PLANO – “Whoa!” yelled Eddie Smith as his dog, Abby, stopped in her tracks a few feet from a live game bird on his farm a few miles north of Plano.

Smith, a professional bird dog trainer, moved to southern Iowa two years ago to start a hunting guide service. He now makes a living training bird dogs in the area.

“I’m originally from St. Cloud, Minn. I came down here and started a guide service two years ago,” said Smith. “I started training dogs in 1994 as an amateur. I came down here and got to know the people around town and started working for Lori and Doc at the Centerville Vet Clinic as an obedience instructor, which is something new that we started. We also had the first youth pheasant hunt this year in southern Iowa with Pheasants Forever.”

Smith came to the area after purchasing his first dog in Redding, Iowa, which is located southwest of Mount Ayr. He now owns seven dogs.

“I bought my first shorthair (dog) in Redding, Iowa in 1998. I was looking for some property to buy to run a guide service. I found property here and went from there,” stated Smith.

Smith charges $150 per month to train a dog, which includes running the dog three to five times a day. Training usually takes between one and three months.

“It just depends on the dog. It usually takes a month to three months. It depends on how the dog takes the training,” Smith said.

Smith’s training includes teaching the dog to stop, or “whoa”.

“I re-enforce ‘whoa’, which means I put a leash around the dog’s stomach and teach them how to ‘whoa’. Once they learn how to do that I put birds out for them,” he said.

Smith has had to overcome obstacles in his life, including being legally blind since birth.

“I was a premature baby. I was born three months premature. Out of the incubator the oxygen damaged my eyes. I’ve had to overcome a lot of stuff in life and that has made me strong in a lot of ways,” commented Smith. “I wear contacts that correct my vision. With the contacts I see really well. I can drive in the day time.”

During his time in southern Iowa Smith has trained six dogs after training several dogs in Minnesota. Smith learned to train dogs in Nebraska.

“There is a guy named Jim Keller out of Lincoln, Neb. that is a professional bird dog trainer. He was my mentor for a long time. Once I got the confidence I started training dogs on my own,” said Smith.

Smith has also worked with the local Pheasants Forever chapter and the Appanoose County Conservation Board. He was a part of the PF Youth Hunt and recently trained a pup that was sold at the PF banquet. During youth day at Sharon Bluffs State Park, put on by the ACCB, Smith instructed youth how to handle bird dogs.

“It’s great. I really like the people a lot. There are a lot of good people that have helped me out,” said Smith, regarding his time in southern Iowa. “I’d like to thank everyone at the vet clinic for helping me out and welcoming me to town.”

Smith can be reached by phone at 641-216-3506.

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