Alan Pleasant, Sporting Dog Trainer & Breeder

man with black Labrador dog


Q: We want to know more about your history and how you got to this level with your dogs. Please provide a short biography.

A: Alan and Gwen Pleasant own Black River Retrievers. Alan began training national quality retrievers in 1985 and has since produced six National Field Champions, over 75 Field Champions and Amateur Field Champions, over 50 All Age Qualified Retrievers, over 25 Derby List Retrievers, Master National Hunt Test Qualifiers and countless excellent hunting retrievers. Alan brings a dedication and work ethic to the sport of retriever training that is unmatched. His passion for retrievers began with his father and childhood hunting trips. He got his first Labrador Retriever at 14 years of age and trained her to duck hunt. The groundwork was laid and Alan became a professional in 1985.  In 1999, after qualifying and running several Master Nationals, Alan dedicated his talents to licensed AKC Field Trials. Since 2001, Alan has qualified and competed in every National Open until the 2020 COVID pandemic, and has had clients competing in every National Amateur. Alan strives to maximize the talents of every retriever he trains with an emphasis on teamwork that leads to winning.


Q: Why do you feed Purina Pro Plan dog food?

A: I feed Purina Pro Plan Performance 30/20 formula because it gives my dogs sustainable energy, great coats and firm consistent stools.

Q: Why do you recommend Purina Pro Plan for athletic dogs like yours?

A: Pro Plan provides our dogs with the proper nutrition to handle the physical demands involved in training to compete at the All-Age level.


Q: Why are you passionate about what you do?

A: There is no other career that could fuel my competitive nature while working with such incredible animals. It is rewarding to watch each dog learn and advance in the sport while overcoming their individual challenges. I get to form a unique bond with each dog I train, allowing me to achieve the best results possible.


Q: What is the most exciting part of your work with dogs?

A: I would say the moments that you see an individual dog develop and understand the task at hand is most exciting to me.


Q: What’s your number-one goal in your work?

A: Honestly, winning and seeing each dog reach their full potential is my number one goal!

Q: What advice would you give to others looking to reach your level of success?

A: Set goals and work hard, don’t expect success to be handed to you. Always be willing
to learn and ask questions. I was fortunate to have some of the best colleagues to answer my questions. Hugh Arthur, Bach Doar, Jay Sweezy and Jerry Patopea have always been there to give me advice when I asked.


Q: Why are your dogs exceptional?

A: God blessed me with a bit of dog sense, my parents instilled a sound work ethic, I have unwavering support from my wife and family, loyal clients, and I feed the best food on the market. All of these aspects contribute to my dog’s exceptionality.

Q: What do you find most rewarding about the time you spend with your dogs?

A: Forming a unique bond with each dog I train, working to find the training approach that fits their individual needs, and seeing them succeed is the most rewarding part of my job.

Q: If you could train or compete with your dogs anywhere in the world, where would you choose to go?

I will stick to competing in the greatest country on the planet! I have trained and/or competed in all of the lower 48 states. I would love to add Alaska to that list.


Q:  What do you think it takes to get your dogs to perform at the highest level?

A: Hard work, patience, God-given talent and a great source of nutrition like Purina Pro Plan!


Q: Of all the dogs you’ve had, which one has had the biggest impact on you and why?

A: I have been so blessed to work with a number of exceptional dogs. Sometimes your greatest training accomplishments may not be with the most talented dogs. However, 2014 NFC AFC Robbers Stray Bullet gave us an amazing ride! From winning the Open National Retriever Championship in 2014, to being the Purina High Point Open Award winner three consecutive years, to being the Snuggling Couch Champ in his retirement, Bullet was ONE OF A KIND!


Q: Please list any notable awards & accomplishments


  • Four time Purina High Point Open Winner
  • 2018 National Open Winner “NFC I’m Your Search Engine”
  • 2014 National Open Winner “NFC Robbers Stray Bullet”

Alan trained and coached the following:

  • 2007 National Open winner “NFC Candlewoods Something Royal”
  • 2007 National Amateur Winner “NAFC Good Idea’s Whoa Nellie”
  • 2005 National Amateur Winner “NAFC Day’s End Northern Express”
  • 2005 Canadian National Winner “CNFC Comstocks Bodacious”