For those of you that do not know me, I love dogs! All breeds of dogs. Take a bulldog for example whose sole purpose in life is to eat, snore and fart. When they do “pass gas” they look at you like “wasn’t me!” It just cracks me up! They all are awesome in their own right. However, out of all the breeds of dogs, I really love labs the most. Their intelligence and personality along with how biddable they are just puts them at the top of the list. I am always on the lookout for another good one.
Less than a year ago, I saw that a professional trainer in Texas, Chris Eldridge owner of Summit Retrievers, was selling a dog. I know Chris and his wife Keirsten. I have seen Chris run many dogs at multiple events throughout the years. I have socialized with them at tests and ribbon ceremonies talking mostly about dogs and cameras. I was always impressed with him, his wife and the dogs on their truck. They are definitely great people!
The dog was a gorgeous black lab who had earned a Hunting Retriever Champion Title. It sparked my interest. I picked up the phone and called Chris to talk about the dog. Although he was not the owner, he had raised this dog from a puppy. He had trained the dog her entire life and put a HRCH title on the dog. He knew the dog as well as someone could! We set a date and I drove to Texas. I watched her run multiple marks and blinds. WOW! WHAT A DOG! Now Chris had said that she was a good one and that there was a solid shot at passing the spring grand. After talking about this dog a bit more Chris made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse. This good-looking banger of a dog was going to run the 2019 Spring International Grand as a 2 year old. I left her at Summit Retrievers with Chris and Keirsten knowing the dog was still in good hands. During the Grand I followed intently and Chris kept me informed as things progressed. Series 1, 2s. Series 2, 2s. Series 3, 2s. Series 4, 2s. This dog was perfect through the first 4 series Grand as a 2 year old! I spoke with Chris on the evening of the 4th and he assured me that he had all his dogs ready for the upland. He was right and this dog’s first pass was in the books.
Shortly after Chris got back to Texas, I headed south from Nebraska. When I got to Summit Retrievers, I quickly learned that this dog was not a random fluke. Chris and Keirsten owned the dog’s uncle “Goose.” Goose was a GRHRCH and a MH. He had also earned a pass at the Grand. That is what intrigued them about this little black puppy 2 years ago. While talking dogs, they showed me their new property and the plans for the future. It would make most “Dog guys” jealous, including me! After parting our ways, I headed north to Nebraska with a beautiful, black lab in the back seat.
She fit in well with our dogs and family. Probably one of the happiest dogs I have ever been around. There is definitely an addiction to sticks. She loves to carry them around and is darn proud of it too. I trained when I could and entered the Platte River HRC in North Platte, Nebraska. After that weekend I was leaving with 2 more finished ribbons for the wall. On the way home I dropped off this talented dog with Dane and Kara Johnson. Dane and Kara own APEX Retrievers in Elm Creek, NE.
I met Dane years ago at a HRC test in Unadilla, NE. Dane introduced himself to me and I found out that he and I owned dogs that were full siblings, my “Hook” and Dane’s “Trooper.” After meeting him that night Dane took me under his wing and he has definitely helped me become a better “dog guy.” Dane has put multiple Grand titles on dogs, including 2 dogs that are in the HRC Hall of Fame. Throughout the years, our families have become close and we enjoy not only training dogs but also spending quality family time together. Dane and Kara are nothing but Great people!
Dane took on this dog to get ready for the Fall Grand and kept me in the loop on how training was going. He had some fixing to do on things that I had let slip throughout the summer. I will openly admit that I love to train but do not have the knowledge of a professional trainer! I guess I subconsciously like making Dane’s life difficult. Sorry Man!
Before I knew it Dane was headed northeast to Wisconsin. The Wisill HRC club was hosting the 2019 Fall International Grand. Between Dane and the awesome coverage by the HRC International Grand media crew I felt like I was there even though I was stuck at work. Dane called me on that Thursday morning to say he was going to the 5th and final series. I jumped in the car and headed to Wisconsin. I made it up there in good time and was even able to watch some dogs train for the upland test. The last and final part of earning a Grand pass. The next morning came quickly. I did not sleep well. I had zero faith in my alarm that night! Soon enough my alarm went off and I got ready for the day. Mind you, the only thing that I have to do is stand around and watch. But I was still nervous about my duties for the day. Dane was already outside. I went outside and watched Dane wrap up his morning routine before jumping in the truck. We were off to day 5 of the Grand. We watched the test dogs and then got the running order for the day. Dog 512, who ran as the second dog of the flight F all week, was once again the second dog to run. The walkup honor went perfect. The walkup was flawless. Quartering in the field was good. All were in eyesight of the gallery. Dane, the judges, along with the gunners all turned and walked away towards the bird in the field. I was in a bad spot and could not see the dog from the gallery. I could see the bird flush and heard Dane and the gunner shoot, but I could not see the dog. I hoped no extra commands were required after the shot. Not being close enough to hear the comments from the judges I was able to see a handshake and a pat on the back. Made me think that we got through it. As Dane was walking towards the gallery, I got a thumbs up. Chris was standing there and shook my hand and congratulated me. A Grand Hunting Retriever Champion at 3 years and 3 months old! As I write this, I am still beyond excited! The icing on the cake was being able to watch Dane pass the rest of his dogs and watch Chris and Goose earn another Grand pass. What a day!
All dogs have a story and this is mine with
GRAND HUNTING RETRIEVER CHAMPION SUMMITS HOMETOWN GIRL – “Fancy”.
I look forward to adding even more to the story as the years go on. Thank You to Chris and Keirsten Eldridge, Dane and Kara Johnson, The HRC Grand , and everyone that has been involved with Fancy. It has been a long time goal to own a Grand dog and now I do. It would not be possible without all of these Great people!