Meet Your Judges (2014)

Region 1 – Pennsylvania

Megan Baker

It all started with Dalmatians competing in obedience and agility in the late 80’s. After training with many retriever friends, I decided to try a Golden Retriever in 1991. I have been training Goldens ever since, spending most of my training in the field, but going back to my obedience and agility roots when the snow and ice of winter come.

I am proud to say that all of my dogs are owner trained and handled. I have trained six Goldens to Master Hunter titles, with three more coming up the ranks. I have gone to the line at the Master National three times, one dog in 2011, and two dogs in 2013. I am married to my favorite training partner, Tom Lehr, and we also enjoy hunting together, including spending our honeymoon in North Dakota.

I feel I am and example of what the sport was created for as I work full time for Keen Transport as a IT Director. I am able to get out 3 times a week to train for field. I know my dogs each have their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the game and I work on building a stronger team with each of them.

I truly enjoy watching every Team of handler and dog coming to the line.
I look forward to enjoying this Master National from the judges chair.

Good Luck to all the teams.

Region 1 – South Carolina

Michelle Love

Let me start off by saying thank you to all of the Region 1 clubs for electing me to judge the 2014 Master National in California. I’m humbled to be given this opportunity, once again, to give back to this wonderful sport.

I am excited to meet all of the handlers and look forward to working with my co-judges and the Master National Board and all of the volunteers who give up their time to make these events possible. A special thanks to John, my husband of 15 years, who has supported me and held down the fort while I’m away on hunt test weekends and the Master National.

In 1996, John and I figured out very quickly that our first puppy at 6 months old needed some serious training as a result of her destruction of her brand new dog bed. So, off to “camp” (Swift Creek Kennel) she went for some obedience and gun dog training. While coming out to visit and watch her train, I became hooked!!! After many months of training (and learning), I decided the next step for me was to handle my own dog.

Over the last 18 years, I have been actively involved in AKC hunt tests, competed with 9 different dogs and judged at all three levels. In 1999, I attended my first Master National as a volunteer for the host club in South Carolina and quickly realized that I had a new goal. It was an incredible and memorable experience. In 2000, I began judging junior and senior and, after building a solid foundation, worked my way up to master. In 2008, I came back to the Master National, but this time with a dog at my side. It was a rewarding experience, one that I hold very close to my heart.

My love for this sport has taken me in many different directions. In 2008, I co-founded Cooper River Retriever Club of South Carolina. I currently serve on the board of both Cooper River Retriever Club and Palmetto Retriever Club. I have also had the privilege of judging the Boykin Spaniel Society National Field Trial, the Golden Retriever Club of America National Specialty as well as several WC/WCX events over the years. I have had some great adventures and met some amazing people along the way.

While it seems that a lot of people get involved in this sport as they love to hunt. It was just the opposite for me… this sport led me to hunting.

I strive to set up challenging and fair tests and to judge them to the standard. Tests can be designed in a way to test a dog’s ability without having to use tricks. Every mark and every blind should have a purpose.

Bird placement is of utmost importance. When it comes to handling, I am a firm believer that not every handle is created equal. At the end of the day, it is all about watching talented dogs and their handlers come together as a team!

Congratulations to all of the dedicated teams that qualified for the 2014 Master National. California here we come!!!

Region 2 – Wisconsin

Corinne Clavey

First I must say what an honor it is to be chosen to judge the 2014 Master National, for Region 2.  While I have been actively involved with AKC Hunt Tests since 1991, I have always been associated with retrievers and hunting, the majority of my life.  I was fortunate enough to have a good mentor, my Dad-Earl Dillow who is a field-trialer who also crosses over to the hunt tests and enjoys the wonderful camaraderie’s, as I do.

I grew up in the Midwest, settled in the Village of Pleasant Prairie WI., between Milwaukee and Chicago, married a wonderful man Peter Clavey, who has accepted my passion for hunting and staying actively involved in the retriever sport. I have worked for the same company AbbVie/Abbott Labs a Pharmaceutical Company for 33 years, most of those years in a laboratory setting.

I started working dogs when I was 14 years old.  My Dad raised golden retrievers, until my adult life.  Some of my fondest memories are with the dogs both hunting and running.  My first Retriever was a gift, “a female Golden Retriever.”  I started running field trials and hunt tests in 1991 and over the last 20 plus years I have been actively involved in AKC hunt tests campaigning my golden retrievers and labradors in Junior, Senior and Master levels.

I have also enjoyed judging in all three of these levels.  I ran a golden retriever in the Master National in Indiana, (very exciting) and also judged the Master National in 2009 in Texas…also very exciting and a wonderful experience.  Judging has been my way of giving back to this wonderful sport of ours.

My philosophies center on the original concepts of the framers of the events.   It should bring about a desire of all those individuals with their qualified dogs.  The training can be in the form of Professional training or the Amateur “the average Joe/Jan” who desires to take on the task he/or she themselves.  The judging should be based on the founders of the hunt tests, based on the highest standards of training one can obtain.

The Master National dogs should be the best of the best.  I feel marking is most important.  I personally see more in the field than I do at the line.  If the dog can’t seem to find its way, I feel helping him along, is of much greater value than covering so much terrain. Good bird placement is what I strive for.  Blinds should have a beginning, a middle and an end.  Your hard work and dedication got you to the Master Nationals, congratulations to all, now enjoy the experience.

Region 2 – Indiana

Blake Lemish

I feel very honored to be selected as a judge for the 2014 Master National and want to thank everyone for their confidence in having me represent Region 2. I’m looking forward to meeting and working with all the judges selected for this year’s event.

My wife Susan and I have been married for 33 years and have a son, Bradley, who lives in Kansas City, MO with his wife, Tess. Our other family members include labs: Sydney, Ellie, Stormy and Mike, a Chihuahua named Archie, an eclectus parrot called Louie and a Newfoundland; Jack, who is a hunt test favorite. In my free time I enjoy hunting and fishing and have had my private pilots license since 2005. I try to incorporate flying to judging assignments and it comes in handy when we visit our son and daughter-in-law.

I have had hunting dogs all of my life at a competition level starting with beagles then moving on to coon hounds. I have worked for Con-Way Freight for 26 years. Once I began working nights, I bought my first lab after I went duck hunting with my uncle. I friend referred me to a breeder; Chris Cornelius.

After a road trip to Ohio, I got my first 7 week old lab puppy as a hunting companion and she ended up becoming a 4 time Master National qualifier; Grassy Creek Casey, who is also a member of the Master National Hall of Fame. We are now on our fifth generation of Grassy Creek Labradors.

I have been a member of the Backwater Retriever Club for almost 20 years and currently serve as President of the club. Backwater Retriever Club hosted the 2000 Master National in North Webster, IN.

My thoughts for running and judging hunt tests include fair, straight up marking tests with well placed birds and challenging blinds; staying away from tricking the dogs or their handlers. I want to wish all the owners and handlers the best of luck at this year’s Master National. See you in California!

Region 3 – Idaho

Allyn Foster

My wife of 28 years, Laura, and I have been involved with Hunting Tests since 1988. We have been active members in both the Idaho Retriever Club and the Treasure Valley Hunting Retriever Club in most roles from Hunt Test Chairs, Hunt Test Secretary, Club Officers and or Directors at one time or another.

When we bought our first Labrador puppy in 1987, our desire to have a good hunting dog lead us to cross paths with a retired Field Trial pro who offered to help us train our first dog if we would come out and throw marks for his dogs. Suddenly we were members of a new training group comprised of others that were trying to get prepared for the new and upcoming dog game, Retriever Hunting Tests.

Winning a couple of ribbons at our first “picnic trial” hooked us and we have been involved with dog games ever since. It has become somewhat of an obsession as our vacations and weekends generally revolve around dog games. We have many friends around the Northwest that we love seeing, training with, and visiting with at the events. One of those good friends was Mike O’Hearne who encouraged me to both begin judging in 2001 and to qualify and run my dog at the 2002 Master National in Bend, Oregon.

Our short Hunt Test season and long hunting seasons combined with my work schedule as Medical Technologist (Lab Tech) cause me to limit my judging to a couple tests a year. I feel I owe it to my dogs to allow them to do what they are bred to do for the other weekends and I love being their team mate.

I have owned 5 Master Hunters and several more Junior and Senior Hunters. I have ran a dog in the 2002 and 2010 Master National and received a Qualifying score 2010 Master National. My first and current Master Hunter dogs were completely trained by my wife and I, and the middle three had limited pro training so I understand the sacrifices needed of both routes and what it takes to own a truly finished retriever. All of our dogs have been hunted extensively on waterfowl and upland birds.

As a judge I like to see dog and handler work as a team to show a smooth enjoyable performance. I love it when they accomplish a test they didn’t think was possible or have trained for. For me it all comes down to would I like to hunt with this team again with the work they have shown me at the test I’m judging.

Region 3 – Oklahoma

Bill Blochowiak

First, I would like to say I am extremely honored to be selected as a “replacement” Master National Judge. I thank those that selected me. You humble me! I have been blessed with many great and wonderful judging assignments. On the national level, the first was the opportunity to judge the Open stake at the 1994 Golden National. Following that was the 1995 Master National in Vermont. In 2000, I was selected by the MN Board of Directors to fill in for a comrade who became ill. I was also selected as and “expansion” judge in 2010.

My judging opportunities have extended from Vermont to California to Alaska and from South Dakota to south Texas. I have 40 plus Master points and more than 20 all-age points plus numerous minor, senior and junior stake points. Further, I have judged eight Working Certificate/Working Certificate Excellent stakes for the Central Oklahoma Golden Retriever Club and twice judged at Flat Coat specialties. I have judged with many wonderful people and have been to many great places. Weather would be the only culprit as “a less than enjoyable” assignment.

What I take away from the judging assignments and I would like everyone else to take away, is that all had an enjoyable time and that they were treated fairly.

When setting up tests, I feel it is very necessary to see the grounds and set up a test that fits the territory- not force something to work because of a preconceived notion. I feel it is always best to test where you would hunt. However, on a rare occasion, weather, grounds, mechanics and time may dictate otherwise.

I have a wonderful wife, Brenda, who has supported my game during our married life. I actually met her on a blind date to go dog training and we attended the 1980 National Open on our honeymoon. We have a daughter, Mikel, who just birthed a second grandson and has a wonderful husband. We have a son, Billy, who many of you know was the motivation behind the suggestion in the late 90’s for the junior handler rules. I have two great steps sons and two super grandsons and a wonderful daughter-in-law.

I have been fortunate to qualify dogs for the 1991, 1993, 1998, 1999 and 2001 master nationals. Two dogs qualified at the 1998 MN. I have also served on the board for many years culminating as chairman for the 2001 MN and president in 2005.

My personal training has taken a back a seat lately while building my “heaven on earth.” We have 190 acres and on it we have built beautiful house overlooking a 7 acre lake. Took 10 years to build but we are living in and I now have a puppy. I conduct monthly training sessions for the Sooner Retriever club (lifetime member) primarily for new or neo-new members.

I retired from civil service and the Air Force Reserve several years ago; serve on several non-profit boards for the low-income disabled and elderly; and, just really enjoy life. I love to hunt and fish and most recently all has been done here on our place. I look forward to this year’s assignment and the thought of seeing and working with many old and new friends is very exciting.

Region 4 – Washington

Mike Collson

Like so many in in the HT game I began while trying to get a better hunting partner. My goal was to get a better retriever and I can honestly say mission accomplished. The greatest side benefit has been the friendships we’ve made along the way.

My wife Dee and I live in Ridgefield, WA with Too Terrible Tillie MH MNH (5), Island Acres Terribly Twisted Sister SH and the funniest Border terrier on the planet Cecie. We have two wonderful sons with the best daughter in laws that anyone could hope to ask for. We also have the smartest two year old grandson and by the time we get to California we will another grandchild to share photos of.

I absolutely love our sport and have been lucky enough to be President of the Oregon Hunting Retriever Club in Portland OR. I am always humbled and amazed at the quality of the people who participate in our game and especially our club. Our sport is at a critical juncture at this time with unprecedented growth in entries and demand. We face a crimp on quality land and water access and coupled with an aging volunteer work force it has made our events that we all love much tougher to execute. Those that know me know I have a can do approach to every endeavor I take on and the Hunt Test game is no exception. As a community we all need to come together to become part of the solution or we will end up as part of the problem. Please don’t miss any opportunities to volunteer at the Master National and your weekend club.

I have been fortunate to have a number of mentors over the years that helped teach me the nuances of the sport and I have a number of those ingrained in my judging philosophy:

1) Marking is of paramount importance!

2) Progress to the blind. It is a straight line to the blind and that is how it should be scored. Carry a line and keep them on that line.

Our sport while enriched by our dogs has always been about the people. We have a lot of outstanding people in our sport and I look forward to meeting more in CA. The Master National is part of the journey and not the destination, enjoy every second of it!

Region 4 – Oregon

Mike Jespersen

By profession I was a biology instructor for thirty years, but I have enjoyed a lifetime of fishing and hunting.  I have had retrievers for over forty years; in fact, my wife gave me my first lab.

Here in Oregon we have some great duck hunting, so naturally, a dog is a must.  For many years I would hunt with my dogs, but in the off-season they would get fat.  A buddy of mine suggested trying hunting trials, and after going to a few picnic trials I was hooked.  It seemed I couldn’t get enough of them, so soon I was running field trials, NAHRA, and the AKC hunt tests.

I had been a coach, so the training of labs just carried over and I found it was something I had a passion to do.  The encouragement and helpfulness from the professional as well as amateur dog trainers in the trial game have been so genuine and friendly.  It doesn’t matter what part of the United States you’re visiting, “dog people” have become wonderful friends.

I have had five Master Hunters and they have qualified a total of 15 times for Nationals, including NAHRA and AKC.  Currently I run three dogs, two Master Hunters and one young dog running Seniors.    Because of my profession I was only able to take dogs to Nationals in 1994 and 1997, but it was it was in 1994 that I started judging, because I knew I wanted to give something back to the sport and hoped that I could make a difference.

I enjoy seeing the handler and dog working together as a team if they get in trouble, but I especially enjoy watching a good marking dog.  It’s truly a pleasure to watch a dog and his handler working together on a blind!

The reason I got into judging was because I wanted to see challenging tests as well as fair tests.  The test should be one that could duplicate a true hunting scene.

There isn’t any greater thrill than to qualify at the Master Nationals.  I wish success to all the participants.

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