Dog Stories: Chester

In late 2008, I placed a deposit on a breeding that Kim Pfister had put together for a chocolate-factored black male, which I was very excited about. Unfortunately when the litter was born, there weren’t enough boys to go around so I had to resume my search. After a lot of looking, I finally came across a planned litter that caught my eye. FC HRCH Watermark’s Texas Welcome MH had been bred to Lock Five’s April Foolya MH- bred in Tennessee by David and Kara McMahan. I called right away and much to my delight, the litter had JUST been born that day, and it was a big litter! The description of the qualities of Howdy and Tricky matched what I was seeking, and there was a black male available. We placed a deposit and decided to name our boy Winchester- Chester for short.

I might have been a bit of a difficult client as I recall describing in great detail what we were looking for, especially with regards to structure (I even sent a drawing! haha). A couple of months later, Tim drove down to Vancouver to pick our new guy up from the airport- and called to say ‘He’s a little funny looking!” I hadn’t seen any photos of the puppies growing up, so I was a bit worried about what this might mean. But when Tim arrived home with Chester, it was love at first sight- he was the most beautiful dog I’d ever seen! Oh sure, he had big hound dog ears, a long skinny tail, and very long legs- but there was just something about him that was very striking.

He was the best puppy ever- never had any accidents, wasn’t interested in chewing things he shouldn’t, never pulled on the leash and was really relaxed in the house- he’d often find a mat by the door for a nap while we went about our day. All the other dogs loved him too. As Chester grew, it became apparently that he wasn’t just a big puppy, he was going to be a rather large adult dog too. He grew into those long legs, ears and tail and became a terrifically handsome, photogenic dog. He also nearly perfectly matched the drawing I’d sent his breeders when asking them to choose a puppy for us.

Chester started his competitive career in rally obedience. As is often the case, we dove into our first trial about a week after learning the sport even existed thanks to a few quick lessons from friends. Long story short- his work was pretty good but he peed on my leg at the very end of the course. A very memorable day! Chester’s agility debut went much better. He q’d his first jumpers run and it was at that point when I realized how scary it is to run a really fast, really big dog in agility- trials brought out a level of excitement and speed even beyond what he provided in training. Front crosses and blind causes were executed with caution at risk of being crushed! But, even with that extra excitement, Chester always has had great self control. Without too much trouble, Chester earned his first agility title, and then we went back to rally (after proper practice this time) and finished his novice title. He learned about dog sledding- slow and casual at first, as though he wasn’t sure if he was allowed to pull, but then he learned it was fun to run fast and became one of the craziest dogs to hook up- so much so that it wasn’t very safe for the other dogs and he got ‘fired’ and is no longer allowed to run with a big team.

Chester also spent time in the fall hunting grouse with Tim and I, and his first duck hunt was epic- his first retrieve was a wounded diving duck who was a master of evasion, going under the water and popping up behind him and onto Chester’s back several times- but Chester stuck with him and was extremely proud when he finally was able to deliver him. He learned nosework and passed his DOT, and earned his canine good neighbor certificate. In his first year of dock diving, Chester showed off his dock-diving skills by winning the BC x-treme air Amateur championship with handler Leanne Dixon and then moved up a division at the Canadian championship to earn a 2nd in semipro. The following year he won the Semi-Pro division with handler Tim, and the year after that, was the Pro division winner with me as handler.

A knee injury and repair at age 9 has sidelined Chester from the more intense sports, though he healed well, it’s a precaution because even with advanced age, his drive and speed are still there. He has, however, continued to compete in rally and nosework, and added obedience to his arsenal with 2 high in trial awards. At age 11, he is currently helping me earn my professional dog trainer designation by being my project dog through the Karen Pryor Academy program. Chester does still hunt too, but his most important role is farm hand and snuggle captain. He helps to do chores each morning and is the first to ask to go to bed at night. Yes- this big lug sleeps on the bed!

Chester, also known as Bigs, Big Cheese, or Cheese-ball, has produced fabulous puppies for our breeding program. He has provided a valuable improvement in structure in our line and his puppies tend to have his very social, trustworthy temperament along with his high drive and sometimes even his self-control. They’ve done famously in flyball, agility, hunt tests & field trials, obedience, rally and dock diving, and is the sire (and grand-sire) to many search and rescue dogs. Chester is the sire to our first ever CKC Grand Master Hunter Sidney! Chester has retired as a stud dog now but we have plenty of his lineage ongoing- with daughter Viper, son Pickle, grand daughters Avi, Vanilla, Mezzy, and Blaze; and great grand-daughter Fergie. But, above all of this, Chester’s primary job is as our side-kick.

Chester is always very interested in meeting any puppies that are born here and helps with their socialization- he logged more miles in my van helping on puppy delivery trips than I can count and surprised me the first time that he became very protective when a creepy stranger approached me and the pups on a pit stop. Chester’s one true vice is that he was an incorrigible counter-surfer. He was very stealthy and has eaten several pies, pizza, bread, plain flour, a tub of margarine and his crowning achievement – 53 pheasant eggs, which sadly marked the demise of our pheasant breeding program. By the virtue of age- and good management that broke the habit- Chester no longer counter surfs and is enjoying finally having free run of the house in his double digit years.

Chester is a creature of habit and each evening, likes to spend his down-time by sucking on a stuffy. At around 9 pm, he takes his ‘baby’ and goes to bed in order to ensure he gets the best spot, which at his size is more or less the whole bed. Chester is often a favorite of visitors to Eromit Acres as he enjoys performing his tricks and is always quick to encourage a new friend to throw his ball or stick (or entire tree, depending on what he finds nearby!) Everyone should be so lucky as to have a dog like this in their life.

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