MPW.64 / Troy Lab Results by Craig Duff
Photographer
Craig Duff
Chicago, Illinois

Story Summary

Some of the dogs in the kennels at Flyway Labs have more frequent flyer miles than many folks in the town of Troy. Earlier this year, four black Labrador retrievers – named Bruce, Snoop, Tank and War – arrived here by private jet from Arkansas to spend a year with trainer Ryan Gingerich on his 27-acre ranch. By the time the dogs go back to their owners, they’ll be top class hunters, able to retrieve waterfowl with a few hand gestures and whistled or shouted commands to guide them.

Gingerich created Flyway Labs after a long career working with horses. He was an expert equine behaviorist as well as a TV host and author of a book: Beyond a Whisper. Then a riding injury led to serious back trouble and his doctors told him to get out of the horse biz.

“My dad had just sold a business he’d run for 30 years, and was making a transition,” says Gingerich. He told his father he needed to do the same thing. “My dad said: ‘What do you like to do?’ I said: ‘hunt ducks.’” A few months later, Gingerich was applying his years of knowledge of animal behavior to training dogs.

Now duck and goose hunters bring their prized retrievers to Troy, investing several hundred dollars a month per dog in hopes that Gingerich will send home a champion hunting companion.