Back in 1992, my father and I were driving home from our hunting trip when we found a black lab female running down the highway. I told my dad she would get hit on the highway if we didn't pick her up. My dad pulled over and I called the dog to me. She came at 100 miles an hour and jumped in the back seat as if she always belonged there.
I got her home and threw some pheasants for her. She retrieved these birds with style and delivered to hand at heel. Needless to say I was very impressed. The only problem: I knew I couldn't keep her (she belonged to somebody else). You could tell she was drying up from a litter of puppies.
I told my dad I would find the owners of this dog and return her. Well, it took me a couple days of calling all the farmers in that area before I finally located the people who owned her. Sure enough I had to take her back. I told those folks I could bring her back down on Saturday, when dad and I came hunting again. They said that would be fine.
All that week, I played and worked with that dog until Saturday and completely fell in love with her. That dreadful Saturday came and I took the dog back to the rightful owners. I was disappointed but I knew it was the right thing to do. A couple of days later I decided to call the people and ask them if they would consider selling her to me. The man asked what she was worth to me and I explained that our old lab cost us $60, and I would be happy to pay that. Keep in mind I was only 16 years old at the time and $60 was a chunk of change. The man asked his son if he was willing to part with this dog for $60 - his son replied yes. I couldn't believe it, I was now the proud owner of Missy. He also told me he had some information for me: pedigree, papers, and several pages of commands the dog knows.
It turns out she was a field trial washout trained by Dave Rorem at Rorem Retriever Kennels. At the time I didn't have any idea what that meant. So I went home with my new hunting dog. Each fall of the next two years, Missy went to school with me. I would keep my shotgun behind the seat with Missy in the front seat with the window cracked. Come lunch time, we would try to go out and get a limit of pheasants. If unsuccessful, we went again after school.
In 1992 I bred Missy and got a litter of pups out of her. We sold them for a modest $100-$125. I was a 16 year old boy and a self-proclaimed millionaire (or so I thought).
As the story goes, Missy was only with us for a short while. I didn't realize the significance of it at the time, but back in 1992 I had a black female Labrador who was sired by NFC NAFC Candlewood's Super Tanker X CFC Charger's Jubilation (one of only three dogs titled out of 1980 NFC AFC Risky Business Ruby). I wish I had those years back, not for the pedigree, not for the value of her puppies, but because Missy and I had the best time a boy and a dog could ever have.