Newberry dog has its day
Sam, a 6-year-old black Lab, wins Super Retriever crown

WHAT: Super Retriever Championships
WHEN: Sunday, 7-9 a.m. (tape)

In the final round of the Super Retriever Series at Hot Springs, Ark., Richard McDonald stood poised on the edge of the blind with Sam, a 6-year-old black Labrador, by his side. The competition had narrowed to two dogs, and the other one, a Lab named Achilles, already had his turn.

At a signal, McDonald and some helpers stationed within the man-made marsh at Oaklawn Park made a racket with duck calls and fired a couple of shotgun salvos; the helpers then threw decoys into the marsh, simulating birds being downed by a hunter.

What happened next will one day be passed along as legend in retriever lore. At McDonald’s signal, Sam took off and brought back a bird. Then another, and another and another. In this toughest of tests against best-of-the-best competition, he was charged with a scant six penalty points.