I have been lurking and reading hundreds of posts about Labradors as I search for my new pup. Many or most of you seem to be Hunt Test and FT pros/amateurs. I most certainly am not that. I have had a wonderful lab in my past that I had to put down last year. He was a wonderful family companion and a perfectly capable hunting dog. I sent him to school at 6 months and he came back a new man and ready to hunt and sit at heal. We hunted dove, ducks, quail and geese for the next 11 years before he slowed down too much. As he got older I started letting him slide more on his hunting perfection (like let him roam instead of sitting at heal for 2 hours in a dove field when birds aren't flying). This probably makes most of you cringe! He would sit perfectly still in the duck blind however... but it was much more intense. Anyway, it is what it is and we were just having fun and I wasn't trying to win any events. He was truly a best friend. We went everywhere together if we were hunting or not.
So, now I want the same thing. I have talked with several breeders about upcoming puppies and they won't sell a dog to a non HT or FT person. Totally understandable. Here is what I know...
There is 95% chance I send him away to a pro for a 4 month gundog program. (so, the dog should at least be able to get a JH at that point). The remaining 5% is the off chance I get so involved with the Hillman tapes that I want to continue training myself. So, point being, they will be trained and worked, etc.
I can't promise anyone that I will send my dog away for another 4 months to achieve a SH or another 4 months after that for a MH. I would love that but I just can't promise anyone that. I love hanging out with my dog and training and taking him everywhere I go, so I think it would be hard for me to send him away again if he's retrieving birds in way that is good enough for me. Again, I might get addicted and send him away for more titles but that might not happen as well. I want to have a dog that is my best friend, a family pet (we will probably have kids, the human variety, someday), and also a dog that is a great joy to hunt with. I totally understand that most people on this board do not see things this way and are looking for MH's and FC's.
So, with all that being said, when I am looking for a puppy... is there a certain type of pedigree that I should look for? I feel strongly that both sides of the pedigree should have proven performers to find the dog I am looking for. Would you agree? But I certainly don't need a super high strung pup either. I want the pup to be happy with his life! Thanks so much for your insight.