For years the intersection of Bower and Osborne in Bridge City Texas has been home to many a great duck dog and a great dog trainer. Dow Gene Anderson has trained dogs for more years than he can remember and he’s helped even more hunters train their own dogs. Dow’s skills as a dog trainer were picked up by his son Jody at an early age and that has turned into a great partnership between father and son. Both men are supremely talented and knowledgeable in the field of training and canine obedience. There have been many award winning dogs get their start in the Anderson kennels over the years but lately a new trainer has stolen the spotlight and shown the potential for an impressive career as well. The newest trainer in the Anderson fold is none other than 7 year old Ava Anderson, Jody’s daughter. Miss Ava has taken to the sport of retriever training like nobody’s business and she shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Recently the Anderson clan took several of their dogs over to Welsh Louisiana to compete in a sanctioned hunt test. These tests are set up to simulate hunting situations and give trainers a chance to compete against a course where their control of their dogs is measured by a panel of judges. Different levels from puppy to accomplished champions are routinely on display at these events and to watch them perform is nothing short of amazing. The amount of time these trainers spend with these animals and the patience they exhibit is incredible. Miss Ava’s talent for the sport at such a young age is rare and truly impressive. At the event in Welsh she opened a bunch of eyes and blew away the judges with not only her demeanor but with her confidence and attitude. “When Ava walked up with the first dog she ran the judges were a little skeptical at first” said her dad Jody. “The judges could not believe I was going to let my daughter run a dog that I was training for a client in the contest. They couldn’t believe it until she did it, and then did it again with 2 more dogs. By the time she was done there was a huge crowd watching and everyone was cheering when she was done. I had to hide during each run so the dogs wouldn’t see me or smell me, so they would know Ava was in control. I was so nervous I thought my heart was going jump out of my chest before it was over!” said Jody. “When she finished everybody wanted to take pictures or talk to her but she was too busy taking care of other dogs that we were getting ready to run, she is 100% all business when she gets out there” he added.

Seven year old Ava Anderson puts one of her dogs through it's paces during training.

Seven year old Ava Anderson puts one of her dogs through it’s paces during training.

  Once the test was finished Ava actually got a chance to talk to some of the folks that she had impressed. The judges awarded her the distinction of being recognized as the “Top Jr. Handler” of the event. Chad Newcomer of Fat Lady game calls had a dog running the test and was also in attendance. Chad was another one of the many who were blown away at Ava’s performance. The folks at Fat Lady are really big on promoting youth in the outdoors and watching a girl that young do the things she was doing really falls right in line with what they preach. Everyone in attendance at the hunt test knew Ava’s name by the time it was over and they will certainly be looking for her and her dogs at the next event.

I recently got to get a firsthand look at Ava in action one afternoon at a training session. Jody and his dad, Dow Gene, operate Duck Dog Kennels in Bridge City and they train dogs for customers all over Texas and Louisiana. Ava fits right in and doesn’t shy away from any task or work she’s asked to take care of. It’s amazing to watch her take a dog that outweighs her by 30 or 40 pounds and put it through its paces like a seasoned vet. “Don’t let that big smile fool you, she’s tough and doesn’t put up with any foolishness” said Dow Gene. His description hit the nail right on the head. At first glance this pretty little dark haired girl in camo looks like she was dropped out of a catalog and is modeling outdoor fashion. Nothing could be farther from the truth; she means business and knows what to do to make it happen. Her accomplishments in the field have even impressed her Grand paw Dow Gene to the point I don’t think he can button his shirt anymore he’s so proud. The smile on his face when he watches her with those dogs is just about as good as it gets.

This Anderson trio will be on the road again soon with their current batch of dogs in training and you can bet Miss Ava will be right in the middle of the action. There is a bright future for Ava in the sport and she couldn’t be any luckier to have her dad and Grand paw showing her the ropes.

Photo – Three generations of dog trainers (L to R) Jody Anderson, Ava Anderson, and Dow Gene Anderson.