Muck Creek Kennels celebrated its 2 year anniversary on February 7th!
To be honest I have to say that our little business has gone in a much different direction than I originally intended. You see, when I built the kennel I also built a gamebird pen. I purchased special equipment for training hunting dogs. I had grandiose dreams of being a popular bird dog trainer. I envisioned myself training top-notch bird hunters. When I was daydreaming about my coming success, I could see myself being admired and respected by competent sportsmen all over the state. They would bring their dogs here for training. I would turn their wild pups into confident, focused, effective hunters and then, to show their gratitude, these gentlemen would invite me to come along on amazing pheasant hunting trips to the Dakotas.
That was the dream. Reality has been a bit different. Since we opened the doors, I have seen a steady stream of wild and crazy young dogs, but only a few of them have been sporting breeds.
At first I resisted. I set up training classes for sporting breeds. I advertised myself as a gun-dog trainer. I avoided filling the kennel up with pets because I wanted to save room for the throngs of retrievers and pointers and setters that I knew were waiting just around the proverbial corner.
Over the past 2 years I have trained a few hunting dogs. A couple of them are now top-notch bird maniacs who can hunt with the best of ‘em! I’m proud of these accomplishments. Never the less, the vast majority of dogs that have come to me for training over the past 2 years have been the “wild beasts” who are eating the siding off their owner’s garage. Then there are the rejected dogs that for one reason or another have been surrendered to different animal welfare organizations.
In short, I have become the guy who people turn to when their wild, over-exuberant dog is bouncing off the ceiling. I’m the guy the rescue people call when they have a dog that they can’t rehome because he’s a trouble maker. Does your dog counter surf, steal your food, shred your clothes and chew the legs off your heirloom dining room table? I’m your guy! Does he hump everything that stands still and quite a few things that move too? I’m your trainer!
How the hell did this happen? And what about those blue ribbon hunting trips to the Dakotas? The answer lies with the dogs themselves. Well… to be more accurate, with the dogs and also with my big, fat, stupid, mushy heart. There were plenty of dogs that came through here over the last 24 months, but one of the dogs that represent a turning point for me was a little border collie by the name of Stormy.
Stormy was found with a litter of puppies that was dumped by some subhuman miscreant in Eastern Washington. He came to me via a rescue organization. Stormy was basically a feral dog. The first day he was here he tried to bite me twice. He actually had a bit of success with the second attempt. We gradually learned to get along with one another and eventually we became best friends. Stormy learned to trust and like humans and when he was ready he went to live in a new home where he is loved for being the wonderful animal he truly is. I still think about Stormy every time I see a dog that is suspicious of me and gives me that wild look like he wants to take a bite out of me. I remember that look and I try to forgive the dog for being distrustful and aggressive.
The next turning point was a German shepherd named Diesel. Diesel was surrendered to me by a person who realized that he just couldn’t give the dog the time and attention he needed. When Diesel arrived here at the kennel he had all the signs of a poorly socialized, fearful dog. Everything scared him, doors, gates, leashes, collars, loud noises, soft noises, other dogs, you name it, and Diesel was afraid of it. Diesel probably taught me more about patience in 2 months than I had learned in the preceding 50 years. That was a pretty good trick because I am not a patient person by nature.
All of this patience stuff has given me a new outlook. I feel like I’m a better observer. One of the things I see is that all this patience and waiting has given these dogs time to stick their wet snouts deep into my big, stupid, mushy heart!
It kinda makes me wonder what the dogs will teach me over the course of the next 2 years. I still haven’t given up entirely on that hunting trip to the Dakotas, but at least I’ve learned to be more patient while I’m waiting!