June 23, 2011
Could a Chessie Win The Nat. Amateur Retriever Championship?
By Chad Love
When you write a general gundog blog like this one, it's sometimes hard to please everyone and cover everything, but I make every attempt to be as fair and objective as possible. Today, however, is not one of those days. Today I am going to throw off the stifling yoke of objectivity, show my bias and blatantly cheerlead for a particular outcome. You've been forewarned...
The National Amateur Retriever Championship is the annual AKC retriever field trial championship for amateur (non pro) handlers. To qualify, a dog must have had both an All-Age win in a field trial and seven points total during the preceding twelve months. It is an extremely competitive venue and brings together over one hundred of the very best amateur-handled and/or trained retrievers in the nation.
In the 53-year history of the NARC, a lab has won the event every single year, with the exception of 1985, when a golden took it. A chessie has never won, which says absolutely nothing about the relative merits of or which is "best" of chessies versus goldens versus labs (that tired debate is perpetuated primarily by morons) but does drive home the fact that labs are particularly well-suited to the unique demands of the field trial game.
At any rate, we all have our favorite breeds, and as many of you know that I am a chessie guy. I got intrigued by the breed as a kid after reading of them in Bill Tarrant's Field & Stream column, fell in love with them after getting my first one in college, and when I finally shuffle off this mortal coil, I will do so with a chessie sitting at the foot of the bed. I am not a field trialer (but hopefully that's coming with my next pup...) but I do love following the small but devoted and successful contingent of chessie field trialers.
This year's NARC is being held right now in Ronan, Montana. I've been following the progress of the trial via the official blog as well as the trial's daily update page. Out of a field of 115 dogs there is exactly one chessie at this year's NARC, a three-year-old female named Yakity's Shake Rattle 'N Roll (call name "Comet") and I am tickled to say that she's tearin' it up. Comet, owned and handled by noted chessie breeder/trainer Linda Harger made it to the sixth series this morning, a tough land/water quad, where her performance caused the event's blogger to write this:
"WOW!!!! Chessie Power!!!! Comet just showed everyone how it's done!!!! And she did it this way: left flyer, right flyer, left retired with a smart hunt in the area, and the island bird, which she drove pretty straight with a quick check on the point where the guns stand to throw."
Could this be the year a chessie finally wins the National Amateur Retriever Championship? There are five tough series and three days left to find out, but I for one am pulling for Comet. Nothing against all the fine labs running, but sometimes you've just gotta root for the underdog dog. Except for college football, I'm not much of a sports guy so maybe you can help me out: if Comet does hang on to win, are there any comparable pro sports analogies? Would it be akin to the Cubs winning the World Series? Give me your best analogy...