I became interested in retrievers because of my humane society adopted boy. I had fostered GSPs for a year or so before I adopted Remi, so I had already learned a lot about natural drive in a dog. By all accounts, Rem has a lot of natural ability. I got him and just could not believe how hard wired he was to retrieve. Like some pointers I knew, there was little instruction necessary. We went to a Ronnie Smith seminar a couple of months after I got him, and he blew several pedigreed dogs out of the water. Not only does he have a nose, but he marks and will retrieve until he falls over dead. He runs like a deer, launches into water, and is really just a site to behold. He's the healthiest, most athletic dog I've ever met, with the exception of a pointer or two, and has the nose and drive to match. That being said, he was too old to force fetch when I got him, and he's got some very-non-lab issues with aggression; he's overly protective of mom, and warms slowly to new dogs and somewhat to people. He's my best friend, but his drive and athleticism has got me thinking ahead to the next pup. Hopefully some day I can find a dog with his natural ability, and I can raise and train them right.
So what got you started? One dog? One breed? Raised as a duck hunter and needed a competent partner?