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Every year the HWA Field Nationals draws participants who come from as

far away as California, Florida, Texas, Ontario, Alabama and the Carolinas – and more.


Though the Nationals have many repeat attendees,we always delight in

welcoming newcomers ~ and puppies can learn to hunt with us!

Yet another great weekend event for Airedales, and all.

September 9th - 11th, 2016

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Hunting Working Airedales’ 31st Field Nationals was HOT, HOT, HOT. Again held at Holly Hills Game Preserve near Chillicothe, Ohio, the

annual fall event sweltered at times with mid-80 degree temps.


But HOT, HOT, HOT also applied to the Airedale action in the field. Three days packed for Airedales made for a full-speed ahead weekend, no matter the weather.

Thursday evening’s Hospitality Suite at our headquarters hotel, the Quality Inn in Chillicothe, was the first gathering spot for Nationals attendees. A complimentary supper made it easy to grab a plate and carry on multiple conversations with old friends while connecting with newcomers.

Friday – Day 1 of the 31st Nationals

Friday at the Nationals starts with “fur,” which means raccoons to Airedales, plus events to get new dogs and people going.


This year the Airedale Terrier Club of America [ATCA], our breed’s AKC parent club, again teamed up with HWA to hold an ATCA Fur Test at our HWA Nationals. Lawrence Alexander, the "Dean of all Fur Test judges", couldn’t attend – so Kim Burrier, assisted by Chris Halvorson, stepped in to judge, while Craig Contofalsky ageed to be the judge at the raccoon tree, in spite of the nearby poison ivy.


We had a good entry of two Senior Test dogs and six Junior Test dogs. Some of the dogs were good at tracking the trail of raccoon scent, but they didn’t look up and/or bark at the caged raccoon hidden in the tree branches. Other dogs strayed off the track. In the end, one dog, Mike, owned/handled by Chris Halvorson, ran the track, found the raccoon, and barked within the time limit to qualify in the Senior Fur Test.

Thursday's Hospitality spread

Since the Fur Test takes place in the woods where there’s no room for spectators, Friday morning’s alternate activity was the starting session of the Beginners’ Workshop presented by Dawn Schuster. Dawn is an AKC Upland (Spaniel) Test judge who did triple-duty this year at our Nationals by presenting workshop sessions as well as judging our Upland and Retriever Tests. Dawn’s experience with Hunt Tests (as well as her success in training her own English Cockers) made her an excellent coach for Airedale owners just starting out with their dogs.

Beginner Retrievers' Workshop.jpg
Barkathon graphic2016

Friday morning wrapped up with the Barkathon, a favorite HWA fun event in which a dog gets a chance to bark and jump up at a tree holding a safely-caged raccoon. The dog that barks the most barks in one minute is the winner.


We had 22 Airedales wanting to have their chance at barking, so we divided the contest in to two divisions: one for experienced dogs (those with fur-test titles), and the other for novice dogs (those without fur-test titles).

Tuck, a young dog owned/handled by Diane Cullen, works his raccoon - winning the novice division, with 79 barks in just one minute!

Hunting Instinct Tests.jpg

2016's 31st Nationals were yet another spectacular event for HWA.

All participants, members, guests, spectators & judges had a great time.

Saturday is a day primarily devoted to the first sessions (also called the “land series”) of our HWA Upland

(Flushing) test and Retriever Test. These tests – offered on Junior, Senior and Master levels – are competitions

for dogs and handlers with basic training, on up to the considerable experience of a seasoned hunting dog.

Retriever Tests.jpg
Upland Tests.jpg

Meanwhile, the HWA Retriever Test participants and spectators gathered for the land series of the Retriever Test. Our judges were AKC Retriever judge Frank McKane and Dawn Schuster. Our entry included six Junior dogs, one Senior dog, and two Masters. The HWA Retriever Test, like its AKC counterpart, simulates the waterfowl hunting situation of a stationary hunter and dog waiting for a flock of ducks to fly over so that the hunter can shoot as many flyers as the opportunity permits. In the test situation, birds are thrown from behind blinds rather than shot, but the dog’s job is still to “mark” or watch where the bird(s) fall, and then retrieve all the fallen birds to the handler. The Retriever Test skills are marking (noting where the bird drops), and memory, as in remembering where each bird falls. Senior and Master dogs must mark and remember multiple bird falls before being sent to retrieve them.


Though it may sound like a relatively straight-forward test, dogs who don’t regularly hunt ducks or train with retriever clubs often find it more difficult than anticipated. Of the starting group of Airedales, five would pass the Retriever land series and advance to Sunday’s water retriever series.

On Saturday evening, the HWA Banquet and silent Auction took place. This is our club’s biggest fundraisers and the big social event of every Nationals. Corally Burmaster and Pat Reed again ran the event with a full array of raffle baskets and auction items displayed. Also on display, a hickory-wood walking stick with a wrought-iron Airedale head finial hand-crafted and donated by Ron Swisher as our Limited Raffle item. So we bought tickets and bid on Airedale auction items as we enjoyed our dinners and a lot of dog talk.

31st HWA Field Natls

The

After a whole lot of barking and jumping, including one dog so eager that he slipped

his collar to make a breakout run at the

tree, our bark counters determined a tie

for the experienced dog division.


Laser, owned/handled by Linda Sorak and Triumph, owned/handled by Patricia Gintilas, each barked 95 barks in 60 seconds.

In the novice division, Tuck, owned/handled by Diane Cullen made his owner

proud by barking 79 barks in a minute.

PIC of TUCK - 2016 Barkathon novice division winner
HWA 31st Natl's get-ready Friday AM briefing
PIC of Thurs HWA Natl's Hospitality spread
PIC of MAX - decides to take a break_DSC4371

What's that?? Spring, a puppy owned/handled Sandy Shaffer,

discovers a chukar in the Beginners' Workshop.

PIC of Mutt - a beginner - meets a chukar_DSC1132
PIc of Spring - in the Beginner's Workshop_DSC1168

Mutt, an Airedale-mix owned by Jim Lanning,

meets a chukar in the Beginners' Workshop.

After the Hunting Instinct Test wrapped up, action moved to

the field where Dawn Schuster’s Beginners’ Workshop

resumed with some of the puppies as well as more experienced

dogs who came for more advanced training tips. First lessons in

flushing a chukar seemed to astonish some of the new dogs. For

owners who came wondering if their dog would like this,

the answer was a "leap-for-joy YES"!

Dawn Schuster - AKC Upland-Retriever Test Judge_Beginners Workshop
PIC of Chris Halvorson's Mike - Jr Upland Test
PIC of CAVA - hhristie Williams - Jr Retriever test

Dawn’s starting point was a discussion of wind, and

how dogs and handlers use wind while hunting.


Friday afternoon & Saturday workshop sessions in the field gave owners and their dogs a chance to use that wind to find some birds,

flush & chase – and plan how to build on early-trigger excitement.

PIC of Trevor - rolling in raccoon scent pad Hunting Instinct test

By 4:30 on Friday afternoon, everyone was ready for some sedentary time while attending HWA’s Annual General Meeting outside Holly Hills’ clubhouse. This meeting gives everyone a chance to learn more about our club through its committee and financial reports. It also marks the official kick-off of our 2017 Membership Drive, and gave the club a chance to tell everyone how important our members are. Event Co-Chairs Patricia Nemeth and Kate Ostowski expressed their appreciation to the many volunteers who devote their time and efforts to making the Nationals run smoothly. The meeting adjourned, and everyone could then relax for the evening to prepare for a busy Friday.

PIC of Linda Sorak's EURO - flushing his first chukar in the Upland Test_DSC1206

Corally Burmaster is among the Airedale breeders who watch the Hunting Instinct Test to see how pups of her breeding do, as well as noting what other bloodlines are producing. Corally commented: “I love to see that ‘Ah-ha!’ moment when a pup ‘gets it."

Saturday, Sept. 10th – Day 2 of the 31st Nationals

On Saturday morning, judges Dawn Schuster and Jamie

Lands started with a good entry of five Junior dogs, two Senior

dogs, and two Master dogs in HWA’s Upland Test. This test

scores a dog’s nose and drive for finding and flushing birds, then

retrieving ability to bring to birds to the handler. The Senior and

Master dogs must demonstrate more obedience and teamwork

with the handler. Throw in some happenings such as birds that

flush badly or fly away; an Airedale who proudly brings in an

impossibly long retrieve; or Airedales who become suddenly

deaf to handlers’ commands, and things can get exciting. In the

end, six dogs qualified in the land series and were called back to

complete their Upland test in Sunday morning’s water series.

After the test, our tireless judge Dawn Schuster put on her instructor’s

vest, and worked with more dogs in the Beginners’ Workshop.


After lunch, George Gordon and Dale Burrier held an informal

GROOMING / EVALUATION CLINIC under their tent up near the clubhouse.

George and Dale have a shared expertise in Airedales that made

for a “bonus” educational experience tapped into by many of our

attendees, who gathered around to watch and ask

This year’s banquet event started with only one off-the-script item. Corally Burmaster and friends paused for a tribute to HWA President Chris Halvorson (full disclosure, this writer) who’s rotating out of office. It was a touching and total surprise that will be forever commemorated by the gift to Chris of a large metal Airedale Welcome sign.

CLICK HERE to visit our 2nd page

about the 31st Nationals (held in 2016).

We invite you to visit our facebook page ~ and visit our site again soon ~ as we will be posting more event updates, gallery photos & new Title-holder spotlights.

PIC of KIRA - Michael Sites - Master Retriever test
2016 HWA Field Natls marked catalog click here1

On Friday afternoon, the Hunting Instinct Test was a popular activity. This test is open to pups and older untrained dogs

who are six months of age and older.

Each Airedale goes through a series of exercises that assess hunting aptitude, such as retrieving, tracking, finding and reacting to live birds and a raccoon, gunfire and swimming. Test evaluators Sherri Glass and Michael Sites scored each pup, with those scoring 70 out of a possible 100 points earning a certificate. But, whatever the score, all the pups have a great time, and all the spectators enjoy seeing the antics and reactions.

PIC of CRASH - Hunting Instinct Test w- evaluator Michael Sites