By DIANE DIERKS
What's it take to win a national United Kennel Club title? Lots of time and dedication. Three-year-old "Spice" and her owners, Doug and Cathy Stamper spend many hours on the road and travel to over 150 competitions a year, as far away as Texas.
Doug's hard work paid off Labor Day weekend, when his English Coonhound, "Spice", won the national title of Overall Champion of Open Registered Class Nite Hunt competition.
According to Doug, the competition takes place during night-time hours and dogs and their handlers are divided into castes and then awarded points, determined by the number of "strikes" a dog makes and the amount of raccoons that are "treed."
After a dog and handler beat out all other competitors in a caste, they move on to a different section of woods. The competition concludes when points for "strikes" and "treed raccoons" are totaled and the dog and handler with the most points win.
Doug has competed for over 18 years in coonhound hunting events. He says that " Spice" will continue to hunt competitively until she wins the Grand National title. According to the UKC, a dog must have five first-place national title wins to become Grand National Nite Champion.