What I've Learned: A Year Of Owning A Gunner Kennel

Written by Jason Cruise of Mossberg’s Rugged American Hunter series. Photo of Stella (below) provided by Jason Cruise.

Stella, Jason's dog

Jason Cruise – host of Mossberg’s Rugged American Hunter – has been a Gunner Kennel champion since the beginning. After more than a year of owning a Gunner Kennels, he puts his thoughts to paper about what he loves about the story of Gunner Kennels and its product.

The answer is, “No.” Just in case you’re asking.

I’m not getting paid to say this. It’s just my testimony of what I’ve learned after owning a Gunner Kennel for over a year now. I simply thought it would be helpful to you. Maybe you’re on the fence about getting one of these kennels. Maybe you’re a duck hunter who knows the value of a great dog. Maybe you’re a mom who just loves your family dog and is in the market for a better crate.

Walt Disney once said, “I hope we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it all started with a mouse.” That’s what I love about the story of Gunner Kennels and Addison Edmonds.

It all started because of a man and his dog. You simply cannot get any more pure-hearted than that.  The Gunner Kennel story forever stays centered around the love of a dog.

Just a few days ago, I was driving down the road looking at ducks for the next morning’s hunt in Mississippi. The sun was setting over the Delta when a good friend, who knew that I owned a Gunner Kennel, asked me bluntly, “Seriously. Tell me, what’s the honest benefit of paying that kind of money for a kennel? I mean, I know they are really good, but you’ve had one for a while. What’s the real difference?”

It was an honest question. I understood it.

Both my friend and I own well-trained, and to be truly transparent, expensive duck dogs. And we talked for about 10 minutes, not so much about a kennel, but more, really, about the worth of our dogs. The joy we get from them. What they add to our family. All of that.

I remember saying, “You know, we spend all this money and time and love and care to build a great duck dog. That dog becomes part of our family story, and I think Addison Edmonds is just like you and me. He was just a duck hunter who wasn’t willing to put his dog into a situation that wasn’t safe if he could at all help it.”

So, let me move to practical purposes on how I answered my friend’s questions about the kennel he was so intrigued over, because, I’ve learned a lot in the past year about what this kennel has given both to me and our dog, Stella.

Peace Of Mind.

I’d say that’s the foundation of what this kennel has given me. When I duck hunt, it involves travel. I never worry about Stella. Honest, I just don’t worry. I strap down the kennel, and hit the road. Have you ever seen those crash tests that the people at Gunner Kennels have simulated? You should go watch them. It’s a mind bender.

Knowing that the kennel is engineered to be incredibly roll-over resistant is a massive, massive game changer for me, because that’s a real risk when I travel with Stella. Take a sharp turn, dodge an object in the road, those types of road hazards are real and frequent. Wrecks happen all the time. And if I happen to be in one in the future when she’s with me, I know she’s in the best care money can buy.

Bedroom On The Go.

So, here’s what is neat about having this kennel: it’s Stella’s bedroom. And when she travels, her bedroom goes with her. Good gravy, I don’t even get that when I travel! As a duck hunter, when you introduce your dog to new situations, it can stress them out. Which is why you really, really, really need to socialize your dog with every opportunity. Take them everywhere you can as often as you can. However, no matter where we go or stay, she sleeps in her own bed every night. And that matters. She’s not nervous, because it’s her sanctuary.

She’s Not Getting Out.

That’s even more peace of mind for me, just in a different way. Stella is like most Labs … she’s curious. Praise God, she’s not been nearly as destructive as other Labs I’ve had in the past that felt it was their calling from God to chew up anything in their path. Still, she is curious, and she’ll investigate any and everything. Which means if we leave a door not perfectly closed at home, she’ll notice it and in she comes … muddy paws and all.

When she’s in her kennel, I know that she’s not popping that latch because she simply can’t do it. Add in those sliding lock mechanisms on the door, and it’s bullet proof for any dog that wants to take a midnight stroll.

The Little Things.

I knew the first time I got my hands on a Gunner Kennel that there were all these little features, these extras, so to speak, that made this thing stand out so far from anything I’d ever before seen.

Want to know when I truly appreciated it for the first time? It’s a nasty story, but it’s worth telling. I’ll get to the point.

I was taking Stella to her trainer for a 4 month stay in Texarkana. I stopped at a Love’s fuel station just outside Jackson, Tennessee to grab something to drink. I always check in on her, and, well, oh my word. It was awful.

She had both vomited and “dropped a cannon” too. That’s a phrase that originated with our youngest son, Tucker. It’s code for “a big ol’ poop.”

I couldn’t believe it, because she’d never done that before, and I certainly hadn’t fed her before traveling. She’d traveled a lot, so who knows why. She just came unglued I suppose! I sat there for a second knowing that this pit stop to grab a soda and snack was now going to be a much longer stay at a truck stop to clean all of this up.

Stella had managed not to get anything on her, which is a modern miracle … but the kennel? Oh man. It was a wreck! That’s when I remembered that these things are made with a built-in drain port in the back.

No kidding, I recall saying, out loud, “Thank you Gunner Kennels.”

I was now on a mission for a water hose. I drove around to the area where Love’s has accommodations for big trucks. Sure enough, there was a hose and drain grate. With surgeon like precision, I eased that door open, got her on a lead, all the while trying to stay untainted from her dual-hinged intestinal masterpiece. I wrapped Stella’s lead around a pole at the pump, and in about 90 seconds, that kennel was spotless. Right out of the drain port, into the grate, and done! I couldn’t believe how fast I was back on the road.

The truth is, in life there are many times where you can cut corners. I’m finding that more and more the older I get. And then there are times where you’re hurting yourself by being cheap. You just have to know when something is worth it.  

My dog and her safety? I’m not playing around with that – at all. Because, it’s not just about Stella. It’s about our two young boys who duck hunt with her, too. When she brings back a duck, they get as much pleasure from it as she does. They train with her all year. They play with her every day. Those two boys have fed her since the day we brought her home. She curls up beside them at night on the floor. She is right in the middle of them when they are playing in the yard after school.

She’s not human, but you better know she’s family. Which means she deserves the best I can give her to keep her safe.

I’ll make you a solemn promise. You’re going to get a kennel anyway. It’s going to cost $100 or more. This is one of those time that what you get in return is worth it. This kennel has proven itself to me time and time again.

And it’s honest. The whole thing, the entire story of Gunner Kennels is just old school American honest business. It all started with a guy who just wanted the best for his dog. And that focus has never changed. It’s all about a dog.

I think Walt Disney would be so proud.

Jason Cruise

About Jason Cruise

Jason Cruise is a published author and the host of Mossberg’s Rugged American Hunter series. He lives in Tennessee with his wife, Michelle, and their sons, Cole and Tucker. www.JasonCruise.com and @JasonLCruise on Twitter.

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