Keith Pittman Memorial Trial

 The sun shone brightly on the grounds at Oak Hill Shooting Preserve on this December day. The competitors gathered to run their dogs in the age old sport of field trialing.  

  While this is a fun trial being run on this day it is not an ordinary one. It is named and is being run in honor of a friend that passed away earlier this year. The man we are gathered to honor is Keith Pittman.


   I had known Keith for a number of years. To say that we were the closest of friends would not be honest. We were friends and I felt that over the last couple of years of Keith’s life we had grown to be better friends.

  So who is Keith? I will answer this from what I knew of him. Keith was a man that was born, raised and lived in Eastern North Carolina. He was educated at East Carolina University. He worked in research at the University’s medical school. The exact field of study I am not sure, but I am sure it is a bunch of words that I have no business trying to spell. 

  He was a true dog man. He competed in Field Trials. He judged Field Trials. He was the owner of Pine Log Kennels, where he not only trained his clients dogs, he also treated those dogs as if they were his own. One interesting thing about the training and the kennel is that you would think that it was nothing but pointing dogs. While a pointer with a poker straight tail was his favorite, Keith had a knack with all breeds and took on all dogs that needed to learn what they were going to do.

Max looking determined on a find. Photo by Newton Smith.

  One caveat to show the depth of his ability as a trainer is he trained the first dog in the nation to be able to sniff out a bacteria that is commonly known as C-diff. This bacteria in hospitals can make you seriously ill. Keith, with his skill and understanding of the problem, took a young beagle and made the hospital a safer place. He truly was gifted when it came to teaching a dog.

  He never, at least around me, thought that a new owner and handler were a burden. He always took the time to answer all the questions and demonstrate how to do something. He would spend the time with the owner to ensure they knew what to do with the dog when it went home with them. 

   These are just some of the reasons that those who knew him had gathered in his honor to run a field trial on grounds that were special to Keith.

  The dogs included the usual suspects for a field trial. There were English Setters, Pointers, GSP’s, a Gordon Setter, and one Boykin Spaniel. This diversity of breeds is a testament to the talent that Keith had to train any breed in any system to any level. 

Newton Smith’s Boykin in the field. Photo by Newton Smith.

  The days categories where people competed are Puppy, Derby, Bird Hunter, and Shooting Dog.  These weren’t run in any order as they were run as people signed up and a brace in that category could be run.

  I brought my puppy Max. I entered him in the puppy category for his first run in a field trial. He had a really nice race, and his range was good for the field we were on. He had a couple of points, which is not a requirement in the puppy category, but was a nice addition. His handle wasn’t as good as I would have liked, but we came away with a second place. I am very proud of the young gladiator as he entered another arena.

Max with his trophy. He looks pretty proud of himself. Bad cell phone photo by me.

  I then ran him in the derby. I figured it would be good for him and running in a bigger stake couldn’t hurt. He ran well but he decided that he wanted to back the other dog. So as the other dog hunted, Max was looking to see when he would point and then would back the other dog. This was a little frustrating but he is a puppy and these handling things will be worked out. We didn’t place, but we had a good time and learned a few things that we need to work on.

Max looking intense during his run. Photo by Newton Smith.

  So the day continued and ran very smoothly. There were a few more derby braces and the shooting dogs ran in the afternoon. These guys looked really nice and it is always exciting to see a shooting dog do their thing.

Shooting dog showing how it is is done. Photo by Newton Smith.

   In the end, we all spent some time remembering Keith and what he meant to us. Whether it was a piece of advice on a training problem, or a story about a trial, or maybe even a joke he told, it was remembered. I think that as we remembered him he was watching the dogs and smiling while shaking his head at the shenanigans going on with the handlers. Thank you Keith for all you did, and for bringing us all together in your honor. You are missed by all who knew you

2 Replies to “Keith Pittman Memorial Trial”

    1. Laura, I am very glad that you like the post. He was someone special. It was a great day. It was great to see you again.

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