In 1989 I had already been apprenticing for several months with a well-known Labrador retriever trainer that trained specifically for field trails. He was addiment that small, black and fast was the only way to win a field trail and he had won several. I was a young waterfowl hunter and was more interested in how the dog worked from a boat or in a blind than I was with it going several hundred yards in a straight line to pick up bird thrown by a guy in a white coat.
During the 1989-1990 hunting season I was invited on a late season waterfowl hunt with one of the owners of a local Labrador hunting club, weather conditions where very cold, it was sleeting and very windy. We had a good morning hunt and the weather was getting worse, so we had just started to pick up when two greater Canada geese worked the edge of our spread. The birds worked in about 50 yards out and started to flare. The guide called the shot and both birds fell, crippled. The Lab we had been hunting over all morning was sent to pick the first bird, this extremely large greater Canada goose proceeded to thrash and attack this Labrador beating him with its wings, hissing and pecking at the dog. The Labrador returned without the bird and refused to go back out into the field to retrieve the goose.
One of the guys in our group said he had a young Chesapeake Bay Retriever in the dog box on his truck and asked the guide if he could send his dog to pick up the two greater Canadian geese, the very upset guide put his Labrador in the truck. The other hunter went to his truck and out came the most majestic, powerful and beautiful dog I had ever seen, a 90lb dead grass male Chesapeake Bay Retriever. The pup was only 11 months old and very excited to be out of the dog box after listening to all the action of the morning. The hunter got his 90lb Chesapeake pup under control and pointed him out to the crippled bird, once the pup saw the bird moving around the chase was on. The goose did the same thing to Chesapeake it had done to the Lab and tried to thrash and attack it, but the Chesapeake wasn’t having it! That 11-month-old, 90lb Chesapeake pup rolled that big greater Canada goose and picked it up by the breast and carried it back to the hunter, the entire time the goose was thrashing and fighting like crazy to get lose. The pup delivered the bird to heel and the hunter took the large, angry, kicking and thrashing bird from the dog then sent him to pick up the second bird and he did with no problem. At that moment I knew I had found my water fowling do. What I didn’t know at that time was I had also found an amazing addition to our family.
I went home and found a Chesapeake Bay Retriever breeder in northern Kansas and ordered myself a Chesapeake Bay Retriever puppy. The Labrador trainer I was working for was not happy I did this. Once I had my pup and she was old enough to start training I realized that I couldn’t train a Chesapeake like I had learned to train Labradors. About that time, I meet a man named Bill Medcalf, he had a lot of experience Chesapeake’s and was running them in hunt tests. He helped me transition my training methods from Labradors to Chesapeake’s. Bill had just completed writing his book titled “Retrieve” and I found myself at his place in Southlake Texas absorbing as much information about Chesapeake’s as I could. I consider myself very fortunate to have had Bill mentor me and to have seen his Chesapeake’s in action, both Topaz and Ace. I have devoted the last 28 years to training, breeding and hunting with only Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. In my opinion they are the smartest, bravest, toughest, most devoted, most loving and charismatic dogs on earth. Our dogs have always been part of the family, but Chesapeake’s are not for everyone. Chesapeake’s need discipline (training), exercise and attention. Our dogs can hunt all day, play with the kids and sleep still at the foot of our bed on guard duty. I have been blessed with some incredible Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and enjoy sharing these amazing dogs with others.