Meet 2023 National Retriever Champion, Tavi

2023 National Retriever Champion Rikki Tikki Tavi

When professional handler Marcy Wright and Labrador Retriever FC-AFC-Freeridin Rikki Tikki Tavi [“Tavi”] came to the line in the 10th and final series of the 2023 National Retriever Championship, Marcy had one goal: for Tavi to pick up all four birds and be a Finalist. 

“I was so honored to make it to the 10th series with Tavi,” Marcy says. “I was so happy for her owners and I didn’t want to let them down. Pick up the birds. Be a Finalist. I didn’t think past that.” 

Tavi didn’t let her down. The talented retriever, whelped December 6, 2014, picked up all the birds in a tough 10th water series with four long, challenging retrieves ranging from 225 to 370 yards each. Tavi would be a Finalist. But the judges thought Tavi and Marcy deserved more. 

“It never crossed my mind that we had won,” Marcy says. “That’s the God’s honest truth.” 

Out of 83 retrievers that started the National Championship Stake in Creswell, Oregon, and 12 retrievers that completed the 10th and final series, Tavi was declared winner and 2023 National Champion. 

The win marked a journey that began when 8-week-old Tavi came to Marcy and her husband Kenny Trott at Horsetooth Retriever Kennel in Wellington, Colorado. 

“We had trained Tavi’s sire, Boomer, who was a wild man but an immensely talented retriever,” Marcy says. “Boomer was a finalist at a Canadian National. Tavi had talent, too, and she and I developed a special bond. She’s 100 percent house dog, and she’s one of the smartest, if not the smartest dog I’ve ever trained. Her intelligence is off the charts compared to most dogs. Tavi’s IQ sets her apart.” 

Kenny Trott started Horsetooth Retriever Kennel in 1994 and met Marcy Wright in 2008. They married in 2011. Along the way, Kenny has more than 100 Open wins as a professional trainer and handler and has handled 10 National Open Finalists. 

“This is Kenny’s win,” Marcy says. “He’s the big gun. He’s dedicated his life to the field trial retriever game. This was his Basics training. This is his program. He sat behind me for 14 years, teaching me everything I know. He’s been a great coach and mentor.” 

Tavi is fueled by Purina® Pro Plan® Bright Mind® Adult 7+. 

“Earlier in the year we noticed that Tavi wasn’t her usual sharp self,” Marcy says. “Since she was 8 at the time, Purina’s Ray Voigt suggested we consider switching from Pro Plan Sport Performance 30/20 to Purina Bright Mind. After we did that, Tavi won two Open stakes and the National Championship. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.” 

Marcy says she and Kenny feed Purina Pro Plan because they trust Purina. 

“The enormity of science and research behind Purina products is amazing,” Marcy says. “I’ve had the luxury of touring Purina headquarters. The passion and dedication of Purina employees just blew me away. Purina’s quality control is second to none. Purina is one of the few pet food manufacturers that actually conduct feeding studies. And I can say that every dog at Horsetooth Retriever Kennel does well on Purina Pro Plan.” 

Reflecting on the National win, Marcy emphasizes that Tavi is not just a field trial dog. “She hunts with Kenny and me. She’s a house dog. She’s our friend. And she has a team of people around her that love her – including her owners Naomi Evans and Don Fregelette. Tavi comes first – and that’s the way it should be.”


Fun Fact: 

Tavi’s name was inspired by the mongoose character in Rudyard Kipling’s classic, “The Jungle Book.” 

March Wright says she’s deathly afraid of snakes. “Rikki Tikki Tavi is the character in the book that killed the snake. That’s how Tavi the retriever got her name. I named her.”