Wild Apple Kennel and Guide Service

Wild Apple Kennel and Guide Service
The 2007 Grand National Grouse Champion, Winner 2008 Northern New England Woodcock Championship, Winner 2010 Lake States Grouse Championship, Runner-up 2011 Northeast Grouse and Woodcock Championship, Winner 2011 International Amateur Woodcock Championship, Winner 2012 Southern New England Woodcock Championship

Wild Apple Kennel Training Blog

This blog will try to present a running account of the training and field trialing season for the pointers of Wild Apple Kennel. NOW ACCEPTING BOOKINGS FOR THE 2015 GROUSE AND WOODCOCK SEASON WITH WILD APPLE KENNEL GUIDE SERVICE! PHONE NUMBERS 603-449-3419 OR CELL 603-381-8763.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Long and Consistent Career

Some dogs seem to develop young, do a lot of winning and then disappear from the field trial scene for a variety of reasons.  In Wild Apple Jack's case his five championship wins and one runner-up championship placement have come over a long and limited career.  Long in that he won the Grand National when he was three and has continued to garner placements up until last spring when he won the Southern New England Woodcock Championship at age 8.  Now at nine he's received his fifth bid to attend the Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Championship.  His career has been limited by the fact that he's been run primarily by me and never been on the truck of a pro that would have most likely run him in many more championships.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Over/Under on Belle's Puppies

Belle on 1/31 
Pat Forrest sent over a picture of Belle today.  She was bred to Jack on December 5th and is therefore due Wednesday, February 6th.  Considering the problems we've had getting puppies this winter, it's good to see that there's at least one Jack litter on the ground.  I'm getting 2 of these.  The real question here is how many puppies is she going to have?  I'm setting the over/under at 9.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Making of a Champion

(Shortly after Wild Apple Jack won the Grand National in 2007 I wrote the following back page  editorial for Field Trial Magazine.  Jack is now nine and headed towards the end of a great career.  It will still be a few weeks before we start getting Jack ready to go to the Invitational so I thought those of you who didn't see this when it was first written might find it an interesting read)

The late Bob Wehle devoted an entire book to his National Shooting Dog Champion Elhew Snakefoot and Snakefoot: The Making of a Champion is definitely an interesting read.  I don’t have any pretensions about becoming the next Bob Wehle, but I figure if he can devote an entire book to his National Champion, I’m not getting too carried away by filling up the back page of the magazine with a few words about my Grand National Grouse Champion Wild Apple Jack.  And besides, my story and my goal here is a little different than Wehle’s.  I figure I’m a lot more like the most of the readers of the magazine than Wehle was – although he was a subscriber.
            My first bird dog was a Brittany and when I placed him third in a local American Field sanctioned walking derby stake I was hooked.  I was also extremely impressed with the big white setter male that had placed first in the derby.  When I saw him on point, he stood majestically as a gentle breeze fluttered the long feathering of his tail (really!).  He finished his half hour with crimson splattered flanks from the blood seeping from his tail.  I loved my Brittany and ended up learning more than he did by the time he was broke, however, the image of that setter and the ones run by some of the guys I was getting to know here in northern New Hampshire had me thinking I really wanted a long-tailed dog.
            I was soon offered a male puppy from a breeding that would end up producing numerous cover dog champions.  Stokely’s Diablo Buddy was everything I wanted in a setter – strong on the ground, stylish on his birds, and driven to find the next one.  He placed numerous times as a puppy and derby despite being born and registered in a September litter.  When he won the John Burnham Grouse Classic shortly after his third birthday I thought he was on the way to becoming a champion.  Unfortunately, he was dead from bone cancer before he turned four.
            I thought numerous other setters would get the job done including 2X R/U Ch. Stokely’s Mikey D.  However, I ran into more problems than successes, two young dogs I tried to develop turned out to be deaf in one ear, another turned out to be the dumbest bird dog I have ever come in contact with.  In frustration, I turned to my friend George Tracy and bought a Hamilton’s Blue Diamond bitch that was thrilling to watch run and always found birds, no matter where you cut her loose.  But was wound so tight she rarely put together a 60 minute performance without doing something to knock herself out of contention.  This included a performance at the New York State Grouse Championship a couple of years ago where with less than two minutes left after three or four perfect finds and a picture book race that would have earned her the title, she ran over a brood of grouse and chased them like a puppy barking with joy as she did so.
            Then in 2001, I was out in Texas and one of the guys in the lease had an Elhew puppy that Bob Wehle had given him.  She was not working out for him and he didn’t know what he would tell Wehle.  I spent some time with Lady, as he called her, during the trip just doing some yardwork and soon suggested that I was the solution to his dilemma.  About a month later, I got a call and was told that Bob wanted me to have Lady under two conditions, one, I couldn’t sell her and two, I couldn’t change her name: Elhew Liebotschaner.
            Lady had learned one thing in Texas, and that was to run.  It was just before the end of her derby season before I finally was able to get her around a half hour walking course and get her qualified.  The next fall, Andy Cook showed up on the cover dog circuit with Wynot Ace, a half-Elhew/half-Guardrail bred derby, that proceeded to win the National Amateur Grouse Championship and the International Amateur Woodcock Championship.  When I saw the dog run, I knew I had found the perfect stud dog to complement Lady who was due in season towards the end of October.
            That first breeding, and the two subsequent repeat breedings, produced seven puppies.  The litter was born in the early days of January in a whelping box under the table in my office.  It was great entertainment to just sit by the whelping box and watch the puppies change each day.  For some reason there was one puppy that from the day his eyes opened seemed to bond with me more than the others.  A few of the puppies I let go at seven weeks, but this male and two of his brothers stayed around until spring arrived.  Despite promising attributes in the other two puppies, when I had to make up my mind there was no question, the puppy I called Jack (his father’s Ace and I couldn’t bring myself to have a dog named King despite watching every episode of Sergeant Preston when I was a kid) was staying with me.
            As Jack developed my hopes quietly began to climb.  When he ran in the Miss Leslie Anderson Derby Classic at nine months of age and was named runner-up he received copious ink in the American Field from the stake manager and reporter Ron Ashfield who ended his report by saying, “While Jack’s placement on this occasion was the first of his young career, the spirit and maturity that he displayed in garnering runner-up laurels bodes extremely well for an exciting future.”  It seemed it would be only a matter of time before he broke through into the elite ranks of cover dog champions.  He knocked at the door a number of times and finally broke through in early November at the Grand National which was run this year only 15 miles from home in the Kilkenny Area of the White Mountain National Forest. 
            Much of the cover in Kilkenny is past its prime and many of the courses have been re-routed to try and get the dogs into still viable bird cover.  Everything has to come into line to win at this level – you have to get the right course, at the right time of day, the weather has to cooperate, and a good bracemate helps.  And most important, when the moon and stars fall into line, you have to have the dog that will take advantage of the opportunity.  For one magical hour on the Lonesome Ridge course, Wild Apple Jack put on the show the judges had been looking for and I had been elusively trying to be a part of for around 20 years.  Most of the hour, I was able to keep my mouth shut and let Jack do what he had been born and trained to do.  He ran to the logical extent of the course with speed and style and his one grouse find was perfection with the dog staying locked high and tight until I collared him.
            My journey to owning, training, and handling a national champion has been long and hard but joyous.  Despite setbacks and frustrations along the way, I still love to watch an exciting performance whether I’m judging, reporting, just in the gallery or blowing the whistle as I was with Jack a few weeks ago.  Snakefoot was quickly retired to stud after his victory in the Shooting Dog National.  Hopefully, Jack and I still have more to accomplish and besides there are a couple of his little brothers out in the kennel who need to be brought along.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Good News and Bad

heard from George Johnson yesterday with the news that Wild Apple Jack will receive his fifth invite to the Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational to be held in April in Gladwin, Michigan.  At first I din't think I'd be able to accept due to obligations at home but Tony was thinking about going out to Michigan this spring and has agreed to run Jack at the Invitational.  Last time Tony took Jack to Michigan they won the Lakes State Grouse Championship.  One year Jack was invited he was unable to compete due to an injury he had gotten that winter in Texas (a cactus thorn got stuck into a tendon in the back of his lower front right leg).  The grounds in Michigan are a great place to show a dog and the Invitational is terrific opportunity to see some of the top competitive cover dogs in the country.  All the dogs will run the first two days April 10th and 11th and a select few will be chosen by the judges to run  again on Friday the 12th.

On the negative side of the equation, Trip had a ultrasound yesterday and the Vet could not see any puppies.  We may try again with Ovuplant in April as her normal cycle seems to be problematic making it difficult to get her pregnant.  Annie got administered Ovuplant yesterday and if it goes according to plan (one of these plans needs to workout) she should be bred in a couple of weeks and have puppies in April.  It seems like we started with Plan A and are now on Plan C.  There is also a Plan D and Plan E if we need them.