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June 22, 2013

Dalton man’s lab retriever earn status as top talent

It didn’t take Dalton’s Mike Ary long to figure out his dog Annie was a quick study.

She has learned enough in the first six years of her life to become a champion.

Annie is a black Labrador retriever formally named “Hunter’s Little Annie,” after Ary’s 15-year-old son Hunter. Ary and Annie have done quite well this year in competitions. Annie was one of 56 of some 400 dogs to receive a passing grade in the Hunting Retriever Club Grand Hunt held in April in Carbondale, Texas. She finished in the top 10 at the Super Retriever Series held in May in Cheraw, S.C.

There was a time when Annie wasn’t so good at retrieving. That was a long time ago and it was a very short time.

Ary got Annie when she was 16 weeks old. With Annie still a puppy, Ary would throw a rubber toy over three logs. Annie jumped the logs with ease, then raced back around them with the object.

But as Ary had read in dog training books and guides, that wasn’t the right way. So he repeated the throw. This time, when Annie got to the rubber toy, Ary commanded her to stop and led her back over the logs the same way she came.

They did the trick a third time, and Annie did it the right way without Ary’s help.

“That’s when I knew she was a quick learner,” said Ary, who takes Annie with him on hunts a couple mornings each week during duck season.

He started taking Annie to hunting retriever competitions when she was a year old.

Annie is a Hunting Retriever Champion, which a dog acquires by passing the three levels (starter, seasoned and finished) four times on different days. For starter, the handler can hold and guide the dog during the timed competitions. For seasoned, dogs are on their own but aren’t required to bring back all targets. For finished, dogs must retrieve all targets on their own.

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