My nineteen month old Labrador has been a stellar retriever since birth. Bling has an intense way of watching for the throw and then a major drive to get to the object and bring it back to me. With training, she has developed patience to wait until I tell her to “fetch”; once said, she gets in turbo gear to complete the retrieve. We have practiced enough so that she will sit, stay, and wait for me to walk out and toss the bumper or bird. I then walk back to give her the command and she can do what she was bred to do. Using this method, she can practice far longer retrieves than I could ever throw.

Her targeting was on track, the desire was there, I was pretty certain she was ready for her Working Certificate test that was being offered by my club, the Keystone Labrador Retriever Club. On the day of the test, we got up early and made the trip to the very nice location.

When it was our turn, Bling walked quietly to the line. The gun went off, the bird went down and the judge told me to send my dog. So, I did. Bling ran out hard and straight to get to her mark. And then, it happened. Instead of picking up the bird and running right back to me as she had done so well in the past, she ……she……she….. dropped and rolled on the bird. Enthusiastically, I might add. At that point I also wanted to drop on the ground and roll, but for a different reason.

I mentally begged her to stop and just bring the bird back. But, nope, when, she finally finished, I called her and she happily returned, sans desired object. We were done competing for the day. The judge graciously allowed her to be the demo dog for the water series……we were pretty sure she couldn’t roll in the water (unless she morphed into an alligator). Bling performed well for that. We also were tapped to be the pickup dog in the water should any dogs fail to retrieve. We were not needed.

At the end of the day, we went home with Bling happy to have had fun and me with a slice of humble pie. It is always good to see dogs do what they were intended to do. I got to cheer for the other dogs and handlers. We didn’t get a ribbon, but there is always next time.

photo at top by Rick Parisi