Sometimes in life you are just plain lucky! We made an investment back in 2003 and bought a little liver colored bitch named Chyknell Megan. She had just won the British National Championship with Wendy Openshaw at the age of 18 months. She was everything that they said she was, steady…fast…and very intelligent. Being amateurs, we knew that we could not do her justice so we sent her to Paul McGagh in North Dakota to work with and see what she could do in our Nationals. As some of you know, Megan won the 2004 Nationals with Paul running her and became the first Cocker to win a National Championship in two countries. We were, needless to say, very proud.
"It’s funny how you work with a dog and you just don’t seem to "click" and then one day, for no reason that you can understand, something changes and everything starts to get in sync."
About a year later we had the opportunity to buy Midge, a 20 month-old female out of Chyknell Jessica (dam) and Danderw Druid (sire), a full blood younger sister to Megan. She had not been shown much in England but they said she was a lot like Megan. We bought Midge and she was sent to us in Texas. She was quite a small little girl and just as red as red could be. We had her here with us for a while and to tell you the truth we weren’t sure she would ever be as wonderful as Megan. She was very sweet but likes to be on her own and didn’t need much affection. We weren’t sure about her since all our other cockers always want to be petted and sit near us. She sure had the raw talent when she worked in the field but we expected her to be more affectionate towards us. To some, this probably wouldn’t be an issue, but we also enjoy our hunting dogs to be our pets.
Midge was sent to North Dakota to be trained by Paul McGagh and she did very well with him. Paul placed her in a couple of trials and then sent her back home to be with us for a while.
It’s funny how you work with a dog and you just don’t seem to "click" and then one day, for no reason that you can understand, something changes and everything starts to get in sync. You are a team! My husband, A.R., took Midge out hunting time and time again and they did ok together. Not great, just ok. Then one Saturday morning, for no reason that we know of, everything changed. She was doing everything just right! Midge was so exuberant when they came out of the field she jumped in A.R.’s arms. That was the beginning of new and improved hunting team of A.R. and Midge. Midge wanted to be next to and with A.R. all of the time. They just got better and better every time they went out.
The 2006 Cocker National was held in Morley, Michigan. We entered Midge along with Megan, Monty, Freddy and Cookie; all with A.R. as the handler. We felt our strongest dogs were Megan and our long time favorite, Monty, as A.R. had been having some real success with Monty that year and had made Monty the first Cocker Amateur Champion. So, it was really heartbreaking when Megan failed a retrieve in the 2nd series of the National and Monty went out in the first. Cookie and Midge made it to the fifth series.
The National was fun, nerve racking and exciting all at the same time. We’d be happy with the work of one of our dogs and in the next moment pretty sad when one would mess up. In the 3rd series, Midge was honoring her brace mate’s flush and the gunner shot the bird, which fell onto her head! The gunner felt pretty bad, so we thought we’d have some fun and wrapped her head in bandages and made sure the gunner saw this when he changed rotation!
It can be a long night waiting for the 5th series callbacks! They were not given the night before because the 4th series had not been completed.
The following day was pretty rainy for the end of the 4th series. We waited out the rain before beginning the 5th series. Midge was having a clean 5th when she got lucky with a nice 2nd bird, downwind retrieve. We stopped for lunch pretty happy, but still faced the water series in winds that seemed 30 miles an hour! It was a nice finish to the National as all the dogs were able to finish the water series.
I guess you can be lucky more than once. In the end, Midge was named the new Cocker National Champion!