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Living With A Flat-Coated Retriever

Photo Credit: Candy Ferner

by Neal Goodwin, President Flat-Coated Retriever Society of America

“Whatcha gonna do on the planet today ?” is the opening line of a song from the early ‘70s by the New Riders of the Purple Sage, and it describes perfectly the look my Flat-Coats give me when I awaken in the morning. And it doesn’t matter to them what my answer might be, just as long as they can be part of it.

That is the essence of what it is like living with a Flat-Coat; they are a happy, outgoing, people-oriented breed that wants to participate with you in whatever the day might bring.  Well, except maybe for a trip to the vet….

As I am writing this, all four of my Flat-Coats have followed me into the study. Two are sacked out on the couch, one has her head in my lap ready to offer editorial assistance, and my old girl, 10 ½ year old Joy, has assumed her perpetual “scratch my butt” pose.  And if I get up and move somewhere else, they will all follow, and how quickly this will occur depends on how exciting they find my next activity to be.  If it is to just sit somewhere else, it may take awhile.  But if I head for the door or grab a leash, then they are all right there, bright-eyed, smiling, and with that defining Flat-Coat characteristic; a wagging tail.

And that is how you should find them, when you meet a Flat-Coat.  They are an optimistic out-going breed, and should have a wag in their tail for everyone they meet.  They are known as the Peter Pans of the dog world, as they maintain their youthful outlook on life well into old age.

Photo Credit: Neal Goodwin

They are a breed that thinks for themselves and also have what I refer to as a sense of whimsey, which can manifest itself in a number of ways.  In the obedience ring, Flat-Coats have been known to leave the ring to either make friends in the audience, or to go jump into a nearby body of water.  More than a few times during the Long Down obedience exercise, they have caused large saucer eyeballs on the handlers on either side, given their occasional fondness for rolling on their back in the grass during this exercise while remaining in place.

I see this whimsey at home too, exhibited in such things as almost cat-like stalking of and pouncing upon inanimate objects, or their pride in managing to maneuver a 10 foot long tree limb into the house through the doggie door.

Flat-Coats are very intelligent, eager to learn and eager to please, and successfully compete in a number of canine events.  That is something we in the breed take great pride in; the fact that we can take the same dog and successfully compete in a variety of venues.  In the field, there are Flat-Coats competing in Field Trials, and also doing very well in Hunt Tests, including the Master National.  In Obedience, it is not unusual for a Flat-Coat to win High In Trial. And there have been several Flat-Coats giving the Border Collies a run for their money at the National Agility Championships.  Many of these dogs are also conformation Champions as well.

Photo Credit: Neal Goodwin

This should give you a pretty good overview of what it is like to live with a Flat-Coated Retriever.  Their happy demeanor and can-do attitude make them a joy to share your life with.  And with that, I will leave you, as there are eight bright eyes and four wagging tails, wondering what else I’m going to do on the planet today.

About the author: Neal Goodwin has owned Flat-Coated Retrievers for over 30 years, and breeds under the Altair prefix. He has competed with his Flat-Coats in conformation, field, obedience, and agility. He is currently the President of the parent club, Flat-Coated Retriever Society of America. 

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Posted by on Feb 24 2014. Filed under Featured, The Buzz. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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