It began on a warm sunny day in early July 1992, a day that would forever change our lives! We were in the small town of Acampo (about 30
miles south of Sacramento off of US99) looking at a litter of brown puppies, and wound up bringing a small bundle of brown fluff with a little white speck on her
chest, back home with us. Both Joan and I had grown up with dogs, and I had become acquainted with Chessies through my supervisor at work. He was stationed in
Denver and on the frequent flights there for staff meetings I would wind up at his house for pizza and beer with his 2 big Chessies. I had never seen a more
intense dog, protective of the house yet once acquainted was ready to allow you the honor of scratching their heads.
So when Joan and I began looking for a new puppy, my inclination was to see if there were any Chesapeake Bay Retriever litters near our home.
Of the couple litters listed in our newspaper classifieds, the Acampo litter looked to be the most interesting. Because of the little white tuft on her chest (and
because of her grandmother's name) we gave her the name, Star. Before Star, our dogs were simple house pets. I hunted over them in my youth, and we tried to give them
simple obedience training, and a good home.
After getting Star home, we went to the pet store to get puppy food, collar and leash and toys for our new pup. On checking out, I noticed a yellow book
spline with the words "Chesapeake Bay Retriever" on the rack in front of the cashier. This turned out to be "The Complete Chesapeake Bay Retriever" by Eloise Heller Cherry. So
this went into the cart as well. Reading through the book once I got home I noticed several of the dogs in the book were also in Star's pedigree; CH FC AFC Mount Joy's Mallard,
CH FC AFC Tiger's Cub, FC AFC Atom Bob, FC Fireweed's Aleutian Widgeon, FC AFC Aleutian Surf Breaker and so many more. Most, of course a couple generations back, but still our
curiosity was piqued what with all the important looking initials before and after many of the dogs in Star’s pedigree. We decided that we needed to find out what it all meant.
Asking our friends who were more dog savvy than us, it appeared that we needed to go to a dog show and speak to people who competed with their Chessies.
According to the show schedule, the next show in our area was in Reno in the middle of August at the Reno Convention center. So we made plans to attend. For those unfamiliar
with Reno, they have 2 convention centers; The Reno Sparks Convention Center in the south and the Reno Sparks Livestock Convention Center in the north. Naturally, asking
directions for the "Convention Center" put us at the southern building where there was nothing happening. Thankfully, the Atlantis concierge was able to direct us to the livestock
events center. But we arrived there well after the show time for the Chessies. Wandering around we stumbled upon Lisa Van Loo who was showing one of her dogs in obedience. We watched
them compete and explained what we were doing there. Lisa suggested that we might want to drive out to Jim Shine's training grounds as most of the Chessie people would be at a training
day and WD test. Lisa'a directions were pretty good, but lacked a few details. Going north on 395 to the state line was easy. Taking the left turn was easy. Things started to get a
little dicey when we came to the crossing the rail road tracks where the pavement turned into a dirt road. Then came the part about crossing the creek...no bridge. The path just went
through the shallow water. But we finally made our way to a group of cars and a bunch of people with their brown dogs. We were made to feel at home and many of our questions were answered.
Better yet, we were able to watch the dogs perform in the field. I had never seen dogs do what these dogs were doing. I was hooked. From then on, we have had Chessies, training them for
obedience, hunt tests and showing them in confirmation shows. We have traveled much of the western US (California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah and Nevada) attending shows and trials.
We have periodically bred litters from our health tested females, that have produced several titled dogs; including breed champions (confirmation), master hunters (hunt tests), and
utility dog (obedience).
Tom and Joan MacClanahan