Love key to NZ’s top dog’s heart

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Georgie the black labrador has fair reason to be called New Zealand’s top dog — and there are a few secrets to her success.
First, ‘‘you have to tell her you love her’’, says owner Pete Southee, of Galloway, who has trained Georgie to win a host of national gun dog titles.
It was important to train dogs only for short periods a day, as well.
‘‘Don’t overtrain them; just do it once a day for 20 minutes, otherwise you’ll train mistakes into them.’’
But the most important thing, for Georgie at least, was the reward after a job well done.
‘‘Every time she has a win she gets an ice cream. She gets one of those in a pottle, because if you give her one in a cone she just goes ‘gloomp’ and there it goes.’’
Georgie is the current national retriever champion, having won the title at last year’s New Zealand Gun Dog Championships, which took her to a total of 43 national, South and North Island and regional titles over a ‘‘career’’ spanning several years.
‘‘She’s New Zealand’s top dog now,’’ Mr Southee said.
‘‘She’s one of the greats.’’
Georgie is now set to make history by becoming the first dog to represent New Zealand at next month’s New South Wales Gun Dog Championships and Australian Gun Dog Championships.
Some other New Zealand dogs had competed in the events privately, but Georgie would be the first to represent New Zealand in an official capacity, Mr Southee, who is president of the Central Otago Gun Dog Club, said.
Georgie — who was almost 7 — was a ‘‘beautiful’’ dog, talented, intelligent, a great companion and good-natured, he said.
She came from good stock — her mother and father were both grand field champions. She was also extremely versatile, being able to compete indifferent event categories.
He thought Georgie was at her peak in terms of competitions now, but even when she eventually stopped competing her place in the family would remain assured, Mr Southee said.
A lifelong hunter, Mr Southee said he would continue taking Georgie hunting with him — ‘‘she’s a great quail and duck dog’’.
She also ‘‘works’’ on pheasant shoots nearby, and spent her spare time ‘‘lying on the couch’’.