Back to our roots: Westminster Hunting Test a rousing success again!
The spectacular rolling hills of Tamarack Game Preserve in New York's Dutchess County, beautiful blue skies, incredible views of the Berkshires in the distance, and a cooling breeze provided all the ingredients for largest entry ever for the Westminster Kennel Club's 5th Annual Hunting Test on September 23, 2012.
With 30 dogs and a full parking lot, Hunting Test Chairman Dr. Steven M. Bedford and his committee welcomed the canine and human competitors, as well as Doug Ljundgren, vice president of AKC Performance Events. The day included a lunch provided by the club on the grounds.
The tests went off smoothly under Judges Janet McMillan Zwirko and Jim Dwyer (Master/Senior Hunting), and Jim MacWalter and David Margolin (Junior Hunting). And when the day was done, 12 of the entries had earned qualifying scores - three Master Hunters, one Senior Hunter, and eight Junior Hunters.
"Our Founding Fathers should have been here," said Dr. Bedford. "This is exactly what they had envisioned when they created this club in 1877 - great dogs, wonderful camaraderie, and a spectacular setting. It just doesn't get any better than this."
While the world knows Westminster for its famous all breed dog show held every year since 1877 at Madison Square Garden, The Westminster Kennel Club was in fact the first (2007) and is still the only all breed kennel club to hold an American Kennel Club licensed hunting test for pointing breeds. This was its annual return to its sporting dog roots.
The Westminster Kennel Club was begun back in the mid-1870's as a gentlemen's sporting club, with its primary activity being bird hunting, primarily with pointing breeds.
Beginning in the late 1800s, Westminster gradually began to shift its focus a bit to that of the dog show ring. But the original intent of the club's forefathers remained firmly evident: protect and promote the purebred dog and its abilities to do what it was bred to do.
A hundred years later, in 1986, the American Kennel Club created a hunting test and Westminster hosted the first demonstration in Pine Plains, NY.
The February 1987 issue of Town & Country reported it thusly: "Top pointers, spaniels and retrievers were sent afield under the whistles of amateur handlers, while about 800 members of the bird dog fraternity from across the country stood staunchly on the rolling hillsides to honor the AKC's new, noncompetitive program for judging a dog's steadiness to wing and shot."
Many specialty clubs have staged hunting tests since then, but up until September of 2008, no all breed club had done so. It was appropriate that the Westminster Kennel Club, the country's oldest organization dedicated to the sport of purebred dogs, would do the honors and open the way for other all breed clubs to follow.
Entries: 30. Judges: Janet McMillan Zwirko, Holyoke, MA and Jim Dwyer, Manhasset, NY, Master/Senior Hunting; Jim MacWalter, Pembroke, MA and David Margolin, Brookfield, CT, Junior Hunting.
MASTER HUNTER: Brlynns Adiamo Monti, MH, Vizsla, owned by Dave Margolin and Linda and Fred Hachtel, handled by Dave Margolin; Bajos Teddy Redboy, Vizsla, owned by Lance and Susan Morrow, handled by John Boyles; Zarya's H. Lee Mockin' Bird, Vizsla, owned by Nancy Lang, handled by John Boyles.
SENIOR HUNTER: Chocolate Feather's Pretty Pie, JH, German Shorthaired Pointer, owned and handled by Kenneth Lynch.
JUNIOR HUNTER: Allde's Enchanting Rendezvous, Vizsla, owned and handled by Dee Chuisano; Anderson's Jet Stream, Vizsla, owned by Nancy Anderson and Michael Anderson, handled by Nancy Anderson; Sureshot's It's A Jungle Out There, German Wirehaired Pointer, owned by Bernee Brawn, handled by Steve Kreuser; Bran Linn Braxfield Xpert Advice, Gordon Setter, owned by Nikki Maounis, Candice and Jerold Bell DVM, handled by Laura Bedford; Anderson's Venus De Dorratz, Vizsla, owned by Nancy and Chet Anderson, handled by Nancy Anderson; Skara Brae's Trinity Can't Wait, Gordon Setter, owned by Jeffrey, Jessica, Alexandria and Patricia Martin, handled by Jeffrey Martin; Ch. Cookieland's It's No Mystery, Pointer, owned Cheryl and Richard Buchanan, handled by Cheryl Buchanan; Ch Shadagee Miss Demeanor, Irish Setter, owned by Nancy Conner, Debbie Burke, Adam Bernardin, Jamie Donelson-Bernardin, handled by Bobbi Engwiller.