As the representing Central Region judge for the 2020 invitational, I was asked to write a small bio. They asked me to write why I got involved with NAHRA and what NAHRA means to me, and any other items I would like to add. Those are some great things to cover. For me, and like most of you, I need to start with my first hunting dog – Maggie. A yellow lab I got from my neighbor, Hunter Burke one of my closest friends (and future NAHRA member). She was the epitome of a dog with natural talent. She found birds that other dogs couldn’t and was fearless. I barely knew how to train her, thank God she knew what to do because I sure didn’t.
As with most dog lovers know, our beloved pups get older and new generations takes their place. I found a breeder for my new pup who also was a NAHRA member and a NAHRA ambassador. That breeder turned out to be my best friend, outdoor mentor, and hunting partner Bruce Mountain. I was blessed to receive my chocolate female pup from Bruce. I named her Zoe. I wanted to train her right because, I figured if I could’ve trained old Maggie she would have been unstoppable.
I began training with Bruce, Chuck Lenze, Bob Riggs, Fritz Baier, Dean Downer, Terry Plagman, Mark Willson, Rick Bullock to name a few. The training was fun, and frustrating, but I learned so much. In the Central region, this list of training companions reads like a who’s who’s of NAHRA. Bruce would say NAHRA had the most realistic and complete hunting test, without actually hunting, to test a dog. He is right! With all our efforts old Zoe became: GMHR1 WR SHR Zoe Jane Francisco. Even my daughter Kathryn ran Zoe. I went on to train and run more Master level dogs and also began judging many years ago. I have learned so much about my own training from the “Chair”. Unfortunately, our club, the Midwest Retriever Club, had our share of loss. Chuck Lenze, Terry Plagman, and Kathy Downer, wife of Coach Dean Downer had passed away. A terrible loss for our club and ambassadors to the sport and of NAHRA.
I am judging more and love the folks from all of the Central Region clubs; Skunk River, Eastern Iowa, Mid Iowa and Four Points. I was asked to judge in Spokane, WA for their regional. All wonderful people and outdoorsmen and women. I’ve judged with the best: Keith Stroyen, Larry Dusanak, Kirk Rice, Bruce Mountain, Dan Hove, Travis Lund, Fritz Baier, Dan Tongen, Dick “O” – to name a few.
So they asked me to write about why I got involved in NAHRA and what NAHRA means to me. I look at the words and names above and I find my answers to what was asked of me. It’s the people of NAHRA and the dogs. It is my honor to be a part of the 2020 Invitational.