Verbatim: Jo Chinn

Jo and Steve Chinn. - Photo by Joan Worley
Jo and Steve Chinn.
— image credit: Photo by Joan Worley

Jo and Steve Chinn were setting up some field exercises for their three flat-coated retrievers — Hissy, Dinah and Flo — as Jo explained that the training couldn’t happen without two frozen birds named Mr. Waddle and Ichabod.


What’s in here, guys? It’s your birds!

I had run agility with the dogs and I got hurt and had to get out of it. So I said, ‘If I can find somebody to teach me how to field train, I’ll get out of agility.’

So we found a trainer and I sold my agility equipment and I started field training. But oh, my gosh, when you start doing it you really have to do it.

Larry Torey from Sequim loaned me this launcher. It’s made out of steel and it’s shaped like an H with a support and it runs off a pulley system with an electronic eye on it. I have a transmitter that tells it when to launch and then that bird goes flying. Kind of like — not a trebuchet, not a catapult — it’s like a big slingshot. Some people call them ‘slingers.’

So Larry had this one and he said, ‘I’m not using it. Take it.’

So here we are and the next thing you know, well, bumpers (cylindrical rubber chase toys) are fine but since the dogs really retrieve birds, you have to have birds. So we have Mr. Waddle, he was our first bird; he’s a mallard. He’s in good shape. We’ve had him about a year in the freezer now. And this is Ichabod. And we thought all this time that Ichabod didn’t have a head, but look, he does. So he’s misnamed.

We got these ducks from a trainer. A friend of mine won some free lessons from this guy over in the Snoqualmie area, so we went.

I thought, ‘This guy’s a genius.’

He trains show dogs. He only trains dogs that go in the ring. There was this golden (retriever) who had seven Best-in-Shows; he was in line for Westminster before he pulled a tendon.

So this trainer does goldens, labs, flats and waterdogs. All these dogs that get grand championships are out there working in these ponds getting dirty. Flat coats, of course, would rather swim than walk.

Sometimes this trainer has live ducks and pigeons but he has quite a supply in his freezer. He sent these two home with us.

We get them out of the freezer and we use them. And if they get wet, we dry them with the blow dryer so they don’t mold.

It’s like the greatest thing for the dogs. It’s like Disneyland for them when we get them out.

All of a sudden you find you’re doing stuff like this because it makes your dogs happy.

Who’s going first? That Flo, listen to her. Flo, you’re first …


And the frozen ducks began to fly.


Everyone has a story and now they have a place to tell it. Verbatim is a first-person column that introduces you to your neighbors as they relate in their own words some of the difficult, humorous, moving or just plain fun moments in their lives. It’s all part of the Gazette’s commitment as your community newspaper. If you have a story for Verbatim, contact editor Michael Dashiell at editor@sequimgazette.com.


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