On The Road with Jennifer

By Jennifer Broome, QK Owner

It is now the end of February and I have been down south for 6 weeks. February has proven to be another fun-filled busy time and there is a lot to report! On the dog training side I have accomplished a lot. My two German Shorthair pups have been getting worked almost daily. These workouts include yard work for obedience and bird drills, field work for handling and courses with planted birds as well as miles upon miles every week of fitness training roading in harness from my ATV. I am pleased with their progress, but at just under 2.5 years old they are still not ‘broke’ dogs yet so we have a ways to go before running in our goal of Open All Age Field Trials.

On the personal and fitness side I have been rocking it! My health is now strong and I am feeling great. I just completed my 4th week of P90x3 daily fitness training along with regular power walks every other day from 4 to 6 miles. I have focused on a very healthy diet, cut out alcohol to maybe once a week, cut out coffee and am happy to report this 26th day of February I met my March 1st weight goal a few days early! Once I got into this healthy groove it has been easy to follow and I feel wonderful. March will bring new weight goals and lots more working out.

My work and dedication to my QK business remains strong. Because I am no longer in a daily retriever training group spending upwards of 6 hours in the field every day, I have so much more time to spend working. I have enjoyed tackling projects where I can truly focus in my office here and not get interrupted all day with phone calls or employees popping their heads in for help. On our marketing side we have been working on updating our website photos and reaching out more with social media to include Instagram and Facebook thanks to Kate Lussier back at QK.  I have worked diligently with my marketing team at Miranda Creative to design and create new rack cards/brochures for our new products such as our new Norwegian Kelp supplement and our services to include our popular dog Play Care and Puppy Camp. On the creative side we are coming up with fun dog-related t-shirt designs that are sure to be popular with our clients and all dog lovers surfing the web. And lastly, we have been working for several months to launch our new online store and we are just about ready to open in in March, again many thanks to Kate Lussier, QK marketing genius, for her photography work and dedication to this project with Shopify.

What else helps a stressed-out business owner improve her overall self? Good use of quiet time to read and improve business and communication skills. I came from a background studying Wildlife Biology and Management. Never in college did I ever take one business class, a communications class, a marketing or an accounting class! This whole business venture has been trial, error and learning on the fly. Thanks to my business coach and manager, John Ireland of Upfront Analysis, my marketing team at Miranda Creative, and my bookkeeper, Bean Accounting Services’ Jobina Miller, I have been guided and mentored along the way. I take the time to read a lot while on the road, and my reading is not novels or fiction work. I read a lot of self-help books to improve myself and learn more, from dog training books, periodical and monthly publications to very tedious reads about business practices. I take notes and do my very best to constantly improve how I handle conflict and move forward with resolution. I just finished “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith. This book outlines the fundamental problems that come with successful leaders and offers ways to attack these problems. He addresses 20 bad habits of successful people commonly found in the corporate environment and provides a systematic approach to helping you achieve a positive change in behavior (such as Habit #17: Failure to express gratitude). My once small 1-person business, Quinebaug Kennels, has blossomed into a corporation employing upwards of 30 people, and these readings are critical to help me adjust to the growth and help be the best leader that I can to my employees.

On the travel side I have done a few fun adventures in February. On the 9th I drove up to Grand Junction, Tennessee, home of the National Bird Dog Museum and Hall of Fame. I have been told that I MUST visit this place but it is way off the beaten path and certainly a destination place. True to form, in a corner of TN outside of Memphis about 8 hours from North Florida, I found the museum. I had several reasons for this trip. This weekend hosted several exciting events, first to include the 2018 BDHOF inductions of both people and dogs. Judy Rasmusson, a retriever friend and owner of many of the properties that we use here in Florida and Georgia was getting inducted. Judy is so very deserving of this honor with her lifetime of work with retrievers to include training, judging, and competing as an amateur as well as developing and sharing the most incredible properties to the retriever community for training and trialing in Montana, Georgia and Florida. Her celebration dinner and ceremony were so special and I felt honored to share this with Judy and friends.

Rick Smith and HOF Inductuee

The other reason to attend for the weekend was the kick-off of the National Bird Dog Championship at the Ames Plantation. With all of my recent introductions to new dog people in the bird dog world, I had an opportunity to ride the first day of the National! My trip was incredible, and Saturday I spent the entire day at the HOF watching people and dogs get inducted to include Retrievers, Springer and Cocker Spaniels, Setters and Pointers. There was not a dry eye in the place during many of the stories about these incredible people and amazing field dogs. Just about every Who’s Who in the dog sport attends this special event to include many top professional trainers, amateurs, writers, field staff and past HOF inductees. What a collection of famous talent! I got the special honor to hang out with my good friend Mr. Rick Smith, his Dad Mr.Delmar Smith and Mr. Bob West. Delmar was my date for Saturday evening’s dinner at the Ames Plantation Manor House, and whoa did we have fun! At 91 years old Delmar is a Legend and every single person there adores his presence.

Jennifer with Delmar Smith

After that party it was on to the bird dog drawing to choose the running order for the 42 qualifiers for the Nationals. It was a fun event and so exciting to be part of! Sunday was more get-togethers, I got a personal tour of the museum by Rick Smith which was so awesome, and finally a celebration to unveil the oil painting of SunnyHill Jo, last year’s National winner. I felt a new connection to this dog and owner/handler Mr. Gary Lester since I got to train with them not only 2 weeks before! (Just yesterday he was also announced the winner for the 2018 National!). Monday was my big day to ride, I got up at 5 am and was at the grounds by 6:30. I rode one of the paramedic’s spare Tennessee Walking Horses and in the crazy mud after 2 days of solid rain I got to ride in the gallery on the famous Ames Plantation at the National. WOW! I rode both morning and afternoon braces, 3 hours long each brace with 2 dogs per brace. That was 2, twelve mile courses, 24 miles in 6 hours. Whoa was I sore, but had a HUGE smile on my face every minute. It was a weekend with old friends, new friends and new adventures that I will never forget.

Jennifer riding a borrowed horse at the National in Grand Junction, TN

Another fun road trip was a day trip I took last week to watch the Mid-Florida Brittany Club host their field trial. My friends Brenda Roe and Rick Hopkins (from Walnut Hill Kennels and owner of sire to my 2 pups) were competing in this walking trial about 2 hours away from where I stay, so I took the opportunity to go watch, learn and meet new friends. I watched all 4 of the walking Open Limited Gun Dog braces, 8 dogs from atop a jeep and the retrieving portion from the pavilion. This is new to me and my goal is to keep watching and learning so that I can compete with my own two pups in the next year. I watched some nice bird dog and handler work, and congrats to Brenda for winning with your client dog. Next I watched 2 derby braces run while Rick judged and saw some very nice pups. I will be eager to compete on these grounds in the future as my dogs are almost ready!

The last wonderful thing about February was that I finally brought my new horse, Wrangler, home to my farm where I stay. I was really nervous at first and there was some adjustment, however his first meeting with my horse Tex went flawlessly and they soon became good friends. I was really anxious for our first solo ride but it proved just fine and I could not be happier with his training, socializing and exposure to life. Thanks to Caitlin Lee and Winston Way at WW Farms! It has been nearly 2 weeks and I have ridden Wrangler almost every day and took him camping with Tex last weekend. This time to spend with Wrangler to bond and learn about each other is something that I am so grateful for, because once I get back to CT in 4 weeks I hit the ground running and rarely take enough time out for myself. I still need to learn to find a balance between work, play time and relaxation time. That is a hard thing to do when you start your day off with lists of ALL the things you want to accomplish each day. I am trying, and Florida is the time where I get 11 weeks to enjoy time away from the 24 hour kennel business.  I have found my inner peace, my body feels great from the workouts and heath kick, and my soul is just happy with life!

Tex rolling in joy now that he finally has a pasture buddy!