Sharon Bamford (nee Price)...... I was brought up in the world of dogs with my parents showing, training & living with dogs all through my childhood. My father being an obedience & retrieving judge.
My first dog, when my family had just begun was a German Shepherd, over 33 years ago. I was very interested in obedience at that stage, always wanting to become involved in the "dog world". I seemed to be good at training my dog for obedience. I entered Remington in three obedience trials & got 3 qualifying scores, was very rewarding. However I soon realised that competing in dog competions & raising a family didn't run smoothly, both very time consuming, so one had to go! As my growing family needed my utmost attention, the dogs had to wait. I made a conscious decision that after rearing my family I would get back into the sport & this time it would be with a "gundog", specifically a Labrador to concentrate on obedience & retrieving, not knowing anything about Chesapeake Bay Retrievers at that stage.
I was given a Labrador as a gift by my aunty & husband, when all my children were adults. When my daughter finally flew the nest, I suffered from the dreaded "empty nest syndrome". This is when Gypsy came into my life. My focus had now changed from my children to my dog. She became & is now my best four legged friend & we love competing in field retrieving, using substitute game.
It was at that time that I became involved in the Ipswich Dog Obedience Club (IDOC) becoming an instructor & a committee member.
Gypsy lost interest in the obedience area so I concentrated on the retrieving side, this she loved. They say the first dog is always the hardest to train, much like children! When Gyps had her first litter I gave one of her pups to a a dear friend who has cerebral palsy, quadriplegia. This was the start of the journey for training a dog to be anassistance dog, helping the disabled. It was challenging and very rewarding, achieving accreditaion through Canine Helpers. This experience has led me to work with them, donating and training dogs. A dream job that I have always strived to obtain. I have now had 5 dogs go to work in this area.
As my enthusiasm grew for training and competing, I felt the need for a training challenge & to explore my other chosen breed of dog. It was time to move on to the next stage of my long term "kennel" plan. Hence Missy came into my life, a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. I chose this breed because it is the only other retriever that I ever contemplated owning and training. The CBR is a breed more independant & head strong than a Lab. A "harder" dog. A breed that is loyal if treated correctly & more of a challenge to train, yet if trained successful is well & truely rewarding to their owner. I have done a lot of research on the breed, talking to people who know them well. The more I found out the more I was determined to get one. It has certainly been fun and very rewarding owning and training both my Labs and CBR's. I now have a new goal, breeding and training Labradors to assist the disabled, concentrating on temperament, companionship and a cherished part of the family, and my Chessies to be working dogs in all aspects of dog sports.
I am at my happiest when with my dogs, they bring me so much joy. I find this is the only time I don't focus on the negatives of what life brings but look at what I can achieve. I could not think of life without them being a big part of my life.