Every Saturday morning, I wake up to a 4:30AM alarm clock to voluntarily co-host an outdoors radio talk show called FAN Outdoors on 100.3FM based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis & Saint Paul. My weekly appearance on the show provides me a great platform to talk about Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever, conservation, bird hunting and bird dogs. I also have a great time chatting with the show’s host “The Captain” Billy Hildebrand about fishing and other outdoors related topics.
Over the four years I’ve been on FAN Outdoors, I’ve had the pleasure of participating in live remote broadcasts from the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Ely, Minnesota as well as from a fishing lodge on Devil’s Lake in North Dakota. Later this week, my wife and I will depart for the Minnesota/Canadian border for a six-day fishing trip with Rainy Lake Houseboats on behalf of FAN Outdoors. Without doubt, this is a “bucket list” trip for anyone and an opportunity I wasn’t going to pass by; however, there was one commitment I had trouble figuring out how to handle before I firmly committed to participating in this Rainy Lake adventure. The commitment I’m referencing was to my two bird dogs.
Before I accepted the dream getaway, I had to figure out who was going to care for the safety and well-being of my 5-year-old shorthair, Trammell, and my 14-week-old GSP puppy, Izzy. I’m sure many bird dog owners planning a summer vacation have encountered similar quandaries. While I could find any number of friends and relatives to care for my low-maintenance older dog, asking someone to welcome my semi-potty trained puppy into their home seemed like a good way to strain a relationship.
Crossing friends and relatives off the list, I started sourcing dog boarding facilities in the Twin Cities. For a 6X6 space and some play time socialization with other dogs, I could board my dogs for about $45 a day for the first dog and another $22 for the second. Not ideal. So my next thought led me to consider the folks I know in the dog training and breeding business, which led me to think about Chad Hines, owner of Willow Creek Kennels of Little Falls, Minnesota.
A quick search of the Willow Creek Kennels website informed me that boarding was a service they provided that also included some gun dog training for roughly a third of the price compared to Twin Cities boarding options. I followed up my web search with a phone call explaining my training priorities for Trammell & Izzy to Chad and my dogs were booked for a two-week stay.
I drove Trammell & Izzy to Willow Creek Kennels on Saturday morning where I met Chad and some of his staff. The drop-off was exactly the scenario every bird dog owner hopes for when leaving their pets in the hands of another. Chad and his staff took the time to evaluate both of my dogs, talk through my expectations and show me the kennel’s entire facilities; including the specific kennels where my dogs would be staying. He even took some time to run the young pup, Izzy, through the beginning paces of bird introduction.
Another benefit Willow Creek Kennels provides to clients with dogs being boarded are short videos. Using iPhones, the Willow Creek Kennels staff shoot countless videos of the training process which they upload to YouTube and Facebook for their clients’ viewing pleasure. Imagine - fishing on the Canadian border and receiving video proof of your beloved bird dog’s safety and training progress. Pretty awesome!
If you have a fishing getaway of your own, or are planning that family visit to Disney, take the time to check out the boarding facilities of the local bird dog trainers and breeders in your area. You may be surprised to find a more affordable option for your bird dog’s boarding accompanied by the added benefit of a little training to sharpen the pup’s skills come autumn.