Retrievers are willing to swim icy waters, slog sloppy swamps, chase cripples across chiseled cornfields and expect no more than a pat on the head or an appreciative "Atta boy." Just being close to their hunter will suffice for any retriever.
Whether you prefer Labs, goldens, Chessies, American water spaniels or whatever breed that'll come back with a bird in its mouth, having a retriever along for the hunt is almost a prerequisite from a conservation standpoint.
There is something special about working retrievers. From that first balled up sock tossed down the hallway to the last mallard an old dog can fetch, retrievers love having a job. They just have to have something in their mouths!
It's also a unique bond between hunter and dog that goes back generations. The connection is in the DNA: theirs and ours.
One of the many good things about a dog hell-bent on retrieving is they can sure make your shooting average looks respectable.
Whether it's mallards in flooded timber, snow geese in cornfields, snipe in a marsh or an eider on the ocean, you can count on a retriever to do the job.
At times a working dog comes back with a bird you'd surely have lost if left to your nose and tracking abilities.
The veteran, gray-muzzled Lab knows to stay still and concealed in the blind. Intuitively, she knows her stealth will lead to more birds in her mouth.
Some retrievers consistently make uncanny retrieves. All of them make at least a few retrieves you'll never forget.
From sun-up to sundown retrievers have a can-do attitude. Come rain or shine, wind or calm, hot or cold, retrievers are always willing to give it their all.
Can't get enough photos of man's best friend? Head over to our reader photo gallery, Snapshots, for more hard-working dogs.