Let’s face it. Dogs like Wild Apple Spot On that win a championship while still a derby are extremely rare. Most dogs take a while to mature and show you their full potential. When I cam home from Kentucky last year I brought two puppies home that were from the Nelson’s Van Max X Wild Apple Faith litter. Faith is from the fourth and last breeding of Wynot Ace X Elhew Lieboschaner which makes her a full sister to both Grand National Grouse Champions Autumn Moon and Wild Apple Jack. I wanted to be sure and hang on to some of that blood in the kennel. I took two pups sight unseen (except for pictures) from the litter and we named then after apple varieties — Wild Apple Pippin and Wild Apple Jonathan.
As they developed last spring and summer it seemed Pippin had more potential. Jonathan wasn’t all that interested in pointing in the bird field while Pippin was staunch almost from the git-go.
Then one day I was running Jonathan up behind the house and he slammed two points on woodcock and looked terrific which probably saved him from going down the road last fall. When it came time to sell one of them I let Pippin go and he had a great first season hunting for his new owner Chris Munn in New Brunswick. Jonathan pointed some woodcock that we shot but tended to crowd grouse until late in the season. Over the winter Jonathan really opened up in the big fields of Kentucky and placed a couple times in puppy stakes. He was rarely first as his pattern was somewhat erratic and he often got so far out to one side or the other that we’d go by him and he’d come in from behind. As was said many years ago about field trials “the money’s to the front” and that continues to be true. I kept working on that with him and the last trial he ran in this spring over at the Midcoast Maine club trial he finally put down the kind of strong forward race I like and expect from my dogs. Fast forward to now and Jonathan is hitting pigeons with the same intensity he showed on wild birds, handles, and listens. He should break out over the summer and be a threat in the fall wild bird derby stakes.
I often tell people and write that you have to “build a dog” for the way you want him to perform as an adult. Some dogs, like Spot, seem almost born knowing that — with Jonathan it’s a matter of knowing what he needs to do to be a successful wild bird dog both when hunting and field trialing and sticking to the program. It’s taken over a year to get him this far and he still has a ways to go, but I’m glad I’ve stuck with him. The same can be said of many of the other dogs that have come and gone here — some that I’ve owned and many that have come for training. A consitent program eventually brings out the potential in young dogs.