Sandcreek Kennels - NAFC/FC/AFC Sand Creek's Annie's Abbey "Abbey"
by Kevin Dresow

I started this journey in 1996. As many field trialers would say, "I was Just looking for a hunting dog". When doing my research for breeders of field bred English Springer spaniels, I came across Sand Creek Kennels in Montgomery, MN, owned and operated by professional trainer, Bill Boeckman. I bought a puppy, took her home, and named her Sand Creek's Annie's Abbey. Little did I know that this would forever change my life.

After about 6 months, I started going to Sand Creek Kennels on weekends to watch Bill and his clients train. I was impressed with how well the dogs worked and began to think it would be great to have a dog trained to this level. I decided it would be best for the dog and myself to have Bill train my dog until I had a chance to learn how to handle a field trial dog. After several months of training, it became clear that Abbey was a very special dog. She had the ability to use the wind naturally to find birds with a flashy style while staying within gun range. She also was the type of dog that works as a part of a team with her handler.

In the year 2000, she was qualified to run in the US National Open Championship in Logan, Utah. Shortly before the Championship began, Bill had a major heart attack and was unable to attend. I decided to try to run Abbey myself. In the First Series, she was injured after running into a deep ditch and hitting a rock wall. This caused neck trauma resulting in laryngeal paralysis, which made it difficult for her to get air into one of her lungs. This was thought to be career-ending injury. After consulting With the Unniversity of Minnesota Veterinary School, we rested her for several months, hoping for a recovery. Although she never fully recovered from her injury, she began to run in field trials again.

In the Fall of 2001, she became a Field Champion (FC). This is accomplished by either being awarded 2 Open Stake wins or a win and ten points. A first place is worth 5 points, second place - 3 points, third place - 2 points, and fourth - 1 point. There are approximately 2800 competing dogs throughout the United States and Canada, of which, about 15 become champions annually.

In the Spring of 2002, I began training and handling her in Amateur Stakes. Even though she was injured, she put her whole heart into every series. In the Spring of 2004, she was awarded the title of Amateur Field Champion (AFC), by acquiring Amateur Stake Championship points as she had in the Open Stakes for her FC.

I then decided to unofficially retire her and let her spend her final years hunting wild birds and spending time in the house with my family. I took her to North Dakota and South Dakota hunting this fall. When the National Championships rolled around, I began thinking about running her one last time. Knowing that it would probably be her last opportunity to run in a National Championship, I made the trip to Pickneyville, IL to compete in the 42nd National Amateur English Springer Spaniel Field Trial.

The Amateur and Open National Championships are the most prestigious field events for the English Springer Spaniel. The best dogs in the United States and Canada compete at this event. In order to qualify for this event, a dog must have placed in an AKC licensed field trial in the same year. In the Nationals there are 5 land series and 2 water series required. The dog must be advanced by the judges in order to move to the next series. The dogs are judged on their ability to find game and on their ability to mark a shot bird and retrieve it. The event usually lasts anywhere from 5 to 6 days. In these events, it helps to have some luck as well as a good dog. "We just kept putting together good solid runs series after series". In the final land series, Abbey put on a truly great performance. In the end, she was named this year's National Amateur Champion. I am honored to be the first Minnesota resident to win a National with a Minnesota- bred dog and I am blessed to have owned such a phenomenal dog. May she always be remembered as that great little dog with heart NAFC/FC/AFC Sand Creek's Annie's Abbey.

Kevin Dresow (Silo)

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