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A Setter Wins the 2013 National Championship!


Shadow Oak Bo, an English setter owned by Butch Houston and Dr. John Dorminy, is the winner of the 114th National Championship for Field Trialing Bird Dogs at Ames Plantation. This is the first time a setter has won the coveted title since 1970. His winning performance came in Brace 5 on the third morning of the Championship, February 13th, paired with Matt Coverdale’s and Gerry Hignite’s Rivertons Funseek’n Scooter. “Overnight drizzle added to the wet terrain. [The weather was] damp and 38 degrees at the start,” wrote Brad Harter in his synopsis of the brace. By the end of the brace, Bo had tallied seven finds and had three backs, against Scooter’s five finds and an unproductive. Both dogs finished the three hours. Rumors were that Bo may have had ten finds, but the official judges’ decision was seven.

Handler Robin Gates and his son (and scout) Hunter Gates were decidedly delighted with the win. “After the fourth find, we really got serious,” Handler Robin Gates said. He described for the press in detail how the dog ran the course.  ““What impressed me about him was his endurance,” Gates said. “He had a find off the breakaway, and then at pick-up time, I went in there and found him pointed again. I knew we had done a really good job and it would take a quality dog to beat him. This is the greatest honor that’s ever happened to me!”

Bo was originally raised and trained by Buddy Smith of Collierville, TN. “Every trainer would love to have a setter that would win the National,” Gates said. “Buddy saw it [the possibility of winning the National] at an early age. He’s got some six-week-old pups that he’s starting now. The key is to put lots of hands on them, socialize them early on. They have to be able to take all that handling. Butch came out and looked at him [Bo, when he was a pup] one time and bought him.”

Gates had more good things to say about Bo: “He’s very intelligent and adapts to the terrain, anywhere you take him. When you turn him loose, he starts hunting birds. He wants to hunt birds to make his handler happy.”

So what’s next for Bo? After his run at the National, and even before the Championship had concluded, “I took him back home and worked him for his upcoming field trials,” Gates said. He’s definitely not retiring the dog, but will keep on going with him. “He’s a remarkable, smart dog. You turn Bo loose and you know he’s going to give you1,000%. He loves running,” Gates said. Gates said he would like to do this again next year!

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