Sirius Fun!

| June 7, 2011 | 0 Comments
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I first met Terrie Sato as a result of our membership in the Puget Sound Labrador Retriever Club. Terrie has served on the PSLRA board for a number of years and was the club’s president in 2010. She continues to work tirelessly to maintain the PSLRA’s high standards.

From the very first time you meet Terrie you can sense a dedication to excellence in every aspect of her life. When it comes to training her retrievers, she has an attention to detail and a methodical, well-thought-out approach. Terrie has learned that it is the silence between a whistle-command-cast that holds the impact on a working retriever.

Terrie’s Retrievers

Terrie began her love affair with training retrievers in 1994 in the obedience ring where she started her training with her first black Labrador, U-UD Harbortop’s Magic Dragon UD, JH, Can CDX ,TDI “Puff”. Hanging out with Nina Mann (Harbortop Labradors) got Terrie introduced to the Hunt Test game. Nina is a long time Labrador Retriever breeder who sits on the board of the Labrador Retriever Club, Inc. (AKC Labrador Retriever Parent Club) and the board of the PSLRA. Terrie became fascinated watching retrievers do what they were originally bred to do and decided that she wanted to learn how to train her dogs to hunt. Between Puff’s Open and Utility titles Terrie started getting together with other retriever enthusiasts for training days a couple of times a week. Once Terrie and Puff worked together to earn an AKC Junior Hunter title, Terrie was hooked!

Terrie got her next dog in 1995. It was a black Labrador named U-UD SHR Nomad Take The High Road UDX MH TD CC Can CD “Traveler”. Terrie immediately understood that this boy needed a job! She trained him concurrently in tracking and obedience. His first title was his tracking title (TD) but Traveler had a “sense of humor” in the obedience ring which made it a challenge to to get his Utility Dog Excellent (UDX) title. Still not done with the “job”, she trained him in hunting where he earned his Master Hunter title! This was a dog who loved to work! Terrie said he was flashy with a “big water entry”. But it was not all fun and games for Traveler. Terrie initially worked with a professional trainer to help her learn the ropes of handling a dog at higher levels as well as helping her to train Traveler. This professional was heavy handed when came to using an e-collar. Traveler was not responding well to this type of training so Terrie started searching for other avenues. She dropped the pro and found an amateur trainer in the area and continued working with Traveler. Terrie attended a seminar being taught by Connie Cleveland, founder of Dog Trainers Workshop, in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. Connie turned out to be one of Terrie’s biggest influences on her training style. As a result of this seminar, which focused on obedience, Terrie learned that dog training has to make sense. Corrections can only come after the dog fully understands what it is supposed to do and training must be a process where a strong foundation is built before moving forward to advanced techniques.

Terrie’s next dog was a Golden Retriever named Rock’s Great Expectations “Dickens”. Terrie trained Dickens to a Utility Dog and Master Hunter. Unfortunately Dickens life was cut short by a brain tumor. Terrie is currently working with three dogs, Shilshole’s Shiftn Gears *** CD RA MH  “Clutch” (Yellow Labrador), Topbrass Chipotle SH “Chip” (Golden Retriever), and her new little black Labrador “Bravo”.

Terrie’s Philosophy

Terrie describes herself as very goal-oriented. When she is training one of her retrievers she sets specific goals like getting a Master Hunter Title. I asked her about qualifying for things like the Master National and she said that has not been one of her goals yet. She feels like once she gets something like a Master Hunter on one of her dogs, it is time to diversify and have fun doing other activities, like tracking or obedience. Terrie really likes a great all-around retriever that can compete with her in many venues.

From Terrie’s perspective dogs are instilled with skill sets. They need certain skills to move on. If those skills are missing, there is a hole in the foundation that shows up sooner or later (usually at a hunt test or field trial). When Terrie hears people say, “He knows better!” she always wonders if that is true or if something went missing in the training process. Young dogs can appear to understand a concept when they really just made a lucky guess. Because field work is so instinctual to our retrievers, our dogs need to trust us when they run tests. Terrie says “in many ways advanced tests are set up to be contrary to instinct. A good part of training is building credibility with your dog.”

I asked Terrie what she would tell someone who is new to dog training. Terrie said that a good amateur training group can be as effective as placing a dog with a pro. Amateurs share ideas and support each other. Amateur groups are most effective when everyone contributes. You can learn from each others challenges as well as triumphs.

There are also many great resources available to amateurs such as seminars (Mike Lardy, Dave Rorem), training magazines (my favorite would be Retrievers Online by Dennis Voigt – this is not an ‘online magazine’ but means that the dogs are on line to the bird), books, videos, etc. Dog training is really continuing education and it is never boring! And when it comes to actually competing, a little sports psychology doesn’t hurt either.

Terrie says to focus on obedience but make it fun for both you (as the handler) and your retriever. This might seem obvious but Terrie feels you really must love dogs and dog training to be an effective dog trainer. Terrie also believes in seeking out the best mentors to improve your skills. If you want to be a great hunt trainer, go to a hunt test and watch the Master Hunter dogs run. See which ones you like in terms of being under control, happy attitude, etc. Find out who is training that dog and emulate them as much as possible or, even better, try and train with that person to learn from them.

Parting Thoughts

The reason I wanted to introduce you all to Terrie Sato is that I have seen her train and run her dogs in competition. She is an amateur trainer with a professional’s work ethic. Her dedication to her dogs is demonstrated by their success in competition as well as their balanced temperament in the “real world”. It is a real joy for me to watch Terrie and her Golden Retriever Chip work a blind retrieve. He trusts her to guide him to the exact spot where the downed bird is located. This is accomplished with a strong foundation in obedience not the latest e-collar set to 10! The thing I most respect about the way Terrie trains her retrievers is that she builds the foundation on a bedrock of obedience. Her dogs are just as accomplished in the obedience ring as they are in the field.

Now get out there and start your journey with your retriever! Over the coming months I will share my progress in hunt training some of our Misty Mountain Labradors.

Category : People Profiles

About the Author ()

I am one of the founders and editor of Retriever Life. My passion is Labradors of all sizes and shapes but I am a big fan of all the retriever breeds.

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