Sunday, April 10, 2011

Winners - Region 1 AWSD Championship


Champion True Patriot
 EXETER, RI - With one find and a stellar race, True Patriot, a tri-color setter male owned and handled by Kellie Short of Buxton, Maine, has been named Champion at the 2011 Region 1 AFTCA Amateur Walking Shooting Dog Championship.

Runner-up Champion Sugar Knoll Jack and John Fino
 Runner-Up Champion, with seven finds and a more moderate race, was the bird-finding machine, Sugar Knoll Jack, a white and liver pointer male owned and handled by John Fino of Mendon, Mass. The event was held April 9, 2011, at Arcadia Management Area.

Champion handler Kellie Short and chairman Richard Giuliano

Runner-up handler John Fino, right, and chairman Richard Giuliano
It was a small but quality field as 16 of the top setters and pointers in New England were entered and 14 ran.

Judges Jim Curtin, left, and Richard Bembenek
Judges were Richard Bembenek of Webster, Mass., and Jim Curtin of Bridgewater, Mass.


Winning is nothing new to Kellie and Sammy. They've done quite a bit of it. What's different is the way they go about it. 

Kellie Short flushing for True Patriot
The team of Kellie Short and True Patriot ("Sammy") is a model of efficiency. From the time the first whistle is blown, to the minute the judge calls time, there is no wasted effort. Handling is at a minimum. 

Sammy, tremendous birddog that he is, doesn't need it. Kellie, who trained him, knows that. When Sammy points, Kellie doesn't hesitate to flush. If Sammy stops, there obviously is a bird. 

When the bird is flushed, Kellie returns to Sammy, kneels, gives a him a big pat or a hug. Sammy expects that. 

And then they go on. 

Whether it's a 30-minute stake or a championship, one find or 10, there is no rush, no hurry, no drama, no yelling or screaming or hacking the dog around the course. They are a team, each knowing what the other is expected to do, working quietly and efficiently together. And that's how they consistently win.

From left, Kellie Short, Joe Harmon, Jay Shippole, George Doyle and Bill Bonnetti
Kellie is no stranger to this championship, having run in it many times in the past. This year, however, was different. She had a broken left arm suffered after falling out of a truck on an icy Maine road only two days before the trial. She was in tears as her dad, Bob Paucek, and partner, Joe Harmon, told her as she lay in her hospital bed coming of anesthesia after surgery, that competing in this championship, only two days away, was out of the question. Anyone who knows Kellie should know that a simple broken, torn-up arm was not going to stand in her way of running her dog. And it didn't. 

Broken arm won't stop Kellie
Two days after surgery, with her lower left arm in a cast and supported by a splint and a navy blue sling, she even walked several braces before Sammy ran, and then singlehandedly ran her setter, getting him into the water barrels on her own, watering him, flushing, everything that, when is done with two hands, is taken for granted. At the end of the hour, after one find and an enormous race by Sammy, Kellie may have been a little sore, but she looked pleased and as relaxed as when she had begun.

True Patriot was paired with another of John Fino's dogs, a white and black pointer male, Southbound Strech in the fifth brace. True Patriot's original bracemate, Suze, a setter female, owned and handled by Dennis Vescuso, had been scratched from running after suffering a run-in with a coyote at home. Strech had been pulled up from the seventh brace after his original bracemate, Yank's Ginnie Girl, a setter female owned and handled by Frank Skut, had been scratched because of a leg injury.

The fifth brace was the first after lunch and the noon sun was beating down. Bird that had been plentiful for the first few braces were now scarce. 

Sammy ran the limits of the course, steadily and always to the front, checking all the birdy spots, running a race that was pleasant just to watch. He was unable to turn up a bird until the halfway mark when he finally pulled to a stop. Strech, who was working just a little slowly this day with somewhat of a random pattern probably due to the heat, rolled in for a back. 

All morning, a hawk had been circling overhead, and directly in front of True Patriot, was a fresh pile of quail feather. No harm done. Both dogs were sent on their way. With 20 minutes left, Patriot swung onto a point, again with a pretty back for Strech, the dog standing with head and tail high. This find resulted in an extended search by Kellie and a relocation for Sammy, who, when he styled up again, had the birds at a much closer range. They were flushed, a shot was fired, and the dogs hunted their way to the end of their hour. 


John Fino
John Fino is the friend everyone wishes they had.  He goes out of his way to help at every trial he attends, he travels easily between the horseback and walking circuits, he's known far and wide for his kindness and generosity, but more than anything, he loves his dogs and he loves to hunt.

And John hunts the hair off his dogs, taking them to Maine in search of grouse; in years past, traveling South to work on quail during the winter. The dogs love it. John loves it. And it shows. As soon as the whistle blows at the breakaway, his dogs are off like rockets, looking for birds. And they're not just looking, they're scouring the countryside. 

Sugar Knoll Jack has been a big winner for John. This pointer can find birds in places no other dog would even think to look. In this particular trial, he had seven finds. Sound like a lot? Well, that's about average for Jack, because if they're out there, he's going to find them. If things go quiet, John knows it's time to go looking because more than likely Jack's standing there saying, "Hey, got another one for you." They, too, are quite the team.

Sugar Knoll Jack was paired in the second brace early in the morning with Cover Charge, a pointer male handled by George Crumlich. Cover Charge had a very nice start. He ran straight off the breakaway and was handling nicely. On his first find eight minutes out, he was beautiful, tail poker straight, with a single bird being produced. At 18, Cover Charge was found backing Sugar Knoll Jack, and at 26 Cover Charge and Jack were each found pointing on separate birds way out on a limb. All was in order. Then Cover Charge began to lose focus, and six minutes later he would be picked up for chasing a bird. 

As for Jack, he took a hard right off the breakaway, searching out all those off-course birdy spots. After checking those out, he rejoined the field trial party several minutes later and really went to work having a total of seven well-spaced finds, one which required a relocation which he easily handled. 

Because he finds so many birds, Jack's race tends to suffer a bit. He never really gets to make those big swings judges are looking for because the scent of a bird always pulls him to a stop. And this was what separated him and the champion this day.  


Region 1 AWSD Championship chairman Richard Giuliano welcomes everyone before the first brace breaks away

Karen Unsworth, Tim Kisieleski
 In the first brace of the day were Misty Meadow Rosebud (Unsworth) and Bog Brook Rigby (Kisieleski). Both dogs took off like shots when the whistles blew. Rosie hit the woods and in the next hour would be seen four times, only when she was on point. Not much was seen of her race, but she was stylish on her birds. Rigby, a snappy white and black setter, had a good shooting dog race. She  had a nice style running and stood with head and tail high on her birds. Rigby ended her hour with five finds and one unproductive.

Sugar Knoll Jack (Fino) and Cover Charge (Crumlich). Previously described.
Jim Bush walks in to flush for Porter Meadow Elroy

Judge Richard Bembenek watches as handler Mike Flewelling flushes for Chasehill Benjamin Franklin
Chasehill Benjamin Franklin (Flewelling) and Porter Meadow Elroy (Bush). Neither dog would finish their hour as Elroy chased a bird, and Franklin suffered two unproductives.

Handler Karen Unsworth flushes for Chasehill June
Chasehill June (Unsworth) and Iron Lady (Bonnetti). June's owner, John Stolgitis Sr., was riding in the gallery wagon to see his dog. Lady had had two nice finds but was starting to unravel and came totally undone at 34 when she could be seen creeping on her birds, then gave chase. With approximately 5 minutes left in her hour, June stopped to point a bird. When the quail was flushed, she went with it and her hour was officially over.

Southbound Strech (Fino) and True Patriot (Short). Previously described.

Kellie Short, left, flushes for True Patriot while John Fino stands with Southbound Strech as he backs

Chasehill Molly (Flewelling) and Richfield Charlie (Giuliano). Molly had a very strong race with two finds. On one of those finds, Charlie ran through and neglected to back. He was picked up. Molly would be picked up later for chasing birds.

Fox Cobble Jack (Whigham) and Currahee (Flewelling). Jim Kilrain was riding on the gallery wagon to watch his pointer, Currahee. Both dogs were found standing several minutes after the breakaway - Currahee pointing, Jack backing what turned out to be a woodcock. Point was called again for Currahee, and he was sent to relocate. After no bird could be produced, he was sent on.  Jack stopped again at 20 but quickly went with the birds. Currahee wasn't pleasing his handler this day and was picked up with time still on the clock.


* Thanks go to Purina for their continued support of this championship and all the Region 1 championships. Champions and runner-up champion were given bags of Purina Pro Plan and red Purina baseball caps.

* A cocktail party was held by John Stolgitis, left, the owner of last year's champion, Chasehill Little Bud. Clams freshly shucked by John and his dad, John Sr., below, were plentiful. John brought his spicy, homemade sopressata, and there was an array of cheese, crackers, sausage and dip for the always-hungry participants.

Judge Richard Bembenek, left, and chairman Richard Giuliano
* A big thank you goes out to Richard Giuliano for putting this championship together almost singlehandedly. A veteran of hundreds of field trials - either as a participant or a judge or as a chairman - putting on a top-notch event is second-nature to him. Still, it was a tremendous undertaking and his efforts were appreciated by all. His wife, Monique, was missed by everyone and many good thoughts and wishes are being sent her way.
From left, Joe Harmon, George Doyle, Jim Bush and Dave Marshall

Jim Bush, left, and Tad Dorry discuss the merits of the Navy vs. the Coast Guard

From left, Jim Kilrain, chairman Richard Giuliano, and John Stolgitis get ready to wrap up the day

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