Award-winning owner of Absolute Gun Dogs Kennel
Q: We want to know more about your history and how you got to this level with your dog(s). Please provide a short biography.
A: When I was 13, my grandfather introduced me to Tom Ness who took us hunting with his young dog, Strike. I had some unruly Springers that I hunted behind, but Strike was steady and didn’t bark or chase birds out of the country when they were missed. I remember him flushing a rooster and sitting down as it flew away. I could probably walk you to the exact place where I witnessed this extraordinary act over 30 years ago. In my mid 20’s, my wife purchased an English Springer from Tom. She ended up being U.S. high point dog in 2009. That same year I went out on my own, and as they say, “The rest is history”.
Q: Why do you feed Purina Pro Plan dog food?
A: I feed Purina Pro Plan Sport for a couple of reasons. The first, and most important reason is the dogs all respond well to it. The dogs look great, their stools are good, and I have little to no issues during our road trips, which sometimes last up to 2 months. Accessibility and Pro Club rewards are the other two reasons for using Pro Plan for my dogs.
Q: Why do you recommend Purina Pro Plan for athletic dogs like yours?
A: I recommend Purina Pro Plan for athletic dogs like mine because I like the way the dogs look when they are on Pro Plan. They have ample energy and endurance whether we are training for the Sprinter type of field trial runs, or the long hunts in the cattail slough or large tracts of CRP.
Q: Why are you passionate about what you do?
A: I am passionate about what I do, because I’m passionate about dogs, hunting, and competition. One passion feeds the other, and so on.
Q: What is the most exciting part of your work with dogs?
A: To me the most exciting part about my work is watching the conceptual training come together for a young and up-and-coming hunting or trial dog. I love watching the lightbulb come on in a young dog. There are so many times throughout the training process where we get to see the flicker, but when it all comes together with obedience, bird finding, partnership, and a dog that is confident in his job and how we can achieve success together – that is the reward for both of us. I’ve never confirmed this with the dog, but I’m assuming he thinks the same way I do, especially since I’m feeding him Purina Pro Plan at the end of the day!
Q: What’s your number one goal in your work?
A: My number one goal in my work is to provide the best possible service and guidance to both clients and to their dogs.
Q: What advice would you give to others looking to reach your level of success?
A: The best advice I would give to others trying to reach my level of success is to have an open mind and a silent mouth. Listen, and watch those who have had success, and those who currently are having success. Don’t get stuck in a rut, let the dog develop into his potential, and mind your own business.
Q: Why are your dogs exceptional?
A: I can’t say my dogs are exceptional, as I think I’m really the exceptional one! My dogs are exceptional, because I ask a lot of them. They are brought up amongst exceptional dogs, and success breeds success. Because I enjoy what I do, and have a great support system, this typically allows me the ability to help the dog find success. I also believe that the fact that we don’t use a specific process for each dog is a big reason why we have been blessed with so many exceptional dogs. I believe that time, guidance, patience, and consistency are the keys to bringing out the best in each and every dog.
Q: What do you find most rewarding about the time you spend with your dogs?
A: The most rewarding thing about spending time with the dogs is definitely how much joy they find in their work. Hunting has always been that time when I see how much they love to work. It doesn’t matter what the weather is doing, what kind of cover we are in, or what scandal is going on in the world, as long as they’re hunting nothing else matters.
Q: If you could train or compete with your dogs anywhere in the world, where would you choose to go?
A: I am competing where I would most like to compete, The U.S.A.
Q: What do you think it takes to get your dogs to perform at the highest level?
A: In order to get the dogs to perform at the highest level, it takes a number of things. First the dog has to be healthy, Purina Pro Plan Sport all life stages supports this foundation. The dog needs a good obedience foundation, a good work ethic, proper guidance, and be given the opportunity to develop his natural abilities, as well. If you can mesh all of these things together, the path is clear for the dog.
Q: Of all the dogs you’ve had, which one has had the biggest impact on you and why?
A: Of All the dogs I’ve had, the one that has had the biggest impact on me would be Oahe Sweet Dilemma, “Emma”. Emma was an English Cocker Spaniel and the 2nd dog that my wife and I purchased (I’ll admit that my wife picked her out). I had a young Springer, Millie, who was soon to be the U.S. high point dog, but Emma was a bit different. I had my Springer steady to wing and shot, and finished 2 master hunt tests at 13 months of age. Emma was just over 4 months when I picked her up, one month before pheasant season. When pheasant season opened, we hunted what seemed like every day for the entire season. Emma, not steady, retrieved 90% of the shot birds (Millie never wavered from being steady).
My goal was always to trial Emma, but on the last day of pheasant season when she flushed most, if not all of the birds, out of gun range and chased them as far you could see, my goal seemed like more of a dream. I worked very hard and thought I had her ready for her first trial. That trial lasted about 2 minutes, by the time she got back from breaking on her bird and flushing the bracemates bird on the way back.
Long story short, I kept at it and fall I placed her twice and qualified for my first National. She had a great trial but was dropped after the 4th series. Emma was awarded North American High Point Cocker, would place as high as 2nd in a later National, and also received 2 additional certificates of merit. She produced 7 champions and was grand dam to the 2016 National Champion.
The reason this was so instrumental for me is because as a pro, the majority of the dogs that show up haven’t been trained the way my Springer was, and I had to learn to try new things. I had to learn how to train a more normal pupil, adding pressure to certain things, but still finding way to keep the process fun and productive. As a side note, Emma was the best pet, best hunting dog, and as my wife would say with sadness in her voice, “you love that dog more than you love me.” I would look her in the eyes and lie to her every time.
Awards & Accomplishments
FC Oahe One In A Million “Millie” was the 2009 US Open High Point Springer with 7 blue ribbons that year.
FC Oahe Sweet Dilemma “Emma” Was North American High Point dog in 2010. She was also the grandmother of the 2016 Cocker National Championship winner NAFC FC Absolute’s Whinnie. At the time, Whinnie was the youngest dog (18 months) to win the biggest national cocker trial.
The 2018 Cocker Open High Point award was given to my student, FC Yuba Diamond Babaghanoush, “Noush”.
The Dan Langhan Award with my springer Annie in 2019 was a great accomplishment.
I’ve been awarded the Hogan Award as high point springer handler twice. Once in 2015 and again in 2019.
It was a great honor to judge the Canadian Open National in 2019 as well.
In 2020, one of our clients won the 2020 Springer National Amateur Championship with NAFC AFC Blackriver’s Jezzebelle Miss Ellie JH SH, “Ellie”. The 2nd place dog was also trained at Absolute and handled by one of our clients.
There are many other ribbons, FC, AFC, Certificates of Merit, interclub high points, etc. Too many to put into words.
Aside from individual dog awards, my family and I have taken a dream and a passion and turned into a successful business in a span of only 10 years. We broke ground in 2011 and continue to grow into 2021.
This individual serves as a Purina ambassador.
To help ensure her dogs are reaching their full potential, Laurel trusts Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30/20 Formula. Take a look at our full line of Pro Plan dog food formulas to find the one that’s right for your dogs.