That One Dog

By Glenn Pabody

If you are a lifelong dog lover, you’ve had that one dog that always stands out. The one dog that exceeds all your expectations. That dog for us was Mack.

On April 1st of 2019 I lost a friend and hunting partner of 16 years and Maryetta lost a friend and Lifetime-movie-watching, snuggle buddy. It would be easy to say nothing more and move on, but it wouldn’t be fair to not acknowledge one of God’s creatures who gave so much unconditional love to me and Maryetta. A buddy and hunting partner who willingly broke ice and swam in frigid water to pick up a downed duck or goose, or who stayed by my side in a blisteringly hot dove field waiting for that next flight of white-wing doves to come screaming through in the hopes that he’d get to pick up just one more dove before day’s end, or who was just as happy to lie next to me while I read, or tried desperately to catch that big elusive catfish in our tank.

This is Mack’s story. Maybe a little long, but he deserves this and more . . .

We named him Mack, as in truck, because as a pup he resembled that famous big-rig hood ornament. He wandered away from his littermates and into our lives at about 6 weeks of age on a wet, raw February morning in 2003. I had burned some trash in our burn barrel the night before and, as I was leaving for work at the clinic, I happened to look down and saw a steel-grey fuzz ball huddled up next to the barrel. He kind of growled a little as if to say, “I’m a big dog, buddy; don’t mess with me.” I ignored the puppy growls, dried him off, gave him a little something to eat, put him in a crate with a heat lamp in our shop, and left for work after calling Maryetta and telling her we had a very small guest staying with us.


When I came home at lunch, I let the little guy out to pee, stretch his legs a little, and get a drink of water. While we were both in the back yard, bonding by watering the grass, Maryetta called and asked how he was doing. I told her that he was just fine and we were doing the guy bonding thing. She said, “Good. I think I’ve found him a home.” I paused at that and told her that I wasn’t sure I wanted to let the little guy go ‘cause he was kind of cute. Well, you could have heard a pin drop over the phone. The reason was that Maryetta used to joke that I was a snob concerning only two things: I only shot Beretta shotguns and I trained and ran only pedigreed Lab females. I’d been training retrievers since my teens and they were always Labs, and always females. I had never trained a male, much less owned and trained a mixed-breed dog. A male mutt, no way.

Well when my bride came home from work that evening, she found Mack and me lying on the living room floor. When she laid eyes on the little guy, I knew he was staying. It was love at first sight. (Parenthetical note here: shortly before we were married, Maryetta asked me about adjusting puppies to their new home. I told her I usually let them sleep with me for a day or so, then transitioned them to a crate next to the bed, then—when potty trained—I’d let them out of the crate. She told me in no uncertain terms that if we got a pup, there would be no puppies in the bed). Fast forward to our first night with Mack and I wake up to very rapid breaths near my left ear. I roll over to see that the woman who wouldn’t allow puppies to sleep with us has Mack snuggled up next to her neck. “He was cold honey !”…)


While Mack was my hunting partner, he was also, just as importantly, “mama’s boy.” Between the end of February and August 30th he had eyes mostly for Maryetta.   He could usually be found next to her while watching a television program; he seemed to prefer cooking shows, or wandering around the property with her. We have 8 acres of trees and there always seemed to be at least one tree that needed pushing over. Maryetta would encourage him and he’d start ripping at rotting bark while Maryetta pushed on the tree. Before long the dead tree would be pushed over between their two efforts and he always seemed inordinately satisfied when the tree hit the ground. He could also be found helping mom weed the garden. Maryetta would point to something and say, “WEED !” and, bless his heart, he’d grab the offending plant, yank it up, and shake it like a terrier going after a rat!

One of his special skills involved toilet paper. While we were building our home we lived in a small rental a few miles away from our property. The bathroom was set up such that if you were sitting on the commode and needed a fresh roll of toilet paper, you couldn’t reach it where it was stored under the sink. Maryetta taught Mack to reach in and grab a roll and give it to her. Very handy when you’re in an “in extremis “ situation.  One spring day while I was training Mack in our back yard, I heard Maryetta call for him through the bathroom window. He ran into the house and came back out just a minute or so later. Maryetta later told me he ran in, thinking mom was in our bedroom, turned around saw her in the bath room, realized what was needed, reached in and fairly tossed the roll of TP at her with a look Maryetta described as, “Mom! Dad and I are training, please don’t disturb us !” God I loved that boy.


At that time I was on the road fairly regularly, running our Lab Vader in hunting retriever tests, so it was ideal for Maryetta to have a companion when she didn’t go with me. There was a problem though: it seemed “mom’s companion” had developed an interest in retrieving while watching me train Vader. So, I started working with Mack after I was done training Vader and he took to it like a duck to water. Because of his seemingly natural inclination to retrieve, we wondered if there was any retriever of any breed in him. We had a canine DNA test done on him, twice. Both times it came back Mastiff, Rottweiller and Chow. There was no retriever in him, anywhere. He just really liked to retrieve and in time was skilled enough to do multiple retrieves, tracking of crippled birds, and blind retrieves. So much for staying at home with mom ‘cause the big guy quickly got hooked on wingshooting and retrieving for me. Now I had to take two dogs with me when I went hunting!


When you’ve hunted with a partner for as long as Mack and I hunted together, there are always lots of memorable hunting stories, far too many for this recitation. There was a time in Kansas he caught a jack rabbit and got into a tug of war with a friend’s Springer Spaniel over whose rabbit it was, or the first time he attempted to pick up a Sandhill crane  and ended up dragging it back to me by the wing for 50 yards, or the time in Uvalde when he first encountered MOJO type dove decoys. We were hunting in a small field right on the edge of town and the birds were just piling in to escape from a neighboring field filled with dove hunters. This was the year the motion dove decoys first came out and everybody in our group but Mack and I had one. They were working like a charm. Despite not having one Mack and I got our limit pretty fast and walked over to retrieve for Louie, the oldest guy in our group in a remote corner of the field. He was using a MOJO decoy and 5 other folks in our group who’d limited out contributed their decoys for the morning to Louie, as well. He was positively awash in decoys! The doves must have thought the mother lode of seed was on the ground because the decoys were drawing them in like crazy. Louie shot a Ruger 28 ga. and couldn’t keep it loaded fast enough. When Mack and I got there, we picked up a few outlying birds then settled in next to Louie to pick up the remainder of his limit. As I said, I didn’t own a motion decoy so Mack had no idea what they were. Louie would knock a dove down on the far side of the decoys and Mack would plow through ‘em like a 110 pound grey furry bowling ball, at which time I’d go out, re-set the decoys only to have them knocked down again the next time a bird was dropped.  It took several more birds before Mack figured out he could get the same results by going around, rather than through, the decoy “spread.”


The male mutt that had wandered into our lives 16 years ago turned into one of the two best dogs I’d ever trained and hunted over and he became a lifelong friend and companion. By the time he crossed over the bridge this dog, who shouldn’t have been a retriever, had picked up untold hundreds of ducks, pheasants, quail, chukar, snow geese, and Canada geese in west Texas peanut fields (boy, is that a great story), Sandhill cranes, and untold hundreds of doves for me and my hunting partners. Plus, he gave unconditional love to me and Maryetta. Keep a warm spot in the blind for me, bubba. See you on the other side.

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Wildrose Service Dogs in Action: Wildrose Bilko

Hub City Service Dogs, in partnership with Wildrose, placed Bilko, a Diabetic Alert Dog, with Christin. Listen to Christin recount the news she was given this past year and how she’s learning to overcome these obstacles with Wildrose Bilko (Scottie X Fawn) by her side. A big thank you to the Northwest Community College Nursing Department, Wildrose Service Companions and Hub City Service Dogs for making this match happen.

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Smoked Chicken Wings

kirk and gamble

Kirk Parker and Gamble

Recipe by Kirk Parker, Wildrose Carolinas
6 pounds chicken wings
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 Tablespoons smoked paprika
1 Teaspoon cumin
1 Teaspoon onion powder
1 Teaspoon garlic powder
2 Teaspoons kosher salt
3 Teaspoons fresh ground pepper
1 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
recipe 1
Separate wings into drumettes and wings (if necessary)
Pat wings dry
recipe 2
Combine spices and olive oil to form rub
Place wings in a container, add and mix rub over chicken
Let wings with rub applied rest for at least an hour
reicpe 6
Heat smoker or grill to temperature between 225-250 degrees F
Add wood for smoke (pecan is best, but others work fine)
Place wings over indirect heat
Smoke for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until wings reach temperature of 160 degrees F
Place directly over coals to crisp – approximately 5 minutes, each side
Remove and let rest for 10 minutes
Serve and enjoy with Ranch, Blue cheese or any type sauce you desire
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Smokey Quail Minestrone Stewp

scot roxy and dogsBy Roxy Wilson, owner of Wildrose Suzy, Cora & Roxy

Cool weather and Fall color always turn my culinary mind to soup. That, and a gift of eight beautiful quail (clean with no extraneous shot or feathers) from Alan Newton and Wildrose Shadow led me to create this hearty stewp. This term was coined by Rachel Ray as a cross between a stew and a soup.  My dish fits the definition of a stewp because of the density of ingredients. It resembles minestrone because of the ditalini pasta I used.  Addition of a can of black-eyed peas or white beans would also fit a minestrone.

A smokey background flavor in the broth highlights the role of the quail in the flavor profile.  In this preparation I used bacon to achieve the smokiness.  Another possibility is the use of a carcass of any kind of smoked fowl (chicken, quail, etc.) in the stock.  Or, a few drops of liquid smoke also does the job.  (Be careful with this very potent ingredient.)


8 whole quail
2 qt water or chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 large stalks of celery, diced with tops reserved for later
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
4 slices of bacon (or smoked carcass, or a few drops of liquid smoke)
1 bunch mustard greens, stems removed and sliced into 1 inch ribbons
1 can RotelTM, mild or original
1 can diced tomatoes, any variety
[1 can black-eyed peas or white beans]
1 cup ditalini pasta
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried thyme
Salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes to taste
Grated Parmesan Regiano


  1. In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, fry the bacon until crisp enough to crumble. Remove the bacon and add the diced onion, carrot, celery and garlic.Season with a bit of salt and pepper and saute until the onions begin to sweat. Add the white wine and stir to loosen any brown bits from the bottom of the pan; boil a few minutes until most of the wine evaporates.
  1. Add the water or stock, 8 whole quail and any available smoked carcasses.If you are using liquid smoke, add it here.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the quail breasts are just cooked.  (Don’t overcook the quail meat here, because it goes back in the soup later.) Remove the whole quail and allow them to cool. Skim as much froth from the top of the stock as you can.


  1. Remove breasts from the whole quail, along with as much leg meat as you have patience for.Return the carcasses to the stock and cook for about 10 more minutes.  You may need to add more stock/water as the broth cooks down.  Wash the mustard greens, remove the stems and slice into about 1-inch ribbons.  Chop the reserved celery tops.


  1. Remove the carcasses from the stock.Add the canned tomatoes (including liquid), mustard greens and celery tops.  Season the stewp with oregano, thyme, salt, ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Be careful not to overwhelm to flavors of the stewp with heat from Rotel or red pepper flakes.  To this end, I chose mild Rotel and a pinch of red pepper flakes.  (Add beans here if using).  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Return the quail meat to the stewp.
  1. Add 1 cup of dry ditalini pasta.At this point, make sure there is plenty of liquid in the stewp, because the pasta will absorb some as it cooks.  Cook for the time given on the package; do not overcook pasta.  When finished cooking, remove bay leaves and adjust seasoning to taste.
  1. To serve, top the stewp with crumbled bacon and grated parmesan.Add garlic bread and the wine you used to deglaze the pot.



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In Memoriam: Wildrose Gunner Morsus

In Memoriam of Wildrose Gunner Morsus
Whelped 8/27/2005
Died 11/8/2019

Sire: Shortthorn Tommy of Leadburn
Dam: Rybrae Baroness of Astraglen


The best companion a family could ask for, Gunner, died after a lengthy illness. Up to the end, he was strong of heart. Gunner’s memory and spirit will live with us forever. In the true British Labrador tradition, Gunner maintained a stiff upper lip in the face of adversity during his three week hospitalization.

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We are forever grateful to the Wildrose family for sharing Gunner with us for 14 years.

Gunner will be sorely missed but not forgotten.

Danny, Sue Ellen, and Alex Wilkerson

Little Rock, AR.




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What’s in a Title?

By Amy Bates

It can be really confusing when we open social media and dogs (for the sake of this article dog/s mean both bitches and dogs) are being advertised for stud work having all sorts of prefix’s before their registered Kennel name.  Here in the UK there is only one title that matters, Field Trial Champion (FTCh). The ultimate way to achieve this is for a dog to be placed first in the Retriever Championship, easy peesey!

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Photo from Field Trials & Tribulations by Amy Bates

It is many years since Knaith Banjo born in 1946, held the title Dual Champion- meaning a Show Champion and Field Trial Champion and it would be wonderful, if not a little fanciful, to think that could happen again in the future.  For a Retriever to gain the title FTCh the dog must gain what we call “three tickets”*, one of which must be a win in an Any Variety, “AV” Retriever Open Stake, this is very important. It is common for Golden Retrievers to win a Breed Stake first but then they must compete and win against other retrievers in an “AV “ Open Stake in order to gain the title of Field Trial Champion.

*A “ticket” is a 1st  place in an Open Field Trial, 2ndplace doesn’t count.   A 1stplace in a 2 Day Open Qualifying Stake gives 2 “tickets”.  A 1stplace in a 1 Day Open Qualifying Stake gives 1 “ticket.”

This is the route to gain “Three Tickets”:

A dog which gains two first awards in 24-dog Open Stakes under three different Panel A Judges.

A dog which gains a first award in one 24-dog and one 12-dog Open Stake under three different Panel A Judges.

A dog which gains a first award in three 12-dog Open Stakes under three different Panel A Judges.

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Photo from Field Trials & Tribulations by Amy Bates

Plus the dog must hold a Water and a Drive Certificate.  This ensures that a dog holding the title FTCh can sit steadily and quietly at a drive and enters water freely.  The Title is given by the UK Kennel Club and can only be achieved at UK Kennel Cub licenced trials/events.The Water Certificate may, but not necessarily, be gained at a special Water Test. The special water test must have been conducted before two Panel A Judges at one of the following: the Retriever Championship, a Field Trial Stake, or at a subsequent special test.   To gain a Drive Certificate two A Panel Retriever judges must witness the dog sitting steadily and quietly at a drive.


These common abbreviations are NOT titles and should NOT  appear in red ink on a pedigree.

OFTAW stands for Open Field Trial Award Winner.

FTW stands for Field Trial Winner

OFTW stands for Open Field Trial Winner

If you see this on a pedigree or social media post all it says is that this is what the dog has achieved so far in field trials.  A Certificate of Merit is not an award.

If you see “International Field Trial Champion (IFTCh), it means that the dog has been made up into an IFTCh on the Continent or in Southern Ireland at a Federation Cynologique Inertanationale (FCI) licenced trial event.  My husband, Peter Bates bred, trained and handled International and UK Field Trial Champion Levenghyl Gemstone.  “Gemma” was made an International Field Trial Champion by winning field trials in Belgium where she was handled by Mike Mulch. She  then came home and was made up into a UK Field Trial Champion in the United Kingdom where she was handled by Peter Bates winning  two 2 Day stakes, one a Walked Up in the North of England, in  Yorkshire and the other a Driven trial in the South of England, in Sussex showing her prowess and true champion qualities.

When a dog is made up up into a Field Trial Champion we have a tendency to ask where it was made up and at what time of year, as many dogs are made up in September on what I classify as manufactured ground only picking French Partridge. I believe that a true Field Trial Champion should have competed and won retrieving fur (hares and rabbits) and a cross section of feather such as pheasant snipe, partridge woodcock etc….

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Photo from Field Trials & Tribulations by Amy Bates

The title FTCh  does not give any indication of the temperament (hugely important- it’s what we breed for) or the  health of the dog.  Some FTCh can have high (British Veterinary Association) hip and or elbow scores, hereditary cataracts and be affected by diseases such as PRA. It is worth bearing in mind that every screening test is not 100% specific for the diseases. Philippa Pinn, who has been in Labradors both show and working dogs  since 1979 is a Pedigree Interrogator.  Many of the well known “names” in the sport turn to Philly for advice when they are choosing a puppy or stud dog, a worth while exercise which can save a lot of heartache.

Social media and the World Wide Web have contributed hugely to bringing the world of Field Trials and the dogs that run in them to the masses.   Knowing the story behind the dogs that hold the titles, their health screening scores, the trials they have won, the person handling the dog, and the person training the dog, all play a part when it comes to understanding the dog behind the title.


Amy Bates

Born in Chicago, she moved to the UK in 1980.   Specialising in country living, Amy has written a regular monthly column for The Shooting Gazette for over 18 years and in 2014 started a new column about the world of Retriever Field Trialling from her point of view called “Field Trials and Tribulations”. 

 Amy has been extensively involved in Hunting and Shooting ever since moving to the UK.  Having entered into the world of competitive gundogs eight years ago, Amy has fully immersed herself in the discipline of gundogs with her usual gusto, she has competed and won in working tests, Novice and Open Field Trials, dog stewarded, judged, carried game and run the line, not to mention cooking the judges lunches! Training her gundogs is of paramount importance to her daily regime.

Amy lives in Yorkshire with her husband Peter Bates an “A” Panel Retriever judge and founder of the famous Levenghyl line of Labradors where they train their gundogs and endlessly entertains guests!

 Levenghyl Labradors

Facebook page:

Field Trials & Tribulations by Amy Bates


Copyright Amy Bates @2019





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Honoring our Veterans

The military may have taken some of our Veteran Pack Members on many unexpected adventures.  Even though those adventures might have come to an end, their journey continues through the undeniable bond created with their canine companions.
In honor of Veterans Day, we asked a few of our pack members to share their experiences with us (via Training the Wildrose Way group page on Facebook).

Here are their stories:

Mike Stewart

Tell us about your time in service:
Commander, Michael H. Stewart, US Navy Reserves, Retired
1985 to 2006
Agent- Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS)
Security Officer- Atlantic Intelligence Command
Officer in Charge (OIC)- Joint Intelligence Command Central
Operations Officer- Defense Intelligence Agency

Serving different commands with a variety of military missions for 20 years allowed fantastic leadership opportunities.  Military service provides one with a great education in organization, personnel development and commitment to mission.  All proved beneficial as life lessons and personal professional development. Interesting travel as well… Iceland, Spain, Hawaii, New Orleans, Washington, DC, N. Africa.

Share with us about your dog(s):
Deke is the Ducks Unlimited mascot and a Master Trekker, prepared to go anywhere.

Deke and Mike-3.jpg

Mike and Deke – photo by Katie Behnke

Deke and his pals are my best friends. Besides hunting upland and waterfowl, he is a great traveling companion and a perfect complement in the home.


Tom Smith

Tell us about your time in service:
Captain, Tom Smith, US Army
Infantry Officer

tom army 2

The work ethic and leadership training from the military is invaluable as a business owner. The infantry’s moto is to lead from the front which translates into the civilian world to lead by example. I was fortunate enough to attend airborne and air assault schools and after graduating the Rappel Master course served as a rappel Master in the 6th Infantry Division. Traveling the world from Alaska, Thailand, Japan, Egypt and all over the lower 48 was an experience I will never forget. 

Share with us about your dog(s):
Dixie, 11yo Hamish x Susie
Mattis, 1yo Hamish x Ginger

Dixie is retired now but she was a hunting dog, office dog, traveling companion and overall more than I could have ever dreamed of.

Mattis is a hunting dog, companion, jokester and all around perfect dog.

These dogs are my constant companions and are always up for new adventures.  You can find them at various demos and hunts throughout the year.


Danielle Drewrey

Tell us about your time in service:
US Army, 2011
Military Police

IMG_9389Entering into the US Army in January 2011, I hoped to follow in my Grandfathers foot steps and work as a Military Police Officer with aspirations to be a Dog Handler. I was proud to serve my country, but my time was cut short. At the end of 2011, after many months of intense training, an injury ended my hopes in having a career in the military.
My short time in service helped me realize that you are capable of more than you give yourself credit for.

Share with us about your dog(s):
Stella, 8 year old English Springer Spaniel
Willow, 2 year old British Lab

Stella is a glorified house dog and adventure dog. She completed the 2017 Adventure Dog Rendezvous in Jasper Arkansas and holds a Trail Rated title. She keeps my family entertained with her superb retrieving and energy.
Willow has been trained as an Adventure Dog with Gundog skills. While I’m not a hunter myself, she enjoys picking up the occasional bird for me during training sessions at Wildrose Oxford.


I love my dogs and the bond I have with them is undeniable.
Life with a dog is a good life.


 Otter Gardner

Tell us about your time in service:
Army, 18th Airborne Corp
1979 -1983
Military Police /Dog Handler
The dogs I worked were: Ti – male 4 years old, Arco – male 8 years old, Pasha – female 7 years old & Fozzie – male 3 years old. Ti being my primary dog. My work consisted of Garrison Duty (work within the base): Military Police patrol with K-9.
Combat Operations:
Airborne with K-9, Rappelling with K-9, STABO Extraction (allowed handler and dog to be extracted by a helicopter from a field locations without landing the helicopter).
“Tunnel Rat,” enter underground tunnels with my dog to clear the tunnels of enemy & hazards.

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Tell us about your dog(s):
Otter –  American Water Spaniel, 7 years old

Copper – Labrador Retriever, 11 months old

Both of my dogs work with me guiding waterfowl and upland hunts at several game preserves.
Most important, they are my loyal companions.

He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds;
My other ears that hear above the winds;
My other nose that can sense our surroundings;
He has shown me his love a thousand times over;
by the way he rests against my leg;
by the way he thumps his tail at my smile;
by the way he braves the challenges ahead.
When I am happy, he is joy unbounded.
When I am a fool, he ignores it.
When I succeed, he’s proud.
When I am in danger, he protects me.
With him, I am comfortable and safe.
He has taught me the meaning of devotion.
He is loyalty itself.
His presence by my side is protection against my fears.
His head on my knee can heal my human hurts.
He has promised to wait for me…whenever… wherever – in case I need him;
and I expect I will –
as I always have.
Military Working Dog
K-9 Ti J-169

Yvonne Pate

Tell us about your time in the service:
US Army
2005 – 2009

I Joined South Carolina Army National Guard from then transferred to Mississippi Army National Guard after that I went over to Active Duty Army and was stationed at Fort Drum, NY for my duration of contract. My job was a 42A (Human Resources Specialist).

I am a very proud veteran and loved my job in the army. I miss it a lot.

Share with us about your dog:
Sterling is 3 years old. He is a British labrador Retriever and is a big baby.  He helps me with my public anxiety, night terrors and depression.

He is a special baby. He is spoiled rotten and can be hard headed sometimes but I can usually get him back in line. He is a big lover. I have a hard time taking him out in public places because everyone wants to love on him. I feel bad when I have to tell them no, but we work great together. I love my baby boy Sterling.


Andrew McKenzie

Tell us about your time in the service:
I have been in the Airforce since 1988 and still serving (retirement next year) working my way up through the ranks before commissioning in 2002. I have served in Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan. I command US and Canadian troops in Afghanistan where our role was to act as a Mobile Training Team travelling the country teaching the Afghan Army and Police.

Share with us about your dog:
My wonderful dog is a black Labrador named Ace. He is from the Beereegan Line of dogs here in Australia. He will be 5 years of age in December.

His initial role was to be my duck dog as I had always wanted to hunt alongside a great dog. Ace does this job well but his greatest attribute is his adaptability to adapt to changing circumstances. Wildrose training methods allows him to be a duck dog during the hunt then be my companion animal when we have finished. Having recently been diagnosed with PTSD, I must admit I let him get away with not staying/remaining on his bed (in place) as he has the ability to know when I am starting to feel down, he gets off his bed and comes over to me for cuddles and interaction, these are the only times he gets off his place (unless instructed). Additionally, my wife, the proverbial cat lover, is so struck with him and his training, she has placed an order for her own Chocolate female Labrador. Whilst, not being a US citizen, the Wildrose training methodology has introduced me to many like minded people all across the US. Being part of the Wildrose pack is a privilege that I hope others will take up.


Glenn Pabody

Tell us about your time in service:
I enlisted in the Army not long out of high school in 1973. Motivated in part by Johnglen militaryWayne’s portrayal of Colonel Kirby in the movie “The Green Berets” and a life spent as an “Air Force brat” traveling all over the world, I took the Special Forces enlistment option and started my training to become a Green Beret. I completed my training by late 1974 and was assigned to the 5thSpecial Forces Group at Ft. Bragg. My time on active duty varied between filling a medic position on an SF Operational Detachment which involved frequent trips abroad, working at a troop clinic on Ft. Bragg or for a period of time, assisting with medical coverage at a National Guard post in Pennsylvania assisting with Vietnamese immigrants fleeing their country to start a new life in the U.S. Following my active duty time I returned to college in 1978 and started my Physician Assistant training. On graduation in 1980 I joined the Army National Guard and began my training as an Aeromedical P.A., filling the slot of a Battalion level Flight Surgeon. My job was to care for the pilots and flight crew, ensuring they were healthy to fly and remain mission capable. I remained in Army Aviation as a flight doc till my retirement in 2001. My time in Special Forces and as an Aeromedical P.A. was at times exhausting, exhilarating, frustrating, and lonely, but always fulfilling. If my country called me, I would happily serve her again.

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“West Texas dove hunt with my Special Forces brothers.”

Share with us about your dog(s):
I have been training Labs since my teens, first starting out throwing birds at field trials in North Louisiana ,  often picking up tips from many of the pros that ran their dogs at those trials. I started running UKC Hunt tests back in the early 80’s not long after the Hunting Retriever Club was founded and enjoyed doing that for many years. After a several year break, my wife Maryetta and I bought our first Wildrose pup, Wildrose M1A1 Abrams, “Abe” and have thoroughly embraced the Wildrose method of training. Abe, (Barney x Flush), age 22 months is being trained as a gun dog, and to run UKC hunt tests and possibly work as a therapy dog one day. Wildrose M18A1 Claymore, “Clay” (Otto x Holly) age 11 weeks is going through his background training now and will eventually follow in Abe’s footsteps. Maryetta and I love being part of the Wildrose pack and the friends we’ve made in such a short period of time . See you in the field !


Shawn O’Bannon

Tell us about your time in service:
I am from Gulfport, MS, a graduate of St John High School in Gulfport and upon graduation of high school I began attending MS Gulf Coast Community College. In November of 1989, at the age of nineteen, I joined the United States Navy, at which time I attended Boot Camp in San Diego, California.  Upon graduation, I attended the Naval School of Dental Assisting in San Diego.  During the next six years, I attended the University of Mississippi studying pre-dental earning a Bachelor of Science degree, attended Graduate school in Microbiology and achieved the rank of Petty Officer Third Class as an Navy reservist. In 1995, my lifelong dream was fulfilled when I was awarded a four-year Navy scholarship while attending dental school at the University of Alabama Birmingham.  Upon reception of my scholarship, I was commissioned into the Inactive Navy reserve as an Ensign.  Upon graduation from dental school in 1999, I was commissioned as a Lieutenant on Active Duty in the Navy.  Later that year, I was stationed in Okinawa, Japan as a General Dentist attached to the 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Force Service Support Group, 3rd Dental Battalion.  Between 2001 and 2003, I served in Washington, D.C. as an administrative assistant to the Admiral of the Navy Dental Corps at the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. During that time I was also a general dentist at the Washington Navy Yard and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander as well as being selected to attend orthodontic residency.  In 2003 I began attending Wilford Hall Medical Center (Tri Service Orthodontic Residency), which is located at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.  Upon graduation I received my certificate in orthodontics in 2005, and had the honor of being published in the American Journal of Orthodontics.  After eighteen years of service, I separated from the Navy and began private practice in Birmingham, Alabama.  In the beginning of 2009, I moved back home to the state of Mississippi and began practicing in Oxford Mississippi where I am an owner and Orthodontist at GO Orthodontics.

Share with us about your dog:brock and shawn
As an avid sportsman, I am proud to own Wildrose Brock.  He is a perfect example of the

Wildrose pedigree of British Labs. Brock is two and a half years old, Sired by Scottie, and Dam Ginger.  To me it is a magically and unbelievable bond between the two of us.   Not only is he a fine sporting dog, but he is also a loving companion.  Brock’s characteristics substantiate the idea that Wildrose Kennels is truly a first class sporting dog training company.





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Bar W Shooting Preserve


Introducing the newest Wildrose experience, The Bar W Shooting Preserve in Wilson, AR! We have partnered with the city of Wilson to bring guided quail hunts to the Arkansas Delta.

Come enjoy a day afield, then wander the square in Wilson, followed by lunch at the Wilson Cafe, shopping at the Tom Beckbe flagship store, White’s Mercantile, and exploring Hampson Archeological Museum.

tom and josh

We have the following dates open:
January 4-5, 25-26
February 1-2, 8-9, 22-23, 29
March 1
Wildrose clients will enjoy a 10% discount. And, of course, you can bring your Wildrose dog to run behind the pointers!


Book now:

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It’s River Time

By Mike Stewart, Wildrose International


It was the early years of Drake’s career on DU TV as the Ducks Unlimited mascot.  He was taken to the cold plains of Montana and handled by the show’s host on a winter duck hunting excursion along the banks of the warm water streams and rivers that remained open from freezing which was a first for young Drake.  The birds were plentiful, scenery spectacular and the “first experience” show was a success. As always, we trainers like to collect a field performance report on a young dog after their first hunts. Feedback is vital for continuous improvement in any training program.  Everything was said to be great with the exception of Drake’s lack of experience with working on moving rivers, both dealing with birds that splash down in the current which did not remain at the location of the “mark” and the skills necessary to cross swift-moving water to pick long falls well beyond the opposite bank of a fast-moving stream.  To this point in time, Drake’s young experience had been on the still waters of ponds, flooded timber and flooded fields.  When Drake hit the river, the current carried him well off the line to the birds. Negotiating moving water was certainly a new thing. Okay, it was time for new training techniques for all Wildrose gundogs.

In 2003, Wildrose purchased and began the development of the Wildrose river training facility.  The property was finally selected in Northwest Arkansas with two-thirds of a mile of river along the Little Buffalo, complete with both narrow and wide river sections.  These training grounds, Wildrose of the Ozarks, offered a new dimension to our training experiences – River Time.

The Process

Let’s walk through the steps we developed to make any water dog competent in negotiating retrieves across moving water.

Requirement 1:  Delivery

First, our student must be able to pick a bumper or bird with a solid “hold” and deliver to hand despite influences.  After the pick we want the dog to make a direct re-entry into the water with a solid grasp of the bird as fast currents are negotiated as well as rocks, weeds and icy banks followed by no dropping at the exit for a shake, all necessary to prevent a wounded bird’s escape or to avoid the current sweeping the dislodged recovery downstream.

We began preparing for this skill early in the training process during delivery-to-hand conditioning, (page 118, Sporting Dogs and Retriever Training, The Wildrose Way).  As a final step with each object being used in the delivery sequence, we have the dog hold while in shallow water then deliver with recall to the bank.  Next, reverse. Have the dog hold on the bank with the handler now in the shallows.  Call the dog into the water for delivery.  In effect, you are teaching direct water re-entry which should be successfully performed five times in five locations.

Requirement 2:  Handling

Do not attempt across-water retrieves until your dog handles well on land and water. Across-water retrieves will often require solid stops and casting to put the dog back to the correct area of the fall after being pulled off-course by a swift current.  Simply, until the dog perfects swimming hard into the current holding a reasonably accurate line to the fall area, handling will be required.

Some inexperienced dogs lose their handling focus when they feel a bit independent with a significant barrier between them and the handler.  This is a problem to avoid.  The dog must be easily controllable in taking directions BEFORE across-water retrieves are attempted.  As always, get it right on land before going to the water (Wildrose Law #8).


Once the dog is proficient on hand signal exercises like switching on doubles (page 197-199 of Sporting Dogs and Retriever Training The Wildrose Way) and is accomplished at the same on open water, we incorporate land barriers between the dog and the handler (ditches, small shallow creeks, short hedgerows or mowed grass lanes). Here handling is perfected beyond the barrier where assistance and corrections may still be obtainable. Send the dog by memories or marks through the barrier.  Stop and handle for memories or unseens on the far side of the obstacle. Follow up with the more challenging across-water hunting opportunities once handling is proficient on land.

Requirement 3:  Hunting Cover on Command

When our hunting companion is across the water and handling to the correct location of the fall, his hunting cover skills then must take over.  This is handling to a stop and taking direction to hunt cover closely. Here the retriever earns his stripes holding to a tight pattern searching for scent.  Again, this skill is developed well before the dog is subjected to crossing waters to a far bank.

Requirement 4:  Get Over

First attempts to cross a water channel should be made on still water such as narrow backwaters of a lake, pond or shallow drainage creek.  The bumper is placed as a mark or memory on the far bank.  The object should be quite obvious at first… easily seen and close to the bank’s edge to provide a visual target and encourage immediate re-entry. From initial, simple marks, progress to trailing memories placing distance between the handler and the water’s edge at entry.  Slowly extend the distance to the banks both for entry going out and distance away from the far banks water’s edge to make the pick.  Once proficient on the shallow channels, it’s time for moving water exposure.

Again, begin close to the bank of the moving water and place the large, white bumper at water’s edge on the far bank.  Now we are introducing the effects of the current.   We are adding a distraction so keep the first retrieves simple.  The visibility of the bumper assists in keeping the dog moving toward the obvious target while learning to overcome the current.

Initial exercises are set up as marks and memories straight across with gradually increasing distance on both sides of the channel.  We follow with angle entries where the falls are both up and down river from the dog’s position.  When the dog takes the line to the fall, we want to see a direct water entry, not balking or running the bank’s edge.  Again, begin angle entry/exit retrieves at shorter distances close to both sides of the bank.  Learning to manage currents’ influences is accomplished first as a direct line across the moving water followed by angle entries. (pages 182 & 183 of Sporting Dogs and Retriever Training, The Wildrose Way)

barney (ty) 5.JPG

With progressive training, making haste slowly (Wildrose Law #5), the dog develops confidence and a trust of the handler to put him on the bird.  Remember, train don’t test (Wildrose Law #18).  Nothing is learned through failure.

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Press Association Participants Take in Wildrose

By Dr. Ben W. McClelland

“On October 24, 2019, a signature public relations event occurred at Wildrose Kennels—an intersection of Mike Stewart’s media savvy and a seminal group of writers and photographers who produce the media.”

Mike Stewart is a public relations maven.

Of course, he’s a dog whisperer. And, yes, he revolutionized dog training with the Wildrose Way. And, certainly, envisioning a business model of the gentleman’s gundog was an entrepreneurial coup. However, key to all this has been Stewart’s ability to attract people’s interest and encourage them to hold a favorable view of Wildrose dogs—so favorable that they want to own a great hunting or adventure dog that is also a desirable companion in the home.


Mike Stewart demonstrating the adventure dog lift with Deke the DU dog.

Wildrose Kennels’ history is marked by a series of public relations events beginning with a decade of weekly television appearances on the Ducks Unlimited show and continuing through periodical articles in Forbes, Garden & Gun, Covey Rise, and on and on.

On October 24, 2019, a signature public relations event occurred at Wildrose Kennels—an intersection of Mike Stewart’s media savvy and a seminal group of writers and photographers who produce the media.

seopa logoThe Southeastern Outdoor Press Association held its 2019 conference in and about Oxford, MS. Over a hundred outdoors writers and photographers—representing twenty states—bussed from town to Wildrose Kennels for a breakout day of sessions presented by Mike Stewart and his Wildrose staff.


Under a sunny sky the kennel grounds took on the appearance of a fall festival—six vendors displayed wares under colorful tents, Lexus presented its Concept Expedition Vehicle, Wildrose Texas held puppy obedience sessions, Scott Wilson invited folks to greet Service Dog Roxy, the Super Learner Center displayed framed posters of numerous magazine articles on Wildrose, the Roamer Room was outfitted with a media center for presentations, and everyone enjoyed a sumptuous catfish lunch, picnic-style, on tables scattered under the trees behind the Wildrose Trading Company. It was Wildrose’s largest gathering, including thirty-three cars and two large buses all parked on the grounds. “A good time was had by all,” as they say.


Here are notes on the conference sessions:

In the opening session “Dog Photography, Applied,” Wildrose Kennels photographer Katie Behnke ( gave her tips for capturing great images of dogs—especially black dogs. In her Powerpoint presentation Katie explained, of course, how to use lighting effectively. But she also offered wonderfully intuitive advice: focus on the dog’s body—tail, head, and eyes, especially—to project action and the dog’s inner drive. Furthermore, she gave keen insights into what media publishers do and do not want to see in outdoor (e.g., hunting) photos. She concluded by responding to a number of questions from the enthusiastic audience.


Katie Behnke

Animal Clinic of Oxford Veterinarian Dr. Lee Payne presented a fact-filled session, “Dog Field Vet Medicine.” Besides giving a primer on how to keep your hunting dog healthy year round, Payne presented a practitioner’s knowledge of the major maladies that affect our dogs, plus a catalog of information on preventative medicines and care practices. The extended Q & A session that followed revealed the audience’s intense interest in the topic.


Dr. Lee Payne

After the picnic lunch, sponsored by TTI-Blakemore and Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association, Mike Stewart gave an eye-popping demonstration outdoors. “Wildrose Dogs In Action” featured Stewart’s pack—a passel of the Wildrose sires. Oohs and Aahs resounded throughout the crowd as Stewart ran them through their paces: staying steady at sit all in a long line while Stewart threw bumpers every which way, responding individually by name to retrieve, stopping to the whistle, responding to hand signals, casting back and to the sides.


After performing on the hillside alongside the Roamer Room, the talented canines further showed off their genetic traits and skill sets as Stewart sent them by command—singly and, then, in alternating fashion—from the levee into the pond for one retrieve after another and still another.  With several dogs swimming back to shore while others dove off the levee in close proximity, it was pure poetry in motion. Even as the carefully orchestrated activity demonstrated the dogs’ beautiful athleticism and dependable obedience, Stewart explained that the dogs were trained for such precise performance to maximize their abilities as confident game-finders during the fast-paced action of a waterfowl hunt. At the event’s end the onlookers expressed their appreciation with a long ovation.

On the following morning Mike Stewart and Danielle Drewrey, Trainer and Director of Wildrose’s Adventure Dog Program, traveled to the Convention Center in Oxford, with two dogs in tow, and presented “Adventure Dog Program,” a Powerpoint-aided discussion about Wildrose’s skill-and-merit-based training program that offers the perfect complement to a family’s outdoor lifestyle. As they explained, “Adventure Dogs are thoroughly socialized and trained for a multitude of sporting activities: shooting sports, hiking, boating, fishing, camping, kayaking, mountain biking, ATV trekking and jogging.” This presentation stirred great interest in the audience members, as many in attendance were unaware of this training program for a canine companion to complement a family’s outdoor lifestyle.

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Here are comments by SEOPA staff and scholarship recipients in their own words:

Kevin Tate

KevinTateKevin was First Vice President/Conference Chairman. Following the conference he was named SEOPA President.

Tate is VP of Media for Mossy Oak, a company he’s worked with nearly 20 years, producing video content for broadcast and for online delivery. He’s also a freelance writer and produces a weekly outdoors page for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.

Kevin’s Reflections:

Each session of the recent conference was an opportunity to gather, on the spot, content
for future production, as well as contacts for more content down the road. In this, the sessions hosted and produced by Wildrose were exceptional. They offered a wealth of salable material and a trove of happily willing connections from which to gather more.

Mike Stewart and the Wildrose family fit perfectly with SEOPA because of their professionalism, their in-depth knowledge of their subject and their overall enthusiasm for sharing what they know. Katie Behnke’s discussion of the tips, tactics and techniques she applies to get the wonderful photography that so beautifully illustrates the lives of the Wildrose retrievers was spot on. It was the sort of session that makes content for a story in and of itself, and should pay dividends for the listeners in future photography of their own. Dr. Lee Payne’s discussion of home and field veterinary concerns filled a role exactly the same. Each point, shared from a position of such authority, was fodder for stories and photos, and was of benefit to the attendees, dog owners nearly all, in their personal adventures as well.

Stewart’s demonstration of the dogs’ abilities and aptitudes, and those of his staff by extension, was a marvel, both in the field and, next day, in the classroom. Danielle Drewery’s discussion of the Wildrose adventure dog program revealed an innovative idea for involving new people in the outdoors in an exciting way, and it’s one our members have already begun to place before their audiences.

SEOPA’s membership represents a broad swath of professions, each tangentially connected to the outdoors. We share a common professional interest, but arrive at it from an assortment of different backgrounds. Field biologists, music producers, engineers, marketing professionals and more form a network that facilitates interesting and beneficial synergies that multiply exponentially as years go by.

SEOPA conference is an annual event that’s part professional seminar, part travelogue and part family reunion. If your professional interests in any way lie in the outdoors, there are benefits awaiting to be discovered.


Pam Swanner

Pam_SwannerSEOPA Corporate Director Pam Swanner is the Director of the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association, a tourism marketing organization that was launched ten years ago to foster economic development in a 23-county rural area of Alabama by promoting its natural resources, which provide an abundance of outdoor related activities, both consumptive and non-consumptive. She’s been in the tourism industry for more years than she cares to admit.
While the conference agenda each year provides educational sessions designed to help the media members excel in their profession as well as provide onsite story ideas and content, the subject matter is beneficial to Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO), as well.  It’s extremely important to keep abreast of the platforms media members are utilizing to share story content and the trends that are driving that demand. For example, the Wildrose Kennels’ Adventure Dog session was inspiring and spurred creative ideas for exploring new topics available in my region beyond the traditional “hook and bullet” that would be of interest to outdoor communicators.  Soft adventure, or non-consumptive activities, continue to grow among the younger demographic markets targeted by the tourism industry.

Wildrose Kennels has excelled in their ability to stay ahead of the pack.  It’s obvious Mike Stewart and his exceptional staff are true visionaries intent on providing canine companions that appeal to a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts as well as those that live their daily lives with health and physical challenges.  For conference attendees, Wildrose Kennels’ sessions opened the door wide for the professional communicators by providing unlimited story ideas that will reach a much broader audience.

I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with Mike Stewart on several media events hosted by our organization and they (he and the dogs) never fail to entertain, but more importantly, provide useful and relevant material for the attendees.

As a destination marketing organization (DMO), we strive to leverage the power of earned media, or third party endorsement, which is considered more credible by the consumer than paid advertising.   Participation in the SEOPA conference each year provides that opportunity to meet one-on-one with editors and freelance writers who are seeking story content. Our task is to share our destination’s outdoor assets as well as suggested storylines, therefore, it’s a win-win. As a DMO, another benefit is networking with corporate product members who make great partners as co-hosts for media events.

SEOPA is dedicated to the profession of those whose livelihood is dependent on the outdoor industry, both communicators and supporting allies.  The conference is structured so that attendees gain knowledge both through classroom settings and outdoor edutainment events and provides a friendly “we’re family” atmosphere.  You’ll feel right at home.

Lisa Snuggs

lisa snuggsSEOPA Executive Director Lisa Snuggs is also CEO of the Outdoor Journalist Education Foundation of America, which offers scholarships for young people to be able to attend the conference. Lisa manages all day-to-day business of the 365-member organization and works closely with board members to plan and execute the annual conference and communications contests. Snuggs also maintains the SEOPA website but admits her favorite part of the job is managing the scholarship program, which allows her to seek out aspiring young communicators to attend the conference.
I learn something from every conference as it pertains to helping SEOPA members get what they need from the annual gathering, and it never fails to amaze me how important it is that they get outside to truly absorb the areas we visit.

Wildrose Kennels was the perfect setting for our Breakout Day. First of all, how can anyone who enjoys traditional outdoors sports like fishing, hunting, hiking, camping or boating not love Labs or at least have a great appreciation for them? Our members learned just how special UK Labs are in so many situations and lifestyles. Secondly, the land and facilities at Wildrose are outstanding. Extra kudos go to whoever ordered the weather. Late October in North Mississippi is delightful.

Unfortunately, as executive director of SEOPA, I’m often too busy behind the scenes to attend sessions, but I did manage to see our members pick up some photography lighting tips from Katie Behnke. The results spoke for themselves, but I expected no less. Katie is a super-talented photographer and Xander, my favorite Wildrose Lab, was her model. Getting good shots of solid black dogs can be difficult. Katie showed our members some tricks about easily manipulating the light behind a dog and making sure his eyes are the focus of the photograph.

I gauge the value of a conference by the comments and actions of members. When a seasoned writer says the trip paid for itself three days after returning home, I know things went well. When a younger writer gets a gleam in his eye when asked how he liked his first conference, I know he’s inspired. When people come back year after year, I know they are having fun while being productive. Networking is at the core of a conference. Members attain something from face-to-face interaction with their peers––both communicators and/or allied corporate representatives––that cannot be initiated through a phone call or text. SEOPA is full of people who will attest to life-long friendships and invaluable professional contacts being made at conferences.

Anyone who wants to pursue a career in any form of outdoors communications could benefit from learning about SEOPA and attending conferences. I’ve heard SEOPA President Kevin Tate say, “Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know.” The same thing often applies to potential SEOPA members. They simply don’t know what they’re missing.

Kristy Fike

brunetteKristy Fike, recipient of the Toyota “Let’s Go Places” Award, is a high school senior from King George, Virginia. She enjoys both big and small game hunting. Her true passion lies with Labradors, which led her to start her own small breeding business, Whispering Woods Retrievers. Kristy’s business and passion opened the door to writing. She currently writes dog articles for the Northern Neck Sentinel (a regional newspaper), and writes gun dog articles for the website Great American Wildlife.

Kristy’s Reflections:

The value of receiving the Toyota “Let’s Go Places” Award goes beyond the possibilities of being able to put it on future resumes. Part of the value for me was being recognized at my age by such a worthy organization. Most of the value came from being surrounded by like-minded, supportive people from all walks of life and various professions within outdoor communications.

My conference experience was full of so many learning experiences that I can apply to better my writing and myself. Specifically the round tables, learning from media experts and editors was very educational. This conference seemed to be tailored perfectly for me, considering one of the breakout days was at Wildrose Kennels.

After arriving at Wildrose Kennels, I looked around and could immediately tell that Wildrose Kennels was the real deal. A lot of thought and time went into the facilities. The Wildrose staff was very welcoming and eager to answer any questions I had. The photography and vet sessions were full of information that is very helpful to my own business and dogs.

The gun dog demonstrations showed the importance of a well-trained dog in the field, and displayed a deep relationship between the handler and dog. These dogs were mannered and well trained. The results of the Gentleman’s Gundog training program were apparent.

The Adventure Dog program seems like a perfect program for all outdoor-loving owners and dogs. You will be able to take your dog anywhere after completing this program. One thing that really impressed me about this program is how your dog will learn such a vast variety of outdoor skills.

I am not one to immediately “buy” into a kennel, but when you are at the facilities and see firsthand the results of the Wildrose’s training programs, it is hard not to realize that they have very high quality dogs and training programs.

The Gentleman’s Gundog program interested me specifically, because my main passion is working, training, and hunting Labradors. Since I have started my own small Labrador retriever breeding business, and I am an amateur trainer, this program perfectly lined up with my own personal and professional interests.  This program is very valuable to me, because there are not many other trainers using the Wildrose methods to “create” a gun dog.

The tight-knit family community atmosphere that SEOPA members create is very welcoming, and honestly before arriving that was something I did not really expect. Everyone I encountered offered to help me in any way I might need. They directed me to others who might also be able to help me—specifically in the writing field I am pursing. For example, Tes Randle Jolly directed me towards a couple young ladies closer to my age that could help out me tremendously. There were many people like Jill Easton who gave me so much motivation to continue in outdoor communication.

I advise anyone taking part in the outdoor communication field to look into SEOPA and their membership. My father has been a member for over twenty years and has never been able to attend SEOPA’s conferences until this year. We both discussed our experience after attending the 2019 conference, and agree that we easily profited back any efforts we made to attend the conference and then some. The conference to me was so invaluable; anyone who decides to become a member and attends won’t regret it.

Serena Juchnowski

blonde girlSerena Juchnowski,recipient of the Lindsay-Sale Tinney Award, is a Third Year Senior at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, with a Marketing Major and an English Minor.

Serena is an outdoor writer, competitive shooter, and hunter from Richfield, Ohio. In 2019, she earned her Distinguished Rifleman’s Badge from the Civilian Marksmanship Program, one of the highest civilian honors for marksmanship. She has been working to redevelop Ohio’s junior high power service rifle program as well as to promote the shooting and hunting sports, primarily through writing and photography. Serena also serves as Secretary for Sycamore Hill Rifle Club. Her goals include making the President’s 100 in service rifle and earning my Distinguished Pistol Shot badge. She has had pieces published in Guns & Ammo AR-15, CMP publications and NRA publications, among others. Professionally, she wants to work in the outdoor industry in a position that will allow her to mentor new shooters, share her journey and the journeys of others in the outdoor world and to inspire.

Serena’s website (all links to published works are there) and social media pages are: Facebook: @serenajuchnowski Instagram: @serenajuchnowski

Serena’s Reflections:

The opportunity to attend a SEOPA conference, especially being from the North, was invaluable. I was able to meet so many new people who both inspire me, have provided me opportunities to write and who have offered support in the outdoors and in other areas of my life. Earning this award means so much more than just attending the conference. Meeting with Mr. Stu Tinney, the benefactor of the award, I learned so much about his late wife and the impact she had on the outdoor world. Receiving the award is not just a one-time thing, but integrates its recipients into a tight-woven community dedicated to helping people serious about working in the outdoor world to be successful. I am honored to receive this award, which has motivated me even further.

The greatest value of attending the conference came from networking opportunities. There are people I already knew, like my mentor John Phillips, but I also had the chance to meet many new people including Phillips’s mentor, J. Wayne Fears. This was very special to me. I also had the chance to talk in greater depth with people I had met at previous outdoor events. The conference gave me the opportunity to make new friendships and strengthen professional relationships, allowing other people to get to know me as well.

My area of expertise is in the shooting world. I have some limited upland hunting experience, but have not grown up with hunting dogs, just pets. I had no idea exactly how much money and time is invested in dogs. Honestly, I did not connect as well with the kennel visit because it is not something that I have taken a significant interest in. Also, I know that I could never afford a dog from Wildrose. It was wonderful to see how much Kristy Fike, another scholarship award winner, enjoyed the experience as she is working at her own kennel.

I had the opportunity to speak with Scott Wilson, the Wildrose Service Companions Director, who told me about the canines they have to assist Type I diabetics. I was fascinated. Having been diagnosed with Type I this past May, this was news to me and very interesting. (I hope to contact him for information for a story!)

Honestly, the best moments of the conference were getting the chance to talk with people in SEOPA and getting my first real “Southern” experience. I had the opportunity to interview Linda Powell, someone who I greatly look up to and who I have wanted to meet for some time. I also made new friends and sampled Q8 Hand Sanitizer from Advanced Siloxane Technologies which is a product I am very excited about. The two most touching moments include the opportunities I had to speak, once at the awards banquet and again on the last night of the conference. To my surprise and great honor, I was chosen as the 2019 recipient of the Dave Meredith award and received a standing ovation at the banquet. I know where I belong and who “my people” are. I belong in the outdoor world, surrounded by people who share my passions.

I greatly advise any non-SEOPA professional to join SEOPA and attend a conference. The connections made, experiences had, and amount learned is invaluable. I met people who I can work with throughout my career and also grow friendships with. SEOPA is a family. Everyone looks after one another and each person has various skills to offer that complement the rest of the organization while pursuing the preservation of the outdoor world.

I also encourage other youth to apply for the Lindsay-Sale Tinney award. Little things change one’s life and shape the path of both your personal and professional paths. I will be forever grateful for the support I have received and am proud to be a member of the SEOPA family.

In conclusion, this event—the partnering of Wildrose Kennels and the 2019 SEOPA Conference—ranks among the stellar achievements in Wildrose Kennels’ long star-studded history.

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