UKC Beagle Nationals held at fairgrounds

| April 17, 2017
Jen Jones | Beacon Mark Rockwell, Seth McCloud and Dave Miller traveled from Michigan with Legacy and Dream to compete in the UKC Beagle National Event held April 14-16 at the Coshocton County Fairgrounds. Jen Jones | Beacon

Jen Jones | Beacon
Mark Rockwell, Seth McCloud and Dave Miller traveled from Michigan with Legacy and Dream to compete in the UKC Beagle National Event held April 14-16 at the Coshocton County Fairgrounds. Jen Jones | Beacon

COSHOCTON – The baying of over 300 beagles could be heard around the Coshocton County Fairgrounds during the weekend of April 14-16. Every year, hundreds of beagles come to Coshocton County on this weekend to see which dog is the best of the best and, hopefully, take home the title of national champion and a huge prize package.

According to Allen Gingerich, director of field operations of the United Kennel Club, 351 beagles were registered to compete over the weekend. These dogs represented 14 states and more than 40 individual clubs. While many live in Ohio, some traveled from as far as North Carolina and Arkansas.

Gingerich explained that every dog is registered into one of three classes. Open register dogs are ones who have never earned a degree. The champion class includes any dog that has one degree and the grand champion class is for dogs that have five champion titles. Each dog competes against dogs in their own class. The beagles are split into groups of four dogs which is called a cast. The winner of each cast competes against other winners, while the lower scoring dogs are eliminated.

Open class was held on Friday, with champion and grand champion classes to be held on Saturday. On Sunday, the winners from each class compete to see who will be named national grand champion. Gingerich said each cast of dogs and their handlers are sent with a local guide to different areas in the county. The local guides can be anyone who has permission to hunt the land they are taking the dogs to. However, no hunting is ever done in these competitions. It is strictly a scoring sport.

When casts go out, the first dog that barks at a rabbit scent is given 100 points.  Handlers stand in the same area during the entire run as rabbits tend to run in large circles and will eventually run back to where it was first seen. When the rabbit comes close, the judge will mark the spot and each dog that crosses that spot will receive points, according to the order in which they cross. The first beagle to cross the area receives 100 points, again, and the last dog will receive 25 points. Each “hunt” lasts for 90 minutes at which time all points are totaled and a cast winner declared.

Gingerich said that Ohio has the most beagle events and that two men registered this weekend had been to each of the last 26 events. Jerry Scott traveled from Malta and Matt Turner came from Newark. Most handlers bring two dogs, usually ones in different classes so they are not competing against each other. Local guides are drawn so no one can choose who they will get or where they will “hunt.”

Besides the hunt events, a confirmation show was held on Friday evening. Any dog can compete in this show. Again, the beagles are split into three classes and the winner in each class then competes against the other winners for the title.  Shumaker Farms caters a banquet before the confirmation show and the 2016 series winners were honored.

Dave Miller traveled from Homer, Mich., to compete in this weekend events. He and his friend, Mark Rockwell, are co-owners of River Road Kennels and brought two dogs to compete. Miller said he has been working with beagles his whole life, but only started competing 14-15 years ago. “You don’t know how good your dog is until you run it with other dogs. That’s why I started competing,” said Miller.

Rockwell and Miller both agreed that they love coming to Coshocton each year.  The number of rabbits makes the events fun and the people are always friendly. “I get to see friends here that I only see once or twice a year,” said Miller. The team brought Dream, who is 4 and Legacy who is about a year old. Legacy was named a champion at seven months old, which is really young for such a title.

They are also part owners of Grand Champion Black Beauty, who is the full sister to Legacy. Black Beauty was also competing at the event. Miller said they start working with the dogs when they are puppies to learn their names and to come when they are called. “Beagles just know to track rabbits,” said Rockwell, “We don’t train that into them.” Rockwell’s grandson, Seth McCloud, stated that tracking rabbits “is just in their blood.”

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About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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