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    1. #1
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      We are BACK from Ireland!!!

      It was amazing and we did the right thing by just winging it. We also decided to not do the usual tourist things (we'd done them the last time we were there) but rather to travel the central part of Ireland that is not on most folks' itineraries.

      Got us some TRAD... let me tell you. Fabulous. We were walking down a sidewalk in Galway and heard some serious fiddle music coming through a doorway, went in and would you know... the fiddler was Chinese. But it just goes to show that it's the power of the music, not the genetic purity of the musician.

      Ate huge amounts of pub food. I am a traitor to my heritage in that I do not like beer. But the Irish are very forgiving people and didn't make me feel like a a total twit for requesting wine.

      OK... I could go on, but I did look into what I could find about Retriever work on the other side of the pond. First, let me tell you about my experience at King House in Boyle, County Roscommon. It's a restored Georgian mansion. I saw this huge portrait of Sir Cecil Stratford-King-Harmon. It had hung in the even bigger home, Rockingham House until that structure burned down in the 1960's. But this picture was saved. It shows Sir Cecil, maybe in the late 20's early 30's very nattily dressed in his tweed jacket and knee pants, carrying his shotgun and standing beside his Labrador Retriever. The phenotype of that dog was identical to our field labs. The dog could have been a Field Champion or Master National Retriever going to the line at any event on any weekend here in 21rst Century USA. This particular dog's head and snout looked a LOT like Ram Jet Rocket Dog's. Unless Sir Cecil was a midget, I'd have to say that that dog had a lot of leg on him (or her... couldn't tell the way the dog was posed.) Obviously, it's impossible to say anything about that dog's temperament. But given the longer exposure times for film in that day... I'd say the dog had to be sitting pretty still. Thus, I suspect the dog was a bit more settled than RD.

      So, clearly, it is not the North American field lab that has over time devolved away from the breed's original phenotype. They just haven't.

      But, critically, are the US field dogs wild and crazy compared to the labs that can win a field trial in the UK and Ireland, events that are as close to replicas of a "gentleman's day hunt" as can be had. Obviously, the Field Trials in North America get more and more demanding yearly and they've evolved tremendously. But UK/Irish field trials are pretty much what they have always been.

      Are our dogs crazier? I would have to say yes. But only in one important way... noise.

      I saw a contender to win a national title work, as well as a young dog who was still "in middle school" if you will. These dogs are very, very, very tough. They made my head spin. I thought the handlers were out of their minds to send the dogs where they went. A huge deep gully, rocky on the other side. The dogs jumped down and clawed their way up the other side... took two bounds and jumped over a 4 foot wire fence. Then they hit some high cover and hunted it hard, grabbed the bumper and came back at full steam.

      On one occasion the younger dog actually broke. She was a real pistol. Both dogs were very exciting to watch. BUT... here is how they were different from our labs... they were absolutely silent. I didn't hear them barking when I came up the drive into the yard... they didn't bark when they were leaving their runs to go work. They didn't bark or whine when birds were going down. Utterly silent. I was told that any noise at all can disqualify a dog and so the dogs that make noise don't get bred. Period. I don't know about yours... but my dogs bark. A lot. It's something we are always working on. So there is that.

      I specifically asked the pro I was visiting about the calm, gentle, measured sort of performance that is alleged to represent the type of hunting for which the Lab was historically bred. He categorically rejected the idea since they hunt in a line of gunners (12 or 16) who could be dropping game fast. He contended that a fast, hard-charging dog was always highly valued.

      I think it's possible that our labs are expected to work more in and around water. Big swims. In and out and in again. They don't hunt their dogs that way and it's possible ours have evolved to be better water dogs. I don't know how you would prove that. But I just throw that out there.

      Just thought I would share the results of my informal research.

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    3. #2
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      Aye Mate,
      Glad ye experienced some grand craic in Ireland and found ye way to the heart and away from the roads most traveled. T'is nice to get away from the tourist traps and see the best Ireland has to offer. So glad ye found ye way to the pubs for some good TRAD. I agree t'is not about the nationality of those that play the music, rather it's keeping the TRADition of Irish music alive and well. One of the finest players of Uilleann Pipes (the quintessential Irish instrument / pipes) is a Jewish guy, (who cares, the Lad can play like he was born and raised in Doolin) LOL.

      Grand that ye got to see some dog work and talk retrievers with trainers across the pond. Some grand dogs exist in both England and Ireland.

      Slainte,
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    4. #3
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      Sounds like you had a wonderful time exploring Ireland. I had a look at M's pedigree, she has a couple of Irish field champions back in it. One is a Drakeshead bitch and the other is Ikllerisk bitch.

    5. #4
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      We went to Ireland for our honeymoon in 2009. We were on the east coast, Wicklow, Greystones, Kilcoole, Glendalough and spent a day in Dublin. It was magical. In Newtown Mountkennedy we found a trail through the woods. We called it our Forrest. Mossy oaks, fiddlehead ferns, clear cool water. The people were so kind and accomadating. We met a wonderful old gentleman who looked like the Gordens Fisherman. He talked with us for an hour just shooting the breeze.

      its on our bucket list to go back.
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    6. #5
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      Regarding the Lab thing, jeez, when I read this I knew it was a backhanded way of saying that you have proven that field Labs are truly the best and the most real Labs, so I was just going to roll my eyes and not say anything. But then I read what you wrote in the other forum and, well...I guess I don't understand why you are so obsessed with proving that your dog is "the perfect Lab" and all others (types) are inferior? Do you honestly think that field Lab breeders are preserving the breed? Both sides of the spectrum need to make changes and I think most people -- pro-field and pro-conformation -- will tell you that. It is hard as hell to find a moderate Labrador and one that can do it all and meets the standard, plus has an excellent temperament and health. The dogs winning in conformation do not always meet the standard, either. Here is supposedly a drawing of a "perfect" Labrador from the AKC and this is rarely what you get in the ring or in the field. However, it looks pretty close to those old images you see of men hunting their dogs in tweed way back when. And yeah, of course barking and whining is bad. How can you hunt if your dog is screaming in the blind?
      Last edited by Labradorks; 09-16-2015 at 11:47 AM.

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    8. #6
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      I am so glad I am not the only one shaking my head over this.

      As for barking, none of my Labs have been barkers, I have never found them to be vocal in that way. Grumbles, moaning and snoring, absolutely. Flat out uncontrollable barking, no way.
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    10. #7
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      TuMicks, glad you had a good time in Ireland, it's a beautiful place.

      Seems to me that you always spin what you see to fit your idea of what a Lab should be. I'm not going to tell you you are wrong, because you would never accept an opinion that differs from what you believe. I lived in the UK, I spent a lot of time at conformation shows, and I worked at the Labrador Retriever Club's Champion Field Trials, and several working and water tests. While the dogs in general do not conform to the appearance outlined by the breed standard, I did not see them as the high strung over the top field dogs I've seen here. I can assure you any dog on the line at a Championship Field Trial who was making noise, much less screaming, would be sent off. They also trained their dogs without e-collars or force fetching. The is a big difference in temperment between the dogs I saw there, and the ones I see here.

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    12. #8
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      TuMicks, have you ever actually spent time with a conformation bred Lab who also does field work? Or a conformation Lab, for that matter? Have you been to a conformation show? If not, I think you should do so before you base your opinions just on what you know or think you know and what you want to believe. I do think you might be surprised and humbled. After doing field work and spending more time with field Labs doing field work (as opposed to my previous experience in rescue and BYB/puppymill and pet bred Labs who, 99% of the time are from field lines), while it didn't make me want to bring one home, it surely helped me understand that type of dog and that level of sport better, especially as it pertained to the type of training often required for the upper level competition.

      In my experience, which admittedly is minimal and includes my own dog(s), a well-bred conformation Lab at a hunt test just does his or her job. I'm talking at the WC or JH level -- the levels in which natural ability is key. With minimal training or none at all in some cases I've seen, they sit quietly in the blinds, don't drag their owners around, don't have issues with other dogs, are polite in the vehicle before their turn and they quietly get the bird and bring it to hand on land or in water. No fuss, no muss. I just don't see anything wrong with this scenario. But, perhaps I am the exception here.

      Have you ever met a Labrador that could do the job of a quiet yet steady hunting companion in the real world then head home and be a quiet family housedog that does therapy work on the weekends, would not be laughed out of the conformation ring and competes in the obedience ring, all without the use of e-collars and FF and so on? While the drive of a field Lab can be impressive in it's own right, a dog that can go from field to sofa to therapy to obedience and be at least close to the standard -- all without force because the dog is highly trainable, sensitive, level-headed and intelligent -- is pretty amazing and useful to everyone, as well, again, in my humble opinion. Isn't this what the Labrador is supposed to be? Isn't the breed supposed to be all-purpose, versatile, quiet, dual-purpose, etc.?
      Last edited by Labradorks; 09-16-2015 at 12:35 PM.

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    14. #9
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      Guess I missed something in the translation. Can't answer for TuMicks but for myself I have spent time in the last 25 years around both conformations bred labs and field bred labs. I have seen extreme behaviour from both groups. It has a great deal to do with expectations and training. The last test I judged 2 of the dogs failed for line manners. I will be judging a master next weekend and again will be judging the training as far as line manners go. The handler is a big part of the team.
      As to your question about the Labrador being a quiet steady hunting companion in the real world that heads home and then is the family house dog, could not enter the conformation ring but was a dead ringer for the labs developed from the St Johns Waterdog ( ancestry CH FC Banchory Bolo), was a therapy dog, ran field trials, hunt tests, had obedience titles and won a Gold Whistle. Then my answer is yes. I held him in the palm of my hand the night he was born and held him in my arms 13 years later on the night he died. I still miss him but have some of his genes in great granddaughter.
      One of the biggest difference I find in the 2 groups is stamina. I have had both conformation body type and field body type. I had to drop field trialing with the former after QAA because they just were not built for the extreme distances of the field trails. The last qualifying trial I ran one mark was over 400 yd, the middle was 325yd and the short retired was 175 yds. The blind was 350 . This was just the land series. My past conformation builds were just not made for that. They were fine running hunt tests and working certificate distances.
      Right now my young female is combination of my past breeding X field CH and a pedigree riddled with British, Irish, and Welsh field trial champions X show lines. She is the smallest (57 LB),most wiry, most agile and energetic lab I have ever owned. She is as smart as a whip and when the collar comes out she is off the wall. She can go all day when training or playing but is a quiet as a mouse in the house. Lies beside me all night and at my feet when I am on the computer.
      You get the dog you train. Minimal training will get you through a WC and a JH even a derby because it is totally marking ability but once you enter the higher level stakes you need a dog with marking ability, style, and perseverance along with that so important trainability (steadiness,control, response and delivery). The first three are bred in but the last is what we bring to the table to perfect a nonslip retriever. As a judge I see far too many dogs (not just labs) come to the line with that minimal training. I often wonder if we are doing a disserve passing some of these dogs that meet the minimum standard for a pass. As a former teacher it always troubled me when students were satisfied with that 50% mark as a pass. I would ask them if they would hire a house builder or a mechanic that would do a 50% job. Guess it is the same with our dogs. Stick with what ever type of lab you enjoy but train it to 100%.

    15. #10
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      The Labrador Retriever Club standard regarding temperament says:

      True Labrador Retriever temperament is as much a hallmark of the breed as the "otter" tail. The ideal disposition is one of a kindly, outgoing, tractable nature; eager to please and non-aggressive toward man or animal. The Labrador has much that appeals to people; his gentle ways, intelligence and adaptability make him an ideal dog. Aggressiveness toward humans or other animals or evidence of any shyness in an adult should be severly penalized.

      Where does it say a Lab should be a "hard charging", "balls to the wall" competitor running extreme, man made marks that seem to increase on a regular basis? To prove, well, I am not quite sure what it is proof of.

      Every book I own about Labradors refers to them as a "gentleman's hunting dog", I don't get that picture in my mind when I read Tumicks description of RD, in fact I get the exact opposite. I do believe training is a HUGE part of that. I am just tired of hearing that her dog is what a Lab should be and what any Lab worth a damn is, I disagree. I think the last paragraph of Labradorks post above says it perfectly.
      Last edited by Maxx&Emma; 09-16-2015 at 06:13 PM.

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