Monday September 10, 2018

Updated: Monday 7:30 pm
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The 2018 Canadian National would like to thank our sponsors, Nestle-Purina Official Sponsor of the Canadian National Open and Canadian National Amateur Retriever Championships, Official Dog Food Sponsor and the Official Dog Food Supplier to the National Retriever Club of Canada, Avery Sporting Dog, Garmin official e-collar supplier, Thank you as well to Ducks Unlimited Canada supplier of the finalist gifts, Zinger Winger official remote launcher supplier, and Animal Portraits by Connie Swanson for supplying portrait to the winner.

Test 1 - Land Triple With a Retired Gun

Welcome to the 2018 National Retriever Championship hosted by the Red Deer Retriever Club in and around Spruce View Alberta. After an overnight rain, contestants awoke to an overcast morning with the wind 7 km/h E and a cool 6C. A welcome relief from the blistering hot summer temperatures. Hard to believe it was 34C just last week. Contestants remain optimistic that the dog flu H3N2 was contained to the 6 dogs that were scratched. Started off with a big disappointment for some owners and handlers that were looking forward to competing against the best retrievers in Canada. Now the challenge for the judges with such a small field is to balance carrying dogs with setting national calibre tests.
As is tradition at our nationals, the signalling paddle is signed by the judges and then passed on to the next set of judges. Here, Daniel Shnitka one of the judges from the 2018 National Amateur, hands the paddle off to Mark Laberge, one of the judges from this National.

Test 1 is a land triple with 1 retired gun. The wind is coming across the test from left to right. The order of the throws is left retired, then centre and the go bird is on the right. All of the throws are throw flat with the 2 outside birds thrown right to left and the middle bird is thrown left to right. For the long left retired mark, a drake mallard is throw with white ribbon to make the bird visible against the variable treeline in the background. Distances to the marks are; long left retired 218 yards, middle 132 yards, and 178 yards to the right go bird.
The test is being run in a cut stubble field dotted with round bales and surrounded by mixed spruce and poplar. With the white sky behind the treeline, it makes for a difficult time picking out the long left retired gunners. The gunners blend in well with the gaps in the trees. The test is taking about 5 minutes per dog. At about half way, the wind has switched and is now 4 km/h SW, coming across the test right to left.


Lois and Haley

Honorary test dog was NFTCH FC Road Warriors Lady Hawk owned and handled by Lois Aitken. After Haley won the 2011 National she was bought by Kippy Stroud Swingle and ran trials in the US before being retired and returned back to Lois. Haley at 12 1/2 year old showed us what great hearts these retrievers have. She was so excited to retrieve a bird once again, she broke.
Male test dog was up first. Storm Warnings Hellor High Water, owned by Dan & Laura Danforth, and handled by Laura had an excellent go bird. He went between the bales under the arc and went directly to the bird on the centre mark and had an excellent line to the left retired. Good job. Female test dog was Clubmead Str8 Piper, owned by Stu & Diana Mead and Handled by Sharon van der Lee. Piper had a litter of puppies 2 weeks ago and is a stand in test dog. She went right to the go bird and had a very good centre mark but blanked out on the left retired and had to be handled. With the background the way it is for the left mark she may not have seen the throw.
Sharon and Piper

Laura and Zap


At this time of year, one of the hazards we must be mindful of for the safety of our dogs, is foxtail.
Callbacks: 38 Dogs were called back to the 2nd series. Dog 15 was not called back. Dog 11 will start Test 2.

Test 2 - Land Blind

Test 2 is a land blind being run in the same field as Test 1. The mat has been moved to the left around the corner of the field so that the line to the blind crosses all 3 lines to the marks. The wind has come around and is 11 km/h N which is crosswind to the test. There is a shallow ditch that runs along the road that makes it challenging for the dog to hold its line without squaring across. The line to the blind crosses the ditch twice but doesn’t actually cross the road, but runs along beside in the green grass. There are 2 prominent hay bales that frame the line to the blind and a point of trees to the right. A hen mallard is placed at an orange stake that marks the end of the blind at 375 yards. The bird planter is sitting in a Quad to the left and deep of the blind but is visible.


First up was female test dog Piper with Sharon handling. Piper started off unsure and required multiple whistles to keep her progressing towards the blind. Then she disappeared behind the point of trees and was picked up. Male test dog Zap with Laura handling ran next. Laura worked hard to keep him in the corridor but he still managed to disappear behind the trees and was called back into sight to complete the blind. At that point the judges decided to change the test. The stake was moved to the left along the side of the road and the mat was moved to the right to shorten the blind. Another test dog, Maplepond Zwingli of Ellismore, owned by Walter Ellis and handled by Sharon van der Lee was called to run. Zwingli had an excellent initial line to about 2/3 of the way out and then needed a few whistles to complete the blind. The first running dog #11, was called to line at 3:17 pm.
Kinda Cold (Judges left to right: Trevor Dickens, Mark Laberge, and Al Lanigan

Callbacks: 35 dogs were called back. Dogs 29, 35 and 37 were not called back. Dog 21 starts the 3rd series which is planned to be a water triple. Caravan leaves headquarters at 7:30 am.