Woody's Summer Journal
News And Views
Well summer training is in full swing, now that the young grouse and woodcock are old enough to withstand some dog work. Brood reports are trickling in from various places and things are looking pretty good in PA and NH too in addition to the good reports from MI and WI reported last week.
Ryan Frame sends along this: The points totals for the Foster Award have been up for some time and no one has questioned or called my attention to any inaccuracies or errors. So the winner of the Foster Top Dog Award for an unprecedented third time is Long Gone Madison. Madison was unable to run in any points trials this Spring but had accumulated enough points last fall to withstand some late challenges.
The Foster Derby Award came right down to the wire too with Suemac's Coventry edging Springfield's Showgirl by under 10 points. A personal note here. Two years ago from this past March, we were at Rhode Island for the Southern New England Woodcock Championship. John Stolgitis had sold a stud fee pick of the litter to Roger McPherson, and I was charged with picking that pup on Roger's behalf. The sire was Chasehill Little Bud and the litter was bred by Richie and Monique Guliano. Richie offered to keep the pup until we got done with the trials but Johnny insisted that we bring the pup back and let Jill and Erin, his wife and daughter, play with it. Roger wanted a female, but would take a male if none of the females looked good. One of the three females caught my eye zipping around and when I picked her up, she melted. It took all of 45 seconds to decide. As I said, “I'll take this one...” I saw a look of disappointment and sadness sweep across Monique. Moments later, at an appropriate moment, I asked Richie, “What's up with Monique?” He replied, “You picked the one that she really liked...”
I felt bad, but it confirmed my choice. Several days later, it was nearly World War 3 at the Stolgitis house when Jill and Erin became hopelessly attached Covey too, but we managed to get her out somehow and back to Pennsylvania. Roger was around her only 10 minutes when he announced, “This pup is going to have to stay here. If I take her home Suzie will never let her leave.” So it was my gain because she has been great to be around and fun to work with. I know that Monique had many, many more important things to worry about that last two years but I had been hoping, even well before I knew that Monique was ill, that when she heard and read about Covey's wins, that that look of disappointment might have been changed to a prideful smile. On behalf of Roger and Suzie, thank you Richie and Monique for this puppy. .
And on a happier not: This did not copy and paste well to the site last week so I keystroked it in. Paul Fuller of myoutdoortv.com also has a regular, broadcast outdoor TV show. Mr. Fuller recently sent the following note to Lloyd Murray which read in part:
“I wanted to let you know that Bird Dogs Afield won first prize in the broadcast TV category for 2010 from the New England Outdoor Writer's Association. The episode was of our November hunt with Log Gone Madison. The awards had nothing to dog with my hosting or editing skills....it was all about the dog work. Thanks for allowing me to film that day.乃he Pennsylvania Grouse Trial Club Eyes 100th Anniversary Of Grouse Trials
I told this story on the Grouse Ridge Kennel Video and it is worth telling again. It was in the 1950's and Grouse Ridge Kennels was still in its early years, advertising its first Grouse Ridge Stud dog, Smokey. He was producing well and a young man by the name of Clarence Johnson badly wanted to breed a bitch to him, but could not afford the stud fee. Dr. Tom was running the kennel at the time (Pete was still a pup) and he agreed that if Johnson could swing the shipping of the bitch from Kansas to New York and back, that the stud fee would be waived. Clarence Johnson was so appreciative that he promised to return the favor someday if possible.
Fast forwarding to the early 1960's, Carl Barkley was working some dogs for the Flanagans and he had a beautiful young prospect. The dog was not related to Smokey at all but Dr. Flanagan saw the dog work, loved him and told Barkley that he would like to buy him. Barkley told Dr. Tom that the owner absolutely refused to the dog to Dr. Tom..., but that he would GIVE the dog to him if he wanted it. The man was Clarence Johnson returning the kindness he had received years earlier. The dog was re-registered Grouse Ridge John and he would go on to win the Pennsylvania Grouse Championship in 1965, his only championship.
IN this summer season where people are voting for the 2011 Field Trial Hall Of Fame (which should be called Horseback Field Trial Dog Hall Of Fame for the dogs anyway, for the sake of honesty), it is worth noting that Grouse Ridge John produced two dogs, Grouse Ridge Will and Tomoka, who are in the HOF, one of the only dogs two have sired two HOF dogs.
"Grouse trials are distinctive events. The ruffed grouse is truly a remarkable game bird, praised to the skies by all familiar with its exquisite sporting qualities. Grouse dog enthusiasts bow to none in the thrills they take from their exciting, colorful bird dog competitions." William F. Brown, "Field Trials."
One of the things that makes cover trials "distinctive" is the widespread use of bells. Bells are used so that the handler can know about where the dog is in heavy cover by sound. It allows the dogs to range wider in heavier cover and still likely be found on point.
Now to dash something in the head, bells are legal and always have been. I write this because some 'internet experts' periodically claim that they are illegal. Some this past late winter/spring even claimed that they were illegal everywhere except for cover trials and cited personal conversation with American Field Editor Bernie Matthys as the source. Because we and others often run bells in quail trials where the cover is tighter, this claim was a potential concern. Pete Flanagan runs the Empire Championship with a single course/planted quail format. Pete heard what Mr. Matthys had allegedly said, and that the use of bells might be illegal according to the American Field in this championship. While I was e-mailing Mr. Matthys for confirmation or denial of this claim that bells are illegal, Pete called him directly. we both got the same basic answer from Mr. M. ... and let's just say that the Empire Championship ran on planted quail with many dogs wearing bells...
Brown's book, quoted above, which covered to some extent field trial rules, says nothing against the use of bells. Professionals trainers, amateur trainer/handlers and experienced trial officials all contributed to the "Guidelines To Field Trial Procedure And Judicial Practice." These are the real experts. The claim that bells are "training aids" is also contradicted by the literature. Illegal "Handling Devices" is a topic covered by the aforementioned guidelines on page 45, and there is nothing about bells there. Linda Hunt has attended numerous amateur cover championships over the years, as did long-time AFTCA secretary Miss Leslie Anderson. They saw nothing illegal and Miss Leslie has a cover stake named in her honor.
If someone thinks that bells alter a trial and are handling aids and so should be made illegal, the same case might be made for the handler's voice, the handler's horse, or the scout's horse all of which could actively alter a doggy performance. The bell certainly does make tracking a dog easier in heavy cover, but it makes it more difficult for a dog to hear its handlers ans so there is always a tradeoff. Luther Smith chose not to wear bells quipping quite famously, "Why would I want to advertise my dog's errors?"
A dog creeping, relocating or circling will only be potentially faulted if the judge has eyeballs on the dog. A ringing bell is often a dead giveaway that the dog is not still or stanch.
Moreover, one "Handling Device" specifically cited for being "forbidden" is the "weighted collar," and these days the Tracking Units permitted in most every fiels trials outweigh the average e-collar. Some of us remember what it was like even 20 years ago and I quipped with someone recently that if a person came to the line 20 years ago with a unit on a dog that looked and weighed what like what they look like and weigh now, they would have been run off the grounds.
So, bells ARE legal by the American Field and the AFTCA. U.S. Complete has no written rules that prohibit their use. Of course, it is the option of every club to allow or deny their use, and I have always maintained the right of any club to do so whether it comes to bells, or tracking devices, or mounted scouts etc., and I continue to support the right of clubs do what they feel is necessary to do so to bring what they feel is the best dog to the fore.
Good thoughts till next week
Note: This a copyrighted series of stories that I have recently received permission to print in installments. It has been decided to classify these stories as Fiction as the details could not be verified.
"The Supple Creek S + F"
I would like to offer my profound and heartfelt apologies to the reader of these words. Many of you will likely find fault with the writing skills of an old man! I realize from the outset that, when it comes to the art of writing stories, I am but an inept beginner. My adult life has largely been spent in pursuit of my chosen profession: an architect. Writing and architecture, though far apart in most respects, do have some vague similarities between them. A good solid story actually carries many of the same components as a well constructed building, but uses an entirely different set of tools to accomplish the feat.
I have had profound admiration for those whose talents have enabled them to take ideas and translate them accurately into printed words. The stringing together of letters into words, words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into stories, weaving them all together in such a fashion as to engage the readers, carrying them along on some adventure, is an art worthy of the highest calling. I realize that no one is an architect one day and writer the next. So I hope you will forgive these feeble attempts.
Supple Creek is the name of both the town and the stream that dances through a small valley in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. I grew up in Supple Creek in the 1930's and early 40's and, and as an ambitious young man full of dreams, was happy to relocate from there, for there was little chance in that town to fulfill the desires of a man yearning to design and build buildings. Yet though I lived most of my years happily in the great state of Texas, Supple Creek was always in my soul. I visited at least once a year, save for the year that my wife suffered a terminal illness, kept in touch with relatives and friends by letter and phone, and always returned for weddings and funerals of those who had been dear. When I retired nearly a year ago now, It seemed natural for me to return to Supple Creek to live out the rest of my years in the land of my parents and grand parents. A restless spirit bourn of youth had called me away a half a century ago, but an even more powerful spirit called me home.
Closer to the topic at hand, this tiny town of my childhood also sparked in me a love of bird dogs and an interest in bird dog competition that has lasted a lifetime. I was fourteen when I entered Satchmo in Supple Creek's Spring trial, and competed with him for the next four years before duty called me to the troubled shores of Europe. Satchmo finished his career with one placement - that first place in the Fall of 1943. Unfortunately, the bird dog club which conducted trials since 1917, became defunct in 1978. A serious feud developed among the club's leadership and had caused the disintegration of this once stellar organization. But that is another story.
The sixty-one years of small town, small time field trials is the subject of these "Napkin Chronicles," for there are some stories of singular interest that happened during the course of those six decades. Some of the stories are poignant, others humorous. Yet it is my contention that there are lessons to be learned from a small club, existing in relative isolation, struggling to run bird dog trials. Whether this contention is correct will ultimately depend upon you. gentle reader.
The official organization that ran the trials in my home town was called the "Supple Creek Rod, Gun, Archery, Beagle, Bird Dog Club And Volunteer Fire Company." Some of you will undoubtedly appreciate the wisdom of the founders because, under one umbrella organization, was included nearly all of the excuses that might enable a man to, as they say, 'avoid domestic obligations' from time to time. Enabling the men to 'get out of the house, however, was merely a beneficial side effect. The overriding reason for such a long all inclusive name was the necessity to combine all of these individual, yet similar, special interests just to have enough people to have a viable club, Supple Creek being such a small town.
As a matter of fact, using the same tactic, many have of Supple Creek's entrepreneurs have, over the years, found it an economic necessity to combine several businesses under one ownership because there simply aren't enough customers to make a living out of just one. The Vesper Hotel And Restaurant is one that comes to mind. Yet many of these businesses are not so related to one another as the hotel and restaurant are making for some unusual combinations. There is, for example, the J. C. Baumgartner Funeral Home And Small Engine Repair. And Ted 'Stinky' Stuart's "Barber Shop and Saw Sharpening Service" did business for a number of years.
Fortunately, the Supple Creek Rod , Gun, Archery, Beagle, Bird Dog Club & Volunteer Fire Company changed its name in 1935 to the "Sportsman's And Fireman's Club" and was known locally as the "S + F Club." The club also conducted beagle trials, shooting competitions, and archery contests as well as pointing dog field trials. As I have little interest for anything but the bird dog trials, I will comment no more on the other involvements of the S + F Club.
There were in fact no great champions and no Hall-Of-Fame handlers that emerged from the Supple Creek Trials. By and large, good dogs were seldom seen and candor also compels me to say that good trainer/handlers, myself included, did not exist at all save for one. Though better dogs did come along as the years passed, I need only cite "Blackman's Gunner" as proof that the quality of bird dog that was publicly shown at Supple Creek was at times dismal, particularly early-on, for the records reveal that George Blackman's dog "Gunner" was awarded four placements in the late 1920's and Gunner was not even a bird dog, he was an Afghan Hound. But it was not until Ed Chamber's Dachshund was won the Fall 1933 event , and the Supple Creek Beacon published a headline "Wiener Dog Wins!" that a movement began to restrict the entry to 'traditional pointing breeds.'
The club was divided on the issue. Sam Coombs claimed that being beaten by a wiener dog or another 'off-breed' in a bird dog trial was just too embarrassing, and that the Club was becoming the laughingstock of the field trial world. And while most of the others agreed that the situation was disturbing, there were dissenting opinions best expressed by Jeb Evans that, "We need every dog to participate and besides, how do we really know which is the best dog if not all are permitted to participate? Also, if your dog is being beaten by an Afghan Hound, don't you think potential breeders need to know about that?"
"No," said Ike Austen, "It's none of their darn business."
The measure restricting dogs only to traditional pointing breeds was passed in 1934 and was one of only very few rules concerning bird dogs that the club had enforced. The acceptance of the American Field's Minimum Requirements was debated in the late 1940's and the rules were rejected. They were just too strict. The Minimum Requirements were adopted DE facto in the mid-1960's when it was discovered that had been conforming to them anyway.
The distrust of the American Field was a legacy handed down from the 'pioneers' of field trials in Supple Creek - that first wave of Field trialers that had established the Club. To them, the American Field was viewed with abject scorn. "They want to force their ways on us, tell us how to run the trials and don't care if our dogs get killed," Ike Austen would grumble when the subject came up, "Jeb's got a letter from some young person at The Field to prove it." There was widespread suspicion that the Field would try to siphon money off of the good-willed sportsmen of Supple Creek.
The truth of the matter did not come to light until 1982 when Judge Evans came across the letter among his late father's effects. The "young fellow" that Ike Austen spoke about was actually Frank Young, Editor of The American Field. The brief letter, which I reproduce in its entirety will provide many hints as to how those early trials were conducted.
Dear Mr. Evans,
We received your report of the Supple Creek Spring Trial but we regret that we cannot print it in the American Field. We hope that you are not offended but there are some problems with the way that your trial was conducted that lead us to conclude that some guidance by us is in order to bring your trials into conformance with the standard way that bird dog trials are run in this country. We hope that you chalk up your shortcomings to lack of experience and pray that you will take the suggestions that follow, not as severe criticism, but as a hints to improve the quality of your trials.
Your report states that "George Blackman and his dog Lex were run in the first brace because Lex struggles to run in the heat of the day and we feared for his life." Elsewhere you report that Mr. Wallstrom was scheduled to run at 2 O'clock on course 1 "for the simple reason that his mail route (he is the local post man) brings him very close to course 1 at that time of day. In this way he was able to participate in the trial with minimal effect on his work day." These statements and several more lead us to believe that you are not conducting a legitimate drawing. You need to write the names of the entries on slips of paper and mix them all in a hat. By randomly picking slips, a fair order of running can be established.
" Additionally, all dogs should run the same length of time. Because, though it was certainly kind of you to run Sam Whiteler's 'Duke' only 20 minutes " because Sam has been so busy that he has not had time to get the dog in conditioned for an hour," it is not good policy.
We find your description of the winner's background as "unknown but we're relatively certain that there's some bird dog in there somewhere" troubling. Particularly in light of a Labrador/shorthair mix and a Welsh Corgi that you said participated. We strongly suggest that you obtain and trial standard pointing breeds with pedigrees. Your local library should have a comprehensive list of the pointing breeds.
Finally your notion that a steady to wing and shot dog is the "one that chases the bird accurately and without veering away from the direction that the bird used to escape," while the unsteady one is that which "chases a short way and then veers off in a different direction than the bird flew" is mistaken. The steady dog does not chase the bird at all but stands still at the flush and shot.
If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me. Good luck with all future events.
Frank M. Young
This innocent appearing letter was considered to be of the 'poison pen' variety, and the refusal by the American Field to print their write-up - an insult. The founding fathers of the Supple Creek Club were stunned and angry.
"A dog ... not chase birds when they flush?" wondered Ike Austen, "Those people know nothing about dogs. All dogs chase birds."
"What do they know about bird dogs in those tall buildings in Chicago anyway," added Sam Coombs.
"And they think its 'fair' to risk a dog's life by running it in the hot sun when the dog has no tolerance for it. What's fair about killin' someone's dog?" continued Ike.
"What right do they have to tell us how to run our trials?" added Jeb Evans.
In the minds of the Old Guard, the American Field and the rest of the field trials across the country, for that matter, were irrelevant. The second wave of leadership at the Supple Creek Club gradually brought the trials around so that they became indistinguishable from other trials across the country in the manner that they were conducted.
You may say that due to the ignorance and stubbornness of men Like Ike Austen, Skip Taylor and Jeb Evans, that trials were set-back or harmed in Supple Creek for more than 30 years. The case could be made to that effect and there were would be little proof to deny it. Yet field trials were such a small part of life in the small town of Supple Creek and a radical change of thought would have been required to run trials the way that the American Field wanted them to be run. Radical thinking was not a characteristic of small town life, and thank goodness for that. Only a mentality prone to jump at 'fads and fancy' would have caused those men to throw out all of their ideas about bird dogs and wholly believe something so different. Consequently, a slow transformation took place at the Supple Creek trials in the way the events were conducted and in the dogs that were placed. The Supple Creek bird dog trials inched closer to all of the other trials that are reported in the American Field, because three decades later, those time tested ideas that Mr. Young wrote about were still there and still reasonable. Meantime, the Old Guard sat up on that hill near the clubhouse looking down at the dogs and grumbling at the changes and longing for the return of a time, long since passed. Ironically, grumbling at the changes and longing for the return of a time, long past, are what motivated this old architect to write.
Have a great week
“Most any day one gets to spend behind a bird dog is a good day.” Woody B.
Heckler T. Peabody
As you recall, last time Heckler T. Peabody judging a championship near the end of the hour, was considering a dog for a call back based upon a great, passionate ground effort. As the dog’s handler lags behind, time is called and the dog is clearly seen, by Peabody and a good portion of the gallery, ripping out and chasing several birds.
Overall, this discussions centers on when a judge sees something bad just seconds after time has been called. It need not be chasing birds that the judge and gallery witnessed. Perhaps the dog pointed a bird after time but had very undesirable style. Such situations bring to light the realization that the time limit is bit artificial, not sensed by the dog at all, and that a few seconds this way or that would not have affected the dog’s inclination to point, or his style on point. Yet strict adherence to the time limit is a condition that makes a trial fair.
My esteemed judicial panel was split on this and no consensus came to light aside from the fact that almost nobody would have thrown the dog out completely or not considered him. Opinion was split between those who held fast to the notion that what happens after should be completely ignored and those who felt that it would be hard to ignore completely and that they would likely call back another dog that was similar, though slightly inferior, but who did not have any negative events after time. Likewise, they would more likely lean TOWARD a dog that pointed a bird after time and a championship caliber race, though not necessarily the top race. In both cases, the hope that a call-back would come out well figured in to the decision. None of them would have considered a dog vastly inferior on the ground to the top races for a call-back
The consensus of our esteemed judging panel in the next installment
Note: This short history of the Grouse
Futurity was written about about 6 years ago for another proposed web
site. I am sure Thom Richardson won’t mind me putting it up here.
There have been several futurity winners that have done well since it was
written, CH. Bloom’s Molly, Ch. Keystone’s Red Ryder, Ch.
Beaver Meadow Benjamin, Ch. Sunkhaze Maggie May and Ch. Chasehill
Little Bud are a few that come to mind and there are surely others. I am not
slighting any recent winners. As stated, this was written some time
ago and I have not done an updated rewrite.
An un-named writer from the American Field called it a “truly remarkable session.” That was an understatement. The ‘session’ lasted from about 11 O’clock in the morning until ten past seven that night, with a break for lunch and a fifteen minute recess at 3:30. Lee White, banking executive from Connecticut, later wrote, “to my way of thinking, it was one of the most remarkable gatherings - if not the most remarkable - that it has been my privilege to attend.”
It was August of 1943; a Saturday. The world was at war. Transportation was difficult. Gasoline and tires were rationed. Somehow, 33 men “from Maine to Michigan” made their way to the Hotel Statler in Cleveland, Ohio for a Grand purpose. In light of the suffering and death that was a daily occurrence at the time, it may seem trite to call the formation of a new grouse dog club in any way important. But it WAS important - important that the pleasures of life, the things that add fun and meaning, continue. In a sense, the war was fought for that purpose.
The meeting was not underway long when Sam Light, World War I veteran and grouse trial fancier from Punxatawney, PA, took the floor and “explained that the idea for the meeting came into being out of a general feeling that there was an urgent need for a championship grouse field trial that was truly national in its scope, free from any and all charge that it was local in character or influence.” In those scant, few hours, they formed a new dog club, elected officers and directors, and appointed committees, established basic running rules and set dues and entry fees. And, remarkably, planned for a championship to be run that very year. Just over two months hence, the very first Grand National took place at the Black Forest grounds near Slate Run, Pennsylvania. Being “national” in scope, it was felt that the trial should move each year to various parts of the country. After a successful first event, the Grand National Grouse Championship moved to Gladwin, Michigan for the 1944 running.
It was at the Club meeting which coincided with this second Grand National that the Grand National Grouse Futurity was formed and Ralph Thomas Of Detroit, Michigan elected as the first secretary. In a sense, the formation of the Grouse Futurity was even more groundbreaking than the Grand National Championship. After all, there were grouse championships in existence already including a “National Grouse Championship” which has been hosted by the Pennsylvania Club since 1913. But were no Futurities for grouse dogs. The Grand National Grouse Futurity was the very first for grouse.
The First Futurity ran the following year in the Fall of 1945 in Andover, Massachusetts. It was appropriate that a stake that emphasizes the Future, even in its name, be first run in 1945 - in the spirit of hope and optimism that prevailed after the great war ended earlier that year.
Secretary Ralph Thomas was heartened to report that 62 dams had been nominated for the first event. The trial took off from there and in the 1948 event, 225 dams were nominated and 44 dogs drawn for a purse of $1,000, of which a cut of $250 went to the breeders of the winning dogs. In the Spring of 1948, the Grand National Puppy Classic premiered. Both stakes are now time tested and true.
The dog named first in that inaugural running of the GNC Puppy Classic was also named first that same Fall in the 1948 Grouse Futurity. He was none other than Skyrocket Pride’s Hank In time Hank would become the very first champion for Elwin and Inez Smith, thus launching the Smith Setter dynasty which continues today. Masterman’s Countess finished second in the 1948 Futurity and eventually, she would help launch Grouse Ridge Kennels (Es. 1950), producing the first stud dog to bear the Grouse Ridge name: Grouse Ridge Smokey.
There are many ways to judge the quality of a stake but ‘by the fruits that it produces’ is perhaps the most important. Of course, no derby stake, particularly a Fall derby stake, will be 100% successful in predicting future champions. A lot can happen between derby and all-age competition. But with Hank and Countess as early evidence, the futurity has done a very good job of bringing quality dogs to the fore.
The winner of the 1950 Grouse Futurity, a pointer bitch named Mistress Prettybones, would become the first GNC Futurity winner to win the Grand National (1952), but certainly not the last. Retina, a setter bitch, would top Prettybones by winning the Futurity in 1952, and then winning the Grand twice in 1955 and ‘56.
Moving through the 1950’s Hyrod, a setter dog, would win the Futurity in the 1953 and then win the Lake States 3 years later. Doc’s Girl Sis (3rd in 1953), a pointer bitch, won the Grand National in 1959. Orchard Valley Melody (1st in 1957 Futurity), was named Grand national champion in 1963, and was named Pennsylvania Champion as well.
Ghost Train placed in the 1965 Futurity and won the Grand National in 1969. That same year that Pleasant Valley Liz won the Grouse Futurity. She, in turn, would win the Grand in 1972 and then again in 1973. The legendary Tomoka won the Grouse Futurity in 1971 on his way to the Hall -of fame.
In 1976, 2 of the 4 Futurity winners went on to win championships: Ghost’s Star, and Grouse Ridge Sampson. That following year, 3 of 4 would win championship titles: Sam L’s Nova (1st) Pleasant Valley Mandy (2nd) , and Grouse Ridge Lucky 4th. In 1979 Heartbreaker (1st) would win the Grand National in 1981, and Magic Man (2nd) went on to win a horseback shooting dog championship.
The 1980’s was likely the most productive decade for the Futurity. The 1981 and ‘82, futurities brought forth two important producers: Cape Island Intrepid (1st, Spring 1981) produced multiple champion Kingway, and Wire (3rd in Fall, 1981) who would produce 3 cover champions and whose tribe still continues. The years 82 through 89 produced 15 Cover champions and one runner-up. The Sportsman’s Aimee (1st ‘82), Pleasant Valley Zorro (3rd ‘82) Sycamore’s Sweet Sue (1st ‘83), Stokely’s Diablo Jake (2nd ‘83), Billie Girl (3rd ‘83), Wyola Chris (1st ‘84), Pioneer Ghost (2nd ‘84), Spots (4th ‘84), Skyline Patty (2nd ‘86), Star’s Misty Ghost (1st ‘87), Country Express (4th ‘87), Elhew Cassie (1st ‘88) R-U Champion Jet’s Magic Buck (3rd ‘88), , The Sportsman’s Gus (3rd ‘89) and Thornapple Keeper (4th 89). Remarkably, for the time frame mentioned, if a dog placed in the futurity, it odds of winning a championship were around 50%!
The 1990’s percentage was not quite that high but still impressive. Ten Futurity winners from 1990 to 1995 had won titles of Champion or Runner-up to date. Sorrell’s Tango (4th ‘90), Pleasant Valley Dina (2nd ‘91), Slimfast (2nd ‘92), Stokely’s Sadie B (3rd ‘92), Hunter’s St. Cloud (1st ‘93), Elly Squires (2nd ‘93), Chip’s Diablo Rust (1st ‘94) Long Gone Pumpkin (2nd ‘95), Beaver Meadow Ozzie (4th ‘95), and Long Gone Mittens (4th ‘96). Thereafter, many of the dogs are still competing and so the record is still incomplete.
Undoubtedly the lowest moment of the Futurity’s history came in 1961. Grouse trial enthusiast Ole Anderson was judging. The final morning of the running, Anderson was found dead in his motel room bed of natural causes. The trial was finished with one judge and a pall over all of the proceedings.
The Grand National Futurity, over the years, has been blessed with fine leadership. Ralph Thomas got the stake off to a good start. Bradford PA native Bob Hapgood of “Orchard Valley” fame headed the Futurity for a spell in the 1950’s. Bob Caldwell, with significant help from his wife Lydia ran the stake for much of the 60’s and into the ‘70’s. Michigan native Tom Novak, and Pennsylvania stalwarts Joseph Willis, George Kelly, Mark McKinley and George Johnson ( with significant help from Shirley) brought us from the ‘80’s into the 21st century. The stake is now in the very capable hands of Thom Richardson of Littleton, New Hampshire and the future looks bright.