A former airline pilot uses his knowledge of precision and discipline to turn his dogs into champions. The connection between “Trap” and David Gannon is pretty impressive!
MINEOLA, Texas – East Texas is home to greats!
You have Earl Campbell – a football legend – then there are country music stars Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves topping the charts!
But they are not the only top dogs in their field.
For this week’s Totally East Texas we’re taking you to Wood County’s Top Dog Training Academy to meet another pair of award winners in their field.
Hidden behind the pine forests of Mineola is David Gannon’s Top Dog Training Academy.
One step in and you can see by all of the tapes that Gannon has a gift for teaching dog obedience, and it all began about 50 years ago.
“There was an ad in the newspaper that said ‘free puppy lessons’ so I took this 8 week old puppy to this chief warrant officer and he said, ‘We’re helping you with this poodle,'” said Gannon. “He got me addicted to dog training and I ended up moving to Chicago and then to Buffalo, New York, and every time I learned from everyone in every place.”
The former Navy flight instructor and airline pilot uses his aircraft landing experience to teach dogs like 6-year-old Trap the precision and discipline they need to be champions.
“We exercise about 15 minutes a day,” explained Gannon.
Gannon uses treats and sometimes his golden retriever’s favorite ball to reward him for a good job during his obedience exercises.
“What I’m doing is off the leash,” said Gannon. “It starts on the leash and then you have to be able to take him off the leash.”
His training includes heeling, jumping, directional retrieval and differentiation of smells. There the dog handler puts his scent on a dumbbell and the trap picks him up. During some exercises, Trap only receives signals – no voice commands at all.
“He became an obedience champion when he was 2,” said Gannon. “By about a year and a half he was competitive in the advanced classes. My partner runs the show and he’s an obedience champion eleven times. He’s really stable, fits and shows well all the time. [He] rarely fails in a class and usually gets a nice score, a competition grade. “
However, competition proved difficult in 2020 due to COVID-19.
“We all had to wear masks, as I think everyone did, but on our show the judges were masked and we wore masks,” said Gannon. “We broke up. You couldn’t even recognize your best friend when we went up against him. We weren’t allowed to watch others compete. Sometimes we had to sit in the car and wait for our turn, so that was it” a tough year. “
Gannon and Trap competed in about 30 shows last year. Usually they go up to 50.
So they were surprised when they received the Top Obedience Award at the Show Dogs of the Year Awards 2020.
“Yeah, that’s a big one,” said Gannon. “This is a national award. In all honesty, we didn’t try to get this award from day one. We just wanted to stay afloat during the COVID year.”
Now Trap and Gannon are preparing for the 2021 AKC National Obedience Championship in Wilmington, Ohio.
“Well, I’ve never won a national championship, but we came third a couple of times,” said Gannon. “I would really like to win. He’s able to win it, but you just have to put it all together and do a really good job and of course the others can’t do it that well. So, I’m not fighting against” I’m just standing on him.”
Gannon also trains about 20 other handlers and their dogs who want to become masters of obedience. He does it for free because he loves the sport and gives something back.
CBS19 wishes Gannon and the cute Trap the best of luck this weekend, but we already know they’re top dogs in East Texas.