Second Annual Agility Premier


New York, N.Y. – The American Kennel Club (AKC®) is excited to announce the return of the wildly popular AKC Agility Premier Cup. The second annual event is set to take place on April 30, 2020 in Minneapolis, MN and will be judged by Dan Butcher of Portland, OR.

This family-friendly event is an all-star display of canine talent and athleticism. The top 60 agility competitors and their handlers from around the country will be invited to compete at the Invitational. Twelve dogs will be entered at each jump height (8”,12”, 16”, 20”, and 24”) and compete for $10,000 in cash prizes.

“Agility is a thrilling event to watch, and these dogs are the best of the best,” said Carrie DeYoung, Director of Agility. “We look forward to bringing this event to a new audience in Minneapolis.”

Stay tuned to for more information about the second annual AKC Agility Premier Cup.

Obituary – A. Nelson Sills

  1. A.(Andrew) Nelson Sills

of Houston, DE, died on Friday, 24 January 2020. He was 95.

ANS portrait

Nelson was born on 1 Nov 1924 in Baltimore, MD. He was the son of the late David N. Sills Sr. and Helen (Nelson) Sills, and brother of David N. Sills, Jr. and Winifred Leithiser, all of Milford, DE. He graduated from the Virginia Tech class or 1945 with a degree in civil engineering and later became a Professional Engineer. Nelson served in the United States Navy during WWII. He became the chief construction engineer for the State of Delaware Highway Department and later became the General Superintendent at Delaware Park Racetrack from 1963 to 1982. He finished his career working as an engineering and construction consultant for Rollins Truck Leasing, building facilities while getting to train his dogs throughout the country. Nelson also enjoyed designing and building dog training facilities for people in the field trial community.

Nelson enjoyed all things Labrador Retriever and Retriever Field Trials. His wife, Nancy bought him his first Labrador in 1957.

  • He won the National Amateur Retriever Championship in 1964 (Dutchmoor’s Black Mood (Moe)).
  • He was the Chairman of the Field Trial Committee of the National Retriever Club in 1965.
  • He judged the National Retriever Championship twice in 1967 and 1975.
  • He was President of the National Retriever Club in 1969.
  • He was voted “Judge of the Year” by the Professional Retriever Trainer’ Association in 1974.
  • He judged the National Amateur Retriever Championship in 1995.
  • He has accumulated 129 judging points (1 of 6 people to accumulate over 100 Points)
Cole 2009

Nelson & Cole. 2009 NRC event. Dover, Delaware

  • He was an active member of the Del Bay Retriever Club from 1957 until his death and served as its President.
  • He was a member of the Labrador Retriever Club and served as President of the Club from 1992-2012.
  • He served as Delegate to the American Kennel Club (from the LRC) from 1980-2012 and served on the Board of Directors from 1980-1995. During part of that time, he also served as Treasurer for the AKC (1992-1995).
  • He was the winner of the 2001 American Kennel Club Lifetime Achievement Award in the Category of Performance.
  • He was the Founder of the Master National Retriever Stake.
  • He is a recipient of the Master National Retriever Club Vision Award in 1993.
  • He judged the Master National in 2002.
  • He was inducted into the Birddog Hall of Fame in 1995.

Nelson is survived by his wife of 62 years, Nancy (Jones) Sills, of Bridgeville, DE., Daughter Wynne Brantner and her husband Jim of Johnson City, TN, son David N. Sills, IV and his wife Denise of Bear, DE, son Andrew N. Sills Jr. and his wife Lisa, of Roswell, GA., daughter Nancy Ross of Johnson City, TN and 15 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 1 PM on 29 February 2020 at Independent Bible Fellowship Church, Harrington, DE. with a reception to follow at Nancy and Nelson’s home in Houston, DE. Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers the family has suggested donations to the Labrador Retriever Club (Breed Club) or Del Bay Retriever Club. Arrangements made by Rogers Funeral Home, Milford, DE. 302-422-4025

Events Hosted by LRC – 2020

April 25-27. Maryland.  Field trial cancelled

June 27-28. Minnesota. Field Trial

August 7-9. Maryland. D/Q Field Trial. with Del Bay RC.

August 29-31. Maryland. Field Trial.

September 11-13. Michigan. Field Trial

September 19-21. Maryland. Field Trial.

October 3-4. National Specialty. Pennsylvania. Hunt Test.

NARC Finalist!

Yvonne and "Be"

Yvonne and “Be”

Congratulations to LRC Director, Yvonne Hays, and her Lab, “Be,” a finalist at the 2019 National Amateur Retriever Championship in Ronan, MT.


5/5/2012 (NAFC-FC Texas Troubador ex FC Hardscrabbles Captain Morgan)
Breeder: Gregory Cross
Owners: Yvonne & Charlie Hays, Pavo, GA
Handler: Yvonne Hays

An end to all canine field trials and hunt tests in Oregon?!

UPDATE:The bill was sent back to committee for a rewrite, specifying predator hunting derbies. This change would exclude field trials and hunt tests.

But stay alert. We are on a slippery slope here!

Oregon SB 723 could bring an end to all canine field trials and hunt tests in the state. Oppose today!

Contact Oregon legislators with your opposition to SB 723, which would prohibit any taking of wildlife in contests. The bill would be devastating to the vibrant and large hunting community of Oregon that is a boon to the state economy while serving only the narrow interests of anti-hunting and animal rights groups. See our letter to the Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee here.

SB 723 would prohibit any “contest, competition, tournament or derby in this state that has the objective of taking wildlife for prizes or other inducement or for the purpose of entertainment.” The bill is so broadly worded as to be vastly over-inclusive; it will certainly include all field trials, hunt tests, and perhaps even events such as Barnhunt. Not only would SB 723 be devastating to hunting, but would hurt preservation breeding of many breeds proven through testing that would be banned under the bill.

Please write Oregon legislators today and urge them to oppose SB 723!

Write a letter.

Retrieving dogs had their champion in trainer Charlie Hays

reprinted with permission of Dennis Anderson, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Charlie Hays had a dog when he was a kid, a cocker spaniel named Butch. He loved that dog, and at night he and Butch curled up in bed together, best friends forever.

Charlei and "Marty"

Charlie Hays, with Marty, the top field-trial yellow Labrador retriever ever.

Charlie would own other dogs — many of them — before he died Oct. 12 at 82. Or, perhaps more precisely, the dogs would own him during a lifetime that saw Charlie become perhaps the best competitive amateur retriever trainer and handler this country has seen.

Born June 17, 1936, in Minneapolis, Charlie graduated from Hopkins High School and the University of Minnesota. He was 21 when he married the former Yvonne Edwards, the love of his life, and not long afterward, while cruising the classified ads of Sports Afield magazine, he bought a black Labrador puppy over the phone.

“That dog arrived by airplane,” said Yvonne, speaking from the south Georgia home where she and Charlie have for many years spent their winters, training dogs. A nationally acclaimed retriever trainer and handler in her own right, Yvonne added, “We named him Rufus. He wasn’t a great working dog. But Charles found a reason to love him.”

This was in the late 1950s, and ducks, duck hunters and duck dogs were deeply ingrained in Minnesota culture, so much so that the dates, times and results of local field trials were broadcast by WCCO Radio.

“Charles wanted in the worst way to enter Rufus in a ‘Hunter’s Special’ trial, which was open to novice dogs and handlers,” Yvonne said. But he was nervous about being embarrassed. So he and Rufus trained continually, until Charlie finally mustered the nerve to sign up.

“They ran the trial and when he was named the winner, the judge shook his hand and said, ‘Congratulations, you’re judging next week.’ That’s how it all started,” Yvonne said.

Today, American Kennel Club licensed retriever trials attract a relative sliver of the millions of people who own Labrador, golden, Chesapeake Bay and flat-coated retrievers. Trials are held nationwide and draw professionals and amateurs alike.

The most accomplished field-trial retrievers are athletic, disciplined, possess great eyesight, have elephant-like memories, can judge long distances to within a few feet and are driven by a strong desire to please their human partners.

For more than a half-century, Minnesota has been a hotbed of competitive retrieving dog breeding and development, and similarly a place where some of the nation’s best trainers and handlers learned their craft, including Dr. Leslie Evans, Louis Fritz, Tony Berger, “Lorney” Martens, Bob Wolfe, Wells Wilbor and Rick Van Bergen, among many others.

Into this lair of champions, Charlie and Yvonne forged a successful path ahead. Their first big break came in South Carolina in 1974 when they saw a male yellow Labrador named Candlewood’s Mad Mouse race into a pond ahead of its kennel mates while chasing “fun bumpers,” or retrieving dummies, thrown at the end of a training session.

“Mouse,” just 14 months old, was always first to the bumper.

“I’d like to buy that dog,” Charlie told the man who owned him.

“I think he’s sold,” the man said. “The check is supposed to be in the mailbox today. If not, you can buy him.”

Charlie replied, and typically for him: “Mind if I check the mailbox?”

Bought by Charlie and Yvonne for $700, Mouse ran his first National Open as a 2-year-old, a feat rarely attained, and completed his field championship and amateur field championship at 3. When he died in 1984, Mouse was the all-time high-point yellow Labrador.

Dave Rorem of International Falls was a Department of Natural Resources conservation officer for 27 years, who on the side honed a national reputation as a professional retriever field-trial trainer and handler.

“Charlie and Yvonne put me on the map. I can’t say enough about them,” Rorem said from his winter training home in Texas. “I handled their dog, Marty, to the Canadian Open national championship in 1989, and Charlie won the Canadian amateur national championship with Marty in 1990.”

Twenty-four years after Marty’s death in 1993, he remains the high point yellow Labrador of all time.

“Charlie was the most competitive amateur trainer I’ve known,” Rorem said. “He had a great eye for what it took to be a winning field-trial dog. If he put 12 or 15 months into a dog and it wasn’t going to make it as a trial dog, he and Yvonne would give it to a friend to use as a hunting dog, where the dog could live in a house with a family.”

Enshrined in the Retriever Hall of Fame in Grand Junction, Tenn., along with three of the Hays’ dogs, Charlie was a past president of the National Amateur Retriever Club, the Minnesota Field Trial Association and the Hennepin County Amateur Retriever Club.

“The hardest thing for me right now,” Yvonne said, “is waking up and realizing he’s not here anymore.”

Carl Ruffalo knows the feeling. Ruffalo, 88, of Rochester, has had Labradors in field trials since the 1950s and was a duck-hunting partner of Charlie’s at their Lake of the Woods camp and in Saskatchewan.

“Not every day, but most days for as many years as I can remember, Charlie would call me at 5:30 in the morning and we would talk about dogs, training problems, politics, whatever,” Ruffalo said. “Then, after Charlie died, I got up in the morning at 5 as usual, brought my dogs into the house from the kennel and sat down. It was then I realized Charlie wouldn’t be calling me again.”

Charles Arthur Hays was cremated. His ashes will be spread at a memorial field trial held in his honor in Georgia, at the National Retriever Championship in Kentucky and on the Lake of the Woods island where he hunted ducks.

Don Driggers passed away on September 12

Donald Stewart Driggers
1944 – 2018

HOF painting

Don served with distinction for five years as president of the Bird Dog Foundation in Grand Junction, Tenn.

Longtime LRC member, and Director, Donald Stewart Driggers, 74, of Oxford, MD, died on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018 at his home.
He was born in New Jersey on June 14, 1944, son of the late Byrley Floyd Driggers and Catherine McCormick Gearheart. Don grew up in South Brunswick, NJ. He graduated from Clemson University in South Carolina and went on to graduate from Rutgers Law School in New Jersey. He was admitted to the New Jersey Bar Association on Nov. 26, 1969. Don practiced law at Turp, Coates, Essl & Driggers in Hightstown, NJ, for over 45 years, becoming the managing partner.
Don was an avid duck hunter, which led him to become chairman of the Mercer County Chapter of Ducks Unlimited for several years.
However, Don’s passion was Labrador retrievers. He loved to train for and compete in AKC Retriever field trials throughout the country. He successfully trained several Amateur Field Champions, Hombre, Axle and Felon. He gave back to the sport by judging, including two National Amateur Championships and a National Open Championship. He was revered as a “fine dog man” and mentored many new people to the sport.
Don was president of the National Bird Dog Museum in Grand Junction, TN, a position he held for five years. He was inducted into the Retriever Field Trial Hall of Fame in 2013. He was a past president of The Talbot Retriever Club, South Jersey Retriever Club, and the Shrewsbury River Retriever Club. He was a board member of the Labrador Retriever Club.
Don is survived by his sister, Nancy Kelvy of Jackson, NJ; his life partner of 16 years, Phyllis McGinn of Oxford and her family, Kelly McGinn-Cordes and Bobby Cordes, Kirsten Poole and Rocky Poole; and granddaughters, Perrin Poole, Emma Poole and Louisa Mae Cordes, whom he fondly called the “Bean.”
Memorial contributions may be made in Don’s honor to The National Bird Dog Museum, 505 TN-57, Grand Junction, TN 38039 or Talbot Hospice, 586 Cynwood Dr., Easton, MD 21601.

Congratulations on adding a new Labrador Retriever puppy to your family!

Congratulations on your new Labrador Retriever puppy! Here is some information from the AKC and the Labrador Retriever Club that will help you get acquainted with your new bundle of joy.            Labrador Puppy Information

AKC/LRC Joint Statement on Alleged “Silver Labradors” 

Brandi Hunter, American Kennel Club Vice President, Public Relations and Communications

June 13, 2017

According to the breed standard, established by the Labrador Retriever Club, Inc., there are three acceptable colors of Labrador Retrievers. Those colors are Black (all black), Yellow (fox-red to light cream), and Chocolate (light to dark chocolate). Silver is not an acceptable color of Labrador Retriever and is a disqualifying fault. Based on an agreement in 1987 between the American Kennel Club and the LRC, it was agreed that there was no proof that these silver dogs were not purebred and the breeders of the silver dogs subsequently registered them as chocolates.

Using parentage testing, it cannot conclusively be proven that silver Labradors are not purebred dogs or  are crossed with Weimaraners. The Labrador Retriever breed does not carry the dilute gene dd that appears universally in the Weimaraner and is responsible for silver color.

Responsible breeders are tasked with breeding for health and standard and not solely for aesthetic. While we respect the choice of pet owners to select the breed of their choice, the LRC, Inc. does not view silver Labradors as appropriate breeding stock and believes that they should not be bred. They may compete in AKC events but are disqualified from the conformation show ring.