ABC National Gun Dog Championships
A National Gun Dog Championship Stake appealed to many club members who were participating in the ABC Gun Dog Classic as well as regional gun dog stakes during the late 70's and early 80's. With increased interest in walking gun dog stakes and retrieving in the east and west coast clubs, it appeared that some efforts should be made to make a championship stake a reality. These efforts were spearheaded by the Nebraska Brittany Club. During this period of time, the AKC held steadfast to opposing the licensing of an ABC Gun Dog Championship Stake which would be an addition to the already recognized National Championship and National Amateur Championship. The following is a brief sequence of events and highlights leading up to the first running of the Championship in the spring of 1985 and the running of 1986.
At the 1983 Board of Directors meeting, a motion was made that the ABC apply to AKC for permission to have a National Gun Dog Championship Stake and that the president of ABC draft recommendations to the AKC to be guided by four proposals from the Nebraska Brittany Club. The formal application did not change AKC's opposing position. A National Gun Dog Championship Committee was appointed by the president to develop viable plans and guidelines to implement an ABC National Gun Dog Championship as soon as possible.
The Board meeting in 1984 brought on more involvement and specifics. The National Gun Dog Championship Committee Chairman presented for approval a proposed hand-crafted set of guidelines consisting of sanctioning by ABC, a site, retrieving stakes, fees, trophies, qualifications, etc., for a National caliber stake. The guidelines were approved. The Board approved the Nebraska Brittany Club to hold the first championship event in the spring of 1985. The championship was billed as a one hour Walking Open Limited Gun Dog Stake run under the Rules and Procedure of the American Kennel Club with the winner to be recognized by the American Brittany Club as the ABC National Gun Dog Champion for 1985.
The inaugural running of the championship was held at the Branched Oak Reservoir Field Trial Grounds near Raymond, Nebraska, on May 8 & 9, 1985. Twenty-eight dogs from fourteen states and one from Canada were entered. Twenty-seven completed the one hour walking stake under moderate to hot weather conditions. Overall bird contact was exceptionally high. The grounds were in good condition for hunting. A permanent rotating trophy was donated by Charlie and Marge Ayres of Ramons, CA. They also donated a keeper trophy. The always full gallery wagon added spice and interest during the running. The clubhouse comforts and environment added to the enjoyment of all.
At the 1985 Board of Directors meeting, the Nebraska Club was approved to be host of the 1986 National Gun Dog Championship. This approval was based on a change in procedure wherein the host club provided two judge's marshal's who would serve as bird spotters as well as perform limited scouting when directed by a judge. In addition, qualifications for the championship to coincide with Chapter 17, Section 2 of the AKC Standard Rules and Procedures covering a Limited Gun Dog Stake were approved.
The first National Gun Dog Championship was run on May 3-4, 1986. All activities and accommodations were the same as in 1985. There were twenty entries, considerably less than in 1985. However, a quality stake prevailed. Bird contact exceeded all expectations. The winner, Bernie V, CD, owned and handled by B. Zamora, pointed birds eleven times with good manners and his retrieve was flawless.
The 1986 Board of Directors approved the Championship Committee's suggestion that the rotation plan previously set forth be implemented. The ensuing years found the Gun Dog Nationals being held in Michigan, Kentucky, Nevada, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska.
At the 1995 Board of Directors meeting, it was voted to amend the By-Laws to create a 4th Vice President to be responsible for the ABC Gun Dog Nationals. At the same time the Board voted to approach the Michigan group for the purpose of making the Ionia site the permanent home of this event. Both the amendment and request were approved and in 1996 the Gun Dog Nationals returned to Ionia under the direction of the new 4th Vice President. The 2000 event was the largest ever held with a record entry of 104.
At the 2000 Board of Directors meeting, it was voted to split the Gun Dog Nationals to an Open Gun Dog National which would be horseback handled and a Amateur Gun Dog National which would be foot handled. New qualifications for the stakes were submitted and approved by AKC. The inaugural running occurred the end of April, beginning of May, 2002 with 46 entries in the Open and 36 entries in the Amateur. 22 dogs were double entered.
In 2003 it was voted to split the Open and Amateur stakes with the Open in the spring and the Amateur the end of October. In 2005, it was voted to move the Open to the end of October to run with the Amateur.
At the 2017 Board of Directors meeting, it was voted to ask AKC for the creation of two additional National Gun Dog titles, so that ABC could host two foot handled Gun Dog National stakes and two horseback handled Gun Dog National stakes. The two additional National Walking Gun Dog titles & stakes were approved by AKC in December 2018.
At the 2018 Board of Directors meeting, it was voted to run the two foot handled National Gun Dog stakes at Ionia, MI and to run the two horseback handled National Gun Dog stakes at Booneville, AR following the ABC National All Age Championships. These 4 National Gun Dog stakes will be listed as the ABC National Gun Dog Championship, ABC National Amateur Gun Dog Championship, ABC National Walking Gun Dog Championship, and ABC National Amateur Walking Gun Dog Championship.
In the Open, there have been several two-time winners of this event: Jessen's Lit'l Dab of Dude (1987, 1988), Magnum's Masked Man (1990, 1991), Winchester of Hanging Jaze (1995, 1999), JDZ Roc's Ardent Boomer (1996, 1997), Hit's All Jack'd Up (2011, 2012) and High Hopes Dark Nite (2013, 2014). In the Amateur, since it's inception in 2002, there have been two two-time winners of this event: Callistar del Prado (2003, 2004), Clyde's Double Trouble (2005, 2007), and Hopes Chief Of Crosscreek (2015, 2018). There have been several dogs to win both the Open & Amateur event: Peter Gun and High Hopes Dark Nite.