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The Heart of an Aristocrat

October 13, 1985|VICKI HEARNE

Razzmatazz is a working golden retriever, a field trial winner of national standing. In 1980 she was the top-scoring female derby winner, and her maternal activities have now made her the top-producing golden retriever in the nation. Working golden retrievers are special dogs, serious and passionate about their work, and Razzmatazz is a dog in whom that specialness is written large.

She is one of the hottest retrievers going, which means that when she gets her first whiff of the taut, crackling air of the field trial, nothing exists in the universe except birds and the landscapes that make them interesting. A car is an object someone invented to take Razzmatazz to the birds. Pat Denardo, Razz's owner, was created by God to take care of Razz, to see to her proper training in the hands of Richard Pumphrey. The purpose of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., is to keep America's birds safe for Razzmatazz, the atmosphere is there to support the birds, and all of this is dedicated to the greater glory of bird dogs.

I may be making her sound fanatical and stuck-up, but she isn't. Some pointers who work field trials do get stuck-up; they become a problem around the house because they're always trying to practice gully-leaping and keep pointing your guests and your cat. Not Razzmatazz. She is kind to guests, careful with the furniture and cooperative with photographers, cheerfully providing a friendly length of tongue. She is not too proud to talk with people who are ignorant of field trials, and only those in the know realize how much class she thereby displays.

A female has more trouble than a male collecting enough wins for stardom, because the trial rules do not allow a female in season on the trial grounds, much less in the competitions. This is not because the females behave badly when they are in season, but because the males do, and some female trial dogs become somewhat, well, bitchy about the unfairness of the situation. But Razz is too much the lady for that, which is probably one of the reasons she is one of the top dogs in the country. No petty resentments are allowed to ruin her concentration.

She is a crack personal-protection dog, too, not finding it beneath her to guard her home and family the way some of those beauty contest dogs do, and she is, fortunately for the future of the world, an excellent mother as well. This means that she has passed on her star qualities to offspring in her three litters--and, more important, that she has been diligent about their education. One of her sons, Raider, was the cover dog of the July-August issue of The Golden Retriever News.

There are all sorts of weird-sounding explanations for dogs such as Razzmatazz, but the traditional way of talking about her restraint, courtesy and dedication in the field is to use words like nobility . I know it sounds anthropomorphic, but it isn't really. I wish it were. I wish more human beings had her gaiety and honesty, but by and large they don't. Nor do they have Razz's gentle sense of humor or the courage of her forbears, who gave her the heart to be "steady to wing and shot," the heart of a natural aristocrat.

Puppy Love It looks like a child's playpen, but it's made for puppies. Portable, lightweight and compact, the Puppy Space can be set up indoors or outside to confine active young pups, putting your mind and nerves at ease. Made of nylon mesh and composed of six two-foot-long hinged sections, it's two feet high; it comes with screw-in rubber feet for use on tile or vinyl floors. There's a mesh screen to cover the top. At Sue's Animal House, Reseda; $70.

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