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A Born Retriever
By Josh Hagy

This Lab was born to retrieve.

Carbon Copy of Horn Creek, a black Lab owned by Frank Kashevarof, recently won the 2006 National Amateur Retriever Trial Championship in Klamath Falls,Oregon. Sponsored by Nestle Purina, the competition is comprised of ten challenging series that is sometimes called “the Super Bowl” for retrievers and just like the Super Bowl, it’s an exclusive game.

“To qualify, you have to have a win and a second, and that’s eight points,” explains Frank. The same goes for the National Open.”

In the ten series Carbon had to retrieve either a duck or a pheasant from a variety of different and challenging tests. In a process similar to retrieving ducks during a hunt, Carbon would leave his handler’s side to seek out and retrieve a bird. To add to the difficulty, Carbon wasn’t always allowed to see where the bird fell. Each series presents its own set of difficulties for the dog, but Frank says the water marks were among the most difficult of all the series.

“There are long marks and short marks and they can screw the dogs up. There were seven tests of marks, along with water blinds and land blinds. Water is the toughest. It’s much slower, the dog has to deal with the water and swim hard” said Frank.

Photo Courtesy of Purina

“It was duck hunting that first got me into field trial competing,” said Frank. “If you’re lucky, you shoot so many ducks that you just don’t know where they are. It really helps to have a dog with you to go get them. I went to a couple of hunt tests and watched some people run their dogs. I got hooked on the competition.”

The nine-year-old Lab has racked up a long string of accomplishments. His appearance in the 2006 National Amateur Retriever Trial Championship netted him his first win in this competition; it was his fifth appearance in the title round of which he was a finalist 3 times.

Carbon’s name is a little unique. “Carbon is from a repeat breeding,” he explained. “So that’s what he was, a Carbon Copy out of Horn Creek Kennels. Cosmo was a special dog and so was Sparkle,” he said of Carbon’s parents. “Carbon really is something too; he has a great personality, excellent marking ability and a real field presence.”

Not only is Carbon a Champion Retriever, but one of his pups, Chopper, also owned by Frank, is already making waves in the world of retrievers. “Chopper won the 2005 National Open at age 3,” said Frank. “I think that’s quite an accomplishment, both for Chopper and for Carbon. It’s definitely something to be proud of.”

Photo courtesy of Jim and Jackie Gonia.

Training and preparing Carbon for competitive retrieving was not an easy task, even though he was quick to learn. “It takes a lot of work but it also takes a lot of trust,” Frank said. “You have to trust the dog and he has to trust what you’re sending him after. It takes a lot of faith both ways.”

It also takes an intelligent Lab like Carbon that can count. “It takes a dog you can hold steady and one that can count. Four is as high as you can take him and that takes a long time to build.”

In the end, though, all the hard work pays off. “Carbon is a special dog,” he said. “He’s always been there and he’s never doubted our relationship and neither have I.”

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