My Way Holly

Todd Agnew understands dogs, no doubt about that.  I suspect he finds his clients more perplexing.  Well, us anyway.  Todd has his hands full with the Fields family.  Holly, our beloved English Cocker Spaniel, is a handful.  My husband, Art, is a handful.  And, I, first time dog owner, have issues of my own. 
 
Let me start with Holly.  Holly knew Todd before she knew us.  We bought her from Craney Hill Kennel just after her first birthday.  We understood that she is small for her breed, craves attention (true to her breeding), and LOVES birds. 
 
Next, meet Art: avid hunter, a real guys’ guy, big, burly and set in his ways.  Art has had dogs most of his life and believes that having a dog makes hunting infinitely more pleasurable.  Art likes to talk to his dogs in the field.  I mention this only because Todd believes that talking to your dog while hunting is not only unnecessary, but also counterproductive.  When Todd encouraged Art to keep the chatter to a minimum, my husband simply replied, “I like to talk to my dogs,” causing Todd to be the one to “zip it.”  Todd’s a smart guy. 
 
Then, there is me.  I never considered myself a “dog person.”  About the time I sensed I had fended off Art’s longing for a hunting companion as long as I could, Art became enamored with English Cockers.  Research and inquiries led us to Craney Hill and Holly.  Fast forward, and I am now a doting dog mom–brushing Holly’s shiny black hair, dressing her in her adorable Barbour coat when weather permits, and telling her that she is the prettiest girl in the world.  Holly is hunter/pet or pet/hunter depending on which of us you ask.
 
Holly came to us with basic training and returned to Craney Hill for more advanced training when she was age appropriate.  She spent six weeks with Todd last summer focusing on training issues that Todd and Art had agreed upon as  priorities for the upcoming dove/duck/quail hunting seasons.  Todd helped Holly get past her fear of swimming and taught her to deliver a bird to the hand. Holly was also fortunate enough to make a trek north in October with the Craney Hill gang and several other client dogs on a grouse hunting adventure.  Art and I joined the group for a couple of days and watched our girl in action in the grouse woods.  It was really a special time – not sure who enjoyed it more. 
 
Todd, a stranger to us nearly two years ago, has become our trusted advisor for all dog training/hunting issues.  It is a joy to watch him with the dogs.  I especially enjoy the Holly/Todd reunions.  Holly clearly understands who is “pack leader” and knows that the clever ploys that work at home are useless with her trainer.  It is equally evident that the student adores the master.  Upon arrival at Craney Hill, Holly catapults herself from the car and races towards Todd.  Her tail wags to beat the band and he bends to welcome her back with a “Hi Sweetie,” which I suspect he thinks no one hears but her.   Todd’s a no nonsense guy; serious about dogs, serious about his work and we never doubt that Holly will come back to us a more skilled and disciplined hunter.  But, more importantly, for me anyway, we leave her knowing that she will be treated well and I imagine, as a nod to me, she may even occasionally be reminded that she’s the prettiest girl in the world.

Julie Fields, Longfield Plantation, SC Art & Holly web 021514_5017

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