rel, having been a long time trainer of comp dogs i can tell you from experience, in this day and age, the "raise the pup" route is the only way to go.
even older pups that have been washed from pros have been put under so much pressure these days it is hard to find a decent prospect.
back in my comp days i always looked for a 12-24 mth. firebball that was giving somebody a hard time but had all the basics already trained and was just too much for them.
i learned on the last 2 i got this way that it takes a very experienced eye to spot a good prospect in the wrong hands as being different from a true "wash".
although i hate it as much as you, i have come to believe the onlty way to get a good one anymore is to start from the beginning and make sure there is no bullsh*t attached.
this new youngster i have is meeting and exceeding all expectations at only 20 months. i got a little hunting out of her last year(ret about 30 birds)and since her cabelas order jsut got here she is ready for the opener and a full season just like we are.
my duck hunting dog! EIDER! :salude:
i got her a camo vest last year but she just wasn't satisfied. now she is complete! :toofunny: