Owner: Gregg Austin
UKC #: R243423
Breed: Labrador Retriever
Sire: Rev It Up Super Sport
Dam: HRCH Affordable Duck Assassin
My story begins like most others, I just wanted a duck dog. I had been waterfowl hunting for a couple of years and was tired of losing birds in the marsh. My wife was an easy sell and the only requirement was the puppy had to be a black male and that she was going to name him. I answered an ad on a duck hunting forum and the breeder and I hit it off really well so I put a deposit down on the next litter. I received a call from Dustin and the litter was small, only four pups and just one black male. Ruger was predestined to be my hunting partner. With all my questions on training, one of the first things Dustin mentioned was to join a local HRC club. Thanks to a responsible breeder we found our way to HRC.
One of the first club training nights I attended and saw what some of the dogs were doing. I knew right then I wanted more than a duck dog. I started asking a lot more questions and finding material to study and soaking everything I could to learn how to build a retriever. I learned quickly if Ruger and I were going to get to a finished level we had to be committed. Ruger doesn't come from a sexy pedigree, didn't come from an established breeding program, he's not real flashy, loses focus sometimes, can be stubborn as a mule but to be perfectly honest, he was the right dog to be my first retriever. He never once got mad at me for making mistakes. He was always patient as we learned new drills. At the end of the day he really does all what he does to please me and I wouldn't have it any other way. It was a bumpy road through transition and we failed more seasoned tests than I'd like to admit. The most rewarding aspect of being a member of a club is that there are so many folks looking to help and encourage you to keep grinding.
Finally, we got over the hump and on to finished. Our first test we earned a pass, although it wasn't pretty. We were in a flight with pretty experienced handlers of the likes of Stuart Garland and Chad Bartels, whom I knew to have had success at the Grand. Our first time honoring and we are honoring for Chad's dog Gauge who was running for his 1500th point and here we are trying to earn the first 15. A good friend of mine and Lawrie's, Tim Bach was judging and gave me a big bear hug at the ribbon ceremony and generously announced how nervous I was that when I stood up the bucket was still attached. I can't thank everyone enough that ran that flight that weekend for encouraging Ruger and I because on Sunday we smashed the test. The confidence built on that Sunday run and our training routine we ended up clicking off another nine finished passes in a row.
Ruger really found his game when we started training for upland. He naturally quarters and you can tell he enjoys himself. It also gave us the opportunity to run at some different clubs as we found ourselves in Canada a couple different times. One of my favorite memories we were running at Central Kentucky HRC, he was about forty yards out in front of me when he flushed the bird and he locked up when he heard the whistle. The gunner made a perfect shot and as i watched Ruger mark the fall, it appeared to me he was smiling, waiting for his name to be called.
I obviously have to thank the Great Lakes HRC club for helping me achieve this accomplishment. Joining the club, along with the Kalamazoo Valley HRC, I had the chance to rain on incredible grounds through training days and fun hunts to build a champion. Picking up a puppy and becoming members has allowed my wife Lawrie and I to meet and make wonderful friends. Our hunt test family is a blessing and the common denominator are these amazing retrievers that steal our hearts. I do need to mention two people in particular that helped me believe in myself and helped me through the ups and downs. I will always be grateful to Craig Corcoran and Ryan Pasman for the secrets they shared and never being afraid to give me some constructive criticism when I needed it. I always soaked in what they had to share.
In closing, I'm humbled, grateful, and honored for Ruger to be accepted into the Great Lakes HOF. Thank you again for the opportunity to share our story.