Like fa­ther, like daugh­ter

Rus­sell Whitechurch and his re­triever Ad­der­slot Chief scored a record fourth con­sec­u­tive Na­tional Re­triev­ing Cham­pi­onship but the next gen­er­a­tion is nip­ping at his paws.

Field and Game - - NATIONAL RETRIEVING CHAMPIONSHIP - Pho­tos by Mar­i­lyn Daw­son

Rus­sell guided Ad­der­slot Mag­gie May into sec­ond place and the daugh­ter of the Chief was only a cou­ple of points shy of eclips­ing her cham­pion dad. “She was one of the youngest dogs to fin­ish the na­tional course last year and she’s still only two-years-old; she’s just a baby and has prob­a­bly done more than Chief at the same age,” Rus­sell said.

Dogs WA staged the 48th Na­tional Re­triev­ing Cham­pi­onship over three days in Toodyay/northam/gooma­llin area north-east of Perth.

The judges were Ray John­son and his daugh­ter Eleanor, who held steady de­spite los­ing a bunch of com­peti­tors in the third round. “The third run was a short mark of 70 m and they were on top of a hill to give them bet­ter vi­sion,” Ray said. “Two shots were fired at that mark and then a longer mark was fired at 100m, a Wood duck into a dam, and what the dogs tended to do when the wind changed was they ran straight for the short mark and kept go­ing with­out stop­ping and hunt­ing and ended up in the dam re­triev­ing the wrong one.”

Ray said the course was set up to test dogs and their han­dlers but by the com­ple­tion of round five, all but three dogs were elim­i­nated. “When some­thing like that hap­pens, it is dis­ap­point­ing to the han­dlers but also to the judges,” he said.

Noel El­tring­ham and Wil­lowyse The Duke made up the fi­nal three along with Rus­sell Whitechurch’s two dogs. “The three fin­ish­ers we had were dogs that didn’t do much wrong for the eight runs. We had 24 pick-ups and ev­ery type of game that was avail­able to us: ducks, quail and rab­bit,” Ray said.

With two runs to go and the prospect of hav­ing no com­peti­tor com­plete the course, the judges and com­peti­tors had a quick meet­ing. “I spoke to Rus­sell and Noel on the third day go­ing into the sev­enth run and said we really want you to fin­ish but we won’t lighten the runs off in any way,” Ray said. “They both agreed and said they wanted to do the runs as planned and they blitzed them both.”

Rus­sel said the Chief still had a cou­ple of good years left in him but his daugh­ter was get­ting bet­ter with ev­ery ex­pe­ri­ence. Although he clearly got the pick of the lit­ter, Rus­sell said there was no real sci­ence in­volved.

“I like fe­males, I think they bond bet­ter with male han­dlers. She was sim­i­lar to her fa­ther when young and was the one I picked, but it is very hard with pup­pies, it can be a lucky dip,” he said. “I think dogs can read you, I bring them through from pups and they de­velop that be­lief and trust; they know you are not try­ing to trick them, they al­ways find some­thing. “For her to be do­ing what she is do­ing at her age … I can’t re­call any­thing as good at the same age.”

Both Rus­sell’s dogs were awarded a Diploma of Merit and Rus­sell also vol­un­teered to con­duct a work­shop with WA en­thu­si­asts.

Ad­der­slot Mag­gie May was hot on dad's tail

L-R; Noel El­tring­ham & Duke, judge Ray John­son, Rus­sell Whitechurch with Chief & Mag­gie and judge Eleanor John­son.

The Duke was one of only three dogs to com­plete the course

An­other per­fect re­trieve for cham­pion Ad­der­slot Chief

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