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Photo credit: SearcySports Photography
Mr. Autrey brings out the finest in the dogs he trains. He's successfully
trained and handled many dogs to the highest levels hunting retrievers
can attain. GRHRCH UH Missy's Cajun Dakota MH, owned and trained
by Mr. Autrey, continues to hold records in the field, including the most
Grand Hunt passes (13) ever achieved in HRC.
What brought Mr. Autrey to his forte with hunting retrievers?
"In 1987, after a bout with throat cancer, they removed my voice. My old
dog would only look at me funny when I tried to talk to him in my new
voice. In 1988, I watched Bob Region in a field, working a dog with
a whistle, and decided I could do that routine. With a new pup, and
some help from the members of Central Louisiana Retriever Club, a new
chapter was opened in our lives... the life of a dog trainer.
Gerri and I owned a heating and air conditioning business, so my training
was done in the evenings. Missy was not a high bred dog, off two hunting
dogs from Catahoula Lake. She ran her first Grand test in Dallas, TX
in 1990. We went out in the 2nd series on a water blind, but the bug
had bitten me.
Grand Hunting Retriever Champion Missy Hollowdale Autrey went on to
pass 5 Grand hunt tests, and I retired her at 9-1/2 years old as she
had lost her hearing. Along the way to passing 5 Grand hunt tests, I
had a lot of help. My first seminar was with Danny Farmer and Judy Aycock
in 1989. To this day, Danny still laughs about the first time he heard
me give a dog a BACK cast at 100 yards. I started training dogs for
family and friends, taking up to 3 dogs at a time. This helped pay for
the "fun" between Missy and myself.
The first time I worked a dog with a collar was with Joel Soprano, standing
at my shoulder, and telling me what to do and when to do it. After that when Missy
developed a popping problem, Bob Willett re-force trained and collar conditioned
her for me. Bob said it was the only dog that he ever conditioned with
a force program that was already a Grand Hunting Retriever Champion
when he did the work. We attended the Jim and Phyllis Dobbs seminar twice,
watched all the tapes of Michael Lardy, and worked with different people
along the way. Ernie Istre carried Grand Hunting Retriever Champion "Cody"
Master Hunter through a force program, Joel Soprano with GRHRCH "Hussy", and
David Ferguson with GRHRCH Jezebel. It wasn't until 1999, the year before
I retired, that I started performing the force work, since I now had
ample time to do so myself."
"In 2015 my cancer returned. I lost all of my voice; where I use to be able
to whisper, I have no voice now. Where the average trainer trains in the English
language, I train with body language. I use a different whistle, an electric
whistle instead of one that you blow. I have experienced some times that the
electric whistle does not carry, especially in a head wind. HRC and AKC have
authorized me to use an air whistle. This whistle was designed by Charles Jorden
for me. While the tank is bulky, I can now compete while running with a head
wind. For those of you that don’t know me, the change in voice also means that
you can’t call me on a phone. I am unable to answer a phone, so all of our
correspondence must be by text or email."
Mr. Autrey's abilities, talents, and esteem have been captured and
recognized by local, regional, and national media for many years:
- Bob Tompkins, of The Town Talk, in March of 2005,
penned his article "Tales from the Crossroads: The Dog Whisper"
- Hunting Retriever Magazine published in their August/September
2004 issue "A Tribute", by Ronnie Prudhomme (owner of
GRHRCH UH Dakota's Cajun Roux MH "Roux" and a student of Mr. Autrey's).
- "Maybe?" This tribute offered by Justin Tackett (of WaterDog TV and
the Super Retriever Series) commemorates Mr. Autrey's GRHRCH UH Missy's Cajun Dakota MH ("Cody").
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