Training bird dogs has always been a family affair for the Smiths. Through over 50 years of hard work and dedication, Ronnie Smith Kennels has developed a trusted and proven name in the industry. The Smith family has a history of raising and training fine bird dogs. Ronnie’s late father, Ronnie Smith Sr., was a well-respected trainer. Both Ronnie’s uncle, Delmar Smith, and his cousin, Rick Smith, have received the honor of being inducted into the Field Trial Hall of Fame. Bird dogs are not only a business for the Smiths, they are a passion and a way of life.
You might say Ronnie has bird dogs in his blood. Ronnie grew up involved with his father's bird dog training operation. As soon as he was big enough, he began tending to dogs and cleaning kennels. Ronnie spent many days in his youth at field trials with his dad, either riding his pony in the gallery or hanging back with the dogs listening to other trainers “talk dog.”
Ronnie’s first lessons in dog training came from his dad. He trained his first dog professionally at 14 years old. To this day he continues to draw from and build upon the principles that his father taught him. Ronnie took over his father’s operation in 1982 and continues to build the business today.
In addition to training dogs, Ronnie has guided wild bird hunts for over 30 years. Some of the historical Texas ranches of note that he has guided on include the King Ranch, 6666 Ranch, and the Mariposa Ranch.
His experience guiding has allowed him the opportunity to guide for astronauts, musicians, TV celebrities, writers, Hall of Fame football and baseball players, CEOs of some of the largest corporations in the U.S., Secretaries of State and Presidents. These experiences reinforced his belief that bird dogs and hunting bring together people from all walks of life.
Ronnie’s wife, Susanna Love, is a 5th generation rancher. She grew up on her family’s ranch in West Texas raising and showing Brahman cattle, riding and training horses, and learning about dogs from her mother who bred and field trialed. Always passionate about animals, Susanna majored in Business at Texas Tech, but kept her minor in Animal Science where her heart was.
In 2001 Susanna found herself in Washington, DC working as the Assistant Clerk for the House Committee on Agriculture, working for something she cared about, but too far away from the animals she loved. She returned to her home state of Texas to attend law school. Just before entering law school, Susanna sent her German Shorthair away to be trained. Her concern about how her dog would be treated while in training was quickly alleviated when she met Ronnie and saw not only his deep care for dogs, but how the dogs reacted to him. The love of animals brought Ronnie and Susanna together and continues to be a part of the glue that keeps them together.
The business continues to be a family affair as Ronnie and Susanna strive to raise their twins, Gage and Reagan, to know, understand, and love animals. If you drop by the kennels you are likely to see all four family members together outside with the dogs.
Ronnie and Susanna’s enjoyment of bird dogs transfers to every aspect of their business, whether it is training a great young hunting dog or teaching an owner how to successfully hunt with their dog. Years of observing animal behavior have developed their training format into one that works for any dog that has prey drive. While continually adding to their own repertoire of experience, they put their knowledge of bird dogs to work to help their clients find a better way to relate to and communicate with bird dogs.