English Springer Spaniel Named ‘Ellie’ Wins 2020 National Amateur

English Springer Spaniel

Tracey Sander of Bismarck, North Dakota, entered her NAFC AFC Blackriver’s Jezzebelle Miss Ellie SH in her first English Springer Spaniel National Amateur Championship last December in Dublin, Ohio. The pair has competed in field trials in their home state of North Dakota and several neighboring states, where “Ellie” earned her Amateur Field Champion title before joining the field of 100 dogs at the 2020 National Amateur. Ellie, a 5-year-old liver-and-white female, left with the title of 2020 National Amateur Field Champion.

After three years trialing Ellie as owner-handler, Sander contacted Dan Murray, pro trainer and owner of Absolute Gun Dogs in Bismarck, North Dakota, to enhance Ellie’s performance in field trials. Sander attributes Ellie’s success to her “abundance of desire, natural ability and tremendous drive,” adding that Ellie “is powerful and hard running in the field, and her intelligence and enthusiasm for her work made her an easy dog to train.”

The original field of 100 competitors at the 2020 National Amateur was whittled down through five land series and a water series requiring two retrieves. Frigid conditions for the December event required the competition committee to break through the layer of ice on the pond so that Ellie and the 18 other finalists could safely compete in the water series. A channel was created with ice on either side for the dogs to navigate. Sander and Ellie trained for the water series, but the icy elements introduced a new challenge. Unphased, Ellie showed her intensity and determination, and successfully completed both water retrieves.

In addition to Ellie’s performance during the water series, her fifth and final land series really stood out to Sander. “Ellie showed excellent use of wind, bird finding, retrieving, and teamwork with me. Between that and the water series, it was a very nice finish,” she says.

“My experience throughout the National was wonderful,” Sander adds. “I thoroughly enjoyed the event, learned a lot, and met many nice, supportive people. It was a first-time experience filled with gratitude in so many ways.”

Ellie’s pedigree is prestigious. Her sire, NFC NAFC CNFC CNAFC FC AFC Blackriver’s Tanner, owned by Jeff Miller, is the only winner of all four North American English Springer Spaniel National Championships: the National Amateur Field Championship, National Open Field Championship, Canadian National Field Championship, and the Canadian National Amateur Field Championship. Ellie’s dam, FC Little Jessie Girl, was a talented, successful spaniel, whose field trial career was sidelined by mean seed disease.  

Ellie, the 2020 English Springer Spaniel National Amateur Field Champion, is fueled by Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30/20 Chicken & Rice Formula dog food.