The Ambertrail journey began in 1973 with the purchase of our first Golden Retriever, Cory. At the time I was actually looking to buy a “Golden Lab” . I went to a local dog show in search of a breeder where I met Martha Covington Thorne who introduced me to the Golden Retriever breed which I did not know existed at the time. I had been brought up with black labs and now had decided to get a ‘Golden Lab’ as a hunting companion. Martha quickly corrected me for referring to the Yellow Labrador as a Golden Lab, by showing me the difference. She took out a Yellow Labrador from one of her many crates and showed it to me, my response was that was what I was looking for. Martha then showed me a Golden Retriever ........WOW! what a gorgeous dog I thought! My next question was “Do they retrieve ducks like a lab?” Martha confirmed that the Golden was every bit the hunting companion that the Lab was.
?>Martha just happened to have a female Golden Retriever puppy there and of course I immediately wanted it. The pup was unfortunately promised to someone else; but if the family did not show up by the end of the weekend, she was mine. Needless to say, I spent two whole days at a show I knew nothing about, keeping one eye on the puppy crate and the other on the activities going on in the rings.
Sadly, the family did show up at the same time as I was walking towards the crate to claim my new pup. I think, that if there were not children involved, I would have made an offer these people could not have refused. I wanted her that badly. But, as fate would have it, she was not meant to be mine. Instead, Martha gave me the phone number of the puppy’s breeder and that night I called. Sure enough the breeder had one puppy left and it was a female. She was already twelve weeks old. I picked her up a few days later and “Val’s Dolly” (Cory) became the f oundation of Ambertrail Golden Retrievers.
Martha Thorne was definitely an important mentor. She was there right from the beginning. She taught me about sportsmanship and most of the “how to’s” of the conformation game. I was truly blessed to have known this woman.
As well, Barbara Tinker, started out around the same time Ambertrail was born. She had high standards and was an ambitious, gifted person. Her goals were similar to mine, so it was natural that we would gravitate towards each other. Torch Flinn was an incredibly knowledgeable person and gave advice freely. Jackie Mertens and Topbrass Goldens, Ambertrail has had a few of her dogs over the years and admire her tremendously. Mickey Strandberg, for her Mioak’s lines. There are many, many more people who have touched Ambertrail and helped along the way, including Dave and Jane Thompson, Bob Stark, Hugh Brown, Phyllis Philip, the list is endless.
Cory was “my dog” right from the start and we became an amazing team!
Cory was a ‘natural’ retriever. She learned very easily and loved to show off. I barely had time to take her to obedience classes before she became a UD. She literally went from earning her CD to earning her UD in less than one year. Completely amateur trained and handled. In between obedience titles, she became a Show Champion! Oh yes, the day she earned the final leg for her UD, she was five weeks pregnant!
Our breeding program began as one where the goal was to meld the show and working lines to get to the dual purpose Golden. Initially, I thought that within a few years Ambertrail would be there! We would be a kennel producing Goldens capable of competing in both the field trial game and the show game. Boy!! Did I have a lot to learn! Over the years we were fortunate and did achieve success with many of our dogs in all areas of competition but in order to get to the successes we did focus certain breedings for working and others for conformation. Some of the dogs that come to mind that were our early ‘great dogs’ would be :
“Duke” the s econd arrival bought from Cliff Macdonald of Shadywell Kennels who went on to be Ch. Shadywell’s Golden Duke 2nd, CDX
“Bee” out of our first Curry - Cory breeding, an outstanding dam and all around golden Ch. Ambertrail’s Honey Bee, Can.***, CDX, WCX
a Honey Bee offspring who excelled in the
show ring but
had little real field talent as a competitive
field dog. Am. Can.
Ch. Ambertrail’s Flatbush Flanagan, Am. Can. CD (OS)
Then there was “Sprint” who became one of the best known field dogs in the country, his story is worth telling...............
I completed most of Sprint’s early basics. Sprint’s other friend and very important trainer was Dave Thompson who took him south and finished Sprint’s Master Hunter title. Sprint was always very strong i n the water. To be super critical of him, I would say that it was the “go bird” of the first series of the land marks when I would hold my breath. Sprint was always so high going to the line on the first series. If you got him through the first test, he usually finished the trial. He would get more collected as the trial went on.
I feel Sprint is one of the finest looking Goldens I have ever known. Height to weight, overall balance, coat, front and rear angulation, tail set, feet, bone, head, full dentition, temperament, all well above average. If it were not for a ‘very’ slightly undershot jaw, this gifted dog would have been shown in the conformation ring, and perhaps even earned a Dual Championship.
He was an extremely healthy dog all through his life. His breeding record certainly shows he can reproduce himself. I am extremely proud of Sprint’s “Get” accomplishments’ Field Champions, Master Hunters, Senior and Junior Hunters, hunting dogs, obedience titles and awards, etc. The list is endless! Sprint will be long remembered as a Golden Retriever who contributed well to the breed.
The above dogs and time frames bring the history of Ambnertrail to the late 90’s. Since that time Ambertrail has been fortunate to have produced, trained and owned some great Goldens. Probably the most famous is my current Open all age dog and Triple Champion.............Push!