Do a little winter training

Hunting season is over and it’s cold outside! Training suggestions for the winter months

 With the darkest stretch of winter weather upon us now is no time to ignore your canine companion.

 While short days, snowy fields and cold weather may not seem like the ideal time for dog activities, there are a multitude of activities that you can be doing now to keep your pup on his game and prepare for the spring and summer training/competition season to come.

 Need some work with retrieving? It’s easy to carve out one or two fifteen minute sessions a day to go through the steps of the trained retrieve. You also won’t have the temptation or distraction of bird work which is generally not recommended while going through the training. While each dog is different, most trainers figure on allowing four to eight weeks to go through the entire process. A quiet spot in the back yard, porch, basement, family room or even the garage is all the space you’ll need for a training table or even just a five-gallon bucket to sit on while working with your dog. Check out Evan Graham's Smart Fetch or others from a complete selection of training DVDs at

 Is there such a thing as a hunting dog that doesn’t need a little more work on basic obedience?

Bundle up, grab a Huntsmith Command Lead or leash and take your buddy for some short walks around the neighborhood. Besides working on heeling, you can drop the lead to work on whoa, or bring a bumper and work on hold or fetch.  Use a check cord to work on recall and quartering. Find a quiet corner in the house and work on down, hold or even sit.

 Reinforce the training with an e-collar. Work on using the collar as a cue, not just a correction, by using light stimulation.

Have some fun in the field even if it’s covered in snow. Instead of a bumper, use a Dokken or a cloth Frisbee type flying toy that won’t sink into the snow. Just be careful not to overdo it if the snow is too deep or if the temperatures are in the single digits.

Load up your pup and take a field trip to the local dog supply store. Use the other dogs and shoppers as distractions to work on socialization as well as obedience. You might even treat your buddy to a new collar or a dog treat while you’re there.

Hopefully these ideas will show you that you don’t have to ignore your best hunting partner just because it’s cold outside. To learn more about these techniques, join us this spring at our Foundations of Field Training sessions.

2018 Fall Hunting Test - Wrap Up Report

2018 GSPCI Fall Hunting Tests Wrap Up Report

September 15 and 16, West Grounds of the Des Plaines SFWA


Thank you to everyone who helped to make our Fall Hunting Tests a success. Once again, we had a great turnout of GSPCI volunteers for the weekend. We apologize if anyone was inadvertently left out of this report.

 What a difference five months makes. Our spring hunting tests saw some of coldest weather in recent memory, with our crew having to begin each morning by breaking the layer of ice that formed overnight in the water troughs. In contrast to the spring, our fall tests were some of the warmest, with temps flirting with 90 degrees each day. Fortunately, our team of GSPCI volunteers were once again up to the challenge.

 As planning began a few weeks ahead of the tests Trailer Wrangler and Course Designer, Chuck Horvath worked with the Des Plaines grounds crew to ensure that our field and back course were in top shape after an unusually active summer growing season. Having cleared the background check for entry to the “cone of silence,” the draw was completed with the help of Matthew Dlugie.  


After Chuck Horvath dropped off the trailer, work began in earnest on Friday afternoon with new Test Chairman and board member Dave Wolfe and Perry Dlugie setting up the field. The Saturday and Sunday morning set up team of Hunting Test Director Frank Susi and Dave Wolfe were welcomed by mild fog and a crew of GSPCI members eager to get to work in the field, parking lot and control desk.


With the pool of qualified judges growing smaller each year we were fortunate to be able to recruit such respected canine connoisseurs as Saturday’s team of Joe Delaney of Minooka and Joel Peterson of Kenosha and Sunday’s dynamic duo of John Morrison of Sugar Grove and Rick Torres of Burlington. Our judges did a great job meeting the AKC requirements for judgement while addressing concerns for the dogs’ well-being in the extreme heat.

 The GSPCI hunting tests field crew continues to be the envy of every club in the area, and the gunners’ tent is the place to be for a front row seat to view the dogs and handlers in action. As is the case at all of our tests, the tent was buzzing with activity all weekend. 

Steve Odell was back in his favorite role as Senior Avian Placement Specialist, wearing out the boot leather and setting an example for the new APS on how to manage the field. Joining Steve in the coveted role of APS were Hans Hansen, Chris Cozzi, George Noffs, John Soehn, Tracy and Chris Lewis and Frank Susi.

Adding Captain of Guns to his role of Hunting Tests Director, Frank Susi put together a top-notch team of marksmen to handle the gunning duties for the weekend. Frank’s Avian Artillery Specialists were Nathan Selep, John Morrison, Dave June, Chuck Graack, Andy Caron and Hank Freitag.

While the dogs covered the field in search of birds, GSPCI’s Queen of the Parking Lot, Merri Odell covered the parking lot in search of the next handler to send to the line. Merri is a legend when it comes to keeping everyone on their toes and to the line in time. Teaming up with Merri was long time Line Marshal, Steve Selep, assisted this year by GSPCI’s Most Improved Handler of the Year, Christine Selep. Andy Caron was there to assist by taking handlers on a guided tour of the field and running scores to the desk.

Greeting the handlers, taking scores and handing out ribbons may seem glamorous, but it can be hard work. Board member, Rich Gilloffo, recruited and trained his own crew to help on Saturday. Joining Rich were Zoraida June, Kate Keenan and Tracy Lewis. Keeping them company in his role as Mr. Hospitality was long time GSPCI member and raconteur extraordinaire, Paul Kosowski. Desk duties on Sunday were handled with grace and wonderfully legible handwriting by Karen Torres.

Taking his cue from test Secretary, Perry Dlugie Club Secretary Elect, John Singh was on the grounds; but it was difficult to determine what if anything he or Perry did all weekend.

With a new concessionaire not yet in place, Al Haseman once again stepped up to make sure that everyone was provided with a tasty lunch for the weekend. Ably assisted by brother Brad, Zoraida June and chef/treasurer in training, grandson Jacob, Al made sure that everyone was well fed and ready for the afternoon’s braces.

As is the GSPCI tradition, Saturday night’s cook out was well attended and well stocked with food. Once again assisted by brother Brad, club Treasurer and Master of the Grill, Al Haseman put out a heapin’ helpn’ of grilled chicken, pork chops and fixin’s that more that satisfied even the hungriest of handlers. Helping to make sure the evening ran smoothly were Scott Ludwig, Patti Nowak, Alice Graack, Sam Phillippe and Karen and Geno Lambeth. Al’s grilling was beautifully complimented by a counter full of side dishes and desserts generously provided by many of the folks staying for dinner (thank you to everyone who brought a dish to share). As always, no one walked away hungry! The evening concluded with social hour(s) around the campfire in the parking lot’s RV city.  


The heat continued Sunday, but our crew kept their focus and we were out of the field by early afternoon. A flurry of activity in cleaning and packing followed with Frank Susi, Al Haseman, and Dave Wolfe leading the charge, hauling equipment in from the field and making sure everything was ready to be put in its proper place in the trailer. Paul Kosowski proved that he hasn’t lost his touch with a broom, rekindling his former role as test chairman, staying late to sweep out the building to put an official end to the weekend.

We sincerely thank all the handlers, volunteers and friends who stopped by to enjoy the weekend. We also thank Purina Pro Plan and Terry Trzcinski for handler’s gifts and continued support of our club. We take great pride in putting on the best tests that we can and thank all of you who help to make that possible. 

We look forward to seeing you at the 2019 spring tests on April 6 and 7. In the meantime, be sure to check the club website at Fall Hunting Test Photos for pictures from the tests and updates on upcoming events.

 Your 2018 GSPCI Fall Hunting Test Committee Members,

Dave Wolfe, Perry Dlugie, Al Haseman, Frank Susi, Steve Selep, Merri Odell, Nathan Selep and Dennis Nowak

GSPCI - VCOI Mock Hunt Test Wrap UP

2018 GSPCI and VCOI Mock Hunt Test Wrap Up Report

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The dog days of summer arrived in full force for our annual Mock Hunt Test with VCOI. Although the temperatures crept into the 90’s, our handlers and volunteers were prepared, and we were able to get through the day without any dogs (or handlers) having any problems due to the heat.

Once again, we had a great turnout with nineteen handlers and twenty-seven entries. The dogs were judged by long-time GSPCI member and AKC judge, Ed Brock along with relative newcomer, Bill Jones. Ed was generous enough to bring along his horses, so the younger dogs were able to get an introduction to our equine friends. Bill pushed the limits of his youth, walking every brace, then taking to the field afterward for some training time with his own dogs. If you did not get a chance to see your scores, email me an I’ll see if I have your card. Note: the judges did not score the hunting category for anyone due to the abbreviated size of the course.


The success of club events like this is due to all the members who not only participate, but who also pitch in to help both before and throughout the day. We’d like to give credit to those of you who helped out on Saturday; we apologize if anyone’s name was inadvertently left out. Like most of our events, the day begins and ends with Dave Wolfe, who is always willing to set up and take down the fields. Bird planting duties were handled by Christine Selep and her great-niece, Keyle, along with George Noffs, and Ivan Bivolarov. Our gunners were John Morrison, Hank Freitag and Chuck Graack. A key to our Mock Hunt Test is having experienced handlers available to help the novices. Andy Caron and Bill Padovano did a great job as coaches. While keeping the handlers updated and ready to rock is always important, given the day’s heat, line marshal, Rich Gilloffo was particularly outstanding in keeping the day moving along. Perry Dlugie did his best to look busy but as is always the case, fooled no one.


As is the custom for the Mock Hunt Tests, lunch was orchestrated by Dennis Nowak. The delicious star performer were pork chops that were complimented by a variety of supporting side dishes provided by our handlers. Assisting Dennis in preparing lunch were Patty Nowak and Alice Graack. The lunch break was particularly appreciated as everyone took time to visit and cool off in the air-conditioning.

We look forward to seeing everyone at the fall hunting tests beginning next month. 

GSPCI – September 15 and 16; VCOI -  October 13 and 14

Check all of the club websites for event dates and premiums.

Perry Dlugie and Dennis Nowak

Hay Creek Kennel - July 2018

On his way to becoming a dog training legend, Wisconsin's Hay Creek Kennel's Sonny Piekarz joined GSPCI and VCOI for another training clinic on July 21. With over 20 years as a pro trainer and guide, Sonny has a unique way of sharing his passion for helping dogs and handlers reach their full potential. A Huntsmith trainer, Sonny was able to help both experienced and novice handlers. Building on the Foundation principals of mentoring and teaching your dog to go with you, come to you and stand still Sonny developed the canine confidence course as a way to reinforce our roles as leaders, not disciplinarians for our dogs. 

Pictures of the seminar


This was Sonny's fourth, and arguably most successful training clinic held at Des Plaines. With a core group of handlers gaining experience with his techniques we look forward to mentoring newer handlers and bringing Sonny back for a clinic on the next phase of their training system.


Hay Creek Kennel - May 2018 - Wrap Up Report

May 5, 2018 Hay Creek Kennel Wrap Up
East Grounds, Des Plaines SFWA

Twenty-one handlers enjoyed a beautiful spring day while learning how to better communicate with their dogs. Co-hosted by GSPCI and VCOI, our third Hay Creek Kennel Training Clinic was attended by a mix of new and experienced handlers. Hay Creek Kennel’s, Sonny Piekarz did an outstanding job addressing the needs and questions of both our brand new and repeat seminar attendees.


Sonny trains, guides and presents seminars with Rick and Ronnie Smith of Huntsmith fame. With over eighteen years of training experience, Sonny shared his understanding of the foundations of how to open our dog’s minds to learning. With our club’s training program being based on the Huntsmith method, the workshop was a great way for the handlers to learn first-hand the fundamentals of the system and tools used.

We look forward to our second workshop with Sonny on Saturday, July 21 st

2018 - Top Gun - Wrap-up report

Top Gun Competition Wrap-up Report

April 22, 2018

What do twenty minutes, four quail and a stopwatch add up to? A morning’s worth of fun for the handlers in this year’s Top Gun Competition. 

Event Photos



Congratulations to committee members, Dave Wolfe, Frank Susi and Chuck Horvath for continuing to do a great job building Top Gun into one of our club’s favorite events. Twenty-six dogs were entered between the single-handler and two-man teams. While billed as a competition, Top Gun is a fun event for dogs and handlers of all levels. We were excited to see so many new entries this year.

Top placements for the day were:

Single-handler                                              Two-man

Judged by Matthew Dlugie                        Judged by Nathan Selep

1.       Rosie – Andy Caron                             1.    Dodger – Matthew Dlugie, Perry Dlugie

2.       Tater – Brian Jungles                          2.    Dakota – Connie Susi, Frank Susi

3.       Rony – Ivan Bivolarov                         3.    Lucy – Rodger Robak, Andy Caron

We thank Al Haseman with help from buddy, Ed for grilling up lunch for everyone. Pitching in to help out with marshaling, bird planting and whatever else was needed to keep the day running smoothly were Andy Caron, Rich Gilloffo, John Dimonte, Ivan Bivolarov, Marty Kyes and Tony Mattingly.

We thank everyone for their help in making the day such a success and look forward to next year’s event.

2018 Spring Hunting Tests - Wrap Up Report

2018 Spring Hunting Tests

April 7 and 8, 2018 -  Des Plaines State Fish and Wildlife Area

Saturday Pictures            Sunday Pictures

Being such a talented and hardworking group, many of our volunteers helped in more than one area on more than one day. We greatly appreciate all of them and sincerely apologize if anyone was inadvertently left out of the report.

First time handler with a AKC hunting test pass ribbon

First time handler with a AKC hunting test pass ribbon

Temperatures in the low twenties greeted our handlers, volunteers and judges both mornings of our 2018 spring hunting tests. Fortunately, the morning chill was followed by sunny skies for the largest number of entries in years. We thank all the handlers, volunteers and judges who helped us to run over fifty dogs each day.

Due to the large number of junior dogs entered, a second field was added. Evaluating the junior dogs were judges Bill Padovano and Hunting Test Chairman, Sean Audy on Saturday, and Bill and Paul Kosowski on Sunday. A good number of our junior dogs and handlers, including two junior handlers, were running in their first hunting tests and appreciated the guidance provided by our judges and volunteers. Keeping the handlers on schedule and in line was veteran line marshal, Steve Selep. Steve was assisted over the weekend by a full crew of Avian Placement Specialists including Hans Hansen, Adam Anderson, John DiMonte, Nate Gustafson, Sean Audy, Marty Kyes, and new member and future junior handler, Lucas Burrows.

Across the road on the Master/Senior side line marshal, Andy Caron kept everything in check and running smoothly. Judging the Master/Senior dogs on Saturday were our favorite Hoosiers, John Prikosovich and Brad Wise. John was joined on Sunday by GSPCA NC Board of Director and long-time GSPCI member, Sharon Fitzpatrick. Handling the placement of our quail for the Master/Senior braces were Ivan Bivolarov, Christian Messmacher, Bob Gerstner, Chris Lewis, and Joel Lucasey.

Carefully assembled by Hunting Test Director and Captain of Guns, Frank Susi our top-notch team of Avian Artillery Specialists for the weekend featured Volunteer Wrangler, Nathan Selep, Hank Freitag, Jacob Schatz and Dave June. Having two fields going simultaneously is quite a challenge. Fortunately, we had Dave Wolfe and Frank Susi managing the fields from set up to take down, and everything in between.

If you have handlers, you need someone to wrangle them. Getting them to the line and keeping everyone on schedule, our Handler Wranglers for the weekend were Christine Selep, Marty Kyes, Darryn Cross-Caron and Jennifer Tanner. This was the first time as wranglers for the four of them, but the large number of entries turned them into veteran pounders of the pavement in no time.

The score desk was a hub of activity throughout the weekend. Deftly avoiding doing anything resembling work, as he does every year, was Test Secretary, Perry Dlugie. Covering for Perry by checking in handlers, recording scores and handing out ribbons were Tony Mattingly, Julie Burrows, Rich Gilloffo and Kevin Henthorn.

As mentioned previously, many of our volunteers worked in more than one area over the weekend. The record for multi-tasking had to be held by club Treasurer and GSPCI Grill Master Extraordinaire, Al Haseman. Assisted by his brother, Brad, daughter Keri and Darryn Cross-Caron, Al added grilling lunch on both days to his signature event, the Saturday Night Cook Out. Helping out with dinner reservations and filling in where needed was super sales person, Scott Ludwig. The Saturday night dinner was set up complete with white table cloths thanks to Patti Nowak with help from Joe Vicari. We thank everyone who added to the festivities by bringing along a side dish or dessert to share.

Photos taken by John Singh and Kevin Henthorn can be viewed at the Photos section of the GSPCI website. Though he was in the field judging on Sunday, GSPCI’s own Mr. Hospitality, Paul Kosowski made sure that Saturday’s handlers and visitors were all warmly greeted and made to feel welcome.  

Al Haseman capped off his duties on Sunday afternoon by handling the bills and with help from Paul Kosowski, sweeping out the building to officially put an end to the weekend.

We want to thank our handlers, judges, volunteers and folks who came for dinner and to hang out. We particularly want to thank those of you who travelled from out of state and considerable distances from within the state to participate in our tests.

We also would like to thank Purina Pro Plan and their field Rep, Terry Trzcinski for their continued support for our tests by providing gifts for the handlers.


2018 - Foundations of the Field Seminar

2018 - Foundations of the Field Seminar - Wrap Up Report

On Saturday, March 3 we kicked off the 2018 training season. 

(Seminar Pictures)


This seminar was an introduction to the Foundation Level of the Huntsmith Silent Command System (  GSPCI President, Perry Dlugie led the workshop.  Perry has been training in the Huntsmith Mentoring Program and worked alongside pro trainers Rick Smith and Sonny Piekarz in learning the Huntsmith training system.

We started at 9:00 a.m. in the East Grounds Clubhouse with a classroom full of eager members. Perry introduced the Foundations of the Huntsmith Silent Command System, basic equipment, training concepts, testing programs and events. After a short break for lunch we went outside with our dogs and put to use the basic foundation concepts learned. Everyone had an opportunity to get some hands on time with the use of Wonder lead, Check chord  and Whoa Post drills.

GSPCI has worked with Dogs Unlimited to create a training package geared towards the Huntsmith system. If you are interested, We encourage you to order yours at -, or search GSPCI Training Kit on their website. 

Additional Upcoming Training Opportunities

GSPCI Foundations of Field Training sessions are scheduled for April 21, May 26, June 16 & June 24. Watch the GSPCI website events section for updates and more information.

John Singh (GSPCI - Obedience Director)

Fall Hunting Test - 2017

2017 Fall Hunting Tests Wrap Up Report - September 16 & 17

(Hunting Test Pictures)


Thank you to everyone who helped to make our Fall Hunting Tests a success. We are fortunate to be able to continue to have such a great turnout of GSPCI volunteers for the weekend. We apologize if anyone was inadvertently left out of the report.

After a relatively mild summer and a cool week, the weekend saw temperatures hovering in the low eighties. The hard work of Des Plaines SFWA staff paid off and the fields were groomed and in great shape. Saturday morning found the Chuck Horvath designed field ready to go, along with tubs filled to the brim with cool water, thanks to test chairman Sean Audy and committee members, Dave Wolfe and Frank Susi.  

Saturday’s judging team of Joel Petersen of Kenosha, WI and Rick Torres from Burlington, WI were in the saddle and ready to go right on time. The guys did a great job giving the dogs and handlers a chance to qualify while battling the heat. Sunday’s judging team of local stalwarts, Joe Delaney of Minooka, IL and GSPCI’s own Paul Kosowski of Lockport, IL put the dogs to the test with similar results as the day before.

Taking the reins as Volunteer Wrangler, Nathan Selep did a great job recruiting and scheduling our volunteers. Nathan is the latest in the long line of Selep Family volunteers. Dad, Steve is a staple at the line, greeting handlers and sharing bits of advice on the course. Older looking younger brother, Andy couldn’t make it for this test, but his gunning skills have knocked many a quail from the sky. And of course, holding everyone together with her smile and enthusiasm is mom, Christine.

Another GSPCI hunting test family is the Odells. Mom, Mary, also known as the Queen of the Parking Lot, keeps everyone updated and to the line on time. Her friendly personality is as much a part of our tests as the GSPCI banner on the fence. Dad, Steve prides himself in his skills as an Avian Placement Specialist and granddaughter Chloe helps in the parking lot and behind the control desk as needed. Assisting as marshals were Andy Caron and Chuck Graack.

Filling out our expert team of Avian Placement Specialists for the weekend were Frank Susi, Dave Wolfe, Ivan Bivolarov, Dennis Sibley, Chris Lewis, Christian Messmacher and Matthew Neill. Our APS are the heart and soul of our tests, taking pride with each quail lovingly placed for the dogs to find them.

Hunting Test Director and Captain of Guns, Frank Susi had gunning duties well covered with his team of Avian Artillery Specialists. The weekend’s AAPs featured John Morrison, Nathan Selep, Hank Freitag and Dave June. Frank’s crew did a great job for the handlers, and their extra efforts in the heat were appreciated by everyone.

While the dogs pounded the cover in search of birds, Hunting Test Secretary, Perry Dlugie, ably assisted by Justin Erserski, did his best to look busy and keep out of the way of everyone who were doing all the work. Covering his duties at the control desk were Tony Mattingly, Mike Moskal, Scott Ludwig and Chloe. Keeping them company and helping to welcome the handlers on Saturday was long time GSPCI member and teller of tall tales, Paul Kosowski.

As is the GSPCI tradition, Saturday night’s cook out was well attended. Assisted by Scott Ludwig, Patti Nowak and Alice Graack, club Treasurer and Grill Master, Al Haseman and brother, Brad put out a heapin’ helpn’ of steak, grilled chicken, pork chops and fixin’s that more that satisfied even the hungriest of handlers. The evening was made even more special as we shared in the celebration of Patti Nowak’s birthday. Thank you to everyone who contributed with side dishes and desserts.

Sunday’s test concluded with a flurry of activity in cleaning and packing. Sean Audy, Frank Susi, Al Haseman, and Dave Wolfe led the charge, hauling equipment in from the field and making sure everything was put in its proper place in the trailer. With his judging duties completed, Paul Kosowski stayed late on Sunday afternoon to make sure that GSPCI club President, Perry Dlugie did a proper job in sweeping out the building to put an official end to the weekend.

We sincerely thank all the handlers, volunteers and friends who stopped by to enjoy the weekend. We also thank Purina Pro Plan and Cabela’s for handler’s gifts and continued support of our club. We take great pride in putting on the best tests that we can and thank all of you for helping to make that happen. We look forward to seeing you at the spring tests on April 7th and 8th, 2018 . In the meantime, be sure to check the website for webmaster, John Singh’s pictures from the tests and updates on upcoming events. (Hunting Test Pictures)

Your 2017 GSPCI Fall Hunting Test Committee Members

Sean Audy, Perry Dlugie, Frank Susi, Jacob Schatz, Hank Freitag, Al Haseman,  Merri and Steve Odell, Steve Selep and Dave Wolfe