How long have you been a WISILL member?
Along with Paul Zelisko, we started WISILL HRC in 1990.
How did you first get involved in training dogs?
I had owned Labs before but in June 1986, a friend called me about a new national Hunting Dog organization that had recently started and a club in Illinois ((Fox River Valley) was holding a hunt test at the training grounds near Joliet. I had a 10-week-old lab pup and decided to go see what this was all about. The 1st person I met at the test site was Omar Driscoll, Father of HRC, who walked with Pat & I to the different test sites and explained the how’s and why’s of the testing. Needless to say, I was very impressed, especially with the young Started dogs. I remember telling Pat when we left, “If I can get my dog to do what those Started & Seasoned dogs were doing, I would have the best hunting dog in my group of hunting friends”. A couple of months later, I joined FRV HRC and began my journey in HRC. I learned very quickly how little I knew about dog training and it took me 5 years to accomplish that 1st Hunting Retriever Championship with Sam. I have never looked back-always focused on the future for my dogs and HRC.
Everyone has that one special dog tell us about yours?
Like our kids, there is only one 1st dog and in HRC it was Samurai (Sam). Each of my dogs has given me something special that helps me to remember them.
What do you do when you are not training dogs?
I have been retired for nearly 10 years and I try to stay busy around the house – messing with the dogs when not training them – and try to make myself available to anyone wanting or needing help with their dogs. Pat & I have a travel trailer and get away as often as possible. Most of my fall hunting these days is big game hunting since, over the years, my bird hunting partners have all passed or moved away.
What does WISILL mean to you?
I have tried to instill the HRC philosophy in each of our members, reminding them as they progress thru the different levels of training, to never forget what it was like when you 1st started in HRC. No matter how much or little you know about dog training, there is always someone that needs some help. Don’t wait for them to ask for help, whether it is helping to correct a problem or just throwing birds, take the opportunity to help. Helping people realize the unknown goals that are available to them thru the HRC and WISILL programs, gives me more satisfaction than all of the titles I have won.
What is one WISILL memory you will never forget?
There have been so many memorable events in the 30 plus years since we started WISILL. New members calling me to tell me about their 1st hunt with their newly trained dog or watching the inexperienced handler accomplish that 1st goal. One that I try to never forget was the day in 1990 that we held our 1st WISILL HRC information meeting at the Bong conference room. Paul and I had hoped for a decent turnout but had no idea how many people would show up. We had sent fliers to hunt clubs, dog clubs, and vet offices, trying to reach as many people as possible. When it was time to start the meeting, the conference room was standing room only and that still gives me goosebumps today when I think about how concerned we were that no one would show up. That was our great start to this great club.