"I'm shocked," said Tim Tufts, who also trains English Setters in Orono, Ont.
Boris Panovski was arrested Sunday as he returned to Canada at Pearson International Airport, just a few days after provincial police issued a Canada-wide warrant.
He's facing first-degree murder and attempted murder charges in connection with the shooting death of businessman Donato Frigo, 70, on Sept. 13 and was remanded in custody after appearing in a Goderich, Ont., court on Monday. He's next due in court Oct. 6.
Frigo, who served as a trustee of the Amateur Field Trial Clubs of America, was killed while riding with a woman near a wildlife conservation area in southwestern Ontario. Police said the woman was able to get to safety and suffered minor injuries, but wouldn't identify her.
Investigators have released few details about the shooting incident, other than to say that Frigo and the woman were taking part in dog training exercises when they were approached by a man who shot and killed the businessman.
Police also said Frigo and Panovski knew each other, but would not give any further details on their relationship.
Tufts, who came to know both men during hunting dog field trials, said the two men had known each other for more than 20 years.
Panovski was "quite an accomplished trainer" of competitive bird dogs for about 20 or 30 years, he said.
Panovski also bred and sold pointing and setter dogs, he said. Frigo bought pointing dogs from him, including Belfield Silver, which won a number of championships and sired other champion dogs, he said.
But Panovski had a temper that got him "into some difficulty" with customers in the United States and he got out of the business about five years ago, said Tufts.
He'd get angry when the dog didn't win in competitions and would blame the owners.
"Boris was very talented at finishing a young dog, getting them right on game, putting a pattern on them, making them very competitive," he said. "He basically assumed that any time he turned a dog loose at a field trial, it should win. ... he could be a little short-tempered."
Tufts said Panovski, who he hasn't seen in about five years, was banned from field trials in the U.S., but the American Field Sporting Dog Association said it has no record of a ban.
Panovski landed in legal trouble in January 2005 in Waynesboro, Ga., a mecca for bird dog championships.
He was charged for public indecency and pandering, said Sgt. Dedric Smith of the Waynesboro sheriff's department. Panovski asked a waitress working in a restaurant where he dined to have sex with him for payment, he said.
"He was later observed by this lady playing with himself in the window of his hotel room," Smith said. Panovski paid a fine through the court.
(The Canadian Press, BlackburnNews.com)