Good Breeding, Best Behavior, are Pine Shadows Hallmarks

Written by Mike Rahn | Photographed by John Linn

WHEN MARK HAGLIN SHARES THE OPINION THAT ‘THE APPROACH IS TO MAKE THE RIGHT BEHAVIOR EASY, AND THE WRONG BEHAVIOR DIFFICULT,’ you might think he was speaking of raising children. And why not? The process of raising well-behaved, disciplined youngsters is guided by consistently-applied common-sense principles, regardless of whether the lessons are meant for a bright-eyed little boy or girl, or a cute and cuddly Labrador or springer spaniel puppy.


“Just like kids, dogs need consistency and boundaries.”

Mark and his wife Sophie Haglin have acquired a lifetime of wisdoms like this as partners in raising and training personal gundog companions. At last reckoning it’s been over a period of more than forty years. While doing this they’ve also raised three sons, and one can readily imagine some training approaches crossing over from one mission to the other.

Their enterprise, Pine Shadows, is located just east of Brainerd, and has evolved into a highly-acclaimed source for top quality springer spaniel puppies, as well as an academy for the training of virtually all gundog breeds. Pine Shadows is endorsed by The Orvis Company, legendary as an outfitter and counselor to sportsmen since 1856. Perhaps more important, Pine Shadows is endorsed by the many who have welcomed one of its puppies into their lives, who have found training there to help a canine family member reach its potential, or in some cases both.

Mark and Sophie say 1975 was a pivotal year. Mark had just graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in agricultural education, Sophie in animal science. They were preparing to be married, and a teaching position awaited Mark at hometown Brainerd High School, at that time one of the few Minnesota school districts with farm facilities where both theory and the hands-on skills of agriculture were taught. Perhaps unusual for such a young married couple, Mark and Sophie bravely made a major financial commitment and purchased a small dairy farm property whose owners were retiring. Time and opportunity would someday make it the home of Pine Shadows.

Their vision then was raising beef cattle and teaching, a vision that would be sidetracked by Sophie’s purchase of a Wisconsin-bred springer spaniel puppy as a graduation gift for Mark. Energetic yet mild-tempered, and generally smaller than most Labradors or golden retrievers, the liver-and-white or black-and-white-patched springer spaniel is adept at flushing ruffed grouse from wooded cover, or pheasants from grassy uplands or tough cattail slough cover. Many springers are also very capable duck hunting companions.


Mark set out to train this dog—Jenny—to hunt all these; grouse, ducks and pheasants. He and Sophie joined the Minnesota English Springer Spaniel Club both for its camaraderie and for the opportunity to learn from those with a track record in developing good bird dogs. They attended their first of many field trials, competitions whose purpose is to reward high quality hunting dog work.

“We came away from it telling ourselves ‘We can get our dog to do that,’” Mark recalls. “But the first trial we actually participated in, in the fall of 1976, was a real eye-opening experience.”

“For one thing,” says Sophie, “we learned that a young dog that can do all the right things on its own, and can ‘lose it’ when asked to do the same things in front of an audience.” Stage fright is not the exclusive domain of humans.

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