My love and admiration for hunting dogs started at a very early age. My dad, Al Ruppel, loved almost every kind of outdoor experience, especially when it involved hunting. His first love was archery hunting, because it took him away from the real world into the natural world. His second love was bird hunting with his Brittanys. His appreciation for good dog work and bird hunting rubbed off on me. In the late 1960's I started archery and bird hunting with my dad, and before long I was hooked on both sports. Since then I have enjoyed many archery hunts, but my primary focus has been dedicating my life to training hunting dogs.
In 1984 I had a cabinet shop in Glenwood Springs Colorado, at about that time I had to have major back surgery. The doctor told me it would be a good idea to find a new occupation that would not jeopardize the future of my back. That's when Mike Gould, a world class gun dog breeder and trainer, started to develop a high dollar shooting and hunting venue in the Roaring Fork valley. Mike asked me if I would consider running the kennel for this operation. I decided after some consideration that I did not have much to loose, it was the best decision I have ever made.
I knew Mike to be a good, honest, honorable, hard working man. He knew more about dog training methods and bird dogs than anyone I had met in my thirty years on earth and he was someone I could see myself working for. Mike turned into more than a friend, he was and still is my mentor. Mike and the dogs are the ones who have taught me more about training and life than any books, videos or other training programs that I have studied over the years. Mike brought a fresh approach, a soft hand and voice, which brought me to a better understanding of the canine mind and early development. Mike not only put a great foundation in me to be a good dog trainer, he taught me about genetics, temperament, train-ability and all the other great qualities we strive for in our breeding program.
Mike introduced me to the Grand River Labradors and Elhew English Pointers. He has worked on the Grand River program for over forty years and Bob Wehle worked on the Ehlew Pointer program for over sixty years. That being said, I believe these two men made a paramount difference in the dogs we have today, two of the best gun dog breeders in the country! Thanks Mike and Bob!
Another man that influenced me was the late Bill Tarrant, gun dog editor for Field and Stream Magazine. In the late eighties Bill came to interview Mike Gould at Upland Mesa, a bird hunting and fishing venue on the Roaring Fork River, about Mike's dog training philosophy. Bill was on a mission, to take the abuse and brutality out of dog training. Part of that mission was to pick a handful of trainers throughout the country to help him change the minds and training methods of the old school, controlled style of training, and to send this message to the general public. This is why Bill came to interview Mike Gould. During these interviews I was an observer, listening to Mike and Bill talk about training, stories of bird dogs and hunting adventures which was truly an educating experience, it changed my outlook on life and dog training forever. Thank you Mike Gould and Bill Tarrant for starting me down road to be a better person and dog trainer.
In the last thirty five years, my dog training program has evolved into a better and longer lasting program without a heavy hand or loud voice. The dogs have taught me patience, understanding, unconditional love, loyalty and how to think like a dog. Now my daughter Eryn is training dogs with me, I can in part all of my knowledge and experience to the next generation and hope to continue to make the world a better place for the dogs and their owners.