Charter Member, Neil Selby
In 1997 the Rappahannock River Retriever Club was founded at Shady Grove Kennel in Remington by Neil Selby, Phyllis Giroux, Larry Knott, and Wes Werling. Neil has been a professional gun dog trainer for over 45 years. He began this passion with pointers, running AKC pointing trials by horseback for many years until transitioning to both retriever and pointers. In 1991 Selby won the Virginia Pheasant Championship (an all pointing dog event) with a chocolate lab named Rommel. His love for training retrievers began in 1975. When he first began training them, he didn’t run them in tests, the owners did.
The club came about as a group talked about how they wanted a club closer together and how they wanted to train together. Selby said, “We decided to form a club because there was not a club close by. Phyllis Giroux, Wes Werling, Larry Knott, and myself. Wes did most of the paper work, Bob Gray, also stepped up and helped in the early days with the beginnings of the club. We were happy to have a club close by and to train here made it even better.” This group laid the foundation for what RRRC is today.
Reminiscing about dogs is hard for Neil because they all seem to run together, but he beamed with pride when talking about former client dogs. A couple of Neil’s first dogs to run in NAHRA were a chocolate male Bandit, a female named Daisy, and Rex, a black male. “I also had a dog named Austin who was a German shorthair. He got to the senior level in NAHRA,” according to Selby.
Neil is still training dogs and running AKC hunt tests almost every weekend. He has several young dogs coming through the program that he is very excited about, but his most recent stars are his golden retriever Fier, and his now retired girl Emma who not only ran extremely well, but has produced three litters of puppies that have exceeded expectations. Emma’s characteristics and qualities can be seen at hunt tests and qualifyings all around the area. “I believe this is one of the things that makes me the happiest, knowing this outstanding girl is going to live on through her children, and now even grandchildren” says Selby.
Shady Grove has been the home of the RRRC since conception, and according to Neil, “I’m pretty proud to see the people come out every month and work their dogs. It meant a lot to us to start this club, so to see it prosper, just means that much more.”