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History of the Saskatoon Gun Dog Club

The first meeting was held in 1992 and 18 members are listed in the first newsletter of March 1992. The newsletter continued through the March 2015 issue as a printed copy, mailed to members.

The first North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association (NAVHDA) test was held July 31 & August 1, 1993 at the Saskatoon Retriever Club grounds near Bradwell. Ten pups were run in NAT and 5 dogs in UPT. The judges were Howard Brewer from Illinois, Joe Schmutz from here. Jack Lulack from Montana, and Jim Henry from Ontario. Debbie Spence (holding shotgun, middle) was Test Secretary and continued to do this for several years.

Prior to this, a group of hunters with versatile dogs had begun training their dogs together. Some of the early members of this group included Lawrence Pellerin and the late Stan Thompson. They contacted Joe & Sheila Schmutz who had been NAVHDA members in Ontario and Alberta before moving to Saskatoon.

Lawrence Pellerin arranged for a reporter from the Saskatoon Sun to come to a training gathering and the newspaper article above resulted. In August 1998, another article appeared in the Saskatoon Sun.

This group typically travelled down to Ronan, Montana to run in the NAVHDA tests hosted by the Big Sky Chapter there for the first few years.

Vance Lester with Northwind's Belle at a Big Sky test. Vance later became a NAVHDA judge, and then a VHDF judge.

Then, for the next several years the Saskatoon Gun Dog Club sponsored a NAVHDA test every fall at the Saskatoon Retriever Club grounds. The last NAVHDA test was held in 2014. The number of members of the Saskatoon Gun Dog Club that joined NAVHDA fell below the required 10, and therefore the chapter and tests ended.

Photo the late Emil Rothlisberger and his LM Dux von Ebental at the club's NAVHDA test in 1996.

The Saskatoon Gun Dog Club enjoyed the help of many NAVHDA judges over the years. These included Bodo Winterhelt, co-author of the "green book" and one of the founders of NAVHDA. The photo at the right shows Joe Schmutz who was a NAVHDA judge, and clinic leader on the left. Paul Lester who became a NAVHDA judge from this chapter is in the middle. And on the right is Mike Palotta from Ontario. Photo taken in September 2008.

Beginning in 2008, the club began sponsoring VHDF tests on land near Alvena, Saskatchewan. However, the previous year a VHDF test was also run there for the first time. Since 2015, VHDF-Canada tests following the same rules have been run. Details about the scores for these tests and are shown on another website.

The photo at the right shows Matthew Pellerin after his first test with Bear Hills' "Bailey", with other participants and members at the end of the test day, waiting for the scores to be read. (taken by Steve Davis, Oregon)

A logo was designed by Ron Mang about 2000. The more elaborate drawing on the right, appeared on the cover of many newsletters.

A NAVHDA sanctioned Judge/Handler Clinic was sponsored on May 28-29, 1994.

In 1995, the group was already using the Saskatoon Gun Dog Club as their name. NAVHDA required insurance for chapters but their policy did not cover Canada.

In 2015 this drawing was redrawn into a simpler logo for the Saskatoon Gun Dog Club by Aimee Schryer.

For many years the Saskatoon Gun Dog Club had a booth at the Sports and Leisure Show in Saskatoon. Photo: Stan Thomposon and his German Shorthaired Pointer speaking to a visitor.

In recent years they have had demos at Cabela's or the former Wholesale Sports instead. Photo: Arjen Kielstra with one of his German Wirehaired Pointers on a "training table" in the Cabela's parking lot, Saskatoon.

Since 1993, training days have been held for members during the summer months to help each other prepare their dogs for hunting in the fall, and some for testing. Pigeons were the typical training birds used. The club has always suspended activities after the fall test/s because hunting season has begun and that's what all the training is for, after all.

In addition, there were also "family fun days" arranged by Guy & Monique Pulvermacher for many years in Bruno, with one planned again for 2019. In the early years Don Larson also helped organize these. Photo: Guy Pulvermacher, Sheila Schmutz, Joe Schmutz, Debbie Spence, Jan Smith, Jean Smith. 1994.

Nell McKim raised chukar & ducks for our tests for many years. Judges from both organizations commented on the quality of the birds. The first few dogs that Nell ran were Brittany Spaniels (the photo is from 2009).

The Saskatoon Gun Dog Club website was designed by Bryon Pugh who maintained it for the first few years. The next webmaster was Sheila Schmutz.

Todd and Crystal Johnson of Montana were regular visitors at our tests in the early years. The drawing about from 1994 is Todd's take on our club! Many people travelled to our tests from some distance since NAVHDA had not expanded into the west much. This influx of visitors continues to this day for VHDF-Canada tests too.

As part of the fall VHDF test in 2011, Craig Koshyk spoke at the Saskatoon Library on Sunday evening about Versatile Gun Dogs from continental Europe. One of his key messages was the differences in dogs developed east and west of the Rhine.

In July 2011, some members of the club helped build a new tin roofed shelter at the Alvena land, used for training days and VHDF tests. The old tarps can now be used to hang down the sides and break the wind, if needed. Photo on the right taken by Sheila Schmutz: Right to left: Kaley Pugh, Lawrence Pellerin, Byron Pugh, Joe Schmutz.

Please direct questions regarding this website to: Sheila Schmutz

This page was last updated on January 28, 2019.