It was a good weekend in Nakawic, New Brunswick at the North American Woodcock Championship and the Woodcock Futurity. Judging with Tony worked out well and we had no trouble choosing the winner and runner-up, but then some one who had never been to a field trial probably would have found it obvious that Chasehill Little Bud was the winner. He ran in the last brace as a front was coming through and we held up the start for the first line of showers to pass over but we heard thunder during much of the brace. Bud ran like the champion he is (14X Ch, 14X R/U CH). I had commented to John Stogitis earlier in the stake that it would be hard to show a real running dog on the courses but Bud showed us all how it could be done. When you judge you always hope that somewhere along in the stake you’ll get a performance or two that rises to the highest level and Bud gave us that and more.
As sometimes happens the winner and runner-up come from the same brace as the two dogs and their handlers seem to feed off each other. I have seen Magic Mist Bandit run many times as judge, scout, and spectator and she is a really nice dog that as had some bad breaks and hadn’t had it all come together for her in the past. Saturday it came together very nicely. Had we not had Bud we would have had no qualms giving Bandit the top slot. Tony and I were both please that we were there to see Bandit have her day right next a great champion like Bud. She knocked out Chasehill Ben Franklin who we had carried from the third brace. He’s another dog who will have his day and then some as he handled three flawless grouse finds but just came up a little short on the ground.
The folks in New Brunswick are great hosts and made arrangements to have Angela Sangster, who is getting interested in bird dogs and field trials, play her guitar and sing both Friday and Saturday nights. After the banquet Saturday night the singing and other revelry went on well into the wee hours of Sunday morning. I left well before the witching hour but some looked a little green around the gills on Sunday at the Futurity.
The Futurity is steadily working its way back from the brink of extinction under the capable hands of Austin Parsons from Nova Scotia. This year they drew 11 to run on the wild bird courses that the championship had used. These are not easy grounds to show a young dog on but a number of the derbies proved they had the potential to compete at the next level. All four dogs used had work on wild birds and acceptable races. The hard luck dog of the stake was Little Thuddy, he had an exceptional race for a fall derby but failed to connect on a bird. The judges could have called him back but decided to go with what they had.
This was Wild Apple LJ’s second start as a derby and his second blue ribbon. At this point he’s one of those young dogs that is exciting to watch. He hits the cover hard, handles to the front, and so far is finding birds. He had two grouse finds yesterday. One was well out on the limb and it took us a couple of minutes to find him. On the second find he was closer in to the gallery and we were able to get right to him. He didn’t get as good of a look at this bird and stood for flush and shot. I have received a lot of compliments on the dog from those who have seen him go and can only take partial credit for his success. My part is making sure all that drive is directed in the right way — the rest of it is a synergy of genetics and exposure to wild birds and the places they live. He’s an eyeful on point and a handful on the ground — it’s a long way from a 16 month old fall derby winning in New England to being competitive against the likes of his sire but he does give one hope. And besides, now I have a Luccky Loonie. For those of you who don’t get to Canada the Loonie is the Canadian dollar coin. When I went to the McAdam trial Labor Day weekend I took an old Canadian dollar bill with me. They are out of circulation but I thought I might find a way to get a spendable dollar for it. Turns out that both Bob Little and his wife Sherry work at a bank. Sherry took the bill and this weekend at the North American she brought me a Loonie in exchange. She handed it to me and said, “here’s your lucky Loonie.” I had it in my pocket when I ran LJ yesterday and I’m just superstitious enough to make sure I have that Loonie in my pocket every time I run him in the future. Along the lines of superstitions, I have an antique New Brunswick bell that has a fiddlehead fern engraved in it. I was really concerned when it cracked because it had been a lucky bell for many years, but Mike Flewelling took the bell and fixed it (he claims my dogs crack more bells then anyone else). He brought it this weekend and LJ tested it out in the Futurity — he now has a lucky bell to go with his Lucky Looney.