End of 2008 17 years breeding a retrospective and thoughts on the future

1991 the Haredale A-litter was born. My aim has been from the very beginning to breed sound, bold, versatile working Labradors that will also be nice family pets on top of their working ability.

Since 1991 I have on average bred about one litter a year and I do not look back at the 18 litters with 115 puppies without a certain pride, as to date every single litter has held at least one dog that excelled by particular performance or is at present excelling. A look at the test results (cf. list of litters) and particularly the list of the various Trophy Winners of the RCS (Retriever Club of Switzerland) or the qualifiers for Swiss championships as well as championship winners in the classes Companion Dog 3, Avalanche Dog 3 and Red Cross Rescue 3 will show a fair number of Haredales. Most Haredales work in more than one field, proving their intelligence and that they are able to support pressure. First and foremost of course Haredale Carin Chuck, who will most definitely remain singular in his achievements!

When it comes to the goals regarding health issues there will always be the odd one out, no matter how carefully the planning has been, how intensive the study of the pedigrees and the backgrounds of the two parents involved. However, what I can state very clearly is that no-one should ever maintain that "everything is ok", unless - without exception - all the puppies of a litter have been scored. This has been the case in more than one litter where it was in fact the very last one to be done that turned out to be bad or at least worse than the others.

On 2nd June 2008 a well-known personality from the European Retriever section wrote to me concerning my addition «Our Show is in the Field» to the kennel name:
Their is only one field which is the real field, our show must have place in the shooting field. All the rest is "spielerei" and can be done by everybody. Of the whole working test scene their are only a few who can start in a FT and gain a result... (original quote)
"Spielerei" = the playing around

I am aware that my requirements regarding the dogs I breed from are very high and – looking at the statement above – I should like to thank the writer for the compliment, for all my dogs belong to these few that can hold their ground at working tests and field trials – and in addition in rescue work...

As long as the "Spielerei" leads to Haredales running at various championships, that they work as rescue dogs in active service or as a sport, as well as being drug sniffers or doing blood tracking in the service of mankind – so long shall I be happy and shall I even encourage my puppy buyers to play around and so long shall I not deviate from my original aims.

Due to the fact that, apart from a small number of duck shot, there is no gameshooting in Switzerland where our retrievers could do the original job, I see myself forced to travel hundreds of kilometres to give my dogs the possibility to do the real retriever work. Compared to dogs living in countries where they go picking up innumerable days a week throughout the winter, my dogs are very poorly off. A small number of duck shoots, some days partridge shooting and as an exception a week pheasant shooting is all that I can offer them.

And yet all the dogs I use for breeding have all – apart from working in the two different areas of rescue work (Avalanche dog and Red Cross Rescue*) as well as working tests - proven at field trials that they have the original retriever qualities such as "steadiness", "gamefinding ability", "soft mouth", and the "will to please" – also while out hunting. Some of these traits make it possible for a dog to work in various fields, that the dog has the intelligence that I need it to have to do the most versatile jobs. For this reason I am all the happier that after Haretor Wischnu and Conneywarren Spike, I have now also handled Spike's daughter, Enchanting Goldcrest vom Keien Fenn to her IntFTCh title – to date the only three Labradors in the 125-year history of the Swiss Kennel Club to have achieved this title**.

And the future?

The judgement of what is a "good looking" Labrador has unfortunately changed so much in the 33 years since I bought my first Labrador, Dirk von Stieg, that a pure field trial line bred Labrador – no matter how good looking it may be – hardly stands a chance of getting the qualification "very good" for conformation. If all pure field trial line Labradors will only get the qualification "good", what shall I breed with in the future if our rules postulate that at least one partner in planned mating has to have a "very good" for conformation?

* all my brood bitches were qualified for the 2008 Swiss Championship for Avalanche Dogs: Little Dart with André Bühler (they came 2nd), Crest and Kanya with me...

** In total there are to date only 5 retrievers in Switzerland that have achieved the IntFTCh-title: apart from my three dogs, "Amirene Intrepid" (Béa Loetscher' Golden Retriever) und "A Blizzard of de Bartelt" (Werner Haag's Golden Retriever).

Verena Ommerli, January 2009