AKC Gazette
AKC Gazette

National Specialty Events
by Nina Mann

On October 8, 2002, Labradors and their people started arriving in picturesque Sturbridge, Massachusetts for the largest Labrador Retriever event ever held. The 2002 LRC National Specialty Events week offered competition in Agility, Obedience, Conformation, Hunting Tests, Junior Showmanship, Working Certificate and Conformation Tests, Field Trial Stakes, Canine Good Citizen and Tracking Tests, and Therapy Dog evaluations. There were over 1600 entries with twenty-six judges officiating in the multiple venues that showcased the versatility of America's most popular breed. The first event, Tracking Tests for TD and TDX titles, started on Wednesday in sunshine with the trees showing the beginnings of fall color. The only Labrador to qualify (she earned her Tracking Dog title) was a nine-month-old puppy, Lakebounds New Year Addition whose owner had never even seen a Tracking Test. It was also the first day of a two day Judges' Study Group for 20 participants.

On Thursday the judging of 894 entries in conformation and obedience commenced. Drizzle settled in on Friday as the two judges picked two blacks for WD and WB, both from the BBE classes and from the same kennel, Saltmeadow Knight School and Saltmeadow Humidor. Best of Breed was a yellow bitch, Ch. Lobuff TurtleDove. Best Opposite went to a black male, Ch. Inglenook Instigator. In the rings next to conformation, exciting obedience performances culminated in a runoff for High in Trial. Ridgewoods Full Moon Fury from Novice B and OTCH Connemara Jasmine CDX NA NAJ executed nearly perfect performances, with only a slightly wide left turn giving the HIT honor to the OTCH from Open B. The Veteran Obedience class was heart warming as the old dogs strutted their stuff. First place both days went to 10 year old Plymrock's High Riser UDX JH OA OAJ and second place on Thursday was OTCH Hurryback's Class Act UDX JH, a month shy of her 12th birthday.

Saturday and Sunday two days of agility trials attracted 450 entries. These classes were enlivened for the spectators by four dogs who spotted the lake from the top of the ramp or their jump and headed for it without breaking stride! Twenty minutes south in Connecticut, the field events began with 58 entries in the Derby and Qualifying field trial stakes. A number of field competitors also entered the Conformation Certificate Test held at headquarters. A third event, a Working Certificate Test, was also held on the grounds. The WC is an opportunity for beginner dogs to run a land retrieve and a back-to-back water test to show natural working ability. One successful participant, an almost 11 year old champion, showed that old dogs can learn new tricks.

The Qualifying Stake ran over into Sunday and the hunt tests began on Sunday with the Master and Junior Tests. The wet weather finally broke and Monday's events ran in sunshine with the fall colors once again decorating the grounds. The Master finished up on Monday along with the Seniors. There were numerous cross entries from the conformation and obedience classes in the field events, and many entries in the Field Trial Qualifying also ran the Master hunt test.

This exciting week truly celebrated the versatility of the Labrador Retriever. Seven Labradors earned Dog For All Reasons awards. To earn this award, a dog must enter three different venues and qualify in at least one.

(Labrador Retriever Breed Column for AKC Gazette April 2003 Vol 120, No 4)

The Labrador Retriever Club, Inc., is the single organization officially recognized by the American Kennel Club as the national parent club of the Labrador Retriever. The Labrador Retriever Club, Inc., was incorporated in October 1931, in the state of New York, and is not affiliated with any other association titled or claiming to be the National Labrador Retriever Club.