Top gun­dog tak­ing on Aussie ca­nines

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

‘‘She is just a bit of a nat­u­ral. I think she is a bit of a freak some of the things she does. ’’

Ge­orgie is smarter than your av­er­age dog. Though it took a few years to dis­cover.

The 7-year-old black labrador re­triever is a New Zealand cham­pion gun­dog and the only Kiwi ca­nine about to take on Australia’s four-legged finest.

Her owner, Peter Southee, of Gal­loway in Cen­tral Otago, left for Australia on Sunday to com­pete in the New South Wales state re­triev­ing cham­pi­onships and the 47th na­tional re­triev­ing cham­pi­onships.

Southee said she would be com­pet­ing tri­als com­pletely dif­fer­ent to New Zealand, in­clud­ing re­triev­ing mul­ti­ple birds from 200 to 300 me­tres away. She was the first of­fi­cial New Zealand rep­re­sen­ta­tive to com­pete in the Aus­tralian cham­pi­onships, he said.

‘‘It’s en­tirely dif­fer­ent to ours...I had to start from scratch to train her. If I get in the top 10 I will be rapt.’’

Her tal­ents as a gun­dog were not ini­tially ob­vi­ous, in fact, she was con­sid­ered ‘‘soft’’.

‘‘I got her third-hand from a breeder. He couldn’t han­dle her be­cause she was too soft, she wouldn’t re­trieve or anything...I put her on a short chain with a big dog and he dragged her along. Af­ter that she never looked back. Then I slowly started to en­ter her in com­pe­ti­tions.’’

She com­peted in re­triever tri­als, as well as ‘‘all breeds’’, and the dif­fer­ent tri­als re­quired the dog to com­plete dif­fer­ent chal­lenges. Her success in New Zealand tri­als has shocked even Southee, par­tic­u­larly in the all breed tri­als.

All breed tri­als de­manded dogs com­pleted tasks not nat­u­ral to re­triever breeds. It in­volved all breeds of gun­dogs find­ing and flush­ing out game. Dogs zig zag, cov­er­ing the ground try­ing to find the game.

‘‘Not a lot of dogs can do it. She got bet­ter and bet­ter and started win­ning. She is the only lab do­ing it in New Zealand.’’

She holds nu­mer­ous cham­pion ti­tles, in­clud­ing New Zealand grand cham­pion. Both her par­ents were grand field trial cham­pi­ons and her fa­ther was a record holder, Southee said.

‘‘Every time you win the provin­cials you get a point. She has 43 points and the record is 50 which her fa­ther holds. She is just a bit of a nat­u­ral. I think she is a bit of a freak some of the things she does.’’

JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

Peter Southee, of Gal­loway, is in Australia com­pet­ing with his cham­pion labrador re­triever Ge­orgie.

Peter Southee

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