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Ranking Your Gun Dog: If Gun Dogs Were College Football Stars

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November 09, 2011

Ranking Your Gun Dog: If Gun Dogs Were College Football Stars

By Chad Love

I am, as I'm sure many of you are, a big college football fan. As I was watching a game last weekend the announcers were talking about a player who had been lightly recruited out of high school, but had blossomed into a big-time college player.

In recruiting parlance, he had been a lowly three-star recruit, lacking the hype, expectations and fistfuls of scholarship offers of the more desirable, highly-touted four and five-star recruits he was currently kicking all over the field.

And it occurred to me that there are some remarkable parallels between the expectations we place on college athletes based on their recruiting rankings and the expectations we place on our dogs based on pedigrees and price. Just like four or five-star football recruits, dogs that come from titled parents have expectations of greatness. And just like those recruiting rankings, sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't. And sometimes, just like those overlooked, under-recruited superstars-in-waiting, dogs from "undistinguished" lines can turn out to be prodigal talents.

Such is the mystery of chance. You just never can tell. You roll your dice, make your pick and hope. But naturally, that thought led me to start giving "recruiting rankings" to all the dogs I've owned, and many of the dogs I've hunted over.

Most of my dogs have fallen solidly in the "three-star recruit" range: blue-collar dogs of solid, working lineage who sported a smattering of titled dogs scattered throughout their pedigree, as most gundog pedigrees do. And I can honestly say that most of them have lived up to that expectation; just good, reliable field dogs with enough drive and natural talent to get the job done in a workman-like, non-flashy manner. Yeoman dogs. Using the recruiting analogy, most of my dogs would have been small-college recruits, good players who did their jobs, but just didn’t have the skill set to play at a big-time school.

But I have owned two dogs who were different than the others. One was an honest-to-goodness "five-star" recruit with an impeccable field trial lineage. He was the product of a very special frozen semen breeding between a long-dead sire and an amazing field trial dam, and he certainly lived up to the expectations I had for him. In fact, I was the one who failed him, miserably, by not following through on the great promise he showed. The other was--based on lineage alone--one of those aforementioned three-star recruits. But she had more drive, more go and gasp-inducing raw talent than any dog I've ever owned, and I'm convinced that had I known what the hell I was doing way back then she could have gone far in the dog game world.

What about you? How would you rank the dogs you've owned, using the college recruiting analogy?

Comments (6)

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from mojokwacksmaker wrote 2 years 23 weeks ago

its true. I had a choc. lab that was free out of a parkin lot she was one the best id seen. sadly i had to have her put down. now i hav a blck lab that come from a pointing lab and a field trial champ. hopefully hes as good as the frebee!

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from Charlie Nichols wrote 2 years 23 weeks ago

Too early to tell with the one my wife owns now as she is only 2 1/2 years old. My first one was going to be a star player but was stolen by cosmetic testing @#$holes when he was beginning his 4th year. Taken right at the time of his glory years. I just put a deposit down on a new pup last Saturday so by playing the odds I have to get a MVP sooner or later, right?

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from QDMGuy wrote 2 years 23 weeks ago

Using the analogy, I guess most of my dogs have been walk-ons! I just picked up a GSP pup from the pound but I still have high hopes for him. There's something to be said for the heart of an under-dog! I just hope he doesn't end up like one of those "managers" that you put in the last play of the last game of his last season because he "tried so hard" haha.

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from sean59701 wrote 2 years 23 weeks ago

I had a male and female lab while I was in high school. The male was a pretty good lab not the best but OK. After high school I joined the military for 20 years. I saw an add in the paper when I retired for a $50 male lab. I was shocked to find out that his lineage traced back to the male and female lab I had 20 years before. He is the best hunting dog I have ever had. He has retrieved more birds than I have shot. He finds other birds where other dogs have failed.

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from Trapper Vic wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

Had a chocolate lab, was a national champion show not hunting but he was a 5 star hunter could have played in the NFL. had to put him due to cancer. I kept one of his pups a black lab. He would have been cut from the high sckool team. He's a good ole dog though we love him.

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from mojokwacksmaker wrote 2 years 23 weeks ago

its true. I had a choc. lab that was free out of a parkin lot she was one the best id seen. sadly i had to have her put down. now i hav a blck lab that come from a pointing lab and a field trial champ. hopefully hes as good as the frebee!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Charlie Nichols wrote 2 years 23 weeks ago

Too early to tell with the one my wife owns now as she is only 2 1/2 years old. My first one was going to be a star player but was stolen by cosmetic testing @#$holes when he was beginning his 4th year. Taken right at the time of his glory years. I just put a deposit down on a new pup last Saturday so by playing the odds I have to get a MVP sooner or later, right?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from QDMGuy wrote 2 years 23 weeks ago

Using the analogy, I guess most of my dogs have been walk-ons! I just picked up a GSP pup from the pound but I still have high hopes for him. There's something to be said for the heart of an under-dog! I just hope he doesn't end up like one of those "managers" that you put in the last play of the last game of his last season because he "tried so hard" haha.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from sean59701 wrote 2 years 23 weeks ago

I had a male and female lab while I was in high school. The male was a pretty good lab not the best but OK. After high school I joined the military for 20 years. I saw an add in the paper when I retired for a $50 male lab. I was shocked to find out that his lineage traced back to the male and female lab I had 20 years before. He is the best hunting dog I have ever had. He has retrieved more birds than I have shot. He finds other birds where other dogs have failed.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Trapper Vic wrote 2 years 21 weeks ago

Had a chocolate lab, was a national champion show not hunting but he was a 5 star hunter could have played in the NFL. had to put him due to cancer. I kept one of his pups a black lab. He would have been cut from the high sckool team. He's a good ole dog though we love him.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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