Beginning in 2018, BritishLabradors.com transitioned its British Labrador importing and breeding business to new owners, Josh and Whitney Miller of River Stone Kennels
, located in New Richmond, Wis, about 12 miles from Anderson's kennel .
Janice and Dennis will continue to be part of BritishLabradors on a consulting basis in 2018. The breeding operation has physically moved to River Stone Kennels and retains the BritishLabradors.com name.
The transition has been well planned and will be seamless. Our award-winning website will remain unaltered. Our production of puppies will be uninterrupted, and clients on our puppy reservation list can expect their puppies as previously scheduled. Similarly, our importation of trained Labradors will continue.
We have selected our successors carefully. Josh and Whitney will continue our tradition of breeding the best British Labradors from the best British stock.
What’s more, by combining BritishLabrador.com’s breeding business with Josh and Whitney’s proven record as trainers, increased value will accrue to our Labrador owners.
Already, more than 100 of our clients have had their Labradors trained at River Stone, which is located on 106 acres of woods, water and fields.
A new facility, River Stone boasts expansive grounds that offer a wide range of training opportunities, and Josh and his staff are renown throughout the nation for producing well-trained hunting dogs and family companions.
Additionally, as many of our clients know, Whitney has worked hand-in-hand with us in recent years as we have selected Labradors for breeding. She also has helped Jan whelp numerous litters, and has whelped many of our litters herself. Jan is one of the world’s most knowledgeable and experienced canine midwives, and the experience Whitney has gained in this process is invaluable.
Dedicated to producing and selecting puppies that are healthy, intelligent, with family-friendly temperaments and great natural retrieving and hunting instincts for excelling in upland and water work, Whitney — as Jan has been — will be the point person for the breeding operation.
More about River Stone Kennels
and Josh and Whitney Miller
Josh and Whitney have gained a national reputation as trainers and care givers of clients’ dogs.
A record three times, retrievers trained and handled by Josh have won the Shed Dog World Championship, sponsored by the North American Shed Hunting Dog Association.
Those three champions were bred by BritishLabradors.com, one of which was the youngest ever to win the title.
“Our job as trainers first and foremost is to help people have a better relationship with their dogs,’’ Josh said. “When a client tells us he or she is enjoying their dog more than ever, or that, with their dog, they’re having their best hunting season ever, that’s our reward.’’
Josh has learned from some of the best trainers in the business.
“Among other trainers, I learned a lot from the time I spent with Rick and Ronnie Smith,’’ he said. “I sought them out as mentors, and in time was helping them with their seminars and training.’’
Josh is particularly attuned to the soft temperaments of British Labradors, and applies his training methods accordingly.
“My training style is very positive,’’ he said. “I teach a dog what it is I’m asking, then by setting up a series of successful situations, I build a dog’s confidence so he or she can complete the task I’m teaching.’’
Equating modern training methods with those practiced by trainers when e-collars were first developed is like comparing an iPhone to the old-time rotary phone that hung in his parents’ kitchen, Josh said.
“I don’t rely on ‘old school’ training techniques that force dogs through situations in a ‘do this or else’ manner,’’ he said. “Much of that type of training was related to development of the first generations of e-collars.
“Today’s e-collars and training methods are far more advanced and far more positive. With the tones and vibrations today’s collars transmit to a dog, they become an extension of the trainer’s voice.’’
Whitney, meanwhile, is widely known for her affection and care for puppies, for her attention to detail in whelping and raising puppies, and for the close relations she maintains with River Stone’s many clients.
“Working with Jan the past three years, especially while whelping puppies, has been invaluable,’’ Whitney said. “The care that she and Dennis show when deciding which dogs to breed really pays off in the quality of dogs they produce. We see that every day when those dogs come to us for training. They’re just easier to work with.’’
Whitney receiving the 2016 Wisconsin Emerging Business Award.
The History of BritishLabradors.com,
Dennis, outdoor columnist of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, has been involved with retrieving dogs most of his life. Born in North Dakota, in the heart of the nation's best waterfowl region, he grew up around his father's Labradors.
- In the mid-1980s, Dennis traveled to Britain to see for himself that nation’s field Labradors. Frustrated that American Labradors were, in his view, increasingly hyperactive and exhibiting other traits that ran counter to the characteristics that for generations had endeared these dogs to American families and hunters, he wanted to see British Labradors firsthand.
- Dennis’ belief then, and now, about what constitutes a proper Labrador dates to his childhood in North Dakota. His Dad was a duck hunter who owned Labradors that were revered family companions and highly valued hunters. This was before electronic collars (“e-collars’’) became the preferred training tool of American retriever trainers. Many times, Dennis watched his Dad’s Labradors sit quietly and steadily in cut cornfields while waves of mallards circled overhead, and while his dad called to the birds. He knew those Labradors behaved that way — and retrieved on command — not out of fear they would be corrected if they failed, but by a seemingly insatiable desire to please their owner. These were the types of Labradors Dennis wanted to own and hunt over.
- During Dennis’ first and successive trips to Britain, he saw among that nation’s best Labradors the types of dogs he valued. The best of these animals had been bred with care, especially regarding temperament, manifested by their desire to please. Temperament is a critical consideration in Labrador breeding because it correlates closely to intelligence and therefore trainability. Also important are a dog’s health; conformation; athleticism; natural retrieving ability; a soft mouth; and an uncanny willingness to remain steady and quiet even in the face of intense gunning pressure, such as during a driven bird shoot.
- In these early years, Dennis didn’t want to breed Labradors for sale. But he was intensely interested in determining whether British Labradors could be successfully used to hunt wild birds in the U.S., and interested as well to see how readily American retriever training methods could be used to train U.K. retrievers. For answers to these questions he initially imported five Labrador puppies and three adult Labradors from Britain. Two puppies he kept for himself; the others he distributed to training friends. Two of the adults he kept for himself, and one he ultimately returned to its original owner to Britain, determining he had misjudged the animal.
- Soon Dennis was traveling to Britain to learn more not only about retriever breeding in that country, but about retriever training methods there. Also at this time he brought U.K. retriever trainers to the U.S. to demonstrate their training methods here. He also established the World Retriever Festival at the annual Game Fair held near the Twin Cities. More an exhibition than a competition, the festival demonstrated the different training methods used by retriever handlers in the U.S. and the U.K., and also provided an opportunity for U.S. retriever field trailers and participants in U.S. retriever hunt tests to demonstrate their methods of judging and testing dogs’ training and skills. The late Richard Wolters, a friend of Dennis’ and author the books “Water Dog,’’ and “Gun Dog,’’ among others, and an early advocate of retriever hunt tests in the U.S., attended three World Retriever Festivals.
- In 1987, Dennis sold his first puppies from British retriever bloodlines. Friends and others who had seen dogs he had imported and bred from those dogs wanted to own similar animals. Dennis called this initial breeding operation Queensland International Gundog Kennel.
- Dennis and Jan were married in 1992, and their first child, Trevor, was born a year later. Jan’s first degree was in animal science, and she had practiced as a horse trainer on the West Coast before returning to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study software engineering. When she and Dennis met, Jan was working for Control Data Corp. as a software engineer. But after Trevor’s arrival, she decided to stay home rather than return to work. At the same time, demand for puppies and fully trained U.K. imported retrievers exceeded what Dennis and Jan could provide on a sideline basis. So Jan and Dennis expanded their British retriever business, with Jan managing its day-to-day operations. About the same time, they changed the operation’s name to BritishLabradors.com.
- In the following years, Dennis and Jan made numerous trips to the U.K. A goal of these travels was to assess and secure various retriever bloodlines, and to more closely study the British method of retriever training. Dennis had become aware of the important training methods utilized by the best British trainers that help accentuate traits that are unique to British Labrador lines — steadiness and quietness foremost among these, as well as trainability. The best British trainers can achieve responses to hand and whistle signals from their retrievers at distances that rival those of American handlers and their retrievers. Understanding how this is done, and how U.K. retriever training methods meld with the natural traits of well-bred British Labradors, is what led Dennis and Jan to produce BritishRetrieverTraining.com, a companion website to BritishLabradors.com. The goal of BritishRetrieverTraining.com is to provide to our clients and subscribers insights into British retriever methods.
- In the years since, many facets of BritishLabradors.com’s import and breeding business remained the same, while some changed. We still import trained adult Labradors from Britain for customers on an order basis, guaranteeing satisfaction. And we still breed British Labrador puppies from dogs we have imported, or from offspring of our imported dogs. We run an entirely closed breeding operation, meaning we do not breed any dogs other than those we have imported, or the progeny of those dogs. Additionally, we don’t sell imported dogs that can be bred, and all of our puppies are sold on an AKC Limited Registration, restricting their breeding. These policies are in force to ensure the integrity and continuity of important bloodlines.
Janice holds college degrees in animal and equine science and computer science and is equally comfortable around horses, dogs and computers. She is involved in all aspects of BritishLabradors.com.
Questions? Email Whitney at email@example.com. Or phone her at 715-781-6214.