Mayday, Mayday!

Dog trainer turns sporting breeds into champions

Solo recently earned American Kennel Club National Masters Champion honors at a competition in Texas.

Solo recently earned American Kennel Club National Masters Champion honors at a competition in Texas. |

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Roger May handles obedience training for all breeds of dogs, but the field trial, hunt and gun training is generally restricted to golden retrievers and Labs. Among the residents in the kennels at Mayday Retrievers in Oxbow Estates are, from left, Trooper, Tyra, Solo and Dust. All have brought home plenty of awards for the kennel and their individual owners.

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Roger May and his family brought their Mayday Retrievers to Payson on Oct. 1, moving here from Snowflake where they managed a pheasant reserve. May has worked with dogs for more than 20 years. He has trained and competed with hounds, pointers and retrievers over the years and says the retrievers are the better all-around dogs.

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Roger May

Down at the end of Oxbow Trail there are new residents. It’s a small family: Roger, Candra and their 18-month-old daughter, Alex, plus a few dogs they own — and a dozen more they board and train and with whom they win national championships.

Roger May and his family brought their Mayday Retrievers to Payson on Oct. 1, moving here from Snowflake where they managed a pheasant reserve.

Training dogs to hunt, work with guns and compete in field trials requires daily exercises in an open area. It was often too cold to work the dogs outside in the winter in Snowflake, so the Mays made the move to Payson — someplace Roger, a native of Scottsdale, has always wanted to live.

“If it gets too cold here, we can always go down to Roosevelt to work,” May said.

May has worked with dogs for more than 20 years. He grew up with a Lab as a family pet and was always trying to sneak hunting dogs into his room as a boy — much to his mother’s dismay.

He has trained and competed with hounds, pointers and retrievers over the years and says the retrievers are the better all-around dogs.

He said he discovered this fact when he and a friend went duck hunting and he had a pointer with him.

“Pointers can’t hunt like retrievers. They just point.”

Most recently he had a client’s dog, Solo, and one of his own, Cash, at the American Kennel Club Masters Nationals in Texas. Solo was one of 189 dogs entered in his category and one of 53 that “passed” — the event is a pass-fail contest. Cash decided he didn’t want to work, May said.

While Cash didn’t do too well in Texas, the black Lab has his own national accolades. As do Roger and Candra’s dog Sally, who boasts an award from the 2008 Upland Bird Dog Championships in the double division; and Bubbles, who competes at the junior hunter level.

May takes pride in the accomplishments of one of his boarders, Trooper, a fox red lab that is a pointer lab. He clocked the fastest times in a recent pheasant hunting competition.

“You get three birds. Trooper brought back one in 1.22 minutes and another in 1.38 minutes,” he said. He added Trooper was not formally trained to point, but started doing it on his own.

“Some dogs just have that instinct.”

Of all the dogs he has worked with over the years, May says the Lab, Solo, 8, and Dust, 11, a golden retriever, are the most talented.

“Every dog is special though. Trooper is a joy to work with. In the Arizona Bird Dog Challenge he always takes a first or second.”

May offers training for field trials, hunt test competition, gun dogs and all-breed obedience.

Some of the dogs have been with him several years; others stay with him from a few weeks to few months, depending on what his clients want them to do.

He is thinking of offering his skills on an hourly basis and maybe having daylong workshops in the future. But right now, his kennel is at full capacity with 15 dogs.

The work keeps him on the road a lot too. He thinks since returning to his native Arizona from Oregon in 2005, he has put 100,000 miles on his trucks going to competitions through six Western states.

To learn more about Mayday Retrievers and its services, call (928) 474-3664 or visit the Web site maydayretrievers.com.

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