Twenty years ago, Attunga’s Vickie and Darren Harris took up breeding Golden Retrievers, not only because of their temperament and working ability but also because of their gift for working with children with disabilities.
Some of our dogs have gone on to be trained to work with children who have a disability. They can be trained to help them by carrying their bags, pick up things for them, and some have even gone on to work with kids with epilepsy where they can detect a fit before it comes on. We also breed them for obedience, pets and trialling, Vickie said.
Vickie, whose official tag is Gundog-Working Dog-Hound- Nonsporting-Open Utility-Junior Handler-CCD/CD/CDX Rally Obedience & RATG Judge, and builder husband Darren moved their canine ìfamilyî to Attunga last year, choosing their current little retreat because of its quiet sur- rounds, bird life, close proximity to the creek and the generous three acres in which the dogs could stretch their legs.
We wanted to set up our own training arena, which we have done. Itís lovely here in Attunga- plenty of room for us and the dogs, Vickie said.
The couple, who raised their family surrounded by dogs and horses (Vickie competing for many years in dressage and hacking), obtained their first Golden Retriever back in the late 1990s and proceeded to set up their Harvikgold Kennels, which focused on the fields of conformation, obe- dience, rally and retrieving with their dogs. They can boast having already produced 18 show champi- on Golden Retrievers and Griffon ñ that number including supreme and grand champions titles.
Their achievements in obedi- ence include 17-plus dogs with obedience titles, and they have been consistently top breeders of the Golden Retriever in Australia, taking the top title back in 2013.
Vickie has been a national and international judge for many years, having judged all around Australia, twice in New Zealand, along with being contracted and flown to Norway to officiate but unforeseen circumstances forced that competi- tion to be cancelled.
The Golden Retriever is a magnificent breed because of its trainability, obedience and adaptability to whatever situation is placed in front of it,î Vickie said.
COVID 19 has affected the couple on both sides of the scale. Lock down has given them a chance to make renovations to their home, but on the negative side, Vickie has lost six interstate judging appointments ñ postponed until 2021, she said.
Another plus for Vickie during the Corona lock-down was studying for and achieving her Trick Dog Trainerís Certificate, which will allow her to conduct one-on-one training at her Attunga complex in various dog disciplines.
Long term plans for the couple is to continue to breed their beloved Golden Retrievers.
It ís our way of life now, and the dogs are part of the family. Weíre 100 percent dedicated to our breeding program,î Vickie said.
Though the couple agreed that their highlight each year with the dogs is attending the week-long showing, obedience and judging at Bermagui on the South Coast.
It ís a great time for us to both relax while still showing the dogs,î husband Darren said.
Photo: Vickie and Darren Harris with members of their canine fami- ly, three-year-old Tinder (left) and his mum Tiny (7).
By Vinnie Todd