by Joe Law, NSW.

Following the retrieving trials that were held at Shepparton on the Australia Day weekend, approximately 30 dedicated triallers stayed on to attend a training seminar which had been organised for the following three days. For those fortunate enough to be able to enrol in this seminar, the time spent proved to be interesting, enlightening and most rewarding.

The seminar was conducted by Mr Bill and Mrs Becky Eckett of Blackwater Retrievers, Missouri, USA. Prior to the seminar, Bill and Becky had spent the previous two days observing our retrieving trials in order to get a good feel for the values and standards under which Australian trials are held. Credit must be given to Bill and Becky's astuteness and flexibility as they tailored their seminar to suit the Australian conditions - the end result was a complete training program from puppy introduction right through to the fully trained competitive All Age dog specialising in Retrieving Trials.

From the outset, it was obvious that the Bill and Becky team were not only highly-skilled teachers of dogs, but they were equally skilled in imparting their knowledge to the human element involved in any dog-and-handler combination.

All handlers were presented with a booklet which outlined the program and Bill explained the theory behind every stage using a whiteboard and markers. Immediately following each theory lesson, a practical demonstration was organised using course participants and their dogs - the dogs and handlers chosen for these demonstrations were, for the most part, the ones most appropriate to the particular stage being demonstrated.

As the course unfolded and the messages became clearer, it was easy to sense the delight of many participants as they came to realise the possibilities that could exist for themselves and their dogs. Likewise, the significance of keywords such as Focus, Attitude, Balance, Trust and Consistency became increasingly clear.

This seminar could not have happened if it were not for the efforts of some special people. It was the dream of Mrs Julie and Dr Andrew Cramond of Victoria to bring Bill and Becky Eckett to Australia and it was their own generous commitment of time and money which enabled their dream to become a reality.

Special thanks are also due to:

Field and Game, Australia
City of Greater Shepparton
Nestle's Purina, USA
Nestle's Purina, Australia
Mr Lloyd Mawson, Emerald Bank
Mr Rowan Gribbin, Landowner.

What remains now is for those who were fortunate enough to have been able to attend this seminar and to have been inspired by the talented Eckett combination, to take the next step and endeavour to put those suggestions and proven methods into practice.

(In the accompanying photograph of the seminar group, Becky and Bill Eckett are in the middle row, fourth and fifth from the left.)