Learning While Training – Biography of a Bird Dog

My brother has just published his first book: Biography of a Bird Dog.

I’ve been reading it out on the boat this week in between professional journals, etc. His book is about the first year of the formal and informal learning that is occurring while training his pup to become a bird dog. The dog is learning and so is he.

I find all of the parallels to my profession intriguing.

Garry is involved in formal learning also…but in an educational setting…in a nursing program. Here is his bio from his new web site at: http://www.birddogbio.com/index.html

Garry Wallace has a Master of Arts in Zoology from the University of Montana and a Master in Fine Arts in Nonfiction Writing and Literature from Bennington College. He has been a member of the Biology Department at Northwest College, Powell, Wyoming, since 1987. After earning the M.F.A. in 2001, Introduction to Composition became a regular part of his teaching load.

He says, “Teaching writing is a lot different than teaching biology. Biology is more didactic and requires a highly technical vocabulary. I see it as a left-brain discipline. English, although didactic in its own right, is less formal and requires more right-brain ways of problem solving.

Author Garry Wallace tells of his experience training VG (Valley Girl) to be a bird dog. VG is an AKC registered female Labrador retriever, born May 10, 2003. For the next eight months, Wallace kept a daily journal he titled “Project VG,” in which he recorded the events that stuck in his mind: stages in the pup’s development; her harassment of the author’s faithful, nine-year-old retriever, Ebenezer; the pup’s successes and failures; the author’s satisfactions and frustrations with VG’s progress; and the sadness of Ebenezer’s slow decline.

A day or two after each journal entry, Wallace hand-wrote the first, rough draft of what became Biography of a Bird Dog (A Labrador Retriever in Wyoming). To help facilitate his recollection of events and have a photo album of VG’s life, Wallace purchased a digital camera that captured still images and short movies of VG and Ebenezer, the author’s two Wyoming dogs.

As time went on and the manuscript grew to almost 1000 pages, Wallace began the mind-boggling process of cutting the story down to size. If he could not find an apt title for the chapter, he eliminated it from the book. As he fine-tuned the writing, the author—a student of philosophy and neuroscience—discovered that the story of VG’s early life was nothing less than a lesson in thought and mind, in both dogs and in people. Not only did Wallace find a way to express his philosophy of life as he told VG’s story, but he also learned why dogs are so important in people’s lives, as he writes in the book, “Dogs are man’s best friends for a reason.”

Biography of a Bird Dog is not a training manual, but it surely would be of interest to anyone preparing to train a dog for upland bird and waterfowl hunting. So, what is Biography of a Bird Dog? It is a nearly seamless story of a man’s attempt to help his pup achieve the potential of her breed, that is, to be an accomplished Labrador Retriever.

That this story takes place in Wyoming is, well, icing on the cake. Wyoming is the kind of place where a dog can be a dog and a man can be a somewhat wild man.

To read more or place an order – go to:


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