Wow, I learned a lot during my studies last week! As I mentioned several weeks ago, “Drake” was a Hunt Champion. To earn this title, he had to compete against a set of standards that had him finding and retrieving a mark (bird) over land and water at distances of up to 100 yards, strictly by sight, smell and hand signals from his trainer.
This week’s interview is with “Sinner”, a 13 year old black lab. She is a Field Trial Champion. To attain this level, she had to retrieve a mark over land and water, at distances of up to 400 yards (almost ¼ mile). Pretty amazing to find the four different birds, in the order directed by her handler. She also had to retrieve birds she did not see fall by relying on hand and whistle signals from her owner and return without damaging the bird.
Breeds typically competing for Retriever Field Trial Championships are most commonly Labrador’s, Golden’s and Chesapeake’s. Field Trial puppies may cost between $1500 and $5000. A Champion Field Trial dog (usually four years and older) can often cost over $50,000. While in training to obtain this level, these dogs will often work (running, swimming and retrieving for 2 hours per day), five days a week. This type of work requires a higher protein diet, often at 30%. The average adult pet requires only 20-22% protein in their diet. The most sought after traits for a good field trial dog are keen eyesight and a good memory. Remember, 4 birds, 4 different places, (sometimes without seeing them) and brought back to the handler in under 5 minutes. Just the thought of that much intense work makes me a tired therapy dog!
Thanks for hanging out with me,
Aengus (aka The “Big Dog”)
Field Trials in recorded history began in Britain in 1866. America’s first recorded field trial was held in 1874 near Memphis, Tenn. It was an event that started a trend that grows ever stronger. The winner of that first U.S. Field Trial was a solid black native Setter by the name of Knight. (this fact courtesy of AKC.org)