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Triple Sevens

Laura Bell

Triple sevens were scored at the 2015 UKC World Coonhound Championship Bench Show. Number one - The American Leopard Hound is the seventh Coonhound breed. Number two - The seventh year of the American Leopard Hound as a UKC recognized breed. Number three - Indigo is one of the seven colors of the rainbow. Ralph and Adena Fussnecker, a husband-and-wife team, took a gamble on this new breed of coonhound back in 2012 and they hit the jackpot with the breed in 2015, taking major hunt and show wins at the UKC World Championship, Autumn Oaks, and in the Purina Race.

Please introduce yourself

Adena. I was born and raised in Ohio. I have three brothers and a sister. I am the only one that hunts. My nephew, Corey Davis, also competition hunts and works for Conkey’s in Florida. I am nursing supervisor at a drug treatment center in Indiana. Previously, I worked as a Psychiatric Nurse at a hospital in Indiana. I am married to Ralph Fussnecker and have two sons. Alexander is 15 and Kolby is 13. Kolby has enjoyed hunting since he was three years old. I have taken him coon hunting, squirrel hunting, and deer hunting. Alex has other interests, but he does enjoy showing the dogs with me.

I am also the President of the American Leopard Breeders Association. John Cox was the previous President and nominated me for the position as the President at the 2015 Leopard Days event. It was voted on and I became the President of the ALBA for the year. Here lately I have been very busy with clubs wanting to hold sectionals and clubs that want to host the 2017 Leopard Days. We have had a huge interest this year in the Leopard Hounds. I really enjoy my position as the President because I get to meet new people and promote our breed.

I have also been able to work closely with John Karlak this year. He is the Vice-President of the ALBA.

Ralph. I am a veteran and served one tour overseas. I am one of eight children raised on a cattle and tobacco farm in southern Ohio close to the Ohio River. I enjoy hunting and the outdoors.

How did you first get involved with coonhounds?

Adena. I was introduced to coon hunting by some friends. I used to go with them a lot in the fall of 2005. I was then taken to the local clubs and started watching the bench shows. I really enjoyed it and decided that I would like to try it. The first hound I ever owned was a Black & Tan. They were my first love. I started with a dog named GR NITE CH GR CH ‘PR’ Flat Timber’s Case Double X (GR NITE CH GR CH ‘PR’ Setum Up Ace Again x GR CH GR NITE CH ‘PR’ Bad To The Bones Rachael). I really enjoyed him. He started at six months old. He went back to Dean Miller’s breeding. I owned him and two of his littermates. The first dog I ever really started to show was a B&T female named GR CH ‘PR’ Wilson Creek Trashy Dreams (CH NITE CH ‘PR’ Flatrock River Sowder x ‘PR’ Midnight Queen).

Ralph. I was introduced to coon hunting when I was 14 years old. I went with my next door neighbor, Garrell Florence. He owned and hunted some really nice Blueticks. He taught me a lot about training pups. We would hunt about three or four nights per week.

How did the Leopard Hounds catch your eye and enter your kennel?

Adena. I watched Curtis Elburn and Andi Elburn-Emory when they started showing the Leopards. They always had nice dogs. I talked to Curtis at Leopard Days in 2012 when he brought two Leopards there to show. I told him that I didn’t have a dog to show at the time. He ended up coming to my hounds with a couple dogs, one being Indigo. He told me he would partner on one of the dogs with me. I fell in love with Indigo.

Ralph. I was at Autumn Oaks in 2012 and saw Dan Noble sitting at the ALBA booth and I started talking to him. I ended up getting a couple phone numbers and I called around. I talked to Mark Dreste in Illinois and he had a set of pups. I ended up buying them both. CH GR NITE CH Ripley River’s Lucky Luke (Evercry Whiskey x Dreste’s Evercry Zeppelin), was one of those two pups.

What breed did you have and promote before the Leopards and why did you switch?

Adena. I used to own, breed and promote Black & Tans. That was until I was able to get Indigo. After I got Indigo, I fell in love with the Leopards. They have such an amazing personality. They are smart and versatile.

Ralph. I started out hunting Blueticks with Garrell Florence. I got out of hunting for a few years and my brother-in-law, William Brown, got me back into hunting. I bought a Treeing Walker and hunted with him. I still hunt Walkers and Leopards. I didn’t really switch, just added to the kennel.

Please tell us more about WSHOWCH GR CH CCH Elburns Indigo and what your expectations were when you first decided to enter him in the World Show.

Adena. I got Indigo when he was 2½ years old. He was already a Show Champion and a Conformation Champion. He is such a natural, not only on the bench but also in the woods. I held him back as a Champion until the spring of 2014. I finally finished him as a Grand Champion at Leopard Days 2014. He was the National Grand American Leopard Hound at Autumn Oaks 2014. He then went on to win Overall at Leopard Days 2015, Opposite Sex (to his littermate, Ragweed) American Leopard Hound at Autumn Oaks 2015, and then on to win the 2015 UKC World Show. After winning the show, I have started to hunt him again. I think that he enjoys hunting more than he does showing.

My only expectation was that Indigo and I were going to go out to Illinois and do our best. I was looking forward to visiting with friends. I was hoping that we would at least win the male part for the breed. I never expected that Indigo and I would win the World Show. After Chris Waller picked Indigo for the Overall Male, I couldn’t quit crying. I think I was in shock. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect we would make it that far. We were up against amazing hounds of each breed. Then when we had to show against Andi and the Redbone female, Hailey, I just knew that Andi would win with Hailey. She was last year’s UKC World Show Opposite Sex. Then, after Chris picked Indigo to be the 2015 UKC World Show Champion, I couldn’t even move. The tears were flowing. Curtis and Ralph had to come out to get the trophy and Indigo. It didn’t sink in for a long time. I don’t think it sank in until I made it back to Ohio.

Please tell us more about CH GR NITE CH Ripley River’s Lucky Luke and what your expectations were as you entered into the hunt at the 2015 Autumn Oaks with him.

Ralph. I bought him as a pup from Mark Dreste in Illinois. He was nine months old when I started training him in the woods. I turned him loose with my Walker dog, Bella, and I was expecting him to stick around my feet. He took off with Bella the first night and went hunting. He was at the tree with Bella.

My first competition hunt with him was at 15 months old and it was at the 2013 RQE for Leopard Days. He placed second in the RQE. He was the High Scoring Male Leopard that year at the UKC World Hunt. He won first place and was the ALBA World Champion in 2013. He was easy to make Nite Champion and won most of the casts he was in. I then partnered with Greg Neusbaumer in 2014 and he finished him to GR NITE CH. Luke was the Overall Hunt Winner at Leopard Days in 2015 with triple cast wins. He got a cast win at the Indiana State Hunt this year also. He went on to win his Grand Nite cast at this year’s Autumn Oaks and was the National Grand Nite Champion Leopard. He was also the High Scoring Leopard Male for ALBA. He has an entry into the Purina Nationals and is also the breed leader in the 2015 Purina Race.

Greg and I were confident that we would have a Grand Nite cast win with Luke this year at Autumn Oaks. We were aiming for the Grand 16 but fell short of that. I was on another Grand Nite cast with my Bella female while Greg handled Luke this year at Autumn Oaks. I won my cast with Bella, but I was even more excited to know how Luke did in his cast. It was a very proud moment for myself and Greg to win National Grand Nite Champion Leopard with Luke. Greg had spent countless hours in the woods hunting Luke prior to Autumn Oaks and I was hoping that work would pay off.

Tell us about some of your other notable Leopard Hounds.

Adena. Indigo was my first Leopard Hound. I own another female, ‘PR’ R&A’s Lilly Of The Valley (Laker’s Scar x Laker’s Strikin Annie). She is the mother to a litter of pups I have out of Indigo. She was started when she was around eight months old and was owned by our nephew, Michael Back.

I have another female, Dixie, that Ralph and I got from Dean Boester in Illinois. She is a wide hunting female. She has a really good mouth and is good to run pups with. She will be bred to Indigo when she comes into heat. She is out of the same cross as CH GR NITE CH Ripley River Lucky Luke. I have really big plans for her. I also own CH Ronjohns Blue Blaze (WCH FCH GR NITE CH GR CH Riley’s Flathead Valley Bolt HTX x NITE CH GR CH C And M’s Southern Swirl), with Bobby Chamness from Indiana. He won BMOS at Indiana State and also Champion Male Leopard at Autumn Oaks this year.

Ralph. I own a female named, N&F’s Miss Pickles (Odom’s Sugarfoot Hard-Rock x Odom’s Sugarfoot Dixie). Dixie is owned by Don Odum of South Carolina. She is 11 months old and she is already treeing coon and runs with the older dogs. She has a squall/chop on track and a chop on the tree. She is co-owned with Greg Neusbaumer.

What are some of the things you do with your dogs to condition them for the show/hunt year?

Adena. This year we changed our feed to Purina Dog Chow. The dogs seem to do better on it. Some of our dogs still get fed Sportmix®. We try to determine which feed they do better on. We give them Platinum Performance powder for canines starting a month before big events. It really does make a difference in a hound. Most of our dogs are run in the woods either at night or during the day.

Ralph. I also hunt five to six nights a week. Hard work, nutrition, and repetition/training is what makes a hound live up to its full potential.

What major wins have you accomplished with your hounds?

Adena. Indigo won Champion Male at the 2012 Walker Days in Portland, Indiana. He won the breed in 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015 at the UKC World Show. He won Top 10 Leopard Hound at Winter Classic in 2015. He has won Champion Male Leopard Hound at Autumn Oaks in 2012 and 2013. He won BMOS at Indiana State, Grand Champion Male and National Grand Leopard at Autumn Oaks 2014, Grand Champion Male and National Grand Opposite Sex Leopard at Autumn Oaks this year. He was Champion Male all three days and King of Show at Leopard Days 2014. He was Grand Champion Male all three days, King of Show, and Overall winner at Leopard Days 2015. He won the Champion Leopard at the conformation show at Autumn Oaks 2015. He has had multiple Leopard pair wins with Prissy, a female owned by Janet Butcher. He has won multiple times at RQE’s. He was the 2015 American Leopard Hound World Show champion and also the 2015 UKC World Show Champion.

Ralph. I won 10th place Registered with Bella in 2013 at Walker Days. Bella won the Slams in 2014 at Autumn Oaks and won her Registered cast Saturday night. This year Bella won her Grand Nite cast at Autumn Oaks. Luke has won at RQE’s, Leopard Days, and Autumn Oaks.

What are your future plans?

Adena. I have seven beautiful puppies out of the Lilly x Indigo cross. I have partnered with Cody Osborne, Jonathan Cravens, Peggi/Jerry Benson, Hailey Creasman and Megan Chadwick on five of the pups. Ralph and I have decided to keep a male and a female out of the cross. I am super excited to see how this cross does. They all have the potential to follow in Indigo’s paw prints.

I am also hoping to breed a nice female that Megan Chadwick has to Indigo. I hope to keep his legacy alive for many years to come.

Ralph. Continue to improve our breeding program and kennel.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Adena. I want to take the time to thank Curtis Elburn for believing in me and Indigo as a team and for partnering with me on him back in 2012. He always gives words of encouragement! I also want to thank my husband, Ralph. He has spent countless hours feeding and conditioning Indigo. He has traveled thousands of miles with me to multiple shows and hunts and never complains. He has been my biggest cheerleader and I could never thank him enough. I also want to thank those who decided to partner with me on the pups out of Indigo. Thank you all for believing in this breeding and taking the chance of owning an Indigo pup!

Ralph. I want to take this time to thank Garrell Florence for taking me to the woods and showing me how to train dogs when I was young. I would like to thank my brother-in-law, William Brown, for getting me back into coon hunting. I want to thank Greg Neusbaumer for wanting to partner with Luke and promoting him and the breed. I also want to thank Dean and Bill Boester for treating us like family when we come to Illinois for events.

Sometimes the luckiest of people are the ones with a good dog by their side. Congratulations to Adena and Ralph Fussnecker for all of their accomplishments with their hounds!

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