My name is Bennett Sheltra, and yes I am a woman. I live 15 minutes outside Okeechobee, FL.
Me and my husband first met our freshman year of high school, we started dating when we were only 15 years old. As soon as we turned 16 and we’re able to drive legally, we got our first hunting dog. We were Big hog hunters, using dogs to pursue the hogs. We would hunt all night, bring the dogs to school, park our truck in the AG barn and go to class. And as soon as school ended, we were back in the woods.
We has trained and raised all of our hog dogs from puppies and we had a pretty good reputation for our dogs. We were blessed to meet some wonderful people and hunt some incredible places. As we got older, our dogs still remained #1 in our lives. At one point in time we owned 27 hunting dogs. We then got some deer dogs. We dove hunted, and did some waterfowl hunting on occasion at first.
Fast forward to 12 years later, we were married and I had just found out i was pregnant. I started thinking about the future, and my how my son would be due right after dove season. Which meant I would be big and fat while we hunted. Which to some isn’t a big deal, but my husband and myself hunted together and because he was a better shot than me, I was always the “retriever”. So I decided that I wanted a Retriever. And I have always wanted a black Labrador. So that’s when I got Hydro.
When I first got Hydro, all I wanted was a dog to bring me back a bird. I didn’t even know anything about the hunt test world at this time. Most of the Lab puppies I looked at were $1000+ and I just couldn’t understand why they were so much money. (I mean a Retriever is a Retriever right?) I got him from a wonderful breeder up in Cross City, FL (Roberts Country Kennels). They bred pet & hunting Labs. But they’re pedigrees had nothing in them for several generations back. I didn’t care, I knew nothing about that.
I didn’t know what I was doing. I had read several book and watched numerous DVD’s and YouTube tutorials. But I was still hitting brick walls. So I googled local trainers and reached out to them. I found a trainer in Okeechobee, FL (Scott & Amy Cormier, Southern Breeze Gun Dogs) and reached out for them. They were super helpful and coached me everywhere I needed help. They then told me to join the local AKC Retriever Club. When I went and watched all the dogs I was amazed. Who knew a Retriever did more then just retrieve? And that’s when I realized I wanted to push my dog even harder and compete in hunt tests.
I ran my first junior hunt test with Hydro and passed it with flying colors. I then decided to train him further into a senior level. And he could of passed a senior test with flying colors. But as much as I loved him, I wanted to Go a different route. I could of spent all the money getting him titled & health tested, but at the end of the day he still had a poor bred pedigree. And I wanted to start taking hunt tests seriously. So as much as it hurt, I decided to sell him.
I reached out to a local duck hunting guide and told him how I had a dog for sale if he knew of anyone. He immediately replied that he wanted to buy him. Hydro was then sold to KC Leitner with a Clay Gully Outfitters and that lucky dog gets to hunt 6-7 days a week during season. The more people that hunted behind him were amazed at his training. And the phone calls started rolling in Asking me to train their dogs. I had turned down almost a dozen people. I referred them to local trainers in Florida. And they either weren’t taking in dogs or were further than what people wanted to travel. So they would all call me again and I turned them down again. Finally one Day I was on the phone with someone who had called me about training their dog and they begged me “could you PLEASE take my dog”. Their dog was only 4 months old but completely out of control and they needed help. So I decided to help them out. I told them how I wasn’t super experienced and was still learning myself. They didn’t care. Right after that a friend contacted me and needed help collar conditioning and force fetching their dog. So I agreed to help them at no cost. And next thing I know, those people were telling other people and then on top of that people who hunted with Hydro were also calling me again. So I decided to start taking in dogs. People knew I wasn't as skilled or experienced as most trainers. But for some reason they trusted Me and preferred me. And from there I started taking in dogs.
Majority of the dogs I train are pets or hunting dogs. I have never once led people to believe I am something that I am not. But as I noticed, people don’t have the time nor experience with training and they just need help with their dogs. And I would rather give every ounce of knowledge I have in helping others instead of holding it back to myself.
My end goal is to produce quality hunting and hunt test dogs that you will be proud to hang a collar on. We only take in 6 outside dogs at a time so that we don't get overwhelmed with too many dogs and that each dog can get the quality time they need to become the best dog possible.