January 2017

2017 Nominated NAHRA Officers
Vice President: Harry Williams
Treasurer: John Giudice
2017 Nominated NAHRA Regional Directors
Central: Sarah Hodges
West: Jennifer HoodJohn Gilbert (Click Name for Bio)
 The election process for West RD is now over.  After the votes had been cast, but before the results where announced, John Gilbert withdrew his nomination.  Jennifer Hood will represent the West as Regional Director.
 West NAHRA members in good standing will receive electronic email ballots by January 13, 2017.  The NAHRA office will collect and tally all votes by January 27, 2017.  Candidates and clubs will be notified by February 13, 2017 with the election results.  Elected RD will begin their term starting March 1, 2017.


NAHRA Inaugural Eastern Shore Test makes the NEWS!

Nice story in the local paper regarding the Inaugural Eastern Shore Test.


This is a large file, so please be patient.

Story is on page 22 of the Eastern Shore Post, May 1, 2015 edition.


November 2015

My Fellow Members,

I hope you are all enjoying the fall weather and going afield with your NAHRA dogs!  Being a sports nut, fall is the best season of all for me with late season baseball, football and of course, the onset of the hunting seasons.  As always, have a safe and successful hunting season.

While the regular test seasons are complete in most areas, the NAHRA Upland Retriever Program can extend your fun.  Fall and especially winter can break up that void during what is usually a time of inactivity for you and the dogs so consider hosting an Upland Retriever event as an extension to your annual event calendar.  Northern Piedmont Retriever Club recently hosted its second event and had a decent turnout especially at the Working Level.  Each dog  entered was treated to chukar and pheasant fliers per event!  And the bonus part of this test is we eat most of what we kill!  Looking forward to the NPRC banquet and what our own Chef Greg cooks up for us.

Moving forward into 2016 there will be a lot of changes to NAHRA including the way we do business.  The NAHRA BOD will undergo a big change in leadership as several key BOD members will be stepping aside.  A call for nominations will be made in the near future to fill these positions.  This is a chance for new blood to steer the ship into the future.  Furthermore, a number of changes we have made this year will kick into gear in addition to changes already in effect.  I would like to remind you of those changes.

On October 1, 2015 the BOD approved electronic entry via Huntsecretary.com to be mandatory for the NAHRA testing program.  This policy will remain in effect permanently with no exceptions.  The system has proven to be very efficient at all levels despite a few early growing pains.  Please review the policy and procedures that are posted on our website.

As reported in my last message, NAHRA has raised the rent so please keep that in mind starting January 1st.  The NAHRA fee for test entries will increase from $5.00 to $8.00 per entry for members and from $10 to $15.00 for nonmembers.  The increase, the first in over 30 years, will provide a big boost to our cost of administering the program.

The Future Retriever Program has been responsible for our membership growing to over 500 members in 2015.  We are hopeful that this new blood will continue to be a part of the NAHRA Program going forward.  However, it is incumbent upon all of us to do our part in keeping these new members interested and growing in the program.  Being successful is always the biggest carrot to keep interest and that means mentoring and guiding these folks at the club level and even on an individual basis.  Adopt these folks and help them along.  After all, once upon a time, someone did that for you!

Effective immediately, all annual memberships will become calendar year memberships expiring 12/31/16.  In addition to the membership dues now being annual, for your convenience you’ll notice when renewing on our web site it is now a “Subscribe” button. This Subscription feature will renew your dues automatically to keep your membership current each calendar year.

The BOD has extended the Pilot Upland Retriever Program to September 2016.  This was done to accommodate a few changes to the rules which are posted on our website and to allow some Regions the opportunity to gain more experience with the tests.

Garmin has become NAHRA's newest Silver Sponsor and will supply e-collars to each Regional Event and the NAHRA Invitational.  We welcome them back into our program and thank them for their partnership.

A big "atta boy" to the Leatherstocking Hunting Retriever Association for hosting a great 2015 NAHRA Invitational event in Baldwinsville, NY in August.  LHRA provided a quality and profitable event as usual.  Judges Debbie Brennan, John Gilbert and Kody Bull did a fine job providing a fair and challenging test.  Thanks to you all.

As you may know, the 2016 NAHRA Invitational will be hosted by the Four Points Retriever Club in the Central Region at Clear Lake, WI.  The Invitational Committee has announced the Judging Panel for the event which will include Roy Sheppard, Bob Boeh and Travis Lund.  Congratulations to these men who have graciously invested heavily into the NAHRA Program for many years.

Lastly, congratulations to Valerie Plewa and Tom Johnston who have become the newest NAHRA 100 Point Judges.  There are currently less than 10 judges in the history of this great program to reach this plateau.  Thank you from all of us for your tireless efforts away from home weekend after weekend to invest in the future of our hunting retrievers. 

Have a safe and productive hunting season and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Frank Plewa

NAHRA President


July 2015

My fellow members,

We are just about at the midpoint of 2015 and the testing season.  I hope that everyone is having a great start to the summer and that you have had the chance to get those NAHRA dogs out to a few tests.  I myself have had the opportunity to attend a number of early tests this season as a handler and also in the judging chair.  As do many others, I find judging a meaningful way to give back to the program that has made me successful in producing some fine retrievers.  I think I enjoy judging the lower stakes the most as it gives me a chance not only to see what is in the pipeline in NAHRA's future but also to relate to the junior handlers and their young dogs.

I think everyone should consider judging as I believe it offers a unique way of observing dogs and their handlers at work.  It provides a firsthand look at how dogs work a given scenario and also the dos and don'ts of handling.  While for me it is sometimes difficult to watch handler and dog crash and burn, it is more rewarding to watch them nail it! 

I encourage all judges to keep current with the program by attending as many seminars as you can.  While one every three years is the requirement, attending additional sessions will help you improve your skills and provide valuable exchange with your peers.  Furthermore, even if some of you never plan to become a judge, attending a seminar can enlighten you as to the expectations of judges in a testing situation.  You will be better dog handlers for it and your dogs will definitely benefit from your increased knowledge of testing.

Speaking of Judges, congratulations are in order to Debbie Brennan who has joined the 100 point judge club becoming only the 7th NAHRA judge to attain that status.  Debbie has been one of those people who is always willing to pitch in and devote a weekend to our dogs.  I have personally run under Debbie many times and have also judged with her.  She has been a fair and consistent judge in our program for many years, a dedication which has earned her a spot on the 2015 NAHRA Invitational Judging Panel.  Congratulations Deb, and thank you so much from all of us for your generosity in offering your time to the NAHRA Program!  

The 2015 NAHRA Invitational in New York is just around the corner with entries closing June 29th.  I am hopeful that all who were attempting to qualify made it in the door and will join us in August.  Even if you are not running and have the means, stop in and check out NAHRAs elite retrievers doing what they do best.  The host club, Leatherstocking Hunting Retriever Association, will throw a great time for all as they have done in the past.  And by the way, there is still time to support their raffle or donate to the event.  Just go to the Invitational Website and contact the committee.

The NAHRA BOD has rolled out several initiatives this year already and we are anxiously awaiting to see what fruit they will bear.   The Future retriever program is doing quite well registering over 150 new NAHRA members to date boosting our membership to heights not seen for over 5 years!

The Electronic Entry pilot year has come and gone and the BOD has decided it is time to make e-entry a permanent NAHRA part of our business plan.  E-entry via Huntsecretary.com will become mandatory effective October 1, 2015.  This is a change from our August target date to accommodate test plans already in the pipeline.  While there have been some growing pains for clubs using the system, most have been worked out without incident and all who have used the system seem to be pleased with the results.  I will repeat, e-entry will become mandatory starting October 1, 2015.  No paper entries will be accepted after that date.  Late entries, as in the past and conforming with the NAHRA Regulations, will not be accepted.  Check out the NAHRA Website for revisions to the e-entry process or contact the Office.

For over 30 years, NAHRA has charged a $5.00 fee per entry.  This has allowed NAHRA to administer the program and maintain records.  Furthermore, along with membership dues, this has been our principle source of funding to operate the program.  Unfortunately, I must announce that this long running fee will have to be increased in order to maintain our current financial status.  Starting January 1, 2016, fees will increase from the current $5.00 for NAHRA members and $10.00 for non-members to $8.00 and $15.00 per entry, respectively.  This was a necessary and inevitable increase.  The BOD felt that increasing membership dues (which were reduced a few years ago) was not in our best interest and that a user fee was the correct direction to sustain our finances.

As you have probably already been following, NAHRA has established a high point dog program to reward participants in each level of testing per region.  High point dogs for each region will receive a T-shirt indicating that they are the "NAHRA High Point Dog" for the calendar year.  So get out there and get those qualifications!  NAHRA has established a 500 Point Club that awards all senior level dogs a certificate of achievement for earning 500 lifetime senior points.  This award was established for those handlers who aspire to achieve higher recognition beyond the GMHR level but may not have the means to attain the GMHRCH title within the dog's lifetime.  It's a great way to stay in the game and to earn a special award for an already special retriever!

NAHRA would like to announce a new product!  The BOD has approved the development of a new patch bearing our recently adopted logo.  The patches have been produced and are available from the NAHRA Office for $10.00.  This will allow our members to sport the new logo on the clothing of your choice and hopefully advance the NAHRA name.  The proceeds from our first stock will be used to fund future garments that NAHRA will make available.  A special thanks to Alaska Regional Director Mike Hemmer for generously funding the first shipment of patches that got the ball rolling!

A touchy issue but I believe it needs to be said.  From time to time things do not come together for whatever reasons and a field test event must be cancelled.  The BOD fully understands this but we must indicate that cancelling tests can have other farther reaching ramifications than just an inconvenience to some.  Over the past several years, there have been some cancellations that do not make sense given the numbers of entries that were registered at the time of cancellation.  While we understand that clubs normally set a ceiling for entries to cover costs, in several cases, the numbers were pretty reasonable.  That leads us to speculate that maybe some test formats may have to change to suit the current market for entries.  Clubs may have to change the way they present their weekend and focus primarily on the field test.  That is, maybe all the frills that we once enjoyed might not work anymore.  The BOD understands that some clubs hope to make a profit through an associated banquet and raffle.  Unfortunately, they are not getting the support they used to get so clubs may need to turn to alternative means of fundraising.  There are several strong clubs out there that might be of help to those who are struggling.  Contact your Regional Directors to see who they are and how they may help. 

The most important thing to the club, the region and to NAHRA is that tests be held and be the focus of the weekend.  The most glaring example of how a cancellation can impact the club and the organization is when a new handler enters a test that is eventually cancelled.  This can turn the new handler in a different direction and they may seek to run another venue, especially when this happens more than once.  We have a lot of new members from our Future Retriever Program and they will quickly lose confidence in us if we are routinely cancelling tests.  Think about what you can do to prevent any further cancellations by talking to your RD or a member of the BOD. 

As I indicated in an earlier message, this will be my last year on the BOD and a new leader will take the reins and lead NAHRA into the future.  A successor has been identified so I feel better about leaving the BOD.  However, we will also be losing a couple other BOD members at the end of 2015 and new leaders will need to emerge.  This is the point where you say I don't have the time and turn away.  I hope you won't do that and pitch in to take care of this great program.  Step up and take your turn, I have done so for nearly 11 years, a period much longer than I had hoped (maybe others as well) but I did my part.  Now NAHRA and I need you to do your part!

Frank Plewa

NAHRA President


GMHRCH-1 Twin Lakes Hotsy Totsy Ruby


In the late 80s and early 90s I had two dogs that were working retrievers, so I decided to do hunt tests with Ruby.  We got through the intermediate fast and started senior.  We were rough in the beginning so we kept our eyes and ears open, trained hard, and things began to click.  I never expected to be at this level.  I give most of the credit to Ruby, although I did do the driving and paying for motels.  Ruby is a team player, and a hard working girl that is focused, loyal and loves to work. 

I would like to thank the clubs, workers, and judges who put on the hunt tests.  It’s a lot of work and it’s also a privilege to watch excellent dog work. 

How to make a good dog better……join NAHRA.

June 9, 2015







April 29, 2015


Welcome back to Virginia!  Thanks to the efforts of Larry Housman, Vicky Pepper, Dave and Ann Mellender, Jim Hundemer and Terry Jordan, NAHRA landed on the Eastern Shore of Virginia in early April with the newly formed Eastern Shore Retriever Club's Inaugural Field Test.  I cannot say thanks enough to Larry for making this happen.  While I think it was in his long term plan to host a NAHRA event at his and Vicky's Eastern Shore property, I gave him a little push last year in hatching a plan.  You did well my friend and I am very proud of your efforts!

There were the normal little bumps and everyone pitched in to help throw birds and move equipment as all NAHRA folks do.  While it was a bit muddy, I think the Housman property is on the mend from all the traffic on his and two neighboring properties.  We all hope that this will be the start of an annual pilgrimage for  the NAHRA faithful and maybe, just maybe, the spread of NAHRA into Virginia where it dominated for most of its history.  Thanks to all the workers and judges who made the tests successful and a big thanks to NAHRA members from six states who supported the event.

Lastly, in addition to the hospitality offered by Larry and Vicky, thanks to Wayne and Ann Howell for hosting the Saturday banquet at their home away from home.


Sunday surviving faithful: Karen Johnston, Maggie Rathje, Diane Sheppard, Jim Hundemer, Dave Mellender, Ann Mellender, Terry Jordan, Karen Loh, Tony Carlo, Dick Ofstedal, Tom Johnston, Roy Sheppard Larry Housman (in his favorite seat), and Frank Plewa.  Photo by camera shy Vicky Pepper.


January 2015

My fellow members,

I hope you all had a great Holiday Season and best wishes for a Happy New Year in 2015!  I am hopeful that all have had a chance to get those NAHRA Dogs out into the field and the marsh this past fall and winter.  I know I did and also had the chance to watch some of our current crop's fine work.  Just yesterday I hunted Canada geese with my friend and fellow BOD member Tom Johnston and his young dog, May.  I had the opportunity to watch what is always a special time in a young dog and handler's life, a first goose.

For those of you who have not hunted geese with your dog, it is quite the accomplishment.  I like to think the level of control surpasses steady to flush.  If you have done it, you understand that there is probably more action and confusion taking place that many dogs can handler.  Hours of waiting then a scramble to hide, ridiculous amounts of calling to and from the geese, the sudden explosion of blinds opening and guns emptying, birds falling, screaming and flying away.  Through all this, a dog hopefully waits patiently in their mutt hut (or hopes their owner soon gets off them) for the signal to go.  It doesn't end there, sometimes 2-3 dogs being sent for hopefully different birds, birds flopping, cripples running, etc.  A lot for a young dog to digest.  Even with the most careful planning for that new dog on the block, confusion ensues.  Furthermore, the first retrieve is always interesting to watch due to the intimidating size and weight of the bird.  Only numerous additional doses of the same treatment and the guidance of their handler, can this dog figure it out.  Other than that, it's a piece of cake!

Nothing more satisfying me to see a rookie in the morning become somewhat experienced by day's end.  May hunted with my Target who has been along on many days like this one but may never lose his youthful exuberance for geese!  However, he was a gentlemen and it was ladies first.  A group of four came in and three hit the ground for good.  May was sent and as I alluded to earlier, confusion got the better of her but with the helpful hand of Tom, the bird was retrieved over and over again until she got the idea.  Actually quite an accomplishment given the bird was almost as big as she.  Nonetheless, the next pair fell and she got her bird.  Tom was a pretty proud papa by day's end!  I hope you all get to experience a first time like this over and over again. 

As I begin the final year as your President and as a NAHRA BOD member, I have high hopes that this will be the breakout year we have all worked for over the past 10 years.  The BOD has had some pretty dedicated people who have worked very hard to better the organization and try to stimulate growth.  While we have not been as timely as we hoped in some areas, our initiatives have been finally been completed and the template for the future is here.

We have instituted an electronic entry system through Hunt Test Secretary.  Unfortunately, it was rolled out late in 2014 so many of you did not have the opportunity to use the new system.  From those that have used it, I have heard nothing but good things so please give it a try this year.  The BOD encourages all clubs to use the electronic system as this was one of the biggest requests from the membership both before and during my Presidency.  It is very user friendly even for an old dog like me!  The guidelines for using the system are posted on our website.

The Future Retriever Program (FRP) is well underway and we have high hopes of snagging some new members and participants in our testing program.  Currently, most of the participants in the FRP are in the west of the Mississippi.  That means we easterners have been dragging our feet and that is a shame for such little effort it takes to get started.  For more information please contact your Club Representatives and or Regional Director to learn more.

The Pilot Upland Retriever Program (URP) was initiated last fall with two events taking place, one each in the Central and East.  Another URP event will take place in the Central this coming weekend with several others planned for the East in late winter. This is the new kid on the block and while we do not have enough of a sample to draw many conclusions, the BOD feels this may take hold permanently.  However, the membership cannot evaluate what it cannot see so let's get some tests scheduled as soon as you can.  The Hunter Initiative did not take hold until folks had an opportunity to draw their own conclusions at an event.  I can remember so many who were opposed to Hunter initially and most who have told me personally that this was a good idea.  Give the URP a try, that is what a pilot is all about.

As you know, the 2015 NAHRA Invitational will be in New York and is hosted by the Leatherstocking Hunting Retriever Association.  They have selected their judges and are in full gear working towards the event in August to be held near Syracuse.  As for the 2016 Invitational, the Central Region is on the clock and preparing to put it their bid for the event.  I hope all will work towards qualifying their dogs and participating in both events.  Hosting the event can be very profitable for both NAHRA and the hosting clubs. 

Public Relations Director Bill Everly has advised the BOD that our prospects for National Sponsors and Banner Sales will be at least level with last year's totals although we have our sites on several additions.  Please support our Sponsors by using their products.  It's not enough to purchase them, please let them know you are NAHRA and thank them for their support.

While it was announced that the Judges Corner or Judges Forum is up and running on our website I would just like to give it another bump here.  Harry Williams has led the effort to establish and interactive forum for all judges and members to discuss issues and situations that regularly arise in our testing program.  Harry has built up a number of topics from previous issues and comments received by the BOD and a few he has kept close hold for some time.  Please visit the forum and participate.  The worst thing that can happen is we all get on the same page!!!

Election of two Regional Directors took place and Adam Ackermann will replace Patsy Hove as the Central Region Director.  The NAHRA BOD would like to thank Patsy for her service to the Central and to NAHRA.  Jennifer Hood will be returning as the West Regional Director.  Thank you for your continued service.  

The new NAHRA Logo was unveiled last fall and it hopefully will be face of a bright future. I think the raw idea created by Public Relations Director Bill Everly and enhanced by our friends at Kinetic has produced an outstanding logo that all will be proud to show off.  We hope to have the logo available in several additional sizes to be displayed by our members. 

Lastly, we finished in the black again in 2014 due to the fantastic budgeting effort by Treasurer Dan Hove.  While things got a little lean near year's end, we stayed black!  That brings me to my final comments.  I have always posted as cheery a message as I can and at times, maybe making things a little rosier than they are but that is what leaders do.  Keep up the morale at all cost. 

Many of you are probably anticipating the next sentence to be bad news, that is not where I am going.  I have laid out some of the major initiatives the BOD has rolled out recently and there are others that I did not mention specifically.  This is the point where I say to you the membership, it's on you now.  The BOD has put the pieces in place to move ahead and grow. Now the BOD expects you to take it and run with it.  I challenge every region, club and member to step up and use these initiatives to grow NAHRA. 

While hosting events and running dogs go without saying to be very important, you need to go further.  Extra, sometimes extraordinary effort is needed to attract new clubs and members and now you have some tools to use.  Simply making a suggestion or handing off a contact for someone else to handle is not what is needed.  You need to follow up, make contacts and do the leg work too.  Word on the street has it that participants in other venues may be ripe to try something new so let's act on that.  Get your regions and clubs involved as a group. 

Many remember when other venues took advantage of dissatisfaction in NAHRA at its most vulnerable time, let us do the same and increase our ranks.  Getting other clubs to try NAHRA will probably work better by approaching many of their rank and file members, not the leaders that still want to promote the current venue.  I am not saying try to pull them from other venues, just try to get them to try something else. 

The bottom line is the members have to take the ball the BOD has given you and run with it.  Thanks.

Frank Plewa

NAHRA President


New Member Benefits are available from Paw Print Genetics!   

Paw Print Genetics is pleased to announce a partnership with the North American Hunting Retriever Association’s (NAHRA) as a preferred provider of genetic services.

NAHRA is concerned about the health of your dogs and has partnered with Paw Print Genetics to provide a members only discount for testing for the genetic diseases that occur in your breed and those that should be considered before breeding, buying or training your dog.   We offer individual disease testing and comprehensive testing panels for several retriever breeds. You can order one or more gene tests for your dog, or order the entire panel. For all orders that enter the Members Only Discount Code at checkout, you will receive your discount. Additional information (and your Discount Code) can be found in the “Downloadable Files” section of the NAHRA Website.

Search your breed to find the diseases that your dog is at risk for inheriting.  For example, we offer 16 tests for Labrador retrievers including CNM, EIC and two different PRAs. Find tests for Golden retrievers including ichthyosis and tests for Chesapeake Bay retrievers including degenerative myelopathy. Panels can be found for the following breeds:

Labrador Retriever

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

Golden Retrievers

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

Standard Poodle

Boykin Spaniel

Save on your order of a breed-specific panel or individual tests. The discount code will also work for rarer versatile breeds, such as the Drentsche patrijshond.

Genetic counseling is available to you at no charge Monday – Friday 8am -5pm pst to assist you in making an informed decision about genetic testing and selecting the right tests for your dog or for helping you interpret your results once testing is completed.  In addition, we offer Paw Print Pedigrees.  Paw Print Pedigrees is a place for our customers to display their kennels and show off their dogs. It can also be used to find like-minded breeders who care about the genetic health of their dogs.

 Please contact Paw Print Genetics toll free at 1-855-202-4889 if you have any questions about inherited disease testing, how to place an order or how to interpret your results. We can even take your order over the phone. We look forward to working with you!

Click for Members Only Discount sheet



President's Message / September 12, 2014

My fellow members:

Fall is within shouting distance and I know many of you are getting excited or have already started gearing up for the coming hunting seasons.  In many areas the September goose and dove seasons have opened and I hope you all had great openers.  If you are a sports nut like I am, that means you can be even lazier on the weekends with the opening of the football seasons and the baseball pennant races. 

However, there are a lot of other things to be excited about for you NAHRA faithful.  By now you have had a taste of several items the BOD has been working on which have or will be rolled out soon.

On Line Entry

First and foremost, final testing for the Online Entry system is about complete and our feedback has been very positive about the services that huntsecretary.com has to offer.  Special thanks to Kody Bull who has put significant effort into getting this done and for resisting the temptation to unleash an unfinished product.   Kody will provide an official announcement and directions for use at the end of September 2014.  Any clubs needing to use this service prior to October 1 can contact Kody.  Special thanks to Janet Kimbrough of huntsecretary.com for making the needed changes to incorporate NAHRA.

Clubs will now be able to use huntsecretary.com for online entry needs after October 1 but please wait until the announcement comes out with specific directions regarding administrative requirements.  Clubs will have the choice to use the paper entry system, or online entry, not both. We suggest that test secretaries, and members go ahead and set up their accounts at www.huntsecretary.com, this site has a great FAQ section, we suggest that everyone take the time and check out this site.

Future Retriever Program

The Future Retriever Program was rolled out earlier this year and is in full swing.  We have heard some good feedback thus far but it is still in its infancy.  You can help us reach out to new perspective members by spreading the word about the program.  For more information, work through your Regional Directors. 

This Outreach program is designed to educate the new dog owner about NAHRA.  In return, NAHRA hopes to bring more people into our program and boost local participation.  Anyone with a new retriever that has never been a NAHRA member before is eligible for this program so please advise your local breeders.

A new trifold brochure has been produced to explain the program and who is eligible.  We are hoping that members and local clubs will contact local reputable breeders in their area to pass these out with each puppy that is sold. Local clubs can also hand out brochures to new members. RD's have received numerous copies of the brochures so clubs and members should contact them or the NAHRA Office to get as many as you need.  For more expedited service, the brochure can be down loaded from the NAHRA site.  A special thanks to Kinetic Performance Dog Foods, a NAHRA National Sponsor and also the sponsor of Future Retriever Program.  Kinetic has gone overboard in not only sponsoring the production of the brochures, but also provided technical assistance in the construction of the layout. 

500 Point Club

For some time members have complained that they do not have the ability to chase down the GMHRCH or 1000 point title.  However, people would still like to participate in our Senior stakes despite the slim hope of getting to the 1000 point plateau before their dog is too old.  Due to the effort of Secretary Sue Snow, NAHRA has constructed another certificate to recognize dogs earning at least 500 points, which is so named "The 500 Point Club."  While it is not a title, NAHRA would like to provide a certificate to reward these dogs and handlers for their continuing loyalty and participation in our program.   If you have a dog that has reached that plateau, you are eligible retroactively and can contact the NAHRA office for verification.

Upland Retriever Program (URP)

The Upland Retriever Program made  its debut earlier in September and another test is planned later this fall in Pennsylvania (November).  This is a pilot program intended to expand the current testing program into areas and or seasons where formerly, testing was not possible.  It is also intended to expand the membership by inviting other handlers and breeds that may not have participated in the past.  Because the program focuses on the upland land portion of the current program, we feel this will increase participation through the offering of two new titles:  Working Upland Retriever (WUR) and Master Upland Retriever (MUR).  Not only will it provide some additional bragging rights, it will extend the career of many dogs who may be retired from the program. 

Eligible Breeds

In concert with the addition of the URP, the BOD approved a change to eligible breeds in our program.  Eligible breeds will now include all hunting retriever breeds and in addition, all sporting dog breeds which will be eligible for titles.  While this may cause some kickback from a few purists, the BOD feels that we are not taking advantage of many untapped resources that can help us build.  The truth is, all breeds have always been eligible to run our program with a Field Test Number, so why not invite them in and make them eligible for a title?  The bottom line is that any titled dog in our  program is a proven hunting retriever, as they had to do the work of a hunting retriever to earn their title.  It is my impression that many breeds will seek only the upland titles, but if they wish to pursue our traditional titles, then more power to them. 


As announced, the EBOD approved a new NAHRA Logo at the August meeting.  The process was expedited in response to an imminent business opportunity.  Namely, the development of a NAHRA advertisement in The Retriever Journal, in which we had a deadline to meet - so the EBOD made the decision to push ahead with the development of the Logo and also the advertisement.  I should add that this all would not have been possible but for the generosity of John Howard and his staff at Kinetic.  Talk about going above and beyond: the Kinetic folks took the raw idea by Bill Everly (Public Relations Director) and produced what appears to be a very accepted logo.  As Bill presented in his announcement, the logo tells the story of NAHRA and what we are about.  I hope you all will embrace it.  Thank you John and Kinetic.


Only two elections will be held this year and both are Regional Director positions; the Central and West Regions.  An announcement requesting nominations will be out shortly.

2014 Invitational

The 2014 Invitational is now history and a hearty thanks to the folks at the Midnight Sun Gun Dog Association for a wonderful and profitable event.  Due to the location, the numbers were obviously off the previous pace a bit but it did not stop a number of folks from the lower 48 and the locals from spending the week in some of the most breathtaking scenery our country has to offer.  Special thanks to Kody Bull and Regional Director Mike Hemmer for making this go!

2015 Invitational

The 2015 Invitational will again be held in the Finger Lakes Region of New York on August 5-8.    Leatherstocking Hunting Retriever Association will  be the host of the event at the Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area near Syracuse.  The bid for the event was accepted by the BOD a few months ago and the judges selections should happen soon.  Please follow the link on the NAHRA Website to navigate to the 2015 Invitational for more information. 

Sponsorships and Advertisements

Finally, our Public Relations Director, Bill Everly, has been quite busy landing several national sponsorships and advertisers.  Among our sponsors are Kinetic, The Retriever Journal, Paw Print Genetics and Tri Tronics.  Please support our sponsors and advertisers for their continued support of our program.

I hope this gets everyone up to speed on current events.  As always, we will make additional announcements as they become available.  I believe the coming year can be one where NAHRA will again make its mark in the retriever world by seeing some sorely needed growth and by producing the best hunting retrievers in the world.  Please support our sponsors and advertisers when you can and make sure you let them know you are a NAHRA Member when you do.  I hope you all have safe and productive hunting seasons!

Pick em up clean!

Frank Plewa

NAHRA President


April 17, 2014

NAHRA Announces New Testing Program / Upland Retriever Program      

Dear NAHRA Members:

The NAHRA BOD is excited to introduce a new NAHRA Field Test program – the Upland Retriever Program (URP). The URP would include two levels of non-competitive field testing: a Working Upland Retriever test leading to the title Working Upland Retriever (WUR); and, Senior Upland Retriever test leading to the title Master Upland Retriever (MUR). The BOD rationale for considering the Upland Retriever Program can be summarized as follows:

1.      For many hunters, Upland Hunting is the primary use of their Hunting Retriever- the URP would introduce them to the NAHRA program.

2.    The URP would create an opportunity to more fully evaluate the training of specialized upland hunting skills in an extended testing format.

3.    The URP would allow clubs to host events on property without water and during cold weather months.

Upland Retriever Tests will be non-competitive; dogs are evaluated against a written standard. Dogs are evaluated based on the quality of their training, hunting skill and obedience, not the speed of the hunt. The URP Pilot Rules will be in effect for all Pilot Tests conducted in 2014. All qualifying scores awarded during the pilot period will be counted towards titles if the URP is adopted as a formal part of the NAHRA program.

The NAHRA BOD will solicit and consider all comments related to the URP Pilot Rules before adopting the final URP rules.

Please review the Pilot period rules and give serous consideration to holding and running a Pilot URP Field Test this season.(PDF and Word format)     

Everybody’s dog loves to upland hunt; they are going to love the URP too!

Give it some thought.

Frank Plewa  

NAHRA President


GMHRCH II HARVEST THYME’S TANKS-A-LOT MH             February 9,2014



I am humbled to say that Tank is a second generation 1000 point dog (GMHRCH III HRCH Silverbrook’s Ravin Rebel MH (Kali) & GMHRCH II MFR Fowl Weather's Token Trouble (Trouble)).  He stayed a member of the Riebling family due to the urging of my wife, Cheryl.  She fell in love with him from the start.  Tank was in line to be sold to another NAHRA member, but at the time began to show a lack of retrieving enthusiasm.  In good conscience, I couldn’t sell him like that.

My a lot has changed!  Tank absolutely loves “the game”!  Whether it is hunting or testing, it’s all he can do to contain himself.  If anyone hasn’t witnessed his meltdowns on the upland series, they are monumental!  Tank has had difficulty over the years in wild, inconsistent hunts in the upland series; which over the last 3 or so years of his life, made the journey to 1000 much more treasured.  He only failed one test outside of that series & it was a tough test very early in his career.  Otherwise, typically he lines a blind or two in every weekend.

As a hunting partner Tank has been wonderful!  He is always up for “picking up a couple chickens” and sometimes has to endure the occasional goose that seems to have nine lives (or the good fortune to know how to dodge the steel headed its way).  At home, he is never far from my side, and to quote my wife “cares about no one else but me”.  He gets along well with everyone in the house, but it’s clearly evident that it’s all about dad.  He has been a pleasure to have by my side through this journey!

This all couldn’t be possible without the help and support of all my friends at Northern Piedmont & their hard work at training days.  Also, a heartfelt thank you to the NAHRA program and the judges who gave their time to watch us work as a team on test day.  In addition I would like to thank my daughter Faith; who I drug out time & time again when Tank was younger to “throw JUST a few marks for the dogs”.  And finally, to my wife Cheryl; thanks for supporting me through it all.    Thank you all


2014 NAHRA Election Results             2/04/2014

Executive Board of Directors


Vice President - Kody Bull


Treasurer - Dan Hove


Member at Large - Harry Williams


Alaska Regional Director


Mike Hemmer

East Regional Director


Tom Rourke

Central Regional Director

Patsy Hove



NAHRA Home Office to collect and tally all votes by January 30, 2014

Election Committee to notify clubs of winners by February 15, 2014

New Officers and New Regional Directors to take position on March 1, 2014


President's Message January 31, 2014

My Fellow Members,

Well 2014 is upon us and so are the hopes for a great New Year despite the icebox that most of us are enduring.  The ponds have at least six inches of ice on them and the landscape snow covered.  Many of you have wrapped up your hunting seasons and maybe are anticipating fishing or getting out to train dogs.  Here in the east we are anxiously awaiting the late goose opener on the 1st and the forecast by Punxsutawney Phil on the 2nd, the only weatherman who can put an end to winter.

This is your "State of NAHRA" message to get you up to speed with news of the day.  While we are stable and debt free, membership growth has been slow over the past few years but the BOD is continuing to strive to implement a number of initiatives to boost NAHRA’s finances and participation.  I wish it were possible to announce that NAHRA is reducing themembership fees, or better yet, doing away with them altogether.  However, the truth is that approximately half of the organization's operating funds come from membership fees.  The majority of our remaining revenues are generated from entry fees, sponsorships, Invitational proceeds and banner sales.


So where are we today?

Vice President Kody Bull continues to work with Hunt Test Secretary, the on line entry system NAHRA will use for our Field Testing Events.  We are hopeful that after a "dry run" to test the system, the final bugs will be corrected and be available for the beginning of the 2014 Test Season.  The system will be optional for clubs to use but NAHRA will be encouraging its full use since it has the capability of significantly reducing the amount of work for both Field Test Secretaries and for NAHRA.  Like anything new, it is a given that snags will be encountered by the user so we ask you to be patient and work with the NAHRA Office to iron out any problems.

Kody Bull and Public Relations Director Bill Everly are putting the final touches on the Future Retriever Program effort.  NAHRA and our Sponsor, Native, are working to finalize information packets to be sent to new puppy owners through participating breeders introducing these people to our products.  It is imperative that members and clubs work through their regional directors to identify breeders that are willing to participate in this program.

The new approach in sales of the NAHRA Calendar appears to be successful and is probably the manner in which future sales will be conducted.  That is, members must pre-order calendars in the fall when the announcements are made.

As announced earlier, the NAHRA History tab now has available all NAHRA News issues published from 1984 through 2003 and also many of the past Invitational Catalogs.  There are others yet to be installed and we are still trying to locate some of the Invitational Catalogs but these should keep everyone busy for a while.  As I asked earlier, if anyone knows someone who may have some of these missing issues, please contact us so we can attempt to acquire a copy for posting.

The BOD has approved and will soon install a forum on the NAHRA Website to provide information and discussion on Judges, judging standards, qualifications and judging. This will be a Moderated Forum spearheaded by Harry Williams.  We are hopeful that this will bring issues to light, inspire discussion and provide  guidance on judging of NAHRA Field Tests.

Welcome to our newest NAHRA club, the East Region's, Empire Retriever Club, which is based in Western New York.  Thanks to the efforts of long time members Jim Karr and Tom Stazierowski, the ERC will jump into the NAHRA Field Testing Program with both feet hosting two events this year in late May and July.  Welcome!

Hearty congratulations to long time member and judge Arlon Woodlee who attained his 100th judging points in 2014.  Arlon was also a judge at the 2011 Invitational in Iowa.  Arlon becomes one of only six NAHRA Judges with 100 lifetime judging points.  Congratulations on an accomplishment that highlights your ongoing service and participation in the NAHRA Program.

In a recent vote, the NAHRA BOD has approved the following Policy concerning the combination of up to three categories for testing at a licensed NAHRA Field Test Event.  The combination of three categories may only include the Started, Hunter and Intermediate levels and for a maximum of 15 entries (which is an increase from the initial 2013 Trial Period).  Entry numbers above that total are not permitted.  Senior cannot be included in any combination of three stakes.

It is important that Field Test Committees and host clubs plan accordingly to ensure that a fair and quality event is provided as the Club’s and NAHRA’s reputations will suffer for any problems or unpleasant experiences incurred buy these combinations.  The BOD is hopeful that the host clubs will use this policy wisely to enable them to achieve financial success with their events but also to present the NAHRA Testing Program in a positive light.

Public Relations Director, Bill Everly, continues to work on National Sponsorships and Banner Sales for 2014.  Bill is close to signing new sponsors for 2014 and is working to renew our past sponsors. Unfortunately, we cannot yet release the details as the ink has not yet dried, but stay tuned and watch the website for announcements.  If you have not noticed, Alpine Publications has purchased an advertisement with NAHRA.  Alpine Publications specialize in publishing equine and canine training books. You now have a direct link to ordering some the best puppy and retriever training books from their store.

I would like to appeal to all of you to visit our website daily if you can and also to click and at least visit our sponsors and advertisers as well.  Some folks ask me how can I help the organization?  This is one way, visit the site and ask non members to do the same but through our site.  It is difficult to sell banner ads or secure sponsors when no one visits the sites.  The more hits the sites receive through our site, the easier our job  is to sell NAHRA and its website to potential clients and partners.  This is not a difficult task, everyone visits the internet at least occasionally, and many daily.  All you have to do to help NAHRA is make some clicks whether you spend a lot of time there or not.  Just do it!

Elections are in process and regardless of the outcomes, I would like to recognize a few current Directors that will be leaving the BOD.  First, I would like to thank Member at Large, Ted Givens, who will be leaving the BOD in March for his service to NAHRA.  Ted is a founding member of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Hunting Retriever Club based within shouting distance of Pittsburgh.

I would like to thank Interim Treasurer Travis Lund for helping us out at a time in which we were a little short.  Though brief, Travis filled a void keeping us financially on point and while providing some valuable input at our meetings.  Travis has both feet into the Four Points Retriever Club in Minnesota as well as trying to keep up with work and a busy family life.  Thanks again Travis.!

Lastly, thank you to Matt Arndt, Alaska Regional Director for the past three years.  Matt has been great conduit for information exchange between the Alaska Region and NAHRA.  Matt will be involved in the upcoming 2014 NAHRA Invitational to be held near Palmer.  Otherwise, I believe Matt owns enough rods and guns to keep him busy.  Thanks for your service!

Soon all of you will receive information through your Regional Director and Club Representatives of an initiative the BOD is considering, the Upland Retriever Program (URP).  In an effort to increase participation and potentially, new memberships, the BOD is considering adding to the existing program.  There would be no change to the existing rules or testing procedures, this would simply be an addition. The major points include:

1.      The URP initially would be introduced as a pilot program for at least one year similar to what was done with the Hunter Stake.  This will allow clubs and the membership to experience the program, to decide whether NAHRA should add the program or not. and to provide comment towards improving the prototype.

2.      The URP is an addition to our existing program.  Participating clubs would be required to host at least one traditional NAHRA testing event annually.

3.      The URP will focus on upland hunting and other land-based testing.  The URP will allow judges to add to the realism of hunting scenarios by incorporating blinds, marks, trails, etc. into the upland hunt.

4.      The URP would reward successful dogs and owners with the opportunity to earn additional titles at two levels.

5.      URP would enable clubs to host additional test events during periods where water testing is not available. It would allow for additional participation for current and prospective members.

6.      The URP may enable NAHRA to attract participants from other venues, potentially increasing participation and membership.

7.      We believe through the attraction of other participants, this may open some doors to other advertising and sponsorship opportunities.

Again, this is an initiative we are considering. Once rudimentary running rules are created, it will be rolled out to the clubs in a future announcement.  Just to be clear, these will be an initial proposed set of rules that will likely, through the use of a pilot program, be subject to significant change before any potential final implementation.  The URP Pilot Program will be optional to the clubs.

At the request of the BOD, Dan Hove investigated and reported on the potential use of Hunting Lab Pedigree services an online pedigree service.  Dan reported favorably on the potential partnership with the NAHRA program and dogs.  Hunting Lab Pedigree currently not only provides services of pedigree but also information and links to NAHRA program.  Dan was authorized by the EBOD to go back to Hunting Lab Pedigree and offer to trade banner ads with them, which was subsequently accepted.  They are making some adjustments to add our needs to their system.  Feel free to visit their site at http://www.huntinglabpedigree.com/.

And the best for last!  I would like to introduce a budding NAHRA star, Miss Isabella Alter and her dog Holly.  Isabella entered a Started Test at the Navesink River Hunting Retriever Club’s 2013 September Event and earned a Junior Handler’s Ribbon which she is sporting in the photo below.  Congratulations to Isabella and her parents Mark and Deanna Alter!! I hope the NAHRA bug has bitten all of you really hard!


I can’t think of a more precious moment, honor for a pair of judges or thrill for a young lady!  That smile says it all,  congrats from all of us Isabella and Holly!

Frank Plewa

NAHRA President


2014 NAHRA Elections             1/03/2014

Nominees / Executive Board of Directors


Vice President - Kody Bull


Treasurer - Dan Hove


Member at Large - Harry Williams



Nominee / Alaska Regional Director


Mike Hemmer


Nominee / East Regional Director


Tom Rourke


Nominees / Central Regional Director

Patsy Hove (click to view PDF)

Shawn Piotter (click to view PDF)


NAHRA Home Office to collect and tally all votes by January 30, 2014

Election Committee to notify clubs of winners by February 15, 2014

New Officers and New Regional Directors to take position on March 1, 2014


NAHRA History Available Now - December 20, 2013

Greetings Fellow Members,

On behalf of the NAHRA BOD I am proud to announce that the first installment of "NAHRA History" can be found under the History Tab on our front page.  While it has been up for a few days now I know that most of you are not aware it is there.  Available now is a journey into NAHRA's history through the NAHRA News and past Invitational Catalogs.   This was a monumental undertaking to scan these documents and then upload them to our site.  Many thanks to Tom Johnston Sr. who volunteered many hours to do the scanning and to Suellen Appellof for uploading the information.

While the information is incomplete at this juncture, we certainly are going to make every effort to complete the information.  This is where you or someone you know can help us.  If you or know of someone who may possess some of the missing NAHRA News or Invitational Catalogs, please contact the NAHRA Office or me.  We would love the opportunity to borrow the documents for scanning or accept an electronic copy to post with the existing information.  All documents will be returned promptly to their owners.

Can you imagine a single event with 131 Started, 60 Intermediate and 34 Senior entries?  Those were the numbers NAHRA had at the first licensed event hosted by the James River Retriever Club at Curles Neck Farm in Virginia February 22-24, 1985!   This is just one of the documents we have provided in our History Page.  As I indicated above, we hope to fill in all of the missing accounts and news in the future as well as provide some photos and some testimony from our members.

I have a lot of information submitted by former and current members documenting NAHRA History in my possession.  The book is not closed yet!  Anyone who still would like to submit photos and or testimony to NAHRA's rich history, we are still accepting!  Just forward your information to me and I will get it up there.  If possible, please submit all information electronically.  If you cannot, I will see that your information or photos get back to you promptly.  All information will be made available on the website in the near future.

So enjoy our rich history and visit our site.  Set some time aside to do so as there is a ton of reading!

Frank Plewa

NAHRA President


President's Message - October 23, 2013


Yes, it’s my favorite time of year: football and the opening of the hunting seasons.  I hope this finds everyone well and making preparations for some quality time in the great outdoors.  It has been too long since I have sent a message, so there are a number of things to bring you all up to speed on.

The E-entry system has been on the radar for some time now and I am happy to announce we have picked up speed in that area and with a little luck it will be available for the spring testing season.  Vice President Kody Bull has been putting considerable effort into locating the best and most practical Hunt Test Registration Service for NAHRA.  We initially explored the possibility of creating our own e-entry system for NAHRA, but it has proven to be cost prohibitive at every turn.  We have also investigated numerous existing services, many of which were also cost prohibitive or were not compatible with our program and administrative capabilities.   Kody has been speaking with the owner of and on line entry service for some time and we now believe we may be on a track to use their services very soon.  The holdup has been the inability of this entry service to build NAHRA into their system due to website issues they have been having.  It appears that those issues will soon be resolved and we could be on the fast track to enabling our clubs to use their service early in 2014.  So keep your fingers crossed!

As you know, 2013 was NAHRA's 30th anniversary! Congratulations to all who have been affiliated with the NAHRA program in both the short and long term.  I especially would like to congratulate the long-timers who have been training and building the best all around retrievers in North America for many years.  NAHRA was the originator of the field testing program for retrievers, which in the past 30 years, has sprouted into many similar programs enabling dog owners and handlers to inject more than their share of money into the local economies.  I know I’ve spent a few mortgages myself!

But the NAHRA program still focuses on building all around retrievers for the gun and making the opportunity possible for the average Joe and Jane hunter to compete against a written standard in an atmosphere that is fun for all who participate.  NAHRA has enabled hunters and handlers from all parts to meet, build friendships, and best of all, increase the gene pool of great hunting retrievers.

Coming very soon will be a button on our front page entitled "NAHRA History" which will allow all to take a trip into NAHRA's past and learn about the pioneers of the program and the long-standing members who labored to make NAHRA what it is today.  The first installment will be scanned copies of all of the NAHRA News publications which preceded the electronic age.  In addition, we have also scanned all of the past Invitational Catalogs that we could get our hands on.  Despite our efforts, there are a few missing and we hope that by presenting them on the website, we can potentially locate the others through our members and casual readers.  A special thanks to Tom Johnston, Jr. and Tom Johnston, Sr. for many hours of labor scanning these documents.

As a follow up, we will be adding some testimonials from NAHRA members we have reached out to this year for information and their comments.  This too, I am hopeful will cause others to send in their own testimonials regarding the NAHRA program.  The lateness of going public with this information is on me personally, as I have not been able to work on this as diligently throughout the process as I would have hoped.  In any case, better late than never!

To the 2013 Invitational Committee: a big “Thank you” from NAHRA.  The IC planned, managed, and executed a great event for 40 of NAHRA's elite dogs and their handlers.  The 2013 IC produced some good public relations through the event for NAHRA and managed to raise approximately $10,000.00 for their efforts.  Kudos to the committee and especially Public Relations Director and IC member Bill Everly who almost single handedly squeezed every cent out of the attendees and supporters as humanly possible.  Bill's planning and execution for the fund raising aspect of the event were outstanding.

Bill obtained significant sponsorships for the event from Avery Sporting Dog Products, Gun Dog Supply, doTerra, Decoyflocker.com, DRI DUCK, Tri-Tronics, Gunners Up, Tim Grounds, Midnight Sun Gun Dog Association, Leatherstocking Hunting Retriever Association, Northern Piedmont Retriever Club, Copper State Hunting Retriever Club, and Lake Champlain Retriever Club.

In addition to the sponsors Bill managed to land for the Invitational, he also retained Native Performance Dog Foods and Tri-Tronics as National Sponsors.  In addition, Bill also helped bring on Working Man's Retriever as another National Sponsor.  The TV show is hosted by NAHRA's own Dan Hosford.

On behalf of NAHRA, I would like to take the time to sincerely thank all of our National and Invitational Sponsors.  Your generosity has enabled us to continue to present and promote our program and more importantly our message, "conservation through the use of trained retrievers."  I am hopeful that our members have shown their appreciation by purchasing your products.

Additionally, thank you to our web advertisers; Gun Dog Supply, Quick Shot, Dakota Creek Retrievers and Gunners UP.  Your business is very much appreciated.

Vice President Kody Bull has been busy creating and organizing one of our latest initiatives, the NAHRA Future Retrievers Program, which will be rolled-out very soon.  With the help of PR Director Bill Everly, NAHRA has secured Native Performance Dog Foods as a sponsor for this important program which will enable NAHRA to reach many new potential members.  The program will provide breeders with information regarding our program and an introductory NAHRA membership so that new puppy owners will be introduced to NAHRA’s mission and the opportunities the program provides to create a quality retriever and conservation tool.  New owners will also be provided information regarding the Conservation Education Initiative we are promoting to reach the average hunter and to educate those unfamiliar with our program about the use of retrievers as conservation tools.  Native has graciously agreed to provide the funds to print the necessary materials that we will provide to breeders and new puppy owners.

As advertised on our website, the Board of Directors has produced criteria for the selection of our Invitational Judges starting January 1, 2015.  There were several reasons for producing this policy, with the most important being that our current protocol does not go far enough in weighing the prospective judge’s abilities and also the prohibition of selecting only judges that have never judged the event previously.   Recognizing that in some regions, the list of prospective nominees is growing smaller every year, it was decided that we should consider those who have previously judged the event.  In addition, several other criteria were added to the list.  Please take a moment to review the new criteria.

The current process for obtaining Invitational Judges (in case you are not familiar) is for the standing Invitational Committee to solicit nominees from all Regional Directors for prospective judges following the criteria referenced above.  The IC will then submit their list of three nominees to the NAHRA Board of Directors for consideration.  The BOD will accept or decline the submission and notify the IC to proceed with contacting the nominees or that they should delete one or more of the nominees and start the process again.  BOD must provide good reason for declining a nominee (who meets the criteria).

The process for Elections to the Board of Directors has started.  Officer positions which are up for elections this year are Vice President, Treasurer and one Member at Large position.  Nominees for these Executive Board of Directors positions are generally filled from within the existing full BOD.  However, the NAHRA clubs in good standing are provided the vote.

Regional Director positions that are up for election include the East, Central and Alaska.  Due to the merging of the former Northeast and Southeast, it has caused an imbalance for the election process.  Our intent with the process was to elect a balanced number of RDs each year allowing the BOD to retain some continuity by not having too many directors leave at once.  With the current scenario, we would potentially be turning over 3 directors this year and only one next.  Therefore, to retain continuity, we are proposing to have the Central Director's position, currently up for election this year, reduced to a one year term.  This will be a onetime only circumstance, and resume two year terms starting in the next election cycle.

That about covers all of the updates my friends…  However, I would like to speak to you about a couple other items before I close.  We have been reporting to you over the past few years that we have been operating in the black and that we have resolved all of our long term debts that we inherited from past leadership.

It is no secret that the NAHRA program has experienced a rocky road in the past leading to its current size.  Having an economy in the tank since most of us took over as Officers and BOD members has handcuffed our recovery.   While we have made great strides in resolving our past debt and have cut spending to the bone in order to continue to operate in the black, we are not experiencing the growth that we anticipated.  We attribute this in part to the economy (as I have indicated) but also because we have not been able to put into play the growth stimulating initiatives that we have been working on the past few years.  However, we are on the brink of rolling those out and I foresee things improving in the short term if we can follow through.

Another problem that has been growing for a number of years has been our inability to reach out to potential prospective members.  We are doing a very poor job of reaching the common hunters who would be the most interested and have the most to gain from our program - and I am not talking about the BOD or NAHRA not reaching out.  It is the clubs who are dropping the ball in that area.  We have become very top heavy: meaning our organization has mostly senior dogs and handlers.  There has been little success in recruitment of folks new to retrievers and testing programs.  Our numbers over the past few years are proof of this unfortunate trend.  While we cannot put our finger on one main reason, it certainly has a lot to do with effort to recruit and mentor new people.

So what can we do to turn this around?  The BOD and NAHRA have produced some ways to help with the initiatives I discussed earlier.  In particular, the Future Retriever Program should help reach new puppy owners and all are expected to have a hand in the process: from NAHRA down to individual clubs.  NAHRA, through its sponsor Native, will provide some incentives and materials to aid in the initial recruitment of new puppy owners.  It will be up to the clubs to help and mentor them, providing the guidance and resources necessary for them to train their dogs.  It is our hope that people will get the bug through the efforts of the local club and become NAHRA members and program participants.  One thing is for certain: if there is no effort, there will be no return.

Secondly, through the Conservation Education Incentive Program, we will provide materials to local clubs to aid in their efforts of doing demonstrations and participating in conservation events.  We hope to grow the current materials and also provide clubs with some examples of how to conduct these events.

Lastly, I encourage our regions and clubs to provide incentives on their own to increase recruitment into their individual clubs and eventually NAHRA.  This is probably the most difficult nut to crack, as there is a wide range of financial positions among the clubs. This variance though, provides each local club with the ability to be flexible, unique, and to design a program that best fits their assets and members.

For those clubs and regions with healthy bank accounts, there is no better way to use funds than to put it back into recruitment, at least to grow their own memberships.  Holding additional events is one way to do this. Another, if they have the resources, is offering discounts to new participants. This will go a long way towards recruitment.  I would suggest concentrating on offering additional lower stake events where you will likely have the most success gathering new recruits. I know finances will make this difficult to do, but I believe it to be essential for clubs that wish to grow and provide more testing opportunities in the future.  It is our hope that if we can get participation on the increase, then NAHRA will benefit and be in the position to assist with funds in the future.

So let's all take a hard look at where our entries are likely to come from and make an effort to address how we can attract new participants - especially at the lower stakes.

In closing, I would like to wish everyone a safe and productive hunting season.  Now get out there with those NAHRA dogs and find the bird!

Frank Plewa

NAHRA President


Message from the President

Safety during the Upland Test

July 15, 2013

Dear NAHRA Membership:

Over the past 30 years NAHRA has had an outstanding safety record despite the risks associated with conducting a licensed NAHRA Field Test. Anytime firearms and live ammunition are involved, situations can arise that are potentially dangerous to both human and canine, none more so than the Upland Hunting Test. Recently the Board of Directors (BOD) has reviewed a handful of “near misses” associated with Upland Hunting Test. These events have caused the BOD to re-focus on the safety of the Upland Hunt Test. As such, the BOD strongly recommends that everyone review and institute a renewed effort to put into practice the following safety guidance.


Safety is everybody’s business: the Judges, the FT Committee, the Gunners, and the Handlers.

  • The FT Committee should make every effort to provide experienced gunners for the Senior Upland Test. Experience hunting upland birds and experience shooting for a NAHRA upland test. Safety is much more important marksmanship!
  • Judges should have a safety meeting before running the test dog to discuss safety and the test design. No matter how experienced the gunners are, it never hurts to review safety.
  • The Judges should remind the Gunners: “The test requires a flush & a shot, not a kill. When in doubt; shoot in a safe direction and let the bird fly-away.”


A fluorescent orange vest and/or hat are the standard for upland safety in the US and Canada. The BOD is aware that it is not required in some jurisdictions; but most serious upland hunters always wear fluorescent orange.  The NAHRA Rulebook encourages judges and handlers to wear clothing appropriate for the hunt. Wearing florescent orange increases overall awareness of safety. The BOD recommends that all participants in NAHRA upland test wear fluorescent orange.


Modern bird traps are both awesome and terrifying. They can launch a reluctant pigeon to a very high and safe shooting angle above the dog. But they also possess powerful springs and launch arms that could seriously injure a dog or worse.  We all want to think that a Senior dog could be stopped if something goes wrong and the release fails, but if not, it could be a disaster. A few extra yards for the handler to get the dog under control could make all the difference. Some judges actually think that a super close flush is easier because the bird is launched so high in the air the dog almost has to sit just to see the bird. Allowing the dog to roll-in on the bird from down-wind and releasing the bird 10 to 20 yards from the dog seems to provide the most challenging artificial flush. Judges should avoid allowing the dog to get too close to the trap before releasing the bird.


NAHRA has a long tradition of safety that we can all be proud of - Lets keep it that way!  Do not allow ego and complacency to promote an accident that may very well result in serious liability to the host club.

Safety is everybody’s business at a NAHRA Upland Test.  On behalf of the NAHRA Board of Directors, we sincerely hope you will accept this message in the spirit it was intended, as a wake-up call to prevent future close calls!

Thank you.


Frank Plewa

President's Message June 13, 2013


My fellow members, It is with great regret that I must report that NAHRA has lost another great friend.  Olive Wolters, the wife of the late Richard A. Wolters and principle NAHRA founder, passed away May 29, 2013 in Mechanicsville, Virginia.  I did not personally know Olive Wolters as we never met but I did recently speak with her by phone a couple times while gathering information for our NAHRA History Page.  What I have known of Olive is that she has always been very supportive and generous to the NAHRA Organization.  I am unaware of an occasion where she did not contribute heavily to events or efforts to promote the organization.  She has donated numerous memorabilia for many of our events and it certainly was my pleasure to speak with her when I did.  During our last conversation she spoke of NAHRA and Richard's vision for the program with such incredible enthusiasm and vigor it was almost like speaking to him myself.  Her words testified to her support of Richard's efforts in the early days and also its life after his passing.  She sounded so charming to me, I wish I could have met her. Frank Plewa NAHRA President

GMHRCH-II Silverbrook's Life of Brian MH



Bry has always been a narcissistic little delinquent, dependent on Vik and me for food and shelter, but little else. He hangs with a bad crowd, and engages in other lifestyle choices evocative of his primary role model, Lindsay Lohan, at her worst. Ever since he came to the realization that he has mad skills, all efforts to rein him in and instill even a modicum of discipline are met with his idle musings regarding his possibly diminished capacity to hear whistles on future water blinds, and I have no choice but to fold like the Bruins in game six. A sad state of affairs, but we still love him, and will defend him with the same fervor as would any other Baltimore parent on the court house steps, claiming what a good boy he is, even as the penalty phase begins.


“SMOKE”         100_2274_sm

Ann and I picked Smoke up from Silverbrook Kennels on June 3, 2006, that is the day that this journey began.  Since Smoke started training he has always been eager to please and excited to make the retrieve.  Smoke achieved his “Started” title in May of 2007 and his “Grand Master Hunting Retriever” in October 2009.  Our hunting, training and NAHRA hunt test have taken us to many wonderful places; Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls and to Vermont and the LCRC in August 2013 where he achieved is “Grand Master Hunting Retriever Champion” title.

Smoke’s excitement for the game has not faded, his tail wags constantly, whether we are doing bumpers in the yard, training, hunting adventures or for the grand kids rubbing his ears; with all this excitement we never know when the next “break” is going to happen.

I want to thank everyone who has helped us along this journey. It began with Trish and Matthew at Silverbrook Kennel, then with the Old Dominion Retriever Club monthly training days.

We have met so many wonderful people and dogs along the way, some that have become dear friends thru the NAHRA family.  The hunt tests and Invitational give us time to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones.  We are excited to continue this journey with our NAHRA family.

GMHRCH-II WR North Star’s Deuce of Diamonds

When I first talked to Deuce’s breeder I told him that I wasn’t sure I’d get back into hunt tests…. I just wanted a good hunting dog.  Well, that didn’t last very long… the training started and I saw Deuce’s potential and now here we are participating in our third NAHRA Invitational after earning a GMHRCH this year.  Deuce is an intense, focused, hard-charging retriever in the field, but a calm, quiet companion in the home.  There is no doubting his enthusiasm when you see him at a hunt test and he has become an awesome hunting companion.  I have enjoyed his successes in the hunt test game, but he has made me even more proud on many occasions by making that “impossible” retrieve out hunting or finding that bird that we were afraid was lost.   None of this would have happened if it were not for the NAHRA program and my Northern Piedmont Retriever Club training partners.  A heartfelt “THANK YOU!”  to everyone who has been a part of this journey with us. 2012-05-22IMG_2350sm

GMHRCH The Sagacious Wild Thing



Born in our bedroom, Wily was a product of a breeding between Cosmo and our Hope. I wanted a big water yellow male to run trials with.  I quickly learned that I had my hands full. His early training was exciting. Life got in the way and his training got interrupted. As I retired, I became a NAHRA BOD member and concentrated my efforts to NAHRA. As I travelled around within the West Region, Wily started racking up the Senior Points. Wily has been entered in 49 Senior stakes and qualified 48 times including 3 Invitational.  How did that happen? Well, his natural abilities and his pliability (teamwork) have enabled an extremely accurate marker that runs blinds with style and precision. His drive, intelligence and sagacity more than made up for my mistakes.

He’s an absolute joy around the house. He’s very attentive, laid back and a wonderful playmate for the grandkids. Nora calls him “handsome”. I often say, “WOW” when handling him. He’s very special to us.

April 9, 2013

My fellow members The snow and the cold weather is finally gone here in the East but now it is getting too hot too soon.  We are never satisfied are we?  I just spoke to Kody Bull and he said they have about a foot of new snow in the Palmer Alaska area so I guess I should not complain too much. I have several important announcements to make.  First, the NAHRA BOD has changed slightly with the addition of Travis Lund as Treasurer.  I have known Travis for a number of years now and his enthusiasm and work ethic in the retriever games will be a welcome boost of energy to the BOD going forward.   Travis will assume responsibilities from Dan Hove who has moved into the Secretary Position.  We thank Dan for his service as Treasurer and if I have not said it enough times, Dan was key in nursing NAHRA back into the black. Bob Riggs is leaving the BOD after serving as Central RD and most recently as Secretary.  We thank Bob for his dedication and numerous hours of service.  Bob was instrumental in with several BOD initiatives over the years and served as a Chair for a successful 2011 Invitational in Iowa. Rounding out the Officer Positions will be Tom Johnston and I serving each another term each as Board Member at large and President, respectively. Harry Williams was appointed by the BOD to stay on for a third term as West Regional Director.  We thank Harry for his hard work to date and for his willingness to serve NAHRA and his region for another two years. Recently, the BOD approved the merging of the Northeast and Southeast Regions into one large "East" Region.  Current Northeast Regional Director Tom Rourke will serve as the RD for this new region.  The BOD would like to thank outgoing Southeast RD Mike Tome for his service to his region and to NAHRA.  Mike has a new job Chairing the 2013 Committee to be held in Pennsylvania this coming August. If you have not noticed or visited the website lately, there are some changes and some additions that have been made.  Most notably we have created a page for all judges information.  This is a tab located at the top of the front or Home Page. Secondly, a page for all NAHRA titled dogs in the history of the program has been added under the Events and Training Page.  We have a few bugs to work out yet but it is up for your viewing. Two other front or Home Page buttons will be appearing pretty soon including the Conservation Education Incentive Page which will contain various information about our program and our club outreach programs under way.  We are hopeful that these materials will assist you in spreading the word about our program and conservation through our retrievers. The NAHRA History Page will hopefully appear soon on the Front Page as well.  I am hopeful that this will be a fitting celebration of NAHRAs 30 year history and will provide some perspective into the early days and how the program has changed over the years.  All issues of the NAHRA News will be on display as well as past Invitational tests, photos and testimony from long time NAHRA members, founders, BOD members and other program participants. The BOD is currently working on the development of a membership incentive program for breeders and new puppy owners.  Kody Bull has been working hard on the development of this plan and will be unveiling it very soon.  An announcement will be provided. The BOD has accepted a bid from the Midnight Sun Gun Dog Association to host the 2014 Invitational near Wasilla and Palmer, Alaska.  The site will be at Boyd's Potato Farm situated in the beautiful Matanuska Valley approximately 40 minutes from Anchorage.  The event will be held June 19-21, 2014 so start making travel plans!  I have personally visited the site and the surrounding areas and would recommend your making the trip with a few extra days to enjoy the area.  There are a ton of possibilities to have fun that time of year in the Matanuska valley and surrounding areas. A reminder that the NAHRA Office has 2013 Calendars available at a special price.  Please take advantage of this offer.  Sales of the calendar this year have been down a bit and if it is to be offered again in 2014, we will need more participation on the part of members and support in the form of additional purchases. There seems to be a misconception as to who can enter photos for consideration.  Any member can submit photos and there is currently no limit on the number.  However, they must be of reasonable quality and in digital form.  NAHRA will review all photos submitted and install as many as possible into the product.  However, we need to get your photos first. In closing, we are about to kick off the field test season so I hope everyone is having fun tuning up those NAHRA dogs what lies ahead.  Before we know it, the 2013 Invitational will be upon us and the Invitational Committee has a great program in store for all who attend.  I have been peeking at the goodies they have secured so far and it will definitely be worth the price of admission.  Now get those dogs qualified, you have a couple extra months to do so! Good luck to everyone this year and be safe!

Frank Plewa

NAHRA President