Foundation Selects Sallie Sullivan Handler of Year

Sallie P. Sullivan of Thomasville, Georgia has been selected by the Master National Retriever Club Foundation as the recipient of the 2019 “Bill T. Teague Handler of the Year.” She becomes the first woman to earn this prestigious Handler of the Year award.
Over 150 family, friends, and hunting retriever enthusiasts watched Sullivan received her award Saturday (March 7) at a Special Tailgate Celebration following the Tallahassee Hunting Retriever Club Hunt Test in Thomasville.
2015 MNRC President Samuel Ferguson of Tallahassee opened the program by recognizing Sullivan for her exemplary performances with Labrador retrievers over 30 years, including placing nine dogs in the Master National Retriever Club’s (MNRC) Hall of Fame.
Dr. Fred Nusbickel of Meigs, GA and 2019 MNRC President Jack D. Combs of Wickford, RI told of some other achievements.  Dr. Nusbickel thanked Sullivan for her generosity as a land owner and her support of the AKC Hunting Retriever Test program.  He said the retriever community represented at the celebration was there because of Sullivan and her devotion to the support.  Combs said Sullivan, “is truly, the Gold Standard of Excellence,” for our sport.
Allen Dillard, 2020 President of the MNRC said, “It is an honor and a privilege to participate in the presentation of the Bill T. Teague Handler of the Year Award to Sallie Sullivan.  Sallie’s accomplishments in the AKC hunt test sport over the last 30 years will likely never be bested.  Her generosity and mentorship to others is equally impressive.  The MNRCF is proud to have Sallie Sullivan join this group of prestigious honorees.
On behalf of the Master National Retriever Club Foundation, Allen Dillard, of Brownsboro, Alabama, and Jimmy Hughes, MNRC Treasurer of Columbia, Tennessee presented Sullivan with a Plaque and a check for $1,000 before the crowd was treated to a buffet dinner.  The Tailgate Celebration was hosted by the Tallahassee Hunting Retriever Club, Wiregrass Hunting Retriever Club, as well as the Atlanta, Magnolia and Fall Line Retriever Clubs.
Sullivan’s accomplishments illustrate her exemplary skills knowing she trains and handles each dog as an amateur. Every dog she has competed with has been her own Borderline breeding. She holds an astonishing 40 Master National event Plates, the most held by an Amateur Handler, and seven Master Amateur Crystal Plates as well as two Master Amateur Invitational Hall of Fame retrievers. The crowd applauded when Combs told the crowd that Sullivan has qualified at an incredible 956 AKC Master Hunt tests over the years, and is still going strong.
The AKC Master National Retriever Club holds an event each year, and since the club’s creation in 1991, Sullivan has competed in every event except one. In 1999, Sullivan served as President of the Master National Retriever Club and in 2003 hosted the Master National event at Borderline Plantation in Thomasville, Georgia.
In addition to her success at the Master National event each year, Sullivan is an active member and past president of the Tallahassee Hunting Retriever Club.
The Master National Retriever Club calls Sullivan a role model for women in the sport and her pioneering spirit in the game has proved as motivation of other women handlers.
In addition to representing the highest standards in training and testing, Sullivan has bred Labrador retrievers for over 30 years, and holds the highest standards for furthering the Labrador retriever breed. She has bred ten Master National Hunter (MNH) AKC titled retrievers and 2 AKC Master Amateur Hunter retrievers.
She was also the first woman to receive the Master National Retriever Woman’s Challenge Trophy.
Sullivan won top honors at the 2019 Georgia/Florida Plantation Challenge.  An honor she has received several times.
In 2013, the Bird Dog Foundation, Inc., in Grand Junction, Tennessee also honored Sullivan at the Field Trial Hall of Fame Induction ceremony. Sullivan is a true Icon of the sport of retriever hunt tests and training.
The “Handler of the Year,” award ceremony will be re-created at the 2020 Master National Retriever Hunt Test on September, 24 2020 in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
The Foundation congratulates Sallie on his accomplishments and award and encourages nominations of qualified handlers for the 2020 event in St. Cloud, Minnesota.; nominations must be received within 30 days of the completion of the event.
The Foundation also offers two Youth Handler of the Year Awards; one for 12 year olds and younger and one for 13-17 year old handlers and the ‘Bill T. Teague Handler of the Year Award’. In addition, the Foundation offers a “Humanitarian Sportsman Recognition.” Haleigh McKeithan of North Carolina will receive the award for the Handler the year in the 13-17 y/o category later this year. The first recipients of the humanitarian Sportsmans recognition are Frank Barton, of Arkansas, for his work with disabled veterans and Rody Best of Texas, for this work in the greater Houston area after Hurricane Harvey.

 View the 2019 MNRC Foundation Report

For further info on the awards and recognition, contact Bill Teague at or 713-252-3918 or 734 CR 630, Nacogdoches, Texas 75964.
Foundation board members are:
Gloria Mundell, Colorado
Jack Morris, Texas
Jimmy Hughes, Tennessee, Treasurer
Allen Dillard, Alabama, MNRC President 2019-2020
Bill Teague, Texas, President

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