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| April 1, 2011 | 4 Comments
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Linda Fitzmaurice And Some Of Her Javahill Duck Tollers

Linda Fitzmaurice With Bode And Maggie

The Rev

The Rev

Rev - What a Toller

Having bred 43 champion Nova Scotia Duck Tollers, Linda Fitzmaurice has many fine dogs to highlight but she wanted to especially mention a few that have a special place in her heart. One of them is Rev who came from Linda’s second litter. He was the first natural, to-hand retriever puppy she had bred. He was such a joy to be around, had tons of drive yet sweet and easy to be around. He is now Group placing Am/Can NSDTRC-US CH JavaHill’s I’m A B’liever, Am/Can MH WCX. He is one of two Tollers ever to earn both a CH and MH in the two countries.

Saint Nick

Amy Soderman And Nicholas

Amy Soderman And Nicholas

Another special dog is currently out doing a lot of winning for his owner/handler Amy Soderman. That’s Nicholas, aka BIS BISS CH JavaHill Steal My Heart JH RA WC. He’s the first National Specialty winner Linda produced and only the 4th Toller to earn an all-breed BIS.

Good ‘Ol Boy

A Big Smile From Ranger

A Big Smile From Ranger

Then there’s Ranger – Am/Can CH JavaHill’s Backwooods Boy RN, who is actively hunting each season, but visited Linda long enough to become the third Toller to earn an all-breed BIS.


I first met Linda Fitzmaurice of Javahill Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers last October at the Del Valle dog shows in Pleasanton, California. I had wandered over to the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever ring because it was a beautiful day and I thought I might get some nice pictures of these little fireballs drenched in the California sun. Well, I arrived a little late and only caught the best of breed competition but, in my usual outgoing manner, I started talking to the woman next to me. I noticed she had a jacket with a logo for Javahill Duck Tolling Retrievers so I asked her, “Which dog is yours?”. She replied that she had bred both Winners Bitch and the “special” boy who were competing, the “special” was GCH CH Javahill Steal My Heart RA JH (“Nicholas”) who is a nationally ranked Duck Toller owned and shown by Amy Soderman. Linda’s girl ended up winning Best of Breed so she was happy with the result, although I think she was pulling for Nicholas because of his #2 national ranking in 2010. Linda and I continued talking after the Best Of Breed competition and I told her I was interested in doing an article for Retriever Life about her and her breeding program. Linda was happy to help us out and offered to be a mentor to me on learning more about Duck Tollers.

Getting Started

Linda began her love affair with Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers in early 2001 when she purchased her first Toller but her passion for the show ring began in her childhood showing Quarter Horses. One of her Quarter Horses, R.O. Major Dandy – “Dandy”, was AHSA Horse of the Year, as well as the High Score Trail Gelding in ALL of AQHA. It seems that Linda was destined to be a force to deal with in the dog show arena as well!

Linda has had her share of successes in the show ring with her Duck Tollers. Since mid-2003, Linda has owned or bred 43 AKC Champions, three of the four All-Breed Best in Show Tollers in AKC, a Master Hunter along with two dozen other Tollers with hunting titles, two MACH’s, plus lots with obedience & rally titles. Linda’s current “special” female has her GCH, plus a JH and WCI in Canada, though she still needs two legs for her JH in the U.S. – but she’s only 19 months old. Linda has demonstrated that she knows how to breed a nice Duck Toller. But how did she get there?

Linda decided to raise, show, and breed Duck Tollers because she loves their intelligence and willingness to do just about anything. She calls them the Swiss Army Knife of dogs – “they love showing, obedience, agility, dock diving, hunting, tracking, lure coursing, you name it!”.

Building Success

After deciding to pursue Duck Tollers, Linda quickly realized that to move her breeding program forward quickly she needed to collaborate with other like-minded, experienced breeders so they could move together as a group and help to improve the overall quality on the breed together. One of the key figures in Linda’s breeding program is Meredith Noreen. Meredith started in German Shepherds but has handled many different breeds along the way. Meredith taught Linda the importance of being true to the breed’s purpose. Linda also told me several long-time Toller folks have been incredibly generous with their time, knowledge and even their dogs. Linda could not have accomplished what she has in the seven and a half years that Tollers have been recognized in AKC without those people. Linda believes that if you want to show, breed, or hunt that you should find a good mentor who will work every bit as hard on your dogs as they do on their own – whether it’s teaching you how to start your puppy, train for a hunt test, or how to properly groom a Toller.

Linda has built her breeding program on a foundation of co-ownership with active people that share her passion for improving the Duck Toller breed. She emphasizes screening of potential families for her pups and maintains an ongoing relationship with the adoptive families. This practice allows her to have scale without having to personally keep a lot of dogs as Linda believes that Duck Tollers are active and deserve to be an integral part of family life. Linda attributes a great portion of her success to the co-owners that help her maintain her Javahill line.

Breeding Style

Linda has brought in bloodlines from Canada and from Australia to her breeding program at Javahill. The program has been heavily influenced by meeting an Australian breeder at a Canadian National. From there she imported a puppy named “Maverick” – who quickly finished and started earning Group placements, with a Best in Show, at 22 months of age. Maverick also has both his CD & WC’s in Canada and the U.S. and has sired two other Best In Show dogs. He is the youngest ROMX (Register of Merit Excellent) in the history of the breed, in a program that requires working titles as well as conformation champions. It’s a great source of pride for Linda to be breeding dogs who do more than just run around a ring.

Linda has done line breeding in the past but relies more on out-crossing these days, focusing on breeding “type-to-type”. She realizes this means it may take longer to get the type she wants to achieve but she also believes that it creates a healthier overall breeding program. Given the smaller gene pool available in Duck Tollers, maintaining a diverse breeding program is critical. According to Linda it’s easy enough to find unrelated dogs in the first three generations, but beyond that we see the same names over and over. That makes it more difficult to do a true out-cross and requires a keen understanding of the dogs in a pedigree. This is where true collaboration with other breeders comes in handy. Open, honest discussion about pedigrees helps to avoid any potential health or temperament “land mines” that might exist in a pedigree.

Is a Duck Toller The Right Dog For You?

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers were originally bred as an all-around dog, to watch the farm (they will alarm bark), go “Toll” (Lure) the ducks in close to shore for the hunter, retrieve them once shot and then return home to play with the kids. Tollers are very playful, funny, sometimes cat-like and their owners should have a good sense of humor, because Tollers will do their best to outwit them – and often do! They are generally very different in personality than Goldens or Labradors so people need to spend time around several different Tollers to see that the breed is right for them.

Duck Tollers are not couch potatoes – the more mental stimulation you can give them, the happier they are. They also need moderate physical work, and not every family has that time to do the training. They are more aloof with strangers than some other retrievers and tend to be much more focused on their owners for attention – though food or a toy will usually break the barrier. While they love learning, they tend to get bored easily and can be stubborn.

Thank you, Linda, for sharing and helping us appreciate these wonderful retrievers!

Category : Breeder Spotlight

About the Author ()

I am one of the founders and editor of Retriever Life. My passion is Labradors of all sizes and shapes but I am a big fan of all the retriever breeds.

Comments (4)

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  1. Jason Bellevue says:

    Loved this article although I am biased. I have two amazing Tollers. They are from two differnt breeders. One of my Tollers is a Javahill. I can attest that Linda and Meredith make sure to stay in touch with the owners of their pups and do everything they can to support them. It is truly the Javahill family. I first meet Meredith and Linda when my 11 year old son decided he want to show his new pup. A pup not from Javahill yet these two amazing people took my family in, taught us the ropes and treated us like we were part of their family. We now have a Javahill Toller as well.

    • Toni says:

      Thanks for your comments Jason! It is nice to hear that my impressions of Linda and Javahill are not unfounded. Linda is great and I hope I will meet Meredith in the future.

  2. Lou says:

    That was a great article about a breed that’s not well known in the retriever world. Keep em coming RL, thanks.

    • Toni says:

      It was really great to talk to Linda about Tollers, although I still have a lot to learn. That is what makes this magazine so fun for me as it forces me to go out there and learn some more! 🙂

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