This area is to recognize the amazing accomplishments of some of our clubs most outstanding dogs. To earn membership in the Hall of Fame, a dog must complete an advanced title (HRCH or MH) and have earned 500 HRC points or have made some extremely significant contribution to our club as voted by our Board of Directors. The dogs listed below are in order of their induction into our Hall of Fame and are great examples of what these amazing animals can do with love, patience, and training!
HALL OF FAME DOGS
Owner: Gregg Austin
UKC #: R243423
Breed: Labrador Retriever
Sire: Rev It Up Super Sport
Dam: HRCH Affordable Duck Assassin
My story begins like most others, I just wanted a duck dog. I had been waterfowl hunting for a couple of years and was tired of losing birds in the marsh. My wife was an easy sell and the only requirement was the puppy had to be a black male and that she was going to name him. I answered an ad on a duck hunting forum and the breeder and I hit it off really well so I put a deposit down on the next litter. I received a call from Dustin and the litter was small, only four pups and just one black male. Ruger was predestined to be my hunting partner. With all my questions on training, one of the first things Dustin mentioned was to join a local HRC club. Thanks to a responsible breeder we found our way to HRC.
One of the first club training nights I attended and saw what some of the dogs were doing. I knew right then I wanted more than a duck dog. I started asking a lot more questions and finding material to study and soaking everything I could to learn how to build a retriever. I learned quickly if Ruger and I were going to get to a finished level we had to be committed. Ruger doesn't come from a sexy pedigree, didn't come from an established breeding program, he's not real flashy, loses focus sometimes, can be stubborn as a mule but to be perfectly honest, he was the right dog to be my first retriever. He never once got mad at me for making mistakes. He was always patient as we learned new drills. At the end of the day he really does all what he does to please me and I wouldn't have it any other way. It was a bumpy road through transition and we failed more seasoned tests than I'd like to admit. The most rewarding aspect of being a member of a club is that there are so many folks looking to help and encourage you to keep grinding.
Finally, we got over the hump and on to finished. Our first test we earned a pass, although it wasn't pretty. We were in a flight with pretty experienced handlers of the likes of Stuart Garland and Chad Bartels, whom I knew to have had success at the Grand. Our first time honoring and we are honoring for Chad's dog Gauge who was running for his 1500th point and here we are trying to earn the first 15. A good friend of mine and Lawrie's, Tim Bach was judging and gave me a big bear hug at the ribbon ceremony and generously announced how nervous I was that when I stood up the bucket was still attached. I can't thank everyone enough that ran that flight that weekend for encouraging Ruger and I because on Sunday we smashed the test. The confidence built on that Sunday run and our training routine we ended up clicking off another nine finished passes in a row.
Ruger really found his game when we started training for upland. He naturally quarters and you can tell he enjoys himself. It also gave us the opportunity to run at some different clubs as we found ourselves in Canada a couple different times. One of my favorite memories we were running at Central Kentucky HRC, he was about forty yards out in front of me when he flushed the bird and he locked up when he heard the whistle. The gunner made a perfect shot and as i watched Ruger mark the fall, it appeared to me he was smiling, waiting for his name to be called.
I obviously have to thank the Great Lakes HRC club for helping me achieve this accomplishment. Joining the club, along with the Kalamazoo Valley HRC, I had the chance to rain on incredible grounds through training days and fun hunts to build a champion. Picking up a puppy and becoming members has allowed my wife Lawrie and I to meet and make wonderful friends. Our hunt test family is a blessing and the common denominator are these amazing retrievers that steal our hearts. I do need to mention two people in particular that helped me believe in myself and helped me through the ups and downs. I will always be grateful to Craig Corcoran and Ryan Pasman for the secrets they shared and never being afraid to give me some constructive criticism when I needed it. I always soaked in what they had to share.
In closing, I'm humbled, grateful, and honored for Ruger to be accepted into the Great Lakes HOF. Thank you again for the opportunity to share our story.
Owner: Patti Doane
Breed: Labrador Retriever
Sire: Hammer Time IX
Dam: Nick of Time Little Nikki
I chose Hannah from a local breeder (yes, I imagine I drove him crazy with my visiting). I decided I wanted to run HRC Hunt tests and Tim told me I needed to get my own dog. We decided to get a female from outside of our Kennel hoping she would prove herself and would be able to be in our breeding program.
I sure choose a beautiful talented girl that did whatever I asked. There were many tests that she just did the right thing. She took me all the way to the Grand with her. A little luck was on our side as well and we were able to earn her Grand Title when she was very young. She could run a blind with the best of them for sure. Running master tests with her might have been the most fun as she loves her fliers! We even earned a couple of green ribbons running Q’s. I love those ribbons as much as if they were a “color”.
There are many training days I vividly remember her being such a bumper snob. She was a real bird girl for sure. I can still hear Tim saying “go get your Grand dog” to run the set up. So many times she “Rose-inated” his test and knew it as she had by that high step she had coming in on her last bird, seeing me smile.
As much as we trained retrieving, Upland is her game. She is not that quiet stoic girl while running upland. She actually turned into an unruly dog at times. This has to make you smile if you know how slow (I like to call it methodical) she can be when retrieving. I am thinking no one ever thought she was stylish at a regular test, but in upland, oh yes.
We had some really nice hunts together with friends when she had her turn going hunting. Some of those days I was convinced she thought real hunting was running around while we set up, take a nap in the hide a pooch, then run around while we picked up. She was on some pretty boring ones and a few great ones!
With all that being said, Hannah has given us many, many talented pups. She was such a great Mama and I used to joke she was going to lick the hair right off them babies. I am lucky to have one of her pups, Rosie that I got to keep. I am wishing I could have kept more than one. She had the cuddliest pups ever. It is awesome to see and hear about all of them.
Hannah holds the most special place in my heart and always will. We have learned and Loved so much together.
Thank you so much for the opportunity for Hannah to be honored in the Great Lakes Hall of Fame.
Owner: Tim Doane
UKC #: R215-773
Sire: FC NAFC Cody Cut A Lean Grade
Dam: Home Runs To Hot To Trot
Stella is a product of our very first breeding here at Kingseed Kennels. As a puppy she was one of the happiest animals on the planet, as a 10 year old she remains one of the happiest animals on the planet. She has always loved life and especially her work. She bounces everywhere she goes still to this day and her puppies do the same.
Stella was good at a very young age and stayed consistent all through her competitive career. In the HRC program she is a 500 point dog that earned her GRHRCH title by passing 2 out of 3 International Grand’s. The one Grand she failed is the only HRC test she ever failed.
Her AKC work was equally impressive. She earned derby points and won a derby. We ran her in four Quals and she won two of them. Stella ran a handful of opens and finished two of them and was one bird away from something special in both. Her AKC hunt test record is almost perfect with only one master fail. Stella passed all four Master National’s that she participated in and is now considered MNH4 and in the Master National Hall of Fame.
Stella has been part of our breeding program and has produced some very nice offspring. Only a few of her pups made it to hunt test homes but she has one pup that is a GRHRCH, a few HRCH’ a few and a few MH offspring as well. Stella has also produced one Derby list, QAA, AFC dog and two other QAA Derby list dogs as well.
As impressive as all that sounds it pales in comparison to what she has added to our live as a part of our family. She was one of the dogs that got us started in the dog games and not only helped us build our business but also introduced us to many of the people that are now our dear friends. For that we will forever be grateful.
Thanks Stelly for being a great dog and such a big part of our lives.
When I drove to Kentucky to get my new puppy, all I could think about was how I could not make the trip two weeks earlier and had told the breeder I would forgo my picking order and take the last remaining male. I had not met the Sire or Dam and had decided to buy this pup from Kim Moses by recommendation of a good friend. I had talked myself into the idea that if, after seeing the parents and watching the sire work, I saw something I didn't like, I would pass on this pup and leave my deposit for a future litter.
When I pulled in, Kim was just coming out of the house with the pup that was left and was to be mine. After some brief small talk, I was just about to tell her how before committing to this pup, I wanted to meet the parents. That's when she told me how nobody wanted this male because he had a funny looking coat and was a bit smaller than the rest. If you know me, you know I have a real soft spot for "the one nobody wanted." It goes back to picking teams on the schoolyard as a child, to coaching youth sports as an adult - I just can't help myself. Once I heard the words, "Nobody wanted him," the decision was made - he was mine.
So, off I went with my ugly little puppy that I named Ely. I had never trained a retriever and wanted to do as good a job as I could so my new duck hunting buddies would not roast me every time the dog and I did something stupid. I dove into all the training material I could get my hands on and we worked twice a day, every day. I was having so much fun and the little guy was doing really good.
When Ely was five months old, I was looking for some help with the whole dog training thing and went to the GLHRC Upland Hunt in Fennville, MI. My goal was to meet some people and see what HRC was all about. What happened was I saw what was going on and said, "My dog can do that." I then proceeded to pester Sue Luter until she found a spot for Ely to run. It took some doing, but once she realized I wasn't going away, she worked us in. Our first ever hunt test, he was five months old and I had no clue. Ely got his first hunt test pass that day and I gained a serious addiction!
One goal was met, however, as I did get an invite to go train with Steve Eidson and Bret Vandenbil. These guys were awesome and taught me so much. From there, Ely flew through the HRC program, earning his HRCH title at 21 months of age. He only failed one test. It was a Finished test that he was really doing a nice job on when he decided to bring the diversion bird back along with the blind. He's very good at carrying two birds at once.
Wanting to see just how good a dog I had, we decided to go run the Grand. Talk about intimidating! I had run just five Finished tests and one Upland and there we were, along side guys like Ronnie Lee, Chris Akin, Charlie Jurney, Scott Greer, Bill Autry, along with other great dog trainers I had studied! Ely was awesome and I was scared to death. At 24 months old, Ely passed the Grand. There was only one dog younger than him to pass that test. Ely put on another great performance at the Fall Grand in Tennessee to earn his GRHRCH.
Ely has passed 22 out of 23 Finished tests and 4 of 4 for his UH title. Ely has also passed 12 straight Master tests and both of the Master Nationals we ran. When we decided to try the white coat game, I entered Ely in the Qualifying stake. It was a first for both of us. We left that weekend with a blue ribbon. No matter how many times I changed the game on him, he just got it done. As good as Ely is at the Hunt Test game, he is really in his element when we go hunting. I have had the privilege of going to Canada to hunt waterfowl for the last few years and that has given my boy over a thousand retrieves in a hunting situation. It's just amazing to me how much better they get when they get the chance to work like that. My buddies can recount a hunt with great detail, painting a word picture that will have you feeling like you are there with them. They look at me and ask, "Remember that?" Most times, I don't, but I can remember certain retrieves like they happened ten seconds ago even though they happened years ago.
Ely is the dog of a lifetime, at least as far as I am concerned. He is always willing to do what I ask of him. He goes about his work with extreme passion. It has been such a privilege to stand by his side for the last five years. I owe him so much, yet he only asks for my love and a chance to go to work each day. When we think of what a dog means to us, we often think of the present. I'm sure I don't totally realize, yet, just how much of an impact Ely has had on my life. I do realize that my life is already much better because of him. I have made so many good friends the last five years. I have learned so much. My family now enjoys the dog training as much as I do. My wife and I spend our free time messing around with dogs. There are people all around the country that have Ely pups that send emails and pictures and tell us how they are experiencing the same life change. All because I came home with an ugly little puppy nobody wanted.
There is no way I can give Ely the thanks he deserves. I do thank you guys for giving me the chance to write this and for honoring my dog in the GLHRC Hall of Fame.
Tim and Patti Doane
I purchased Major from Tim Post at Moon River Kennels in Iowa as an eight week old pup. Those of you that knew Major will be surprised to learn that Major was not one of those precocious puppies. In fact, he was quite lazy and showed little desire to retrieve. I actually offered him to a friend for $1.00 but got turned down. When he turned six months of age, however, it was like someone had tuned a switch on and Major became the dog many of you remember him as.
He was a joy to train and learned as fast as I could teach him. I remember my training partners straining their brains to try to think up marks that Major couldn't do......usually in vain. Major flew through Started and Seasoned earning his HR by completing a difficult Finished test that several very accomplished dogs failed. His style was a bit on the wild side and, to those that didn't know him, he always appeared to be "on the edge" of out of control. He was a pin point natural marker and ran lines and handled equally well. Lining or "one whistling" the blind became his trademark.
Major became a Hunting Retriever Champion at two years of age and went on to earn his 510th point at age seven despite missing two full seasons with injuries (Did I mention that he was a reckless dog?). Major ran forty hunt tests in his career, passing 36 of them. He was a Champion in every sense of the word and God truly blessed me by letting me stand by his side for so many years. Rest easy, "Big Guy," and I'll meet you at the bridge.
Owner: Rick Russell
UKC #: R121-421
Breed: Golden Retriever
Sire: HRCH Sir Charlie II
Dam: HR Solid Gold Tequila Sunrise
Hunter came to Kim and I via Solid Gold Golden Retrievers in Big Spring, Texas. Claudene Christopher is the owner and has a reputation for producing quality field bred Goldens. She is also the Administrative Secretary for HRC National and the sole reason I became involved in HRC. I would’ve never dreamed Hunter and I could have a career in the hunt test game together. She encouraged me to run my first Started test, when all I really wanted was a good hunting companion. I was truly blessed to have a dog like Hunter to enter into the hunt test game with. He has all the tools anyone could ask for in a hunting companion. Whether it’s chasing Pheasants in Iowa, Ruffed Grouse in Northern Michigan or retrieving waterfowl in fields or marshes you can always count on his ability to make the hunt better.
Hunter had earned his HR title by the age of 2 years and his HRCH, UH and WCX titles by the age of 3. During that time frame he also had to overcome several injuries, 2 of which required surgery causing some lengthy downtime. Every time he would bounce and continue his reckless ways! After reaching the goals that in the beginning seemed so far away, we went an entire season running only a couple tests. Then sometime over the long winter break it was suggested to me I should run him for the 500 point club. It almost seemed crazy at first, but come Spring I had entered a handful of test and the journey had begun.
Over the course of the next 2 years Hunter had compiled enough points to become only the 10th Golden to reach the 500 point mark at that time. Anyone having set out to run the amount of test it takes to earn enough points to reach a goal like this knows what dedication it takes. You have to train hard and be on the road every weekend sacrificing many other events taking place. It’s a special feeling and a great reward to reach this milestone and to give Hunter a much deserved place in UKC history.
Riley is now a member of the prestigious 1500 Point Club!
It was through HRC that we came to have Riley. We had seen his dam, HRCH Honey Run Bonnie running in a number of finished tests and had always been impressed with how well she ran, and always thought that if her owner, John Martinelli ,(High Flyers HRC) ever bred her, we would be interested in a pup. That came to pass in May of 1999, just at the time we were looking for a puppy.
Riley came into our home acting like he owned the place, much to the dismay of Sundance, the real master of the house. A few weeks after he came home with us, he suffered a diaphragmatic hernia while chasing Sundance, nearly ending his career and life right then. With expert surgical care and recovery, we were finally able to begin his training and his hunt test career. Janet was his full time trainer and handler through seasoned, and prepared him to run finished tests as well. Riley showed a great love of the hunt test game on the first weekend that he ran a test. After his first series, he was either peeking under the holding blinds, or simply knocking them over to see what was going on. He usually went to the line in his started tests on two legs, dragging Janet behind him. He has always been a very happy worker, often thumping the bucket with his wagging tail waiting for the birds to be thrown.
Once Riley began running finished tests, he became a very steady performer, passing the majority of his tests, and not being that far off in the ones that he failed. A long campaign, running as many tests as he has, usually creates its share of test related problems, and Riley was no exception to that. The great thing about HRC, is that the more experienced trainers are always willing to share their knowledge to help all of us with those problems. It was with the help of many people scattered throughout the Midwest that we were able to deal with these problems as they arose, and to keep on running tests successfully. He earned his HRCH title in August of 2002, reached the 500 point club in April of 2005, and the 1000 point club in August of 2006. These are things that we never dreamed were possible when we started this game.
Riley hunts ducks and geese here and in Saskatchewan, and travels to Iowa every year for pheasant hunting. He also hunts grouse and woodcock at home, if there are any to be found. He brings the same enthusiasm to his hunting that he does to every hunt test. Riley’s success is the result of many things: His innate ability and desire; The training that Janet gave him from the start; the attitude he brings to the line and his training every day; the help that we have had from many Great Lakes members at the fun hunts, and the tips we have picked up from the best minds in HRC, both pro and amateur along the hunt test trail. There are many who have stood there at the line with us to dissect the tests, formulate strategy, commiserate when things didn’t go as planned, and provide the inspiration to pursue the goal of 1000 points. Without the help and support of the club and a lot of HRC people across the country, none of this would have been possible.
It was the Christmas of 1997 when my wife Nancy and I received a paper scroll from my godchild Karen Walker and her former husband Kevin. I removed the gold ribbon from the scroll and it read, “ This entitles Cliff and Nancy Venticinque to pick of the litter out of Walker’s Duncan Duck Darling and Fredricks’ Molly By Golly?" Our intention was to pick one of the two chocolate females from the litter. Then, in January of 1998 a feisty, little black, female, runt of the litter caught my eye. Nancy held the puppy in her arms and asked her if she wanted to go home with us, that little runt looked up at her and as if to say yes, “squeaked”, as only a puppy can and our choice was made.
I knew nothing about training retrievers and most of Abbey’s early training was done on our trips to Holland, Michigan, training with Kevin, Karen and their son Brian who had a male puppy Brodie from the same litter. We would take our assignments home and work on them until the next trip. Kevin recommended we join the St. Clair Flats Hunting Retriever Club that was located in our area and was holding their Spring Hunt Test at Timberwolfe Campgrounds. It was snowing that April day when Nancy, 2 month old Abbey and I arrived at Timberwolfe where I met the President of SCFHRC Don Williams. He invited us to their May meeting and we joined the club.
We were fortunate that Don had a female lab “Smoke” the same age as Abbey and he invited us to train with him. We trained almost every day and whatever Abbey and I have accomplished is due in great part to Don. I think Don always knew that Abbey would be a champion and only doubted if I could become the trainer and handler capable of getting her there. Abbey was 2 years old when she earned her HRCH in Arkansas at Hurricane Lake HRC. I think Don was almost as proud as Nancy and I.
Our next accomplishment was extra special when my training and Hunt Test traveling friend Steve Pittiglio and his dog UH HRCH Patton, Abbey’s half brother, earned entry into HRC’s 500 point Club together. Extra special because Abbey’s 500th point came at Great Lakes HRC, Duncan & Molly’s home club, with Steve as handler.
There are so many HRC clubs and individuals that have played an important part in our success. I would like to thank all of you and hope Abbey and I have been and will continue to be a credit to the Hunting Retriever Club for many more years.
Owner: Steve Pittiglio
UKC #: R 134-506
Breed: Labrador Retriever
Sire: HR Walker’s Duncan Duck Darling
Dam: Backwaters Belle of the Ball
Patton is a product of the Great Lakes Hunting Retriever Club. His sire, HR Walker’s Duncan Duck Darling and his Dam, Backwaters Belle of the Ball are owned by Kevin and Karen Walker who were members of the club. Patton started his first four months with Karen and Kevin. Patton would be my first retriever and I felt that with my work schedule it would be best for the Walkers to keep him and provide the attention that a new puppy requires. Kevin introduced Patton to birds, canoe rides, and water. Karen also helped with basic obedience.
At 5 ½ months of age Patton was my duck hunting buddy on Saginaw Bay and Harsen’s Island. He was even retrieving birds, bird would go down, I would drop Patton over the side of the boat, and he would return with the bird.
Wanting a good retriever for hunting is what led us to the HRC program. I am a dual member of the St. Clair Flats and Great Lakes Hunting Retriever Club. Our original goal was to put an HR title on Patton. I felt that if we could get that title, Patton would be a solid retriever for hunting. Getting that HR title seemed like it would never happen as we had disappointment after disappointment at several hunt tests. Finally, after a lot of hard work and with the help of many we reached our goal of that elusive HR title. The problem now was that we were hooked on going to hunt tests. So, we began our journey looking to add the CH to the HR. Once again we had disappointment after disappointment. We kept on training and we began to participate in club fun hunts. The fun hunts put on by the Great Lakes Club ended up being just what we needed, and with time the handler and the dog were on the same page.
Patton and I would like to thank all the members of the St Clair Flats and Great Lakes Hunting Retriever Clubs who have helped over the years. Without that help we would have never made it so far in the HRC program. Thank you for all your support, Don Williams, Bob Legree, Cliff Venticinque, Rick Russell, John McKellop, Steve Luter, Steve Eidson, and all that I have missed because there are many.