Thursday, April 23, 2015

Product Review- WetMutt Dog Mats

I've tried them all.  Hay, straw, rubber mats, wood, pine shavings, cedar shavings, dog beds with foam and without foam.  After a week or so on the road, none of them are completely acceptable.  For an occasional jaunt to the prairie for a few days on ditch chickens, almost anything will do, but my two to three week expeditions left me looking for a truly comfortable dog bed. I heard about a new dog bed, while pontificating around the back of the truck during a field trial this year.  "Wetmutt", someone said.  Visions of muddy, wet bird dogs jumping in the box after hours of busting rooters in North Dakota, or chasing Ruffs in Minnesota came to mind.  "They are a new kind of dog bed", they said, "They are comfortable, keep the dog dry, absorb the bumps and shakes of dog box travel and the dogs don't like to chew them!", they said.  "Right", I thought.  How many times have I heard that before.  I now own 8 of the beds, of various sizes.  My dogs (Brits) prefer them to any thing else.  They are soft and easy to clean.  The holes allow any residual water to drain through, so the dog isn't lying in water.  It also keeps him dry, if you were to have a dog that really needed to urinate.  They are super easy to clean- I just hose them off- and I've had no problem with odor over the course of a long trip.  I have one chewer in the group and, so far, he's left it alone.  I did see a few bite marks on one corner, but he'll tear up any fabric I put in his crate or kennel, normally.  I use the Ruff Tough Intermediate kennels in my truck and the WetMutts fit perfectly!

I use the DogDen2 insulated dog house in my kennels at home and the larger mat fits OK.  It is perhaps an inch too large, but I push down the edges and let them curl up just a little.  After I got my first kennel mat, I watched Ruby, the Queen Bee, choose her box for the night.  Only one kennel had a WetMutt mat in it.  She would get there before any of the other dogs and make them sort out the other kennels.  She preferred the Wetmutt mat. 

These mats aren't cheap.  They are $50-$60, depending on size.  The good thing is they last- at least mine have- longer than anything else I've tried.  When I take them out and wash and sanitize them, they look as good as the day I bought them.

These are most definitely a BUY! 

(As usual, I'm not endorsed by WetMutt and they haven't given my a thing.) 

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Georgia Region NSTRA Championships

2015 Georgia Region Championships
4-Star Plantation, Elberton, GA
March 27-29, 2015

Spring in the South can be hot.  We were a little concerned when the temps started climbing a week before our Regional in N. Georgia.  Trialing is fun- less so when the temps are in the 80’s!  But, we needn't have worried, the rain showed up followed by a tremendous cold front and morning temps in the 20’s!  The sun was bright and the breeze was perfect under clear skies for the entire three days of the trial. 

All of us.  GA Region NSTRA

Friday, we ran a normal trial.  That enabled us to get acquainted with the fields (more so for the dogs, since many had never been on these fields).  The points, of course, and the placements did not count towards the upcoming Regional Saturday and Sunday, but carried forward to next year.  A Field placements were:  1. Randy Schultz/Cap, 2.Keith Howard/Frank, 3.Randy Schultz/Ruby, and 4.Ken Buck/Chance.  B Field placements were: 1. Jeff Keck/Trim, 2. Brandon Pritchett/Taz, 3.Randy Schultz/Cap, and 4. Randy Schultz/Ruby.  (Randy had a good day!)  Judges J.W. Collins, Brad Mitchell, Bodie Ray and Walt Sanderson, Bird Planter Casey Roberts and Field Marshal Stan Perdue kept us on the straight and narrow. 

Going in to Saturday morning, the dogs were ready and the handlers were nervous.  The fields were huge and both had cutouts, ponds, tree lines and fingers extending in to the woods.  36 dogs qualified for the Regional this year and we elected to run 18 braces Saturday with a cut to 16 dogs carried forward to Sunday.  At the end of Saturday, Keith Howard and Frank were First, Mitch Hurst and Ace- Second, Bill Green and Brennen Green and Toothpick -Third, and Bobby Wheat and Smoke -Fourth. 

Saturday night we held our region banquet in the 4-Star Plantation clubhouse.  After a dinner of “steak the way you like it” and all the fixings, we got down to some serious business with our elections and awards.  Apparently, we found some suckers…, volunteers, to run for President and the other officers.  Ballots were counted and the new Georgia Region Officers are: President Gene Pritchett, Vice President Jeff Keck, and Treasurer Brenda Keck.  The two elected Directors-at- Large are David Healan and Bodie Ray. 

The Awards for the last season were handed out by Brenda Keck, as Mistress of Ceremonies.  The Rookie of the Year went to Gerald Pannell.  Gerald stepped in and took over our website and has a fine dog to compete with, as well.  The Most Improved Dog Award went to Flatland’s Sir Brennan (Toothpick) owned by Brennan Green and handled by his father, Bill Green.  This pointer is a force on the move!  Sportsman of the Year was awarded to Dan Miles.  His little Brit, Ty, kept us all looking over our shoulders.  Dan is a new guy who’s made a big impact with us.  Whether he comes off the field with 5 or 0, he’s happy to be there and is always ready to lend a helping hand.  The Judge of the Year went to Stan Perdue.  An eagle eye and a sharp pencil kept us all in line! The Scott Clark Award for all-round super attitude was awarded to Gary Garrett for his work at his grounds and striving to make his place a National Class venue in Ball Ground, GA.  The first-ever Service Award went to Angela Healan for her 20+ years of handling the checkbook and statistics of the Region!  No small feat and she did it consistently well! High Point Dog was awarded to Jeff Keck and Trim.   Despite sickness and injury and an inability to make every trial, Jeff and Trim managed to surge to the lead in the last trial of the season!  High Point Female went to Randy Schultz and Ruby, who took it home the last trial weekend, as well. 

Sunday morning the temp was 26 degrees.  Camper heaters were running and it really felt like a day to trial! Judges J.W. Collins and Brad Mitchell took us through the entire day.   Their calls were fair, consistent and non-partial.  And, I’m here to tell you they used the entire scoring scale….just sayin’.  It was a pleasure to have them down to judge us.  Field Marshals Bodie Ray and Stan Perdue kept the trial moving.  They handled a tie for 4th and 5th place, extra birds and 15 min braces, late handlers, back to back runs and all the other minutiae involved in a Region Trial.   And, they did it in fine fashion!  Casey Roberts continued to outfox us with his bird planting skills and we appreciate his dedication.  Two more cuts later, the Final Hour competitors were Jeff Keck and Trim (Setter/Male) and Randy Schultz and Cap (Brit/Male).  They released at the line, and for an hour the gallery had no idea who was ahead, behind or more tired!  Randy didn’t want to waste time heading for the cutout and jumped the 4-board fence, twice.  Jeff and Trim worked like it was a day in the park, methodically and with class.  (Jeff did not give the old man any slack, whereupon Randy called AARP and appealed for help and an ATV- denied!)  At the end, Jeff and Trim came off the field victorious and not only captured the Georgia Region High Point Dog Award the previous night, but the #1 Dog in Georgia that day!  2nd was Randy Schultz and Cap, 3rd Gary Drinnen and Ziggy, 4th was Jeff Welker and Aunt B (to the tune of the Andy Griffith Show), 5th was Keith Howard and Frank, 6th was Randy Schultz and Ruby.

GA Region Champion Jeff Keck and Trim (l to r)
1st Runner Up Randy Schultz and Cap
2nd Runner Up Gary Drinnen and Ziggy
3rd Runner Up Jeff Welker and Aunt B 

Congratulations to Jeff Keck and his fine setter, Trim!  2015 Georgia Region Champions!  See you in the blind! 

(l to r) 1st Runner Up Cap
GA Region Champion Trim