Two Labs qualify for national amateur championship
Ladd and Annie, a pair of black Labrador retrievers, have rearranged their owners' calendars for the month of June. The dogs finished first and second at a field trial in St. Cloud, Minn., last weekend, qualifying both retrievers for the National...
Ladd and Annie, a pair of black Labrador retrievers, have rearranged their owners' calendars for the month of June.
The dogs finished first and second at a field trial in St. Cloud, Minn., last weekend, qualifying both retrievers for the National Amateur Field Trial Championships in Castle Rock, Utah. The event, on June 17-23, is the pinnacle of competition for retrievers handled by amateur trainers.
Ladd, a 6-year-old male, won the Central Minnesota Retriever Club's field trial May 25-27. He belongs to Paul and Jennifer Panichi of Chisholm. Annie, an 8-year-old female owned by Jeff and Barb Wiklund of Duluth, took second.
Annie won the Duluth Retriever Club's annual field trial in August 2006, and Ladd took second place at the Minnesota Iron Range Retriever Club's annual field trial in July 2006. Points from both events helped qualify the dogs for the National Amateur.
About 140 dogs from across the nation qualify for championships, and about 100 usually compete.
Nearly all of the dogs that qualify for the event are trained at least part of each year by professional trainers. Ladd spends winters training with Dave Rorem, a professional trainer from International Falls. Annie, however, is an exception. She has been trained and run in trials only by Jeff Wiklund.
This is the first time that either Wiklund or Panichi has qualified a dog for the National Amateur event.
"It's going to be a learning experience this first time," said Panichi, a 40-year-old Chisholm police officer. "We'll try to do the best we can and hopefully learn a lot from it."
Panichi trains Ladd nearly every day after work, he said. His training group includes David Furin of Hibbing; Corky and Marcia Krollman of Hibbing; Natalie Belt of Eveleth; and Larry and Lorraine Sarek of Cook. It helps to have several people training together because the dogs must make complex retrieves on both land and water at distances up to 300 yards or more.
Wiklund trains Annie about twice a week with his training group. She delivered eight puppies by Caesarean section on March 2. Wiklund, a marketing account manager with Minnesota Power, said the reality of qualifying for the National Amateur is still sinking in. When Annie competed in a hunt-test competition at age 6 months, Wiklund watched the seasoned dogs compete.
"I thought, 'Boy, I wish I could do that some day.' And here I am, an amateur trainer that made it to the National Amateur,'' he said. "Annie and I have formed a bond over the years. I know what she's thinking, and she knows what I'm thinking."
Wiklund's training group includes John Nichols, Jim Watts, Bill Abalan, Dick Dobbs and others.
Both Wiklund and Panichi plan to spend a few days in Colorado with Rorem in a tune-up session on the way to the National Amateur.