| you gotta be a dog person. Second you need
to know the capabilities of the dog. Third you need to understand
how to challenge a dog.
As a judge you have complete control over the field you judge.
If you have some problem about the test set-up working with the
other judge you can change it. John also watches which dogs are
failing. If the test dog is having problems and the first five
dogs fail, he may reset the set-up and run the first five dogs
They have a few rules about where and when they judge. They won't
run where they have not judged, though he has judged a lot of
places. That rule will be suspended to judge the nationals this
year. They do not judge with anyone they have not run with or
judged with. They also do not judge with chukars. Those rules
are in place so they have a feel for who and where they are judging
This October the nationals in California should be an interesting
next step for John. There will be four judges at the nationals
one from each region. John will be representing the central region.
There will be 300 dogs run over eight days on ten courses. There
will be an A and B flight, two judges in each flight. All dogs
will be evaluated over each of the ten courses. If you pass all
ten courses you get an invitation to next years nationals a REALLY
nice ribbon a beautiful pewter plate and TWO Master Hunt Test
passes on record.
| But John and Karen do more then judge.
They have had 25 litters since 1990 breeding their females only
one a year. Maintaining the health of the Labrador is paramount
at their kennel. The day we talked with them; they had a mom
that was overdue pacing the house. They don't breed any of their
dogs before they have qualified in the field and are at least
two years old. Because eyes are so important in marking, they
have all of their pups eyes CERF'd at seven weeks by one of the
four vets in our state that can CERF a pup. To have a pup CERF'd
is $35 vet fee and $25 to register the CERF. And they ID chip
all their dogs.
They get a very fair, some my say inexpensive price of $900 for
pups coming from a kennel with their experience. A $100 deposit
will hold your pup. Oh and if you want a dog that will match
your furniture, don't call the Blackbirds. They only sell pups
to working homes. And they qualify all prospective owners.
You will need to ask to get the pick of the litter.
Which made John & Karen laugh. When I asked what? They told
us about a guy that spent four nights at two hours a night evaluating
the litter to establish the pick of the litter. Karen said: "
He had a checklist and every thing and he was diligently taking
notes each time, but he left happy!" I guess that would
be better then closing your eyes and reaching or picking the
color of collar and one wrapped around my ankle as I did.
So if you are looking for a great pup or want to talk with some
great people, either show up at the Retriever Master Hunter Nationals
in October or give John and Karen a call they located near the
Ann River in Mora, MN. Their phone number is 320-679-0611 they
are good people.
Dennis Guldan hails from New Brighton, MN