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.
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