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Coming To America: A History Recording Of The Labrador Retriever

In the 1920's the Labrador Retriever began gaining popularity with American sportsmen. Although a few "English retrievers," as Labradors were called in 19th century America, had made their way to our shores, few could be located in American shooting kennels prior to the 1920s, as setters and pointers were the dogs of choice in those days. In 1917, the first Labrador Retriever registered by the American Kennel Club was imported from Scotland. Her name was Brocklehirst Floss.

The style of shooting in United States at that time was different from that practiced abroad. A group of wealthy enthusiasts on the East coast with ties to Britain began developing the Labrador Retriever among themselves in order to carry on the style of pass shooting to which they were most accustomed and partial. To aid in this, they not only imported fine dogs but also lured noted Scottish trainers to America.

In 1931 the Labrador Retriever Club of America was founded and sponsored its first field trial in December of that year. The competition was held in Chester, New York, with a total of 16 entries - all but one of which were imports. The winner was Carl of Boghurst, a yellow owned by Mrs. Marshall Field. This annual event would spur popularity in the sport to the point where today there are more than 150 trials a year held for Labrador retrievers!

It was not until May 18, 1933, that the first specialty show for bench competition was held by the Labrador Club of America. From an entry of 34, Boli of Black was chosen as best. Boli, owned by Franklin P. Lord and purchased from the British breeder, Lady Howe, was the first American bench-champion Labrador retriever.

The Arden kennels of W. A. Harriman became the driving force in the field, claiming the first American field champion in Blind of Arden and the first female American field champion in Decoy of Arden who were litter mates. Mr. Harriman's talent for breeding top-quality Labradors from his stock earned him the recognition of having developed the finest American kennel to date. His credits include four dual champions, five field champions, eight bench champions, and scores of champions that descend from this line. The shining star among the Arden Labradors was Shed of Arden, owned by Paul Bakewell. He embodied all that a Labrador should: talent in the field, beauty and intelligence, and the ability to produce quality offspring.

A mating of Mr. Harriman's Decoy with Dr. Milbank's Ch. Kaffles of Earlsmoor produced a litter from which Earlsmoor Moor of Arden emerged. Moor went on to win the Labrador Club of America Annual Specialty in 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, and 1943. Winning a national specialty five times is an astounding accomplishment that may never be repeated again by any dog of any breed.

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