Larry Housman, Baltimore, Maryland, Chair
Since 2006, the NAHRA Invitational has been either the highlight or the lowlight of my year.
I’ve passed a bunch of them, and I’ve failed a bunch of them, and pass or fail, the challenge and camaraderie are what keep Vik and me coming back year after year. I count as friends people from all across the country that I otherwise would never have met. I first became aquainted with Judge Harry Williams in Colorado in 2006 when we both wanted to use the only dryer in the hotel at the same time – I don’t remember who won but we’ve been friends ever since. I first met Judge Dick Ofstedal at the 2008 event in Minnesota when he was kind enough to direct me to the only training grounds on which I have had my decoys trampled by cows and lost one of my boots when a very fresh pile of cow flop sucked it right off my foot. He claims to this day that he didn’t know about the cows but I’ve never believed him. Some of my fondest memories are of the training groups we’ve put together in the days leading up to the event, as we get used to the venue and try to figure out what the judges might do so we can train for it – we’re usually wrong, but it’s fun trying.
Our committee members have collectively attended a total of over 50 prior Invitationals, as well as judged two others. We are working very hard to use that experience to make this event one to remember, and I am confident that you will have a great week with us in Virginia next June.
Victoria Pepper, Baltimore, Maryland, Secretary
Jim Hundemer, LaPlata, Maryland, Gun Captain
I became involved with NAHRA in 2005 with my first retriever, Jager. Since then I have trained and titled two GMHRs, adopted and trained a third dog who has earned her SR and HR titles, and am now starting with my forth dog who recently earned his SR title and qualified in the Eastern Regional Started Field Test. I served as the Secretary/Treasurer for the now defunct Southern Maryland HRC for several years and am currently on the board of the Eastern Shore Retriever Club. I have had the pleasure and honor of earning 24 judging points. All of these things were possible because of those who dedicated their time, energy, and talents to making NAHRA the best training and testing program for hunting retrievers.
Paul Zurka, Maplewood, New Jersey, East Region Representative
Dogs have been a part of my life as far back as I can remember. A good number of them were couch potatoes, tennis ball and Frisbee chasers and all around best friends. In 1997, Linda and I got our first field dog, a wonderful Golden Retriever who we named Maggie.
Maggie’s breeders were into the “hunt test” and “field trial” game, which was quite foreign to us. Before we took her home, Maggie’s dad (Big Rudy) gave us a field demonstration, which consisted of a triple retriever and a blind (Wow). Needless to say, once we saw what these wonderful animals were capable of, we knew what we wanted from our Maggie, so we travelled to the breeder’s fields every chance we got and joined some of Maggie’s litter mate humans to train and eventually compete and run in field tests.
We got the bug and joined the Navesink River Hunting Retriever Club, the Garden State Golden Retriever Club and a host of other “dog clubs” in order to take advantage of the knowledge base.
Maggie was also our first “hunting dog” and the pleasure we got from watching her work a field and flush a rooster was second to none. Since then, we have had the pleasure of raising, training, competing and hunting with three more wonderful Golden Retrievers, Rye Leigh, Rudy and our newest family member, Cuz.
There will always be field dogs in our lives.
I am married to Linda Sperco and am a retired Material Program Manager…………… working with the dogs is my “new job”.
- SR Trifecta’s Jersey Girl UDX, WC (Maggie) 1997-2007
- OTCH-C ARCHX MHR Topbrass Rye With A Splash MH WCX UDX-C RA (Rye Leigh) 2007-2017
- OTCH-C WR ARCH Trifecta’s Legacy SH WC UDX-C RL3 RN (Rudy) 2007-
- Topbrass This Could Be Me (Cuz) 2016-
Roy and Diane Sheppard, Kilmarnock, Virginia, Adult Supervision
Roy and I have enjoyed all of our many years in NAHRA, in fact we went to one of the first tests in the northeast in 1987 with our first dog, Velvet. It was held by the Westchester Retriever Club, a prominent AKC field trial club whose membership included Richard Wolters, one of the founders of NAHRA. Richard Wolters was an enigmatic person. His concept of judging dogs to a standard, rather than competing against each other was fundamental to our game. He was the original, and we feel fortunate to have trained and run in tests with him.
This picture was taken at the Edmonton, Alberta Invitational with two of Velvet’s daughters, Midnite Mischief and Midnite Ryder, and her grandson, Midnite Lone Tiger. It certainly was one of our high points, as we qualified all three.
Over the years we have met such wonderful people all over the U.S. at NAHRA events. We still feel it’s the best game in town. Good luck to everyone. Enjoy!!
Terry Jordan, LaPlata, Maryland, Logistics Goddess
Hi, this is Terry Jordan. I have been a NAHRA member since 2013. During that time I have dried numerous ducks, worked wingers, marshalled, been “lunch lady” and titled my dog Kate in Started and Hunter (High Point Dog, Eastern Region 2015). We are currently working our way through the Intermediate stake.
I have enjoyed watching amazing dogs doing amazing things and made many friends (both human and canine). A highlight of test weekends for me has always been the banquets, where we celebrate the achievements of the handlers and dogs that qualified.
I am excited to be involved in the 2018 Invitational. The historic Eastern shore provides a unique venue for what will be a great event. Our previous tests have been enjoyed RAIN or shine. I look forward to seeing you there.
David Mellender, Nokesville, Virginia, Bird Steward
Both my father and grandfather were avid outdoorsmen and passed that heritage on to me. I got serious about retrievers and NAHRA in 2006 and ran my first Invitational in 2009 in New York with Silverbrook’s Smoke on the Water. (Smoke). Smoke went on to achieve NAHRA’s highest honor, GMHRCH, and qualified at five Invitationals. He closed out his career by winning the 2015 Maryland Gun Dog Championship on a bitterly cold December day on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
We’ve run every Invitational since that first one in 2009 except 2010 and 2017 and are working hard with young WR Stony Brook Take it to the Limit (Maxx) to be ready for this year.
It has been a labor of love to get in on the ground floor starting the Eastern Shore Retriever Club from scratch, and add a new club to NAHRA’s largest region. We’re working very hard to put on an Invitational of which the entire organization can be proud and we hope you have a successful week with us in Onancock.
Wayne Howell, Accomac, Virginia, Development Officer
In my early years most of my upland hunting experience was behind English Springer Spaniels. About 15 years ago Anne and I were watching our first field trial on TV and we were amazed as we watched a black lab being handled to a blind. Anne said ”I want to do that.” I started reading the local classified ads for puppies and shortly thereafter Anne found a puppy at Deep Run Farm in Virginia we named Ana. We reached out to a few retriever clubs in NJ and Navesink River Retrieve Club invited us to a club training day. A few months later we headed back to Deep run Farm to pick up a yellow ball of fur for me we named Hope. . So that’s how it all started
Over the years I have held executive positions with the Navesink Retriever Club, been on Hunt Test committees and obtained my judges license. I feel very fortunate to be a part of the NAHRA family and very thankful for the friendships developed and the mentoring we received while working with our dogs
I don’t have a dog in training now but I have my deposit in and am in line for a pup this coming summer and looking forward to continuing the journey