No, I’m not promoting some sort of cruelty. In fact, the statement there should be no off-season for dogs is made with the greatest benefit to the dog in mind.
What made me think of this was the great report I got from Jerry Sather on Sunday afternoon! Jerry’s the owner of Labs Unlimited Kennel and a great retriever trainer in Faribault, Minnesota. He also happens to be an NAHC Life Member.
Jerry’s main reason for calling was to let me know that our black Lab female “Callie” earned a qualification in the AKC Senior Hunt Test of the Southern Minnesota Retriever Club in Waseca. It was the last leg she needed to earn her AKC Senior Hunter Title. She’s 16 days shy of her third birthday.
With this test just an hour from home, I wanted desperately to get there and see her run, but a crazy travel schedule combined with the “spring that never comes” here in Minnesota put behind on “must do” yard work and equipment rentals that I was going to have to pay whether I got the work done or not. So….
Anyway it must have been a whale of a Senior Test! If I heard Jerry’s message right only four of 27 dogs entered at the Senior Level passed. Judges generally try to set up a test in which about half the dogs or slightly less will qualify. It was a cold weekend here and the ice is barely out. In fact there were snow flakes in the air on Sunday! Between the wind gusts to 40 mph and cold water a good many dogs hesitated or refused to get in. The conditions really tested the dogs’ drive and determination. Jerry’s message said Callie hit the water like she always does – with a big leap and bigger splash!
Back to the statement “There should be no off-season for dogs.” The AKC hunt tests and field trials and dozens of other kinds of tests and competitions take place all year round. They are an opportunity for dogs to do what they were bred and born to do. To take a well-bred sporting dog away from what it was meant to do is really the cruelest option.
If you need convincing go to a test or trial to watch. You’ll see the dogs are true athletes. You’ll marvel at their instinctive abilities and what they can be trained to do. You’ll also be amazed at the bond and communication between dog and handler.
The titles dogs earn at these events are important to anyone looking for a puppy. You should be looking for titles in the pedigree. It’s the only real proof the dogs in the line have what it takes to perform in the field. There’s a huge difference between anyone telling you he has a good dog and actually getting out there and proving it.