the bag" would instead have been saying, "He was.. alright, I suppose. I really didn’t care for him in the middle there" and "I didn’t like him on the second bird" and "He could have been a bit more forward from 20 to 21."

IN fact, as rivals and fellow competitors were walking in that gallery that day, watching the bird work pile up, the wheels were turning and several were undoubtedly looking for something, anything, to interpret in such a way that THEIR dogs still might win instead of the fine performance they were watching. Of course, coming up with such interpretations takes some heavy duty thinking, an active imagination, a smattering of negativity, and good dose of kennel blindness to pull off. That so many of us field trialers are up to such a task, is a credit to our ability to be creative, and is even more impressive given the pressure and time limits inherent in field trials.

Of course, actually admitting out loud to other people that "Muttnut ran better overall and had more bird work, but I still would use my dog over Muttnut if I were judging because my dog started better and had a tougher course to run on" is best not spoken aloud unless necessary.

Unbiased observers who hear such a statement would likely think you are fairly insane, and it is a testament to our field trial galleries that, almost to person, they have sufficent politeness and self-control so as not to fall over laughing in such situations. This goes double for fellow handlers since they feel that your dog was behind Muttnut AND their dog.

Suddenly, however, Muttnut has been ordered up, and collective "whew!" goes up. The burden of alternative interpretations has been lifted, and the prospect of embarrassing one’s self by actually admitting that "I actually thought that my dog was better" has been avoided. One’s true, not so positive thoughts can remain hidden for ever.

With, Muttnut no longer a contender, now is the time to tell the handler how great the dog was, and you can afford to lay it on thick. Clarky will gobble it up, and you have built up good will with a fellow handler.

It is win-win.

Ira Snivelor, Phd.

Professor Snivelor On The ‘Too Many Entries’ Problem
Lately the grouse and woodcock trialers have been struggling with what to do about large entries. Clubs have had to turn away entries or overstrain their workers. Weekend trials are flowing into the week.

There are no easy answers to this problem. More people want to run their dogs in cover trials than ever before. But there are only so many hours in the day and so many hours in the weekend. So I propose a solution that will limit the numbers in a manner that is fitting and just.

But first allow a digression which will provide a background for my solution: I was traveling to a dog event some years ago with a pro. The event was some six hours away. About an hour into the trip I asked, "Are we going to stop and let the dogs empty out?"

"No," came the gruff reply, "They can hold it."

Then we stopped three times so that HE could use the bathroom. Around 12:30 P.M. we stopped for lunch and he had a greasy double cheeseburger and, in between bites, with gobs of oily cheese dripping from the corners of his mouth, he lectured me on the the proper diet for optimum health in a dog in and the dangers of feeding table scraps. It suddenly occurred to me that he had a different and higher set of expectations for the dogs than for himself.

Likewise, some years ago, I was duck hunting with my friend Jocko and his black Labrador Harpoon. Jocko had dropped a duck into a grassy field and sent Jocko to get it. Harpoon couldn’t seem to immediately locate the duck and went round and round. Jocko shook his head. "What’s the matter with him?" he muttered in disgust, "We don’t have all day. If that bird was snake, it would have bitten him." Jocko conveniently forgot that the the reason that time was short that day, was because HE could not find his truck keys for the better part of an hour. Similarly, I was once grouse hunting with a buddy and his setter Max when, with the dog working well to the front, a grouse flushed near the trail that so surprised us that neither got a shot. "That *#!* #! stupid dog," he immediately grumbled, his face flushing red with anger, "He missed that bird." And he was right. The dog HAD missed that grouse. But ignored was the fact that the dog HAD pointed three others that both of us had missed clean with all barrels.

What about us trialers? We admire a dog that mixes it up with the cover and avoids the easy footing… while we route and maintain courses so that WE have the easy footing. We praise a dog that goes into the briars, but, heaven forbid if they point in there because, poor me, I might get scratched by a thorn, and that hurts.

At a cover trial this spring, a voice came from the back of a substantial gallery: "There’s a dog on point there." And there WAS a dog
on point there not twenty feet from the trail in plain view. Both handlers, both judges, and about a dozen other people had walked right on by not seeing the dog. But had we known the dog had stopped there, or saw him standing, and the other dog went through there several times, we fully believe that he should be faulted for not backing. "How could that dog NOT have seen that other dog standing there on point?" we ask, completely sure of ourselves. Once again some thirty sets of human eyes failed to see the dog on point, yet we fully expect that the other dog going full tilt should have seen it and backed.

In addition, we don’t like a dog that barks when it runs or on point because it ruins the ambiance of the hunt, even though we yell, scream and ‘whoa,’ at the top of our lungs when we handle these dogs.

My idea to get the overabundance of entries in check, therefore, is merely to insist that the handlers be held to the same standards that we hold our dogs to. If we insist upon a dog that is a well conditioned athlete, the handler should be as well. If said handler is running to catch up to the other handler, his gait and running style should fall under the scrutiny of the judges. If handler doesn’t see his dog on point and walks by the dog, the handler is done, ordered up, for not backing. If a handler makes other mistakes during his heat - does not know where his dog is, can’t find him on point, goes the wrong way on the course, is too loud or too quiet, that handler should be faulted or just ordered up. If the dog can’t make mistakes, then errors by the handler should not be tolerated either. If a handler struggles up a hill, he should be faulted and should certainly not be awarded any wins if he slows toward the
end, or gets heated up no matter how hot the day is. Generally, if a judge says, "that is not a handler that I would want to bring home with me" that handler should not be given a win.

If we expect handlers to meet the same same high standards that we expect of the dogs as a condition of placement, we should get those entries back in line right quickly. Unfortunately for me, I would be gone in the first wave.

Ira Snivelor; Phd.

Gladwin 101

There is little doubt that the grouse trial grounds at Gladwin, Michigan have been a premier venue for more than half of a century.

 Today, more cover trials are run each year, and more grouse dogs scratch the dirt at Gladwin than at any other cover trial venue.
Yet there are many cover trialers who have never been to these grounds. The cover circuit is, after all, spread out over a wide range and there are places that are far away from Michigan. So for the benefit of cover trial enthusiasts who have never been to Gladwin, and for those newbie's that have not been there yet, I offer the following introduction.

Gladwin is unique and interesting place. The first thing you need to know about Gladwin is that there a lot of nice and knowledgeable trialers there who are invariably polite and helpful. All of them to person, however, hold a deep secret that they will never tell anybody, particularly someone new to the sport.

The subject is never mentioned.

 Their lips are sealed.

They will deny everything.

They are sworn to secrecy under threat of reprisals if they reveal what I am about to reveal. Sorry Galdwinians. The cat is now out of the bag:

 There is an initiation ritual at Gladwin that all newbie's must go through as ‘rite of passage.’ This initiation is sort of a ‘dues paying’ that tests one’s initial desire to trial.

You see, the center of field trial activity, the headquarters, is a white barn-like structure called Alibi Hall. They built this place in the
middle of the woods along a small lake. Then they surrounded it with an intricate maze of dirt roads designed to look exactly the same to a newcomer. There are no ‘field trial’ signs at Gladwin directing you to Alibi and people have been lost for days driving around in there trying to find it. Once you successfully negotiate the maze and can actually find Alibi Hall, and just when you think you have it made, you discover that none of the courses emanate from Alibi Hall and you must again figure out the elaborate maze to get to the course. To confuse you further, they refer some courses as "upper courses" even though the place is flat as a pancake.

The theory behind this initiation ritual is that a lot of people who would might be trialers give up after getting lost for hours on end, while only people that ‘really are interested’ - the serious ones - will persevere enough to find out where the trial actually is. This process keeps a lot of the riff-raff out.

Of course, if you are going to trial at Gladwin for any length of time, it would pay to learn the language: Gladwinese. Ask anyone at
Gladwin about the course you are scheduled to run on and a typical reply in Gladwinese might be: "It starts down past the tubes on the left, goes right through that cut where course 5 used to go on the outside of, then you pick up old course 12 backwards up to the two track. After about a hundred yards you turn and follow old course 6… not the recent ‘old 6’ but the old, old 6 . You follow that for about half a mile and come out at the junction."

Because they run trials there quite a few weekends in a row, you are likely to witness a certain phenomenon at Gladwin that is rarely seen anywhere else: a "retro-active point." That is when a dog points and the handler flushes but cannot produce a bird whereupon either the handler or the judge ( or both) states, "There was a bird here last week." That a dog can point a bird a week later is quite impressive to me and shows a remarkable nose. That could be one of the amazing things that await you at Gladwin.

Don’t miss it.

Ira Snivelor; Phd.

Advice From Professor Sniveler 

Professor Sniveler
    Recently,  a young man entered my distinguished office with a look of pride upon his face and a jump in his step.  It seems that,  though he has been in fields barely a year and a half,   he had been asked to judge a puppy stake.  Considering the offering a great compliment,  he readily accepted the assignment.  It was too late to talk him out of it and the best I could do was to offer some advice on how to handle the aftermath.

     "Listen," I instructed,  "there are likely to be 25 puppies running around in all shapes and sizes and there are no standards. Only 3 will win and 22 will lose." I tried to prepare him for what he was likely to face and I figure there are others who might benefit from my wisdom and analysis.

     The situation is this:  you have judged the stake and the announcement of the winners has been made.  Suddenly as you are milling about the clubhouse,  you feel a pair of ice cold eyes staring at you.  There in the corner and working his way over is someone who ran a puppy,  and though the dog did not perform well at all,  was disappointed that he did not place his pride and joy.  In a moment he will be here to ask you personally what was it about little Muffy that you did not like.  What do you do?

    It is here where character is built and where good judges are made or broken.  Here a judge must straighten his back,  summon up all of his courage,  square his jaw and like any any principled person:  Lie through his teeth. Trust me here,  lying is the only proper course of action.

     I have to deal with a similar situation several times a year when Mrs. Sniveler tries on a new dress and asks, "How do I look?"  Now Mrs. Sniveler,  even long ago when she was in 'the spring of her youth,'   was not a handsome woman,  and the years since have not been kind.  In fact,  in her case I believe the spring of youth had skipped her and went directly to the late fall. Now in her golden years she is 190 pounds heavier and is suffering from a severe case of what the doctors call "geriatric Acne."

   But still she asks,  "How do I look?"

   Do I say,  "Well...I wouldn't audition for a part on Baywatch."  Unthinkable!

   Do I say,   "To be honest,  you are the ugliest thing to walk the earth since before the last ice age."  Inconceivable!

   I say, "You look wonderful honey"  and the same tact must be taken to the trial.  

    It would certainly be in poor taste for a judge to say to a handler,  "The only good I can foresee coming from your dog is if it were to be used in a laboratory for medical research."

    I also would recommend against saying,  "I always look for something good in every brace,  and with your dog...well...he had good, firm stool." must lie. I don't however,  recommend telling someone the old line,  "You would have been 4th."  You might be approached several times and if you use that line more than once,  they might compare notes and then 'the jig is up.' 

     I recommend that you be less specific and more ambiguous.  That way you can't be pinned down.  Write in the judges book, "Nice to watch out for,"  or "had some nice moments." Also it is good practice to write a "3" on the top and put a slash through it.  Just read what you wrote and and show them the booklet and the scratched out number saying,  "We carried you for a long time." If the person seems in need of more reassurance,  whisper in his ear, " Between you and me, I wanted to use your pup but the other judge wouldn't budge."   If this seems like backstabbing,  don't worry,  the other judge is likely telling people the same thing.

   In fact,  I think that the club should intervene. Officials should arrange to have one judge leave immediately because of 'pressing family matters' or other such reasons.  That judge will be happy to comply so he does not have to face  any unhappy people.  Meanwhile, the other judge would then be free to blame everything on the judge that isn't there. Everything works out nicely.  It is the least that a club can do to help out it's judges or so it seems to the professor. 

 Until next time,  farewell.