Is a 200 Really Worth It?

Recently I was listening to a few dog trainers discussing the best way to teach a dog to retrieve a dumbbell.  Apparently the owner in question had completely burned her dog out on the exercise by repeatedly working on it in a manner that was very aversive to the dog - although she wasn't using forceful methods the dog was totally unmotivated to learn to take a dumbbell from her hand.
    The owner was stressed and frustrated - her motivation was that she wanted this dog  to compete in AKC obedience and to get high scores as well!  She just couldn't handle the fact that she was stuck in this exercise.  Therefore the trainers were discussing what this owner should do to break the stalemate and get this dog to retrieve. 
    A couple of the trainers felt that it would be best to give the dog a "vacation", let him learn to play and have fun with the owner, and then start over using different techniques to teach the retrieve.  A couple of others felt that it was the owner's right to want to compete and to expect that her dog would do well; they were advocating using an ear pinch method, or a collar twist to "make" the dog understand that he has to retrieve. What is a retrieve?  Is it the owner's right that her dog should earn high scores in obedience no matter what? In my opinion a retrieve demonstrates that a dog is both willing and that he has learned "how" to take whatever he is asked to take and to bring it back to the owner.  A good retrieve demonstrates trust between owner and dog - the dog can give his item to the owner, the dog will come to the owner offleash. A wagging tail and lots of animation are what you want to see.  It does take good timing and some skill to teach a retrieve, and some dogs can certainly be more challenging than others - but as in so many dog training situations - if you think for a minute about ways that you can get that dog to actually *want* to retrieve, and ways that you can make them excited about retrieving, then half your battle is won already.  In order for the dog to understand that they also "must" retrieve whether they feel like it or not is workable when you make sure that the dog's foundation training includes understanding the concept of doing a Stay even in the face of distractions; that they know to Come in the face of distractions, etc.  It's the setting of standards - something that has unfortunately dissipated over the last several years. Such a thing doesn't require force, it requires consistency and the thoughtful use of consequence.  It also requires that a trainer believe that dogs can be trained to levels of off-leash responsibility.  Once you've instilled that mindset it's easy to transition it into other exercises, such as the retrieve.
    In recent years I have a certain distaste for the pursuing of high scores at the expense of trust, or at the expense of a relationship.  I suppose the owner has the legal right to pursue those scores - but I would love to see the dogs in the AKC rings doing their work with animation and excitement rather than what you too often see:  dogs barely dragging themselves through the exercises, hardly moving as they return on a Recall to their owner; barely walking out on their Go-Outs.  That is not worth it, in my opinion. When I was competing I always lost a few points for a slightly crooked sit as my dog would fly up to me on a Recall, or returning from the retrieve over the jump - but we always got applause from the crowd just at his boundless enthusiasm. I hope that owner's dog gets the help he needs to successfully function as his owner's project.  I hope things get much better for him in the future.