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  • Rob Oliver

Everybody Loves Ginger

Recently I received a phone call from Joule Chareny who writes the column in Retriever Field Trial News about the great dogs from the past. She was writing an article about Westwind's Super Jemima Cake and was interested in obtaining some background information about my friend, the late Albert Uhalde. We chatted for quite awhile about a variety of things and as we chatted I had the thought that she should write an article about Gunther Rahnefeld's great bitch NFC AFC FTCH AFTCH Yankee Independence "Ginger". Joule told me that she had a full slate of dogs to write about so I decided to write about Ginger in a blog.

Ginger's story begins a few months before she was whelped July 4, 1982. Gunther always the geneticist had researched bloodlines ad infinum and distilled available litters down to one that was planned by Jack Cassidy (this is the same "Bad" Jack Cassidy that Richard Wolters writes about on page 109 of his book The Labrador Retriever: The History...The People...Revisited, 2nd Edition). Jack had done a breeding of his black bitch, Cup A Soup, to FC AFC Itchin' To Go. This breeding was a strong line breeding on Super Chief and that is what caught Gunther's attention. Jack Cassidy explained to Gunther that the pups had not been whelped yet and that he had quite a waiting list of prospective buyers and it was unlikely that Gunther would get a pup. However, shortly after the pups were whelped Gunther got a phone call from Jack and was told that there was a yellow female available if Gunther wanted it. Jack explained to Gunther that yellows were useless and there was no demand for them. Gunther readily jumped at the chance and Ginger was his.

She arrived at Gunther's home in Brandon, Manitoba as a weanling pup and he immediately went to work training her. However, when the time came for her more advanced training he sent her to Bill Eckett. Bill not only trained Ginger, but also he and Gunther developed a friendship that transcended the pro - client relationship. Gunther offered Becky Eckett advice on her cattle breeding program which was right down his alley as a genetic research scientist for the Canadian Department of Agriculture Research Station in Brandon.

Ginger proved herself a prize pupil with her and Bill winning the National Championship in 1987 at Pasco, Washington. The first thing that Gunther did after her win was announced was phone "Bad" Jack Cassidy and let him know that the good for nothing yellow female had won the National.

Following her National win Gunther made the decision to breed Ginger. He undertook searching for a sire with the meticulous effort of a seasoned scientist. He researched potential sires to ascertain who would be the best match for Ginger. He decided on the 1987 top derby dog, Aces High III, "Willie".

Few people would have the conviction of their beliefs to breed a National Champion yellow female to a dog who's only accomplishment was top derby dog but that was the case with Gunther. By the time the breeding actually occurred Willie actually had received some all age placements including a couple of open wins. Willie and Ginger actually consummated their relationship in Gunther's motel room in Junction City, Oregon (that is a story for another day).

Six pups were produced from this mating. They were whelped April 20, 1989 in Brandon. Gunther's wife Pat was very involved in raising the pups and she did a magnificent job socializing them. The two most accomplished of these progeny were Gunther's CNFTCH AFTCH Call Me Mister Independence, "Spook" and Jane Patopea's FTCH CNAFTCH Free Trade. "Pasco", with Spook winning the 1993 Canadian National Championship and Pasco winning the 1995 Canadian National Amateur Championship.

It was a sad day when Gunther received a phone call in1990 from Bill announcing that Ginger was ill and later diagnosed with cancer. Gunther picked her up immediately from Bill's and brought her home to Brandon where she is buried.

Whenever Gunther would talk about Ginger it was with a certain reverence. Truly he loved his "worthless" yellow female. I know that there is no amount of money that would have purchased this "worthless" female. In fact, Gunther showed me a written purchase offer that he received for Spook which was in excess of six figures and Gunther turned down. His dogs were part of his family. One of my most prized possession is a limited artist's edition print of Ginger's painting portrait given to me by Gunther. Through this prized picture I have a connection to this wonderful female who has contributed to my bloodlines in such a foundational way.

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