The Marin Retriever Club has asked Dr. John Schulte to write a Training Blog for this website. We also asked him to introduce himself.
So here’s Johnny.
My interest in retrievers began in 1953 when I was taken by an older gentleman to his duck club in Los Banos. Besides the Wool Growers Restaurant, Los Banos is most famous for its mud. To retrieve a wounded bird that was swimming away from you was enough to induce a heart attack. I could see the value of a good dog.
From 1966 until 1970 were 4 wonderful years at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. During this period, I hunted the state and federal refuges in the upper Sacramento Valley. My first Lab, "Crystal", was purchased from Marianne Foote. In addition to hunting with “Crystal”, instead of attending my classes, we also took time to train and run field trials. “Crystal” was the High Point Derby Dog in 1969 in the Sacramento Valley Retriever Club.
In the early 1970's I was introduced to Rex Carr. Every Friday for many years, I would drive from the Bay Area to Escalon to run dogs with Rex and learn from the Master. I have run my dogs in every stake and have judged Field Trails and Hunt Tests.
I have trained extensively with John Folsom, Jim Dobbs, Doug Shade, Bill Totten and Billy Sargenti. From these pros, I learned bird placement and the factors that influence marks and blinds as well as advanced handling.
The best year of my life was in 1975 when I joined the Wild Goose Duck Club in the Butte Sink. Pete Lane, who won a National Amateur with his dog "Cannon Ball Kate", was a member and I would train with him. Steve Bechtel Jr. joined the club and was privileged to have him for a roommate and training partner for 12 years. Steve came close to winning the National Field Trial with "Shoot The Moon".
About 23 years ago I ran my first Hunt Test with "Odder" a black Lab. We ran the Junior and Master Hunt Test on the same weekend and we passed them both. Over the years we qualified for multiple Nationals and ran in several.
The eldest of my two labs is "Cookie" a 7 year old yellow female. She was to be a duck dog and house pet, but the first time she picked up a bumper, I could tell she was something special. She qualified for her Junior and Senior title on the same weekend. She has qualified for 5 Master Nationals and qualified in 40 Master Hunt Tests as a 4 year old. She was my hunting partner last fall when I enjoyed my 63th consecutive opening day of duck season. She has retrieved over 3000 waterfowl over past seasons.
To assist new people in Hunt Tests, I have let them run her in the advanced stakes. She has qualified 6 amateurs in Master events.
"Carson" my male yellow lab was set back in his training by being run too often when was too young. In a 10 week period he was awarded a ribbon in 4 field trials, titled as a Master Hunter in 6 straight attempts. He then proceeded to get a little loose and broke the next 4 times I ran him. Too much too soon, my fault.
He qualified for 3 Master Nationals as a 3 year old. All my dogs have attain their Master Title before the age of 2 years old.
The latest addition is “Chase’. I utilized the program that we will describe in detail on training a retriever. I kept a journal on his progress each week. A video was posted on Facebook documenting his successful running a 160 yard cold water – land blind at 4 months of age. Unfortunately he tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) when he was a year old. Dr. Cal Cadmus did a marvelous piece of surgery to repair the youngster.
To keep “Chase” company, I fractured my tibia and fibula while at a Hunt Test. “Chase” and I spent 12 weeks together in in exercise pen. The nasty neighbor kids would come by and throw a bone into the pen and watch “Chase” and I fight over it. I should have gone to Dr. Cadmus. My first 2 surgeries failed and I am now going to be on the sidelines for perhaps a year total. Meanwhile “Chase” is running Hunt Tests and Field Trials.
I have judged all levels of Hunt Tests and have judged the National for The Flat Coat Retriever Club and the National for the Golden Retriever Club.
Training your own dog is very satisfying however assisting handlers who are new to the sport or want to advance provides a unique opportunity. Working with other dogs clearly demonstrates there are there is more than one way to skin a snake or some saying like that. I was at a field trial when were taught that lesson so I missed the exact saying.
Watching a handler you have helped or running a dog for them and receiving a qualifying score is a real thrill. Be careful if you don’t know the dog and its history. You may step in to help and find yourself in quicksand.
I asked 20 judges what qualities a good judge should possess in order to develop a deeper understanding of what a good judge must know, how they should interact with their co judge as well as their relationship with marshals, workers, and handlers. A good judge knows how to communicate their needs and expectations so misunderstandings are minimized between all involved.
Happy Training, John Schulte DVM
John Schulte D.V.M.