Sarge takes second in WCA National Amateur Gun Dog Championship
Ocean View’s Lance Fargo nearly locked in his second national championship of 2013 last month, when his Weimaraner, Sarge, took second place in the WCA Amateur Gun Dog Championship, held in Ardmore, Okla.
“The first-place dog had a stronger run and ranged out farther [than Sarge],” Fargo explained of the scoring criteria for the event. “That’s what the judges were looking for in their first-place dog. [The first-place dog] didn’t have the number of finds that Sarge had but had a stronger run.”
The second-place national finish came just four months after Fargo himself took first place in the Clydesdale 40-plus division at the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship held in Milwaukee, Wis.
“It’s definitely something that crossed my mind,” he said regarding what a second national championship in the same year would have meant. “I knew it would be a pretty cool feat to pull off. It would be awesome just for its novelty.”
Fargo originally got involved in the gun-dog sport when he acquired Blitz as a puppy in 2003 from Virginia Alexander, who is widely considered the “godmother of Weimaraners” after literally writing the book on the breed. It was Alexander who encouraged Fargo to enter the world of AKC field trials.
A decade later, he acquired Sergeant von Reitleralm, nicknamed “Sarge,” indirectly from Alexander, who had originally arranged for Sarge to be given to Steve Reynolds, a professional field-trial trainer. When Reynolds retired, however, he gave the dog to Fargo.
“When he retired from training professionally, he sent Sarge to me,” Fargo explained of how he acquired the talented gun dog. “He felt that I would give Sarge the best chance to reach his potential. Sarge came to live with me in Delaware for a couple of months before I sent him with Delaware-based professional trainer Mike Mullineaux of Clayton.”
After training with Mullineaux on the prairies of North Dakota, Sarge returned home to Delaware before Fargo entered him in a field trial held by the German Shorthaired Pointer Club of Central Virginia last October.
“Sarge progressed rapidly in his lessons,” Fargo said. “When he returned to Delaware in late September, his manners were well ahead of his brief experience.”
Despite that brief experience, Sarge had shown enough promise and talent for Fargo to enter him in the Oklahoma-based National Championship this past December, where he ran in the event’s “second brace.”
“He had multiple bird finds, and his run was punctuated by a large wild covey find that darkened the sky just as time expired,” Fargo described of Sarge’s performance. “After the first day of running, scuttlebutt had it that Sarge was in first place.”
Despite his impressive covey find, ultimately the judges crowned Seek, owned by Gene Mason of Texas, national champion for the second year in a row, with Sarge finishing in second place. Overall, Sarge’s fall placements had landed him the No. 6 spot on the Top 10 All Age Group Gun Dog List.
“I have run quite a few dogs, and every now and then one of them goes out there and does a good job and you know it while you’re out there,” Fargo said, emphasizing the magnitude of the achievement. “This was one those occasions.”
When it comes to competitive field trials and triathlons, Fargo said he enjoys both but emphasized the different aspects of both sports.
“Triathlon is a solitary pursuit. It’s the competitor versus the clock. The competitor can’t receive any outside assistance during a race. Other than my master’s swim classes, I prefer to train by myself. In field trials, competitors often help each other out by scouting for each other’s dogs. The handler, scout and dog have to be working together as a team to win. Good sportsmanship in both sports enhances the enjoyment for all involved.”
Currently, Sarge is down in Georgia, already training for next season, and Fargo is confident that he can bring home two national championships in 2014.
“That’s the plan,” he said. Training for both sports, he added, is definitely a juggling act, “When my dogs aren’t with Mike Mullineaux, I like to take them running or biking with me in the Assawoman Wildlife Area during the week, so that they are getting their conditioning work in at the same time I am doing mine. I think I can do it next year. [Sarge] exceeded all expectations. I think he’s only going to get better.”