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mbrookins
09-07-2009, 01:51 PM
The Manitowoc County Kennel Club has celebrated the upcoming hunting season for the past eleven years with their Hunting Dog Expo. Held at the Club’s grounds along the Manitowoc River, this year’s Expo was something special. Not just great weather to play with retrievers, pointers, spaniels, old dogs, young dogs, and even puppies. It was special because of the return of a past champion. Pat Kalmerton and his black Labrador Retriever Taz of Elkhart Lake won the 2007 Expo championship. Pat and Taz were feverously preparing to defend their championship in 2008 when Taz was hit by a car. Taz’s injuries prevented her from competing last year. However, Pat and Taz returned to this year’s event with a vengeance tallying 42 of a possible 46 points to win the Great Lakes Hunting Dog Champion award a second time. Pat and Taz are the only handler and dog team to achieve two championships in the event’s eleven-year history.

Pat and Taz along with many other dogs and their handlers tried seven different sporting dog games. Those games were run for fun or – for the handlers with bragging rights on their mind – points that lead to the Event’s championship. The champion – Great Lakes Hunting Dog Champion – is honored by a traveling trophy in memory of the late David G. Meisner. Mr. Meisner was publisher and founder of Gun Dog magazine, The Retriever Journal, and The Pointing Dog Journal – premier publications on sporting dogs. A Reserve Champion is also recognized.

The games are organized to mimic hunting scenarios or test the dog’s ability to mark and retrieve game quickly – essentially to resemble a typical day in the field. Games go from the simplest single retrieve such as the Pheasant Run to a multiple retrieve scenario such as the Dove Shoot where a dog must complete a visible double retrieve and complete third or blind retrieve where the dog has not seen the fall. Dogs will quarter a field and flush a pheasant in the Upland Pheasant Challenge. They may make what would seem is a single water retrieve in the Wood Duck Shoot only to be surprised by a second wood duck landing in the water as they return to their handler with the first. Most handlers and their dogs who attend the event use it as a tune-up before season or as a something fun to do with their four-legged buddies. There are other contestants who take the Expo a bit more seriously.

Fond du Lac’s Jill Siebecker and her nearly eleven year old Labrador Diamond showed the youngsters how it is done accumulating the second most points on the day, 26, to take the Reserve Champion position. Jeff Druckery and Sage of Green Bay – 2008’s Great Lakes Hunting Dog Champion returned the David G. Meisner trophy and finished a very respectable third place with a total of 25 points. There were another eight dogs that finished with sanctioned points towards the championship including two fourth place finishes by the team of ten year old Faith Lubner of Reedsville and her black lab Gracie in the Pheasant Run and Pheasant Scurry.