Our dog Max, a Yellow Labrador Retriever, definitely received the memo (and genes) about retrieving. He was not “taught” to retrieve. He started when he was a baby puppy, just weeks (not months) old. He would follow a little rubber ball the size of a jacks ball rolling across the floor, pick it up and bring it back. He did have to be taught to drop it. He learned he had to drop the ball or stick for the game to continue. However, we had to be quick or he’d pick it up again. He developed the ability to anticipate where the ball is going and sometimes beat it by going farther (and faster) than the ball traveled through the air, needing then to come back for the ball, like football receivers sometimes do.
Consequently, he became the “ball bully” at dog parks throughout the area. Dog owners have had to recognize that bringing one’s dog to a dog park to play fetch can be less fun when a yellow streak beats your dog to its own ball EVERY TIME. It would be like taking your middle schooler to play catch with a football and Champ Bailey kept intercepting it. No fair! We have had to apologize over and over and ultimately stopped taking him to such parks, out of kindness I suppose, for the lesser beings.
At the ranch, retrieving can be even more fun for a water dog because there is a river into which objects may be thrown, provided they float. https://www.facebook.com/v/1362645997647
Max displayed an additional talent for an aspect of retrieving beyond rudimentary fetching. That is, on the rare occasions that he lost sight of a ball that landed in the tall grass, Max was not perplexed. Instead, he gladly went about the next task, which was sweeping the area in a series of half circles while his tail wagged like a metronome and his nose was held near to the ground. He covered the ground in a systematic manner with confidence that he would eventually find the hidden ball. To him, the balls were not lost — merely hiding to make the game more interesting. His interest did not waiver. He kept at the sweeping until he successfully found the ball. He was an excellent example of persistence. It was something that he was not taught. I would not know how to teach that. It was a gift delivered through genetic excellence. Some have it; some don’t. You can’t put in what God left out. God did not leave out the instincts that Max was destined to enjoy.
I have read that a genius is compelled to follow his or her path. For example, if Mozart had not had piano lessons, he would have played regardless. He had to. His talent, his genius, compelled him to be a musician. Max was born with a genius for retrieving. He had to use his superior talent in such endeavors. That is how God made him.
Max went to be with the Lord on January 3, 2013. 1-3-13. He was born the day after 9-11-01. http://www.kizoa.com/slideshow/d3848967k6890929o1/max-our-avalon-lab-9122001-1313-rip
Rover, our German Shorthair Pointer, like all other dogs on earth, never had a chance when competing with Max in chasing balls. However, he tried. Today he brought us a ball, one belonging to Max, the orange rubber ball with the jingle inside, and we played fetch. And Sugar cried. It is very clear that Rover learned from the master. The torch, I mean ball, has been passed.