Monday, August 10, 2009

Big Turnout for Region 1 / AFTCA - Bass Pro Shops Pointing Dog Seminars

FOXBORO, Mass. - Spectators from all over New England were in attendance on Saturday, Aug. 8, as Region 1 / AFTCA, in conjunction with Bass Pro Shops, put on two pointing dog seminars at Bass Pro's Foxboro, Mass. store.

Charged with putting together the seminars, and serving as emcees, were Elias Richardson, Region 1 trustee, and Janice Gregory, Region 1 secretary.

Many members of Region 1 / AFTCA provided their own dogs, time and expertise on this gorgeous Saturday to help spread the word that field trialing is a fun, family sport. The goal of Region 1 is to spread the word about field trialing and to keep the sport alive and well far into the future.

While there were several field trialers in the audience on this sunny, hot August day, there were more of the plain 'ol dog owner folks who just wanted to see what these pointing dogs can do, and maybe if their own dog could do the same thing.

They didn't leave disappointed.

Months of planning by Region 1 came to fruition as the seminars began.

Richardson briefly and succinctly described the basics of field trialing - what to expect of the dogs, what a handler is expected to do, and what the different levels of trialing consist of from weekend half-hour gundog stakes to national championships.

Eli Richardson, above left, discusses the basics of field trialing as John Stolgitis mans the equipment table.

Richardson discussed nutrition, and the feeding and care of bird dogs. Dean Reinke of Purina very kindly supplied free bags of Pro Plan dog food, coolers, drink holders, hats and a myriad of information on keeping a dog nutritionally fit.

Also on the display tables were issues of the bible of field trialing, the American Field, from managing editor Bernie Matthys; copies of Field Trial magazine from editor Craig Doherty, and information on the Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America and 20th Century Fund from AFTCA secretary Linda Hunt.

(The 20th Century Fund of the AFTCA supports efforts by local field trial clubs to improve grounds and access. A $200 sponsorship will help field trialing across America, plus donors will receive their own limited edition print, "Millennium Breakaway at Ames,'' by artist Herb Booth.
For information, or to see the prints, click here. To order, contact the 20th Century Fund, 1300 Tripp Rd., Somerville, TN 38068 or call (901) 465-1556.)

First, to the delight of the crowd, two Brittany puppies were brought out and worked on a wing. There were many "oohs'' and "aahs'' from the group that looked like it might be more interested in picking up and cuddling those cute little puppies than watching them learn how use their hunting instincts.

Erin Stolgitis, above left, and Elizabeth Malone help Dave Marshall work Brittany puppies on a wing.

Videographer David DelPoio gets a closeup as Dave Marshall works a wing for the puppies.

That was quickly overcome in the next segment when the derby dogs were brought out.

As Richardson and Gregory explained what would be expected of this age group in a field trial, the dogs were loosed in the field to point birds.

An audible murmur went through the obviously impressed crowd as one by one these young dogs worked the wind. There were gasps from the audience as these dogs not only swung onto point, but stayed where they stopped, much to the amazement of some in the group.

"My gosh,'' said one woman who brought her German Shorthair with her. "Could my dog do that?'' She was told, "With some training, absolutely.''

John Stolgitis, above, places a quail in a cage prior to the barrel training segment.

The crowd was hooked.

The were given a demonstrations of barrel training, whoa training, some obedience training (heeling) and it was explained to them that to run a field trial dog, all they need is a pointing dog, a checkcord, a blank pistol and a whistle.

Dave Marshall's Drahthaar, Ruger, demonstrating barrel training.

John Malone, above, styles up his pointer on the barrel.

Dave Marshall demonstrating whoa training with a Drahthaar.

At the end of the seminar, for many in the audience, the sport of field trialing was no longer as formidible an undertaking as it had initially seemed. And all said they'd definitely like to give it a try.

Eli Richardson makes a point to the audience.

Electric collars, tracking collars, checkcords - all tools of the field trialing trade

Helping out with the seminar were members of Region 1 / AFTCA and local field trialers. Thanks go out to John and Erin Stolgitis, John, Suzanne, Aidan and Elizabeth Malone, Dave Marshall, Sarah Conyngham, Bill Bonnetti, Frank McLaughlin and Jim Kilraine.

Look for a video of the Region 1 / AFTCA - Bass Pro Shops Pointing Dog Seminar on youTube in the near future.

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