Joe Worsham from Buchanan County is a longtime trainer that raised a dog that was recently named a winner in an international competition.
Worsham and Jack, an English Pointer whose registered name is Worsham Silver Comet, train on his farm east of St. Joseph.
Jack won the National Amateur Chicken Championship in Saskatchewan, Canada, on September 11. He was a runner-up in the same championship last year.
The championship was sanctioned by the Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America. The dogs are scored on their ability to locate and “point” at the two bird species of Hungarian partridge and sharp-tailed grouse.
Worsham has been attending the event with a trained dog for 15 years. He has had numerous other award-winning dogs including two inducted into the Kansas Field Trial Hall of Fame.
“We expect a lot of the dogs during the championship,” Worsham said. “They are really highly trained bird dogs and they’re highly trained athletes. They are extremely well-conditioned athletes.”
He said the dogs are expected to traverse the course at half a mile or more and return to the trainer from a distance.
“When they find game, which at the championship was Hungarian partridge and sharp-tailed grouse, they are expected to have perfect manners on the birds,” Worsham said. “When they point, they can’t move. When you flush the birds and fire a shot out of a blank pistol, the dog has to stand in its tracks and not chase the birds. This is a non-consumptive sport and the birds are not hunted.”
Worsham said the trainer is on horseback during the dog competition.
“The dog has to listen for you but if he loses track of you, then he uses his eyesight to find you,” Worsham said. “We train them so when you call, he looks up and you turn your horse the way you want him to go. He gets his cues from the horse.”
Worsham said Jack was bred from one of the top bloodlines in the country.
“The really good dogs don’t happen by accident,” Worsham said.
In addition, he said dog training requires time, patience and perseverance. Worsham was an owner of a company called White Dog Productions which created seven dog training videos on DVD.
The dogs he has trained have competed in other states with birds such as pheasants, quail, woodcock, chukars, grouse and prairie chicken.