When Jerry and I designed our kennel building, we thought long and hard about the size of the runs—both inside and outside. Since our goal was a small yet efficient space, we wanted to keep the number of total runs to 20 but how big to make each run was our conundrum.
After many drawings, lengthy discussions and permutations, we ultimately settled on 16 regular-size runs at 4’ in width and four larger runs at 6’. The larger spaces would be for whelping and raising litters.
An unforeseen benefit has been the opportunity to keep two dogs together in one run. The dogs seem to enjoy it and, in fact, become pals. (Jill and Shaq are currently together as are Prancer and Oscar.) They sniff and nuzzle each other, roll around in their runs and play together with their chew toys. Jerry is careful who gets kenneled together and there is always one male and one female. He also considers size, age and temperament.
Jerry and I walk down to the kennel about 9:00 pm each evening to make one final check and to give all dogs a nightly biscuit. After treats are given in the larger runs, the two pals drink together out of their water bucket, curl up next to each other on the bed and settle in for the night.
Bill Nettles is a field trialer I met several years ago at the Grand National Grouse and Woodcock Invitational. This summer Bill and his wife have been traveling and working dogs and I invited him to spend a few days training with us while he was in Minnesota.
Bill posted the following message on the Cover Dog Message Board about his visit.
“I benefited a lot from a recent visit to Jerry Kolter’s. Jerry did me a kindness as bracemate in the 2001 Invitational, by letting me know that there was ground water around the bend, thus saving me and my dog some time. This was the first chance I have had to look him up.
"Jerry seems to enjoy tutoring even the most minute details about best practices in bird dog training. He showed me how many seemingly trivial and unrelated aspects all fit together to bring out the best in a bird dog. Each day my thoughts ranged from ‘why didn’t I think of that’ to ‘I never knew that’ to ‘I had forgotten that.’ I just hope to remember most of his teaching. There was quite a lot of detail and he is very soft-spoken, the exact opposite of what I need as a slow learner, but I still learned a lot.
"Earl Crangle wrote something about how the better a trainer is the more organized you will find his gear. I could never maintain the obsessive neatness of Jerry’s operation, it is beyond my skills, but I do admire it. I think Jerry handled the last of Earl’s dogs which ran in competition, maybe it was Earl’s influence.
"We did not get to meet Betsy, but for a place to be that organized and clean, I suspected there must be a strong female supervisor involved there.
"This is all said by way of thanking Northwoods Bird Dogs and to state my observations. If anyone gets up there, note his kennel, which has expanded since the website. There is a grouse feather over his logo that is hard to believe. Minnesota must have some huge grouse, and that feather must have come from the granddaddy of them all.”