Retriever contest fun diversion for all

There were signs yesterday afternoon that the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship was going to the dogs. But judging by the response of the crowd at the Sorting Gap Marina, nobody seemed to mind.
The Four Paws Pet Supply Retriever Contest returned after a one-year absence as several dozen people gathered to watch what turned out to be the “Battle of the Labs.”
Five furry competitors vied for top-dog status in three categories and when it was all over, “Cedar,” an eight-year-old yellow lab from Fort Frances, took home the prize as overall champ.
The contest was divided into three classes (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) as well as two categories.
The first part was a simple retrieve on land, where the dog was required to stay at its handler’s side without being restrained while the stick or dummy was thrown.
This proved to be a bit of a challenge for some of the younger dogs, who took off at the throwing motion before the stick even had landed.
The next phase was a water retrieve and because of the intense heat, there was no problem convincing any of the dogs to get wet. In fact, some of them were reluctant to come out of the water—much to the consternation of their handlers and the amusement of the crowd.
Four Paws Pet Supply owner Dawn Taylor, who organized the contest, said it started out as a novelty, but has become a natural fit with the annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
“It all started back when the tournament began,” recalled Taylor. “A lot of these guys [anglers] have dogs—they hunt and fish with them—so we thought it would be fun for them and their families.”
The contest usually attracts a number of different breeds, so Taylor was somewhat surprised when this year’s event turned out to be an all-Lab affair.
“It was really neat to have all these Labs,” Taylor enthused, making it clear she has a special soft spot for the breed.
“Maybe next year we’ll have two different competitions—one for retrievers and one for wanna-be retrievers,” she quipped.