Jim Bennett

Do great trainers make great dogs or do great dogs make great trainers? Is there such as a thing as a “Dog of a Lifetime?” I had one breeder tell me that all of his dogs are great because they come from a great line. But dogs of a lifetime? I once hunted with a guy who claimed he had the best dog ever. We let the dog out and it took off flushing pheasants over the hill. Later we found him asleep under the car. After locking the “best dog ever” in his car we took off after scattered birds. Upon return there was his dog asleep on the front seat with most of the steering wheel chewed off and a big hole chewed in the driver’s seat, so big the dog’s owner could barely see the road over the dash.

February 11, 2023 will mark what would have been my “Dog of a Lifetime”, Bing’s 50th birthday. Retrieving 35 ducks, a couple under ice when he was 8 months old, catching pheasants while out hunting, constantly retrieving wounded ducks I never shot, outperforming a black lab on a hunt a couple days before it was to attempt to qualify for the nationals made Bing my “dog of lifetime”. A Springador, 41 pounds soaking wet, there’s video of him of making amazing retrieves on TV outdoor shows.

Charlie Elleffsen retired dog breeder, trainer and friend since college was the originator of what’s recognized as the “Oldest” running duck camp in Wisconsin. Charlie gave up that camp to hunt Jimmy Robinson’s world famous Canadian duck camp. Charlie is a firm believer in lineage. 

“It starts out with the line of dogs. My dogs have champions in its lineage several generations back. But you have to start the pup out right. A dog of a lifetime has to have a strong prey drive. I’ve got a dog now that that fishes up at the cabin all day because the hunting season is closed and it catches fish.  I’ve had several great dogs, but every dog is different so there are variables that good training can remedy.”

Josh Miller is a nationally known dog trainer and speaker at major outdoor events who was friends and hunting buddy with my son, Josh Bennett for years before Miller became nationally known. What got Miller his fame? Easton became WORLD CHAMPION shed hunter, which launched Miller’s career. Josh gives Easton all the credit for his success. Now owner of River Stone Kennels, Miller imports British labs.

For the people I mentioned above the dog of a lifetime is proven against the best dogs in the WORLD. For others the dog of lifetime might be a beagle that chases rabbits for a kid or a pup that falls asleep on the floor next to a three year old. Is that dog of a lifetime a mythical search anyway or maybe not?


Jim Bennett is an outdoorsman who lives and worked in the St. Croix River Valley and can be reached at jamesbennett24@gmail.com

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