Meet The Pros: Ronnie Smith and Susanna Love, Sporting Dog Trainers & Breeders
Q: We want to know more about your history and how you got to this level with your dogs. Please provide a short biography.
A: Ronnie Smith Kennels has been a leader in the bird dog world almost since it was established by Ronnie Smith Sr. in 1956. The operation is owned by Ronnie Smith Jr., who took over operations in 1982 and by Susanna Love, who came on board full-time in 2006. Together we train pointing dogs from across the county at our new facility in northern Oklahoma. We accept a select number of dogs for training excursions on wild birds. Ronnie continues his family’s tradition of helping bird dog owners through seminars at locations across the country. We continue to develop and breed our lines of pointers and Brittanys. We feel fortunate that our rolling hills in the Osage can be a respite and a source of information and memories for bird dog owners across the country.
Q: Why do you feed Purina Pro Plan dog food?
A: Our family has fed Purina for many decades and has collectively monitored thousands of dogs on this feed during the course of that time. What we have found is that, across the board, Pro Plan is a food that performs consistently for all breeds of bird dogs during reproduction, growth, training, and under the rigorous demands of field trials and professionally guided hunts. We breed only to raise the best in bird dogs and we rely on Pro Plan to support those healthy dogs so they can reach their full potential. We know when a little extra is asked of our animals, they are in the condition to give it their all. The nutrition that Pro Plan provides our dogs proves itself to us every year.
Pro Plan also gives us much more than just great nutrition. The people that we work with at Purina are committed to giving dogs their best possible life. Many of the people we interact with are either trainers themselves or have sporting breeds they work and/or hunt with. The real-world knowledge that they offer is irreplaceable. The staff that handles Pro Plan is dedicated to and cares about dogs.
Q: Why do you recommend Purina Pro Plan for athletic dogs like yours?
A: We recommend and believe in Pro Plan because of the consistency we see in the high-quality product and the science behind it. We have listened to a wealth of knowledge from the scientists and researchers in charge of developing the food at Purina and we have the complete faith in their work.
Q: Why are you passionate about what you do?
A: Our lives are dedicated to bird dogs. We are the second generation in our family to be blessed to work with and train these athletes. Our children work by our side, making them the third generation to marvel at and appreciate the wonders of bird dogs. Training a dog requires the trainer to recognize and appreciate the true canine nature of the pupil. Once you see the world from a dog’s perspective, it is easy to crave more knowledge about their simple honest way of interpreting life and to better understand their amazing abilities. In essence, we are hooked on studying bird dogs and that is why we are passionate about training them.
Q: What is the most exciting part of your work with dogs?
A: We work to build confident, proficient bird dogs that can easily navigate our human world. Each dog we work with becomes a stronger individual. Seeing that strength and resilience blossom in a dog is what is the most exciting to us. Bird dogs are an impressive package of genetics and personalities. We get to embolden and develop those natural talents into something even more spectacular.
Q: What’s your number-one goal in your work?
A: Our number one goal is to build better bird dogs. To us, that means developing dogs that are healthy (both in body and in mind), level-headed in a way that allows them to successfully and consistently make good decisions in a human world, and that can utilize the very best of their cognitive skills to perform at a top level in the field.
Q: What advice would you give to others looking to reach your level of success?
A: Study the animal.
Q: Why are your dogs exceptional?
A: We think our dogs are exceptional because we continually teach them things. Our daily goal is to keep our dog’s minds alert and to teach them to be able to handle challenges with minimal stress. A well-rounded mind, a library of successful experiences, and a physically fit body fueled by good nutrition is the launching pad for canine success.
Q: What do you find most rewarding about the time you spend with your dogs?
A: Dogs are simply honest in everything they do. They show us daily how to appreciate the things that matter most. Hunting with a good bird dog also builds an appreciation for the land, the wildlife, and turns the little moments into the best memories.
Q: If you could train or compete with your dogs anywhere in the world, where
would you choose to go?
A: Our bird dogs have led us from the plains of Oklahoma to the majestic mountains and fields of Montana and all the way down to the sandy mesquite pastures of south Texas. We are happy to follow our bird dogs anywhere in the pursuit of wild birds, confident the experience will be a memory to treasure.
Q: What do you think it takes to get your dogs to perform at the highest level?
A: Focus, mindset, training, and nutrition are the 4 cornerstones of any top-level athlete and that includes our canine teammates.
Q: Of all the dogs you’ve had, which one has had the biggest impact on you and why?
A: It is hard to say which particular bird dog has had the biggest impact on our lives as each one leaves us with new knowledge and unique memories. However, if it were not for one particular German Shorthair Pointer, we probably would have never met, married, and developed our kennel and training program into what it is today. Again, bird dogs shape our lives!
Q: Please list any notable awards & accomplishments
A: We recently wrote “Training Bird Dogs with Ronnie Smith Kennels” with the very talented Reid Bryant. This book walks bird dog owners through the process of developing a young bird dog and taking their dog each step of the way through our complete training format. Brian Grossenbacher did a fantastic job showcasing the dogs, the land, and our lifestyle as bird dog trainers. It is a product of lots of hours of work and we think we’ve boiled it down to the most important things that a bird dog owner should know about their dog.
Nestle Purina has a Sponsorship Agreement with this Individual.