combo PictureRebel .. When I joined the Marine Corps at the age of nineteen, I expected to meet new friends and make plenty of life memories with fellow Marines. All of that happened, but I never expected to become as close to one person as I did. He’s not your typical guy-friend; he was my military-issued friend named Rebel – my bomb dog for two years in the Marines. Dogs are man’s best friend; they love you no matter what and will put your own life before theirs every time.

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Army 1 Dog 150x150During my last tour in Afghanistan. Rebel and I completed over 200 combat patrols in the Helmand Province near the Pakistani border. During patrols, Rebel would work off-leash no more than 100 yards away and no closer than 25 yards to me, searching the roads for IEDs used by the Taliban. During our time together, Rebel and I found two IED’s thereby preventing American lives from being lost. One day on a patrol, we stopped to reestablish communications with our patrol base. I was looking back at my buddy and laughing while we walked to paying attention. I turned back around and suddenly stopped. What I saw was Rebel lying down, giving his sign that he had found an IED, As I searched the area around me, I looked down next to my feet to see a pressure plate that would ignite the IED no more than 9 inches from my boot. I realize that my best friend, a stubborn Yellow Labrador Retriever, had just saved my life.

During my last day in Afghanistan with Rebel, we were at the veterinarian’s office doing his physical and she handed me adoption papers and said, “It’s a long chance that you will ever be able to adopt him, but it doesn’t hurt to fill out the paperwork.” A couple of weeks later, I received a Facebook message from a guy named Jake Coon, who told me that he worked at the Kennel where Rebel was born and trained. So I searched the name of the kennel and contacted Kenny Fulks from Coyote Creek Retrievers in Eugene, Oregon. We talked for 30 minutes about Rebel and how much I loved him. I told Kenny how that I would probably never be able to adopt Rebel, so I asked him if he was breeding any litters that would be related to Rebel so that I at least would have something to remember him by besides pictures. He told me that yes, he was actually getting ready to breed Rebel’s’parents, Buck and Sadle again!

Army 3 DogAfter 10 weeks of waiting, I was finally able to pick up my puppy from Mr. Fulks. I named the little guy Rowdy and I was so excited to have him. Rowdy looked just like Rebel and even had the same stubbornness I had grown to love so much. During all this time, my parents had written a letter to Congressmen Posey about helping their son adopt his beloved bomb dog Rebel. I got out of the Marines on October 11, 2012 and later received a call from the Head of the Department of Military Working Dogs to inform me that I had been approved to adopt Rebel. Not even a week later, I grabbed my bags and drove up to Virginia to pick up Rebel. It was the happiest day of my life, without a doubt. That winter, he was with me every time I went duck hunting, which he obviously enjoyed a lot more than searching for bombs.

These days, Rebel enjoys his retirement with his now 8-month-old little brother Rowdy and his best friend. There is no greater companionship than the one between man and dog. I’ve seen firsthand how a dog will put himself in harm’s way to protect his human because they love you more than life itself. I’m blessed to have these two great dogs in my life —two dogs who love me and don’t ever want anything in return apart from taking them hunting or playing fetch. —Brent Cochran

Abston PhotoMaya … We are so thankful that we discovered Coyote Creek Retrievers (CCR). We have now had two of our Labrador Retrievers trained at CCR. We are delighted with the results. The CCR training and handling approach is very gentle. Jim, Maxine and Kenny Fulks all seem to have a naturally calming effect on the dogs.

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Maya 1 In 1998 Jim and Maxine trained Cassie, our first lab. Cassie was a terrific family dog and was loved by all who knew her. She always received compliments about her obedient behavior and gentle nature. After Cassie passed, we knew we wanted to find another lab, but one that would have even more natural drive to hunt. Our kids are 15 and 18, so now hunting is a more realistic family activity now than when Cassie was with us.

Maya joined our family in May of 2009. For such a small puppy, Maya was thriving and listening well and we were quite sure with our past experience and access to training videos, we could train her by ourselves. Well by August of 2009, we were having doubts about even keeping Maya!

Maya 3Maya had quit responding to her name in August, and when September rolled around “Demon” was more commonly used than Maya. We knew we had two choices, 1.) Take her to Coyote Creek Retrievers for training, or 2.) Find someone who wanted an unruly family dog. We feel strongly about commitments, so even though Coyote Creek Retrievers is 150 miles from our home, we thought we would try. We expressed our doubts of Maya’s abilities, and asked Jim and Kenny to be candid with their initial assessment.

To our relief, Jim and Kenny both felt that Maya was trainable. She really enjoyed the CCR hunting drills from the get go. Within one month at CCR, they had transformed her into an obedient dog! We found this a true miracle, as did those who saw her prior to her training at CCR. As Maya continued with gun dog training, she began to thrive. Her natural instincts are definitely as a hunter. She is a go-getter. It was thrilling to see her enthusiasm doing something she loves and even more thrilling for us to be able to control that enthusiasm!

Maya 2Kenny Fulks has done such a fantastic job training Maya. We never had any intention of doing hunt tests with Maya, but we have embraced Maya’s new skills and are now excited to have the opportunity to test them. Maya’s first bird hunt was when she was 10 months old. On her first hunt she started quartering very well. She began using her instincts even more after the finding the first bird. She excelled as the day progressed. Our group got six pheasants, even with horrible weather conditions.

Kenny has a fun loving personality. Puppies and dogs are very responsive to Kenny. It’s a joy to watch him work with the dogs. Kenny also exhibited patience while he trained us how to work with Maya. He is encouraging to canine and humans alike! This is very much appreciated and is one of the reasons we are fans of CCR.

Maya is now assimilating back to our home life, though we can tell she misses CCR and Kenny. We are continuing to work on training drills with Maya at home, but we prefer the training grounds and personal “coaching” we get at CCR. Even with the long distance to Eugene, we frequently travel to CCR to ensure Maya’s skills are maintained. We appreciate all the time and energy Kenny has invested to get Maya to this stage!

Now that Maya has been trained by CCR, our entire family focus has changed. While we embraced her personality and had hoped she would be a good hunter, with Coyote Creek Retriever’s help, she has far exceeded our expectations. With her natural abilities and drive, we now know we want to continue being very dedicated to keeping her skills sharp.

We could never begin to express our thankfulness to the outstanding training experience of CCR! Believe it or not, we’re now thinking Maya will have puppies in the future and we will keep another one for Kenny to train! Remember that this is the dog we once thought was a “Demon” and now we can’t get enough of working with her. Thank you,

The Abston Family

Gracie PhotoGracie … One day Deb and Katelyn Kelley, my wife and my daughter, decided to visit a local breeder and picked out a beautiful yellow lab puppy. She fit right in to the family very quickly. We named her Gracie Bella.


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Gracie 2As a puppie, Gracie was going to need training. I have attempted to train two other dogs with varying degrees of failure and success; however, these dogs were never put to the test of bird hunting. Our family agreed that Gracie was going to be different. I picked the brains of friends who had pointing breeds, and reread the recommended dog training books by Richard A. Wolters. Thus armed, I set out to train Gracie firmly believing my approach would be successful. It was soon apparent that my intermittent training schedule was not going to work. I needed help.

I found Coyote Creek Retrievers on the web and contacted them. I asked if I could come out and have them “evaluate” my dog for training consideration. I met Jim and Kenny and they made me feel right at home. They explained their training process and listened to my concerns and doubts. With every concern I had, they had a plan and they had no doubts.

Gracie 4Jim ran a client dog, Lola, through some skill sets and I was very impressed with his calm demeanor. Kenny handled the other dogs with a calm voice too, and with a positive attitude he uses everyday.

I still was not totally convinced leaving my dog there was the right thing to do. After all I had just met these guys, and Gracie is family. I took Gracie hunting again and she performed with sporadic enthusiasm and mixed skills. It was clear she had good instincts, but needed training to be a really good hunting dog.

I emailed Kenny with lots of questions. He responded quickly, answering all my questions. I also spoke with Jim again, and he assured me that the more Gracie practiced bad habits, the more they would be reinforced and the more difficult they would be to correct. That’s what pushed me to take her out the following Saturday. I was convinced she needed professional training.

Gracie 1Leaving her was awful. Kenny was ready to take Gracie on and broke my tension with his humor, kidding me about “leaving my girl.” I didn’t want to distract Gracie for the first few weeks, so visiting her was limited by my choice. I think by doing that, it helped keep her focused on her new life style as a retriever. Then I became more involved with Gracie’s training with Kenny training me. Yes, I needed to be trained! For Kenny, this has probably been harder than her force fetch drills!

It has been three months of training now. With every month that Gracie has been at Coyote Creek Retrievers, she has shown so much improvement. Kenny has done a tremendous job from force fetch, backs, to sit-to-shot. I am amazed with what Gracie can now do! When I saw Lola that day months ago doing backs, I thought, “How cool is that, but not my dog.” Now I am thinking, ”Oh yes…my dog!” She has the desire to run 200 yard gunner drills, she loves water retrieves, and on every retrieve she comes back to a heal position, sits, and holds delivering the bird or bumper to hand! I could go on and on, she does push/pull drills, marks, blinds, etc. but you all know what a dog can do with good training.

I can’t say enough about Kenny sharing his time and knowledge. He has changed our life with Gracie, and I now have a true hunting retriever and best friend!

Coco PhotoCoco … I have had the pleasure to own two dogs from Coyote Creek Retrievers. I purchased my first dog in August of 2000, an 8 week old chocolate lab that we would call Coco. Coco was eager to learn and I found out quickly that he would do a great job at his most important task and that was being a wonderful family dog.

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Coco 1I had two small daughters at the time and they loved him, played with him, and he enjoyed every minute of it. I also learned quickly that Coco was an amazing hunting dog. I took Coco on his first hunts that fall. On his second hunt a person came up to me and offered me 4 times what I had paid for him because they could not believe the drive and the nose that dog had.

I hunted waterfowl with Coco for 9 seasons. Each of those seasons he would retrieve several hundred ducks and geese. He was always birdie and I would not need to watch the sky as he would do it for me and I could tell if birds where getting close. He was also the fastest dog to a retrieve. He would charge so hard after a bird- other dogs did not have a chance. His nose was amazing. I can remember early season hunts that we would be shooting over flooded corn that was 6 feet high that he would find every bird.

Coco also did an amazing job upland hunting. That nose did not fail him. He outhunted several grand champions and never failed to find the bird. I received more compliments on his ability to upland hunt.

Coco 2The best thing I can say about Coco is that he was not only an incredible hunter but also an amazing family pet. Sure he had his moments that he reminded my wife of Marley from the movie but he was so good for my daughters and was a faithful companion for me. I called him my once-in-a-lifetime dog and I believe that. I could never thank Coyote Creek enough for selling him to me.

When we sadly had to put Coco down, there was only one breeder I was willing to call for a new puppy. Luck would have it that they had a litter of Yellow Lab puppies and we agreed to take Drake. Drake stayed at Coyote Creek Retrievers until the beginning of November to get a head start on training and for us to prepare to get another Lab.

Three months later Drake is doing well. He is easy to train and the early start that they gave him really helped his ability to learn. Drake did well on his first hunt. I am confident he will be another great dog. He is well loved in our house in is enjoying being a colorful part of our family.

Coco 3Coyote Creek has given me the best hunting dog a person could ask for as well as a best friend. They have introduced me to another amazing dog. I find Jim, Maxine & Kenny easy to work with and I can always tell they truly care about their dogs.

Sooner PhotoSooner … As an avid waterfowl and upland bird hunter, I have raised and trained several Labs including one that was simply fantastic at both hunting and in the field trial game that I tried as a young amateur.  So, when I moved back to Oregon and it came time to look for my next pup, I wondered where I might find the qualities I was looking for in a dog locally.  That is when I discovered Coyote Creek Retrievers and decided to give them a try.

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Sooner 1From my very first call and visit to Coyote Creek Retrievers, I found the Jim & Maxine Fulks to be friendly, knowledgeable, easy to work with, and anxious to deliver the qualities and blood lines that I was looking for in a Lab. These are dog people with years of experience that know what they are doing.

I first saw my dog, Sooner Storm (call name Sooner), on the day he was born, and then again at eight weeks old when he chose me and we returned home together. What I got was a pup that was eager to learn; he was in the blind hunting ducks at 7 months, and he was handling and working great in the field on pheasants by 2 years old. At 6 years old he remains as smart, athletic and energetic as any Lab I have seen. While he handles blinds with no problem, he is the best marking dog I have ever had. All of this wrapped around that happy “live in the home” family Lab personality that we have grown to expect from this special breed.

Sooner 2My family has bagged over 450 birds in every kind of marsh and field cover imaginable in the six years we have had Sooner, and have lost only two birds. Our greatest thrill is watching him dive out of sight under water to get those ducks that try to flee to the depths. My next dog will come from Coyote Creek Retrievers! Don Zeleznik Portland, Oregon

Lola PhotoLola … One day my husband was on his way home from work when he noticed some men out in a field working their Labs.  He stopped to see what was going on, and began talking to them about their dog training process.  At the time, we had a 9 month old female chocolate Lab at home named Lola.  She knew some basic obedience and how to fetch a ball. 

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Lola 1Lola was a good, but basic dog. After spending a few informative hours with Jim and Kenny, my husband came home all excited about having found a place to board our dog when we were on vacation.

A few weeks later, we went on a week vacation and left Lola with Jim & Kenny at Coyote Creek Retrievers. When we came back to pick her up, they showed us what they had been doing with her. Lola was so focused and eager to work for them that it was amazing. Impressed with what we had observed, my husband and I came home to discuss what our next step with Lola was going to be, and how long we should put her in Jim & Kenny’s hands for training. I was very reluctant to leave my “baby girl” in training, but after really thinking it over, we decided to try it out for two months.

Lola 2I would go out to Coyote Creek Retrievers and see her once a week. Each week she was a different dog onto a new step in the training process. I couldn’t believe it was the same dog. After the two months had passed, we saw how happy she was to be doing what she was bred to do. We decided to leave her in school to continue her training. Before I knew it, 2 months had turned into 5 months and I was also in training full time. I never imagined that I would turn my dog over to someone else for training. I never imagined that in doing so, I would become more involved with my dog and completely immersed in training. This experience is more than I thought possible. Coyote Creek Retrievers has become my home away from home. I have formed friendships with everyone at Coyote Creek Retrievers. Especially Kenny, who has been very generous with his time and his knowledge for which I will be forever grateful.

Lola passed her first AKC Junior Hunt Test prior to leaving CCR, and I am planning to finish her Junior Hunter Title in the Spring and early Summer of 2010. I haven’t told Kenny this yet, but am planning on having him guide Lola and me through to a Senior Title. LOL!

Mac and Tyson PhotoMac & Tyson … Jim Fulks was recommended to me in the Spring of 2007 by multiple people at a AKC Hunt Test held in Glide, Oregon.  This was when my dog, Mac, was about 3 months old.  After visiting Coyote Creek Retrievers, it was clear that Jim Fulks was the trainer for me.

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mctyson 4I had been to see other trainers, but Jim wanted clients that would be involved in the training of their dog. This was a much different approach than that of those trainers who said they would need to take my dog for at least 5 months, and whom stipulated that I could come visit my dog only once a month and that was only upon advance notice. I also had heard that Jim was gentle with dogs. Since I loved my pup and I could see Jim work with him, I went with Jim as my trainer.

I have been working with Jim and Maxine Fulks since June of 2007, and I am very grateful that I picked them as trainers. I have learned so much about dog training and have become good friends of Jim & Maxine. Kenny has been a great addition to Coyote Creek Retrievers and is fun to work with. Everyone that works at training dogs will develop their own philosophy about training dogs, and the proper use of “force” when correcting a dog. I can say that after watching Jim work with many dogs that it is clear that he loves dogs; therefore, he does not use more force that needed for the situation.

Mctyson 3I have had a lot of fun training Mac. To learn more, I started helping Jim so I could watch him work with other dogs. This is where I learned how much Jim adapts his teaching to the personality of the dog he was training. He was covering the same lessons, but how he accomplished the tasks was really customized for each dog. Jim has a wealth of situational knowledge that he can tap into as needed. It has been very interesting and educational.

Coyote Creek Retrievers is very family friendly and Jim & Maxine go out of the way to make children feel welcome. I have taken my grandchildren out with me to Coyote Creek Retrievers to watch dog training on many occasions and they were always treated royally by the Fulks.

Mactyson 2Because I enjoy working with the dogs, when I learned that an exceptional puppy they had was up for sale, I could not let him go. I bought him from Jim & Maxine and he has proven to be a really good dog. Tyson’s personality is a lot more user friendly than Mac’s, and he has been a lot easier to work with. Tyson has been a consistent performer in AKC Hunt Tests and earned both his Junior Hunter & Senior Hunter Titles before he was two years old. I look forward to running both dogs in Master Hunt Tests soon.