Owner: Tom Jelsema
Breed: Labrador Retriever
Sire: NAFC FC Gunstock's Topshlef Sanp Decision
Dam: Port Bay's Dynamite-Dyna MH QA2
I will never forget the FaceBook post I saw for Taz. I was constantly watching for what would be the best stud for my dog Lacey, and came across an ad for this 4 month old puppy. There were a couple of short videos about her and her pedigree looked great. When I called to inquire they said she had a lot of energy and did not want to settle down at night when the other dogs did. They had kept one from all three of their litters that spring and two were going on a pro's truck for winter training down south. After talking with my wife she said it's much easier to buy a pup than having a litter again, so I drove to Wisconsin to take a look and of course came back with a yellow terror.
What a ride it has been. She caught on to everything very quickly and just wanted to keep doing more and more. In October, when she was only 6 months old she was doing very good, so I took her duck hunting. She loved it and was already honoring as long as I kept telling her to stay. Between Michigan and Arkansas duck seasons that year she got quite a few retrieves and turned a lot of heads with what she was capable of.
Taz was ready to run hunt tests but it was only February, so in March we ran our Quad Upland and passed all 4 to get her UH at 11 months. I can still hear Chad encouraging us because the 4 or 5 dogs before us all had issues and went out.
At this point she was way beyond Started so we signed up for a couple of back to back weekend hunt tests which she did successfully, so by the time she was 12 months old we had our HR title. So then it was on to Finished and at 16 months old we had our HRCH.
During this time I approached Tim and Patti Doane and asked if they would help educate me, since | knew that the Grand gets very technical and I needed help in understanding what needed to be done. Tim was reluctant at first but finally consented to 1 day a week of me meeting with him as he ran dogs and I helped him with reloading etc. Little did I know how that would evolve into such a great friendship that I will always cherish.
Long story short he asked me if I had signed up for the Fall Grand. I told him "No" and asked him if he thought she was ready. "Well", he said, "I don't want her ready and you not, so you need to go so you get some experience". That was some of the best advice he has given me.
Talk about being nervous and feeling intimidated by all these pros and their great dogs. I remember pulling into one of the training areas, and some of the guys that were there invited me to join them. I said OK; they asked what I had and I told them I had a 17 month old pup and one of them looked at me and said "Kind of young, ain't she?" I said "Yeah but the guy I train with said I needed experience". By the end of the pre Grand training I asked Larry what he thought. He said "I am cautiously optimistic". They were impressed with my little 17 month old pup. Well, we made it to the 4th series. At the handlers briefing the judges asked if this was anyone's 1st Grand. I raised my hand and when I looked around I saw I was the only one. I knew we were in select company at that time. We went out due to me not knowing how to handle the situation when she missed a mark. I will not forget all the handlers that were there and judges still congratulating us for what we had accomplished and telling us "see you at the Spring Grand."
We did go to that Spring Grand in Texarkana. We had done some training over the winter but because we live in Michigan, not much water training was accomplished, and we went out in the 2nd series. So it was back to the drawing board to train hard for the Fall Grand in Louisiana. We were down to the very
last bird in the 4th series where we got 3 cast and Taz scalloped on the last blind, so I was told to pick up my dog. After more practice-practice-practice and going south for 2 weeks for even more practice, we went to the 2019 Spring Grand in South Carolina where Taz aced it, and at the 2019 Fall Grand in Wisconsin we passed our second Grand. I have had a dream to run the Grand for a long time, and now before Taz is 3.5 years we have the Grand title.
Taz qualified for the 2019 Master Nationals; but we scratched because we were able to breed her.
I want to thank Great Lakes for honoring us by placing us in the Great Lakes Hall of Fame. I also want to especially thank Tim and Patti Doane for allowing me to hang around them, train with them and help teach me to be a better handler so that we could compete and pass the Grand. My wife thought I was done now that we have the Grand Champion title. Not at all – we'll be seeing you at more Grands - let's see how many we can get!