Finding Field Contacts: Mission Impossible?

By Glenda Brown

When I decided it would be fun to get a GRCA Working Certificate (WC) on my UDT Golden, Sprite, I encountered a dearth of information. It was disheartening, to say the least. I bought Tom Quinn’s book on Retrievers and used it as my guide. (This was before all the wonderful DVD’s and now innumerable training books were available.) Being rather stubborn, I spent a lot of time trying to find someone who would have birds and throw them for me so I could train my dog. I didn’t know how hard it was going to be. I was so naïve.

I finally found someone who had a trained Labrador, and she gave me the name of a professional trainer who might let me train one day a week with him and his training group. I called and asked if I could come over for the day (he was about an hour away), and when he heard I had a Golden, he very reluctantly agreed. This was the beginning of what some persons might think of as my downward spiral into field addiction. Later I heard that bets were taken on whether I would last the day or not, let alone continue with field work.

The training methods used by the pro were at the opposite end of the pole from what I had used for obedience work. I spent hours throwing for the pro’s dogs in exchange for just a few minutes of working with my dog. I closely observed what was being done and watched the dogs. The pro used methods completely out of my comfort zone, yet I felt I could tactfully work around that, and my dog and I could gain something from the experience – which we did.

In order to give all of you a foot or two up the ladder from what I encountered, below is a list of contacts to help you get started:

Entry Express
The Hunting Retriever Club, Inc.
North American Hunting Retriever Assn.
UKC Hunting Retriever Club
Master National Retriever Club
American Kennel Club (AKC)
Golden Retriever Club of America (GRCA)  “Events – Field”
Retriever News

An additional resource, which is available for purchase from Retriever News (see the last link above), is the soft cover reference book Callbacks Directory. It lists many of the field trial clubs, hunting test clubs, and provides lists of people who do field work, and a list of pros available through the Professional Retriever Trainer Association.

If there is a hunting test relatively close by, you could attend and meet some of the people who are running their dogs. If there is a Golden Retriever club field event in your area, you could attend, introduce yourself to people there, speak to the test secretary and ask how you could get started. If you don’t already belong to the local Golden Retriever club, inquire about joining one in your area. You can find Contact information for local Golden clubs at