He's been around dogs as long as anyone can remember. Then again, it might be the other way around. George Malaktaris of Minot is a veteran among retriever handlers. He is well known on the retriever circuit, both for the quality of dogs he puts on the ground and for his keen eye for judging major trial events.
Recently Malaktaris was honored by fellow trialers as an honorary patron to the National Retriever Museum at the Bird Dog Hall of Fame in Grand Junction, Tenn.
"A bunch of friends got together to have me nominated and put in," said Malaktaris. "Not as a hall of famer, but as a patron."
The special recognition is fitting for the 79-year-old Minoter. He has trained and handled some very competitive Labrador retrievers, bursting onto the national scene at Bangor, Maine, in 1980 with Malks Apollo Ladd, a black Lab that Malaktaris guided to both Amateur Field Champion and Canadian Field Champion.
Last summer Malaktaris was surprised by fellow trialers while competing in an event at Brandon, Manitoba.
"They named me Honorary Governor of the Field Trial Community," said Malaktaris. "That was by the Delta Marsh Retriever Club northwest of Winnipeg. Since the early '70's I've judged a lot and run a lot. A lot of people know me. It's nice to win but it's really all about the camaraderie, meeting up with all those people I've known for years, sitting around the campfire and talking and then running dogs the next day."
His dogs have performed very well throughout the years. The list includes Mack, a 10-year-old Lab that has picked up 27 ribbons in his trialing career.
"He needs one win for a championship title," said Malaktaris. "Most of the ribbons are honorable mention, but he's had several placings too."
Malaktaris currently owns a 13-year-old Lab, Kate, that he has retired from trialing. He's also got a 6-month old that comes from a solid pedigree.
"His daddy was a national champion," remarked Malaktaris. "When the warm weather comes I'll be able to get out and do a little work with him. It might be my last shot at it. I'm 79 now."
Malaktaris was referring to a chance at a coveted national championship, an honor reserved for exceptional dogs, trainers and handlers. Don't be too surprised if Malaktaris' latest effort produces some trial victories. The Minoter has the demeanor and the experience needed to put it all together.
Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.