I have been a dog lover all of my life. About 15 years ago, while I was living in an apartment I brought home not one, but two little pomeranian puppies that became my best friends. It was always a surprise to my friends when they would meet my little fou-fou dogs. Because of my passion for outdoor endeavors it seems most people expected me to have a rough and tough outdoorsy dog. But lap dogs were the right choice when I lived in a small space. It is an amazing experience to come home to two joyous souls who were thrilled to hear the key in the lock.
Over the years I tried to train my little buds but they never got much past sit. In the mean time, my job as a television producer introduced me to the amazing world of retriever dogs. Through the Great Outdoor Games I began to marvel at how these intelligent, well-trained animals could perform amazing feats of skill. I would come home from a shoot and try out some of the things I had seen on the little guys and for the most part they would cock their heads to the side for a minute before begging for a treat.
In April, I had to put both my dogs to sleep. They were littermates who suffered from the same health problems. My veterinarian gave me the greatest gift when she finally said it was probably time to let them go. I say it was a gift because I just couldn't bring myself to make that decision on my own. I kept thinking that they might get better or that there were maybe a few more weeks left. I will never forget that day, but I won't go further into it here. Any of you who have ever had to put a dog down knows how painful it can be.
After my dogs were gone I swore I would never get another dog. I didn't want to love another dog, didn't think I could love another dog, and certainly never wanted to experience the pain of losing a dog again. I had effectively sworn off dogs and wouldn't even consider the possibility of ever sharing my home, life or love with another species.
Almost six months to the day later something changed. It was like a gate lifted somewhere inside and I began to long for canine companionship. Once I let myself begin to consider the possibility there seemed to be a forceful pull in that direction.
I knew I wanted a lab so I started researching available litters in Arkansas where I live. I visited a few breeders and quickly ruled them out. I called a few dog friends to ask for recommendations. Finally, I found a blog for a breeder in Viola, AR called Bandit Kennels. They had a litter that was ready to go home and the breeding was appealing to me. Before I knew it I had hit send on an email to June Dillon, the breeder, and had committed to a pup.
For the few weeks before and after I found my new dog, I perused the internet and the book stores for the nitty gritty on training a puppy. I got the Jackie Mertens' "Sound Beginnings" DVD and the "Water Dog" book by Richard Wolters. I figured out a way to transfer a DVD to my Ipod so I could study the video on business trips and even in my car. But I was hungry for more information, a little anxious and afraid that I couldn't teach a dog the basics, and uncertain of where to turn for answers.
So I decide to ask for help. By writing a blog.
What I hope to do through this blog is to take you along on my journey of trying to raise a puppy to be a good brown dog. I'll tell you about the good, the bad and the ugly. I know I will make mistakes but I hope that you all will help me by relating to me what you have found that works. I'll lean on some friends who are really good at training dogs and maybe we can all learn a little more together. And I'll try to update you regularly so that anyone else out there who might be going through the same experience can compare notes and measure their progress.
With that said, I'd like to introduce you to Sookie. She's 8 weeks old and a bundle of energy. She has everything she needs to be a great hunting dog as well as a companion and pet. Let's just hope I have what it takes to help her get there.