This is the story of a young Labrador retriever named Ben. It is also, and more importantly to me, about his trainer, John Caldwell.
John makes no bones about the fact that even though Ben lives in his house, he is not his dog.
According to John, Ben belongs to his wife, Sue.
John told me one day in the duck blind, “If it weren’t for Sue, we wouldn’t have this dog.”
For the 22 years I have known the Caldwells, owning and training the finest hunting Labs in the land has been a major part of their lives.
Ben is only several months old as I write this story and already he is showing signs of his impressive lineage.
On opening day of duck season I was fortunate enough to have been invited to join John and Ben in the blind.
Early on I made one of those shots that defy explanation. I killed two teal with one shot. Both birds fell behind the blind in dense cover.
Ben could not see the birds fold, much less see where they fell.
The Master dog trainer took his pup out to see how well he would hunt for dead birds.
“This is a first,” John said. “We have not had real ducks to work with.”