Jan’s interest in dogs and hunting dates to her childhood. She has fond memories of hunting alongside her father in Nebraska, Kansas and Texas, and, of the many family dogs that helped them through the years.
She began training dogs professionally when she went to work at Security Associates International in 1984, training and handling narcotic detection dogs to seek out contraband in schools and workplaces.
While in her 20s, she became interested in retriever field trials and determined to learn from the best in the business. She worked with Bill and Mary Hillmann at Hawkeye Kennels when they were located in Vermont and with Felix Mock at his Canvasback Kennel in South Carolina. She also worked with Mike Odin in Virginia and North Carolina.
By working firsthand to establish basics with dogs who went on to become field champions, she learned how to quickly assess a dog’s strengths and weaknesses and present the training in the way most likely to get the desired responses.
She also worked with the legendary late Rex Carr and Billy Sargenti in California at Carr Lab Kennels in Escalon, California. Although Rex was a crusty sort who doubted that a woman could train a dog, he eventually conceded that not only could Jan train them, but she had a natural rapport with the dogs that contributed to her success with them.
Having learned from some of the best trainers in the business has given Jan a great toolkit of techniques to draw upon while training. That, coupled with her natural instinct for reading dogs and her kind temperament, make her the best gun dog trainer in California.
“You can’t really learn how to work with a dog just from reading books or watching videos,” Jan says. “There’s no substitute for working hands-on with lots of different dogs. Although there are some breed characteristics, each dog is an individual and his personality has to be taken into account if one is to be an effective trainer.”
By 1994, Jan was ready to strike out on her own and she opened Stonewall Retrievers. She designed the kennel to be a smaller operation so that she could work closely with each dog and its owner.
Young dogs started through her programs have gone on to receive every possible AKC-recognized retriever title including Field Champion, Amateur Field Champion, Master Hunters, Working Certificates and National Retriever Trial Finalists. Jan is equally proud of having trained hundreds of successful hunting dogs with whom their owners enjoy the pleasures of hunting waterfowl and/or upland game birds.
She also enjoys contributing to the California Waterfowl Association and writes the Canine Corner column for the organization’s magazine. She also volunteers with Central California Labrador Retriever Rescue, Habitat for Humanity, and belongs to Ducks Unlimited. In her off hours, she loves hunting, fishing, hiking, and white water rafting.