Chessie is Crowned Champ in SRS Ducks Unlimited Big Air Competition
HOT SPRINGS, Ark., June 13, 2005 – Spurred on by a cheering, raucous crowd, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Sly, soared 24 feet, 2 inches, to win the Super Retriever Series Crown Championship in the Ducks Unlimited (DU) Big Air Competition, Saturday, at Oak Lawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. By the time another Oak Lawn Park winner
Arkansas DU State Chairman Steve Cook presents Jason Butler (center) with the trophy and winner's check for his dog, Sly, who won the DU Big Air SRS Crown Championship.
and crowd favorite, Arkansas Derby and Preakness winner Afleet Alex, lined up for his winning run at Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, Sly had already wrapped up the Big Air competition. The event was part of two days of competition last Friday and Saturday between the country’s top 12 retrievers and top 12 jumping dogs at fabled Oak Lawn Park race track in Hot Springs.
The awards ceremony was even reminiscent of a horse race winner. Sly was adorned with a blue and white neck ring of carnations, and he and his handler, DU member Jason Butler of Neosho, Mo., accepted the winner’s check and trophy at the gazebo that houses the beautiful bronze statue of 2004 Arkansas Derby winner Smarty Jones.
Sly overcame a potent field of Big Air dogs including present world record holder (26’-6”), Little Morgan, a male black lab handled by Mike Jackson of Shakopee, Minn., who took third with a leap of 22’- 4”. Second place went to Koko, a female chocolate lab handled by Mike McWilliams whose best jump of the day was 23’ – 3”.
Butler, who is treasurer for his local DU chapter, says Sly is a trained hunting dog that just happens to be a good jumper, too. Jason’s father Ken Butler, who handled another Chesapeake, Dash, in Saturday’s competition, trains the dogs primarily for hunting. The father and son team are avid duck and goose hunters.
“We hunt Sly all the time,” Jason Butler said. “He loves to jump, but he lives for hunting.”
The disciplined hunting training paid off for Sly during the competition. While many of the other dogs in the competition couldn’t keep from creeping and shortening their approach down the dock, Sly remained still, his focus locked on Jason and the bumper he would throw from the edge of the dock leading Sly out into the jumping pool. With a loud command from Jason, Sly sprinted the 40-foot dock, using its whole length to build the speed necessary for a long jump.
Sam, a black lab handled by Richard McDonald, won the retriever trial. The team dominated the field winning all of the preliminary trials leading up to the final.
Gregg Patterson, Director of Communications, Ducks Unlimited 901-758-3937, firstname.lastname@example.org
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest wetlands and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands – nature’s most productive ecosystem – and continues to lose more than 100,000 wetland acres each year.