Meet Your Judges (2011)

Region 1 – Florida

Dr. James Wonnell

I was born and raised on a farm in central Indiana. High school involved mostly basketball, shop, and hunting. I got my first single barrel 16 gauge shotgun at 12 years of age. The farm and surrounding countryside offered excellent duck, pheasant and rabbit hunting.

After high school graduation I enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and spent three years on active duty achieving the rank of E-4 Sargeant and three years inactive reserve duty. I feel this and the farm years layed the ground work for my future.

In 1961 I enrolled in Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana for my pre-veterinary school classes. In 1963 I was admitted to the school of veterinary medicine program. I graduated from Purdue in 1967 and moved to Stuart, Florida. I have lived here ever since, have my own Vet Hospital and am still in active practice.

I am married and have two sons, Michael 32 and Jeffrey who is 29. Jeffrey went with me to the Master National in 2009 in Texas. My wonderful wife, Sarah is owner of Remedy Labradors and also was on the slate from Region 1 to judge the Master National several years ago, but did not judge.

I have qualified dogs for several Master national events, entered and ran dogs in five tests, 1999 was the first. I qualified three of those tests, GA, TX and VA. I have run AKC hunt tests for about eighteen years and have judged many tests, mostly being at the Master level.

The Master program events are set up to test, in my opinion, the average Master level dog. Some are far better and some are far worse. I feel a weekend test should be set so fifty percent of the field of dogs should be able to pass with all things considered. The program is established to test the abilities of a retriever against an established set of standards without tricks, competition or political interference. I feel most tests demonstrate a retrievers suitability and ability as hunting companions.

The Master National event is the super bowl for retrievers. Everything a weekend test provides, such as good use of ground cover, terrain, obstacles, bird placement along with the use of numerous decoys and good time management, the Master National provides only, with a greater degree of difficulty than the weekend hunt test, here proven Master Hunters are being tested.

A judge should display a good knowledge of hunting, have compassion, patience, know the rulebook and have a good understanding of the dog and handler team.,

Thank you for electing me to judge the 20th anniversary of the Master National, 2011. Good luck to all of you and above all else, have fun.

I know we as judges are probably not going to be your best buddies, but we are all sincere and will do the best job we can.

Region 2 – Alabama

Martha Kress

The journey began in 1998 (Really it began when I was a child growing up with animals). Our sons were out on their own, Dave and I needed an activity to do together and we had just lost a wonderful retriever because we had not done the proper training. Since we ‘always’ had retrievers it was natural to upgrade our skills. Little did we know it would change our lives and become our passion?

Today we no longer have the Labrador Retrievers we started with, but we do have six loving Labs, GMH NMHx4 Hustle MNHx5 AM/CAN MH ***(11 ½ , retired), GMH NMHx4 Pixie AM/CAN MH *** (11 ½, Retired), NMHx3 Hope AM/CAN MH *** (9), NMHx3 Faith AM/CAN MH QFTR *** (7), Powers a future achiever (3) and Warrior (the BIG puppy, 12 months). All are amateur/owner trained and handled.

“Hustle“took us to our first Master National in Thomasville, GA in 2003. Our time there was short, but we were hooked. Hustle and I went on to complete six Master National’s in a row. Dave and I and our Lab pack have eleven master plates. We have campaigned from Coast to Coast, Border to Border (and across the border) and I am happy to say we have enjoyed the hospitality and company of the good people across the USA (and Canada) and have made lasting friendships throughout.

With 8 AKC Master Nationals plus 6 CKC National Masters and all the weekend events it takes to qualify for the MN and NM, the numerous judging assignments in both Hunt and Field under my belt I have a lot of experience to offer.

I am looking forward to the coming season and this October event. October in Maryland should be great.

Being fortunate to travel extensively, I have had the honor and the pleasure of judging with Dr. James Wonnell in Thomasville, GA, David IIlias in Carnation, WA and Jim Morris in Elkton, MD. I look forward to spending time with all of the judging team in Maryland this fall.

I am excited and honored to be a part of this event. Teams with good communication, enthusiasm yet control are what I like to see. A dog with courage and desire, I highly recognize.

Train hard, qualify your teams and enjoy the Master National. I know I will. I plan to do the best possible job as one of your 2011 Judges.

Thank you for the privilege, the support and the honor, of being selected by my peers to be a part of the judging team for the 2011 Master National. I have also been honored with the privilege of judging the 2011 CKC National Master being held in BC on Vancouver Island starting in mid August.

Last but not least, a great big thanks to Dave my awesome husband, for all his encouragement and support.

Let’s make new and lasting friendships, enjoy the event and meet the challenges put before us with courage, grace and laughter in 2011!

Region 2 – Wisconsin

DuWayne Bickle

I was born and raised in southern Wisconsin and have lived my entire life enjoying the changing seasons and the bountiful hunting. I became interested in the sport when I met and became friends with my eighth grade science teacher who was involved in training Labrador retrievers for hunt tests. The more we talked the more interested I became in the sport. I began my weekly training as a “Bird Boy.” I guess you could say I’ve worked my way up from the bottom.

I became interested in judging because I felt a true feeling of dedication to the sport and I wanted to be able to offer something in return for the enjoyment I received. At the time it seemed there were too few judges to go around and it was obvious this was an area I could lend both support to the organization and a helping hand. I thoroughly enjoy watching the teamwork that is demonstrated between a handler and his/her dog. The loyalty, trust and dedication displayed are a constant reminder that they are truly “best friends.”

My most memorable experience with the sport is of the beginning of a close relationship that began when I competed in my first Master National in Glasgow, Delaware. I qualified my first Master Hunter, Sunny a yellow lab, and was invited to do some “pre-national” training several weeks before the national would be held. Due to my inexperience and being green to the sport I had never heard of this or the “early training” that followed in Delaware. Fortunately I was offered help from a key individual that was well versed in the routine of the sport and with “Big Brother’s” advice and a few key training tips the National went off without a hitch. Sunny worked her heart out picking up all the birds making it look easy like she’d done this a hundred times before. Feeling proud of what we had accomplished together I felt confident that we had finished well. To our disappointment we later learned that we were to be one of only two dogs that did not qualify in the final test.

I soon got over the disappointment of that day, as did Sunny. We may have lost out that day where the Master National is concerned, but the friendships that were created from that experience were never lost. Today I have two of the best hunting partners and friends you could ask for. Together we have logged a lot of miles, good times and memories.

My definition of an exceptional hunting dog is a dog that marks well and uses his/her head when faced with confusing or complicated situations. The dog should be controlled and handle crisply to blinds or missed marks.

Style is extremely important to me. I look for a dog that displays a high level of intensity in difficult situations. I try to set up tests that are easy to score. I place my “falls” wide enough to judge then apply my hunting experience (how the birds would get there in a real hunt), to increase the level of difficulty. I believe in the use of calls at all stations to make sure the dog sees the “mark.” Blinds should be placed so the handler can see the dog all the way to the bird.

At the completion of the Master National, my objective is to leave the handlers and the dogs believing that their abilities were challenged fairly and with the feeling that it was truly a rewarding experience for both.

Region 3 – Texas

Dorothy Ruehman

Training retrievers began as a necessity some 20 years ago during the duck hunting season, when I grew tired of my husband Michael’s chocolate Labrador “Otis” taking all of my birds to him. So, a few weekends later, I drove out to the country and returned home with a flea-infested, 5-week-old chocolate Labrador I soon named “Elle Lee.” She was my first gun dog, and thoughts of her today still bring a rush of delightful memories to mind.

Four home-schooled Labradors later, four Master Hunter titles in no-telling how many valiant attempts and five exciting Master Nationals under our belt – bestow countless hilarious stories to share about “learning experiences” acquired at the line.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Steve Hendricks and to the many other professional retriever trainers who have guided and graciously coached me in training and running our dogs.

I am a native Texan and owner of a public relations company, specializing in corporate public relations and Christian-based motivational speaking. “A few years back,” I earned a bachelors degree from TexasA&M University and masters degree from Houston Baptist University.

Since childhood, I have loved singing gospel music and in 2004 released a gospel CD. I currently am working on a second gospel CD and writing a children’s book titled “Building Champions.”

Michael and I reside in Richmond, Texas, and enjoy sneaking away every chance we get to our fishing camp on the Texas coast for saltwater wade fishing when not on the prairie hunting waterfowl. Both of our retrievers, Coal, 5, and Ruby, 1, are certified therapy dogs who work each week with patients in the Occupational Therapy Department at the Texas Medical Center.

I enjoy supporting our extraordinary sport and judging weekend Hunt Test and Field Trial events when not competing. I am looking forward to working with the dynamic slate of judges selected for 2011 Master National. I am a handler first and wish all of the contestants and their “Super Star retrievers” the very best as they prepare for and compete in our Super Bowl this October. See you at the line.

Region 4 – Oregon

Dave Illias

I am honored to be on the team of judges at the 2011 Master National in Maryland. The National is a great event that challenges those dogs that have demonstrated the talent and skills to be outstanding master hunters.

I was born and raised in the state of Oregon.  My experience with retrievers begins when I was 14 years old and I got my first hunting license. After completing my hunter’s safety course, my Dad bought us a lab puppy. It was my responsibility to train our new family member. Dad faithfully drove us to weekly obedience class and twice a month to picnic trials to train our happy young dog.

I am grateful to the terrific people in those Oregon field clubs that helped me to train the pup to become a reliable and dependable retriever for many years of hunting. I am currently president of one of those clubs and board member in the other.

When I finished college and started my career as an engineer I took time out from hunting and dog training for a few years. However, when I meet my wonderful spouse she introduced me to over 18 memorable years of competitive obedience trail competition. During that time I multi-titled four Golden Retrievers and obtained Obedience Trial Champions on two.

In 1992 I went waterfowl hunting again and I have been hooked since. Shortly after I took up hunting again, we obtained a lab who became my first master dog.

Since then I have master titled 3 other retrievers and am now running 3 others at master level. I have qualified dogs for a number of Master National events and ran my dogs in 3 Nationals in Wisconsin, Texas, and California.

My passion for hunting has now taken second place to training retrievers, and running my dogs. I understand the importance of supporting the sport and I am actively involved in 6 AKC field events each year.

In 2000 I started judging AKC hunt tests to initially obtain a better understanding of judging and to contribute to the sport. I have been fortunate to co-judge with many judges that taught me the various aspects of dog work, and test setup.

At the National I plan to work hard and leave the handlers with a positive experience. I want to help make the 2011 National an event to remember. Good Luck to everyone!

Region 4 – Oregon

Jim Morris

What an honor it is to be chosen to judge the Master National for a third time!

Rest easy, that I have walked many times in your handler shoes. In addition, I’ve been to many Master National tests as a worker, too. And I have judged all levels at the weekend tests as well.

In 1997, I was one of four judges that judged a split at a National, for the first time. Now, we are in our second year of a three way split! Have we come a long way or what?

In 2003, I had the honor of filling in for a great judge, Russ Reavis, when a national defense problem took him to Washington, DC.

What do I look for as a judge? First and foremost team work. Giving a test that makes a team think. A team that does the best it can each time up to run. A team under control at all times.

I always consider every thing that happens to a team when it’s up to run. Do the best that you can each time you run and let my wonderful co-judges and I judge you the best that we can. Trust us to do the job you asked us to do!

Try to have a good time, smile and enjoy your National event.

Good marks and straight lines to you all.

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