- The competition allows retrievers to show off their duck hunting skills.
- The trial is 10 days long. It includes 5 different series including land, water, and land-water tests.
- Check out the video above to see the dogs hard at work!
For the first time in 20 years, Thomas County is hosting the Master Nationals American Kennel Club.
"We train 5 days a week, probably 2 hours or 3 hours a day," said Amber Everett, Amateur Handler.
The competition allows retrievers to show off their duck hunting skills.
Amber Everett is an amateur handler. Everett has been training retrievers for 8 years. This is her 6th Master National. In a male dominated field, she's one of only a few female handlers.
"What this is all about is the dogs," said Everett.
This is also the largest AKC Trial in history with more than 1,200 dogs competing.
"They have to eat. They love to shop. And so, we certainly welcome that tourism here," said April Norton, Managing Director for Marketing and Communications.
This competition is bringing in hundreds of handlers to Thomasville. The entire process takes up to 3 weeks. Between a place stay, food, and shopping the City of Roses wins big.
April Norton is the director of Marketing and Communications for the city.
She says the hunting competition can bring about 7 million dollars to the area economy.
The trial is 10 days long. It includes 5 different series including land, water, and land-water tests. Dogs must qualify to participate by passing 6 master tests, throughout the country, within a year. Most of the dogs competing have been training their entire lives.
"When you get to the end, through all 5 series, and you've done it to their standards, you actually get a pass, and each pass goes towards a new title," said Chris Akin, Professional Dog Trainer.
I got to see the land water series firsthand. That's when I met professional dog trainer Chris Akin. He's from Northeast Arkansas and has been doing this for 34 years. He drove 9 hours and has 25 dogs competing.
He tells me handlers can easily invest up to $30,000 to $50,000 thousand to compete in this sport.
"A lot of these guys we travel with all the time. We see them every weekend. They're like our extended family," said Akin.
The Master Nationals will last until November 3rd.