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PICKING A PRO - PART 3


Loveland Power Company sweeps all four places in the Qualifying at the Fort Collins Retriever Trial.

I have had the same professional trainer - Cherylon Loveland - for six years now. I suspect that I will continue to have my dogs trained by Cherylon until either she retires or I quit the sport. Why my loyalty?

First, Cherylon gives an honest day’s effort - and then some - each day. I have watched her work and I know I would fold under the load she carries each day.

Second, the dogs always come first. The kennel is always immaculate. If a dog develops any unusual symptoms, it is off to the vet. When dogs take ill, they are brought into her home. I know my dogs are in good hands.

Third, she is never satisfied with her training “program.” She is constantly examining and re-examining her training methods to determine what works. As a result, her “program” is constantly evolving.

I have kept training and handling notes since 1998. How we train and handle today is nothing like how we trained and handled six years ago. For example, when Zowie and I began, I would take my time and laboriously show him each and every gunning station in the field. Now, I come to the line with Zowie, say “sit,” and call for the birds.

Fourth, she in unstintingly honest. At the very beginning, I told her what I wanted ... a dog that would be fun to watch, fun to train, fun to handle ... who would be competitive week in, week out. To that end, I told her I would buy the best puppies I could find, raise them and then send her those puppies for training. She was to wash out any of those who could not make the grade. Early on, when I did not really know what I was looking for in a puppy, and when because of my lack of standing in the sport could not get a puppy from a really good breeding, we had a lot of washouts. A number of people told me to switch pros, that she was too hard. I knew better. I knew that some pros would string me along, collect the monthly training fees, until the inevitable determination that the dog was not good enough. I knew I could count on Cherylon being honest with me and telling me whether I had the makings of a big time dog or not.

As a result, I now have two big dogs - Ace and Zowie - that bring me to the fourth series of the All Age Stakes on a regular basis. I also have two young dogs - Buffy and Mootsie - that we think are better than Ace and Zowie.

Fifth, although she is incredibly competitive, she doesn’t run field trials. Because she knows that her dogs and clients reflect on her “program,” she puts a tremendous amount of effort into not only the dogs, but their handlers. I think I am a pretty decent handler - and my skills are the direct result of her efforts to mold me into a better handler.

Sixth, we have a great training group. Everyone is down to earth and pitches in. We have no prima donnas. The members are very supportive of one another. It's a great group - Bev Ensley, Marvin Frye, John Goettl, Jon Montenieri, Grady Peacock, Marc Rosenblum, and Kadi Workman. We are all happy to be members of the LOVELAND POWER COMPANY.

“Now, I come to the line with Zowie, say “sit,” and call for the birds.” I can’t bring myself to do this. I still make great effort to show all the gun stations to the dogs. I know there’s going to be difficult gun stations to see at a trial. I want the dog to know when I’m showing a gun station out to her that there’s one there. I hope it helps on that 400 yard, tight to the flyer, gun in bright sunlight, at a field trial. I’m hoping they’re learning that if I point it out to them there’s a gun station there. Just call me a tyro.
Howard Niemi (Email) - 16 02 05 - 23:10

Howard, I still will take the time to show my dogs a really difficult gun station – IF – I think they have not seen it on the way to the line. Otherwise, I set the dog where I want it. Say “sit” and call for the birds.

I believe that doing so, makes the dogs responsible for finding the guns. And that in the long haul, they mark better for having that responsibility.

In the same vein, when my dog is returning from a mark, and preparing for the next mark, I try (but am not always successful in doing so) to influence where the dog sits – aligning it for the mark I want, but once the dog is sitting, I do not mess around much. Again, my goal is to place the burden of picking out the birds on the dog.

I believe that – over the long haul – this helps the dogs mark better. Because they are forced to accept responsibility for the job and because in the process of doing so, they develop the ease and confidence that is necessary to mark the really tough birds.

Ted
Ted (Email) - 17 02 05 - 04:23


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