I have always loved dogs! I can remember on my third birthday; my parents pulled in our driveway and told me to come see what they had. Curled up on the floorboard was Sheltie puppy. I named him Princer. Since, then I have always had a dog. After Princer, we had Lassie. Lassie was a small black and white dog that looked similar to a Sheltie. She was a stray that we took in. People would as why we named her Lassie since she was not black & white, nor was she small. I was about seven years old, and I would tell them "Well, because she is on our T.V." -- (We only had a black & white television then.) It was a very sad day when Lassie had to be put down due to a stroke in her old age.
Not too long after we lost Lassie, my cousin tied a "small ball of fur" pup to our porch. They had found him from a litter that was born by the train tracks. He looked like German Shepard Collie Mix, and we named him Tuff. I have two brothers and Lassie was our nursemaid and Tuff was our best friend! He did everything with us. By this time in my age, I was reading a lot. I read every book in our school & public library on dogs. I had read them multiple times & could tell you what aisle or shelf they would be on. I would always try to train our dogs to do tricks and teach them different stuff, but my biggest problem was one of my brother. When trying to train them, he would run over and put his arms around them say he was going to save them. But I really wanted Tuff to be a "white fang dog" from Jack London novel and I taught him pull a sled in the snow and we would give the neighborhood kids rides. Every day at three o'clock Tuff would get up off the porch and head down to our school bus stop and wait for us. Then he would greet us and walk home together.
We had many other dogs through the years.... Labs, German Shorthair Pointers, Cocker Spaniels, Brittany's, etc. But the next dog that stands out the most to me is Vader. My brothers and I grew up hunting and wanted a hunting dog. When I was about 11 years old, between the three of us, we finally had saved enough money to buy a hunting dog. We found a place that had Springer Spaniel Pups. When we went to look at the eight-week-old puppies, we noticed a nine-month-old male pup. We thought the puppies were cute but decided to get the nine-month-old because we would be able to hunt him that fall. My dad was shocked that we didn't pick one of the puppies. We didn't know anything about training a hunting dog and Vader would just run around and scare the pheasants in the air. WE LOVED HIM! He lived to be fifteen years old.
Dogs were my favorite animal and horses a close second. My Grandpa always had horses, cows, sheep and pigs. He would pick us up every morning before school to go help feed. We would spend most of the summer on horseback riding sunup to sundown. This love is what led me to my first career I am a short guy, and everyone told me I should be jockey. Through a series of great people that helped me, I became a jockey. I loved being a jockey! I rode mostly in Northern California. It was kind of an obsession for me. During this time, I was riding, I was married to my wife, and we had our daughter Lacy, and our son Cody. I put everything at that time behind my love for winning races, which wasn't great for a wife and kids. We had a little black dog named Mickey that was a Schipperke. Even then, I would come home late from riding and go in the yard and train him. He lived to be nineteen years old.
I had moved to Phoenix to ride because they had the longest racing meet in the country and I hoped that would be easier on the kids. The dieting and vagabond life had taken its toll on me, and I decided to quit riding. I bought a small business and settled into a life here in Arizona. I had more free time and was introduced to quail hunting here. I now had a new obsession! We still had Mickey, but I wanted a hunting dog...... my wife did not! At the passing of her grandmother, she flew to the funeral. While she was gone, I took my two young kids to look at a nine-month-old German Shorthair Pointer named Kelly that i found in the newspaper ad. I bought her on the spot! My daughter said, "Mom is going to be mad!" What a dog Kelly turned out to be. Around the house she was a lady but, in the field, she was bird finding machine! My whole line of dogs is based on her. I read articles and The Delmar Smith Method to learn the best way to train her. She taught me as much as the book! I loved her!
Since then, I have trained, bred and sold many dogs. I have gotten into the field trial game. I raised my kids and moved where I have acreage and horses. The self-help books say the happiest people are the people who love what they do for a living. I love to train dogs! That is what lead me to become a professional bird dog trainer!