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  • Nike Rocks

    Black Labrador and his Medford handler ride a string of wins to top honors
  • Nike bolts out of his dog box and instantly bounces around like a 4-year-old on a sugar high of diabetic proportions.
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    • Retriever awards banquet
      Paul Foster and his Labrador retriever, Nike, will be one of three retriever/handler pairs honored Friday, April 26, when Medford hosts the 29th annual Nestle Purina Outstanding Retriever Awards Ba...
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      Retriever awards banquet
      Paul Foster and his Labrador retriever, Nike, will be one of three retriever/handler pairs honored Friday, April 26, when Medford hosts the 29th annual Nestle Purina Outstanding Retriever Awards Banquet.

      The event, at the Rogue Regency Inn in Medford, highlights a weekend of festivities open to American Kennel Club members, and it represents the first time Purina has held its annual awards ceremony in Medford.

      The Purina Awards that will be presented that day include the National Amateur Dog award that goes to Nike. Other awards include Outstanding Open Dog and Outstanding Derby Dog.

      The event begins with a 6:30 p.m. cocktail hour followed by dinner at 7:30 p.m.

      The dinner costs $20. Attendees should RSVP to Linda Harger at fireweedchesapeakes@worldnet.att.net or 208-890-5386.

      The weekend kicks off with a free dog-training seminar from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday in Eagle Point.

      The event also is tied to the AKC-sanctioned Rogue Valley Retriever Club's field trials, set for Friday through Sunday at the Denman Wildlife Area.

      The three-day competition is part of the West Coast series of AKC-sanctioned field trials.

      — Mark Freeman
  • Nike bolts out of his dog box and instantly bounces around like a 4-year-old on a sugar high of diabetic proportions.
    The large and powerful black Labrador retriever spins and twirls while his trainer, Paul Foster, tries unsuccessfully to get a red collar around the dog's neck.
    "Sometimes the hardest part of training him is getting his collar on," says Foster, of Medford.
    Foster clips the collar together, and with one word — "heel" — Nike becomes nothing but business.
    Minutes later, three ducks thrown into the Denman Wildlife Area brush for Nike to fetch lay at Foster's feet, all perfectly marked and retrieved over more than 200 yards in near perfection.
    "See that intensity?" Foster says. "It's all part of our routine."
    This same work ethic that gets violinists to Carnegie Hall has Nike and Foster at the pinnacle of the retrieving world.
    The pair won Top Amateur Retriever for 2012, winning an astounding seven American Kennel Club-sanctioned field trials as a 3-year-old en route to the third-highest seasonal finish in the history of national amateur retriever competitions.
    For his accomplishments, Nike will be honored by Purina during the company's annual awards banquet on Friday, April 26, in Medford in conjunction with the Rogue Valley Retriever Club's annual field trials.
    "I've had dogs before with seven wins, but it took a lifetime," says Foster, a retired physician. "He did it in one year.
    "He has intensity, drive, but his strong point is he sees where the birds go down and knows exactly where they are," Foster says. "I trust him better than I trust myself."
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