It's all about the dogs

By DAN GEDDINGS
Posted 12/17/17

Cock "N" Fire Maggie is a field trial champion. 2014 National Bird Hunters Association Open Champion, 2014 National Open Dog of the Year, 2015 U.S. Complete Runner Up Open Champion, 2017 Open Shooting Dog National Champion and 2017 Open Dog of the ā€¦

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It's all about the dogs

Allen Johnson with his pointer Cock “N” Fire Little Troubles aka Diamond.
Allen Johnson with his pointer Cock ā€œNā€ Fire Little Troubles aka Diamond.
PHOTO PROVIDED
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Cock "N" Fire Maggie is a field trial champion. 2014 National Bird Hunters Association Open Champion, 2014 National Open Dog of the Year, 2015 U.S. Complete Runner Up Open Champion, 2017 Open Shooting Dog National Champion and 2017 Open Dog of the Year in South Carolina.

Maggie is the only dog to win both the walking and horseback trials. Maggie is a black-and-white English pointer.

Seven-year-old Maggie started out as a hunting dog. Retired game warden Teddy Poston of Hannah-Pamplico first "broke" or trained Maggie. She was eventually placed with professional bird dog trainer Jerry Raynor of Dunn, North Carolina. Jerry runs dogs on the national circuit and has won six national championships.

Cock "N" Fire Maggie is owned by retired educator Allen Johnson of Sumter. Automobile dealer Auddie Brown is a part owner of Maggie. Allen Johnson operates Cock "N" Fire Kennels on Britton Road, southeast of Sumter.

Allen's kennel presently holds four other dogs. Cock "N" Fire Hannah is a lemon-and-white pointer. Cock "N" Fire Headliner is a black-and-white pointer. His kennel name is "Jo Jo." Cock "N" Fire Little Troubles is also a black-and-white pointer. Her kennel name is Diamond. Four-year-old Diamond is a daughter of Maggie and is a little shy at the kennel but loses that shyness in the field. English setter Nic rounds out the pack at the kennels. Allen also owns Cock "N" Fire Justice, who is also on the field trial circuit with Jerry Raynor.

Some of you might be wondering now - what makes a champion, and how can a champion be trained? It starts with the bloodline. Good dogs are bred to good dogs over the years. Bloodlines of great dogs are recognized for their potential to produce future champions. A great dog will do the things that you like instinctively. It is in their nature to do those things. It is in the DNA - the bloodline.

Hunting dogs live for the hunt. It is desire that drives them and flows through their genes. They have a primeval urge to pursue the game. A good dog must be paired with a good hunter or trainer to become a champion. Good trainers know to work a dog often but always leave it wanting more. Good hunters/trainers love their sport. They don't mind the briars and the brambles. It is never too cold or too hot. The desire also flows through their genes.

It might be all about the dogs, but it's about the people too. Allen Johnson graduated from Sumter High School in 1970 and went to the University of South Carolina on a baseball scholarship. He was a pitcher under legendary coach Bobby Richardson. He went up through the minor leagues to the Detroit Tigers but eventually returned to Sumter and made a career in the school system.

Bird dogs and the outdoors have been his passion since he was seven years old. He grew up at the end of an era when bobwhite quail hunting or "bird hunting" was the king of the outdoors in the South. Like many of an older generation he can still remember when wild quail were plentiful in South Carolina and field trialing the dogs was a grand event.

His mentor in the field trialing world was the late Gilbert Barkley of Sumter County. Gilbert was a professional trainer who introduced Allen to the sport of field trialing.

Allen is the current president of the South Carolina Amateur Field Trial Association. He is trial chairman of The Swamp Fox Open Shooting Dog Trial that starts Dec. 29 at the Hoffman, North Carolina, Field Trial Grounds and the Amateur Shooting Dog Classic that starts Feb. 2 in Camden at the Mid-Carolina FTC Grounds.

The wild birds are almost gone now, but efforts are being made to bring them back. Allen is optimistic that the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative will help return quail to the landscape, and he is doing his part to keep fine dogs and field trialing a viable part of the sporting world.

Cock "N" Fire Maggie is a champion, and so is Allen Johnson. He is truly a man enjoying life.

Reach Dan Geddings at cdgeddings@gmail.com.