About Us


Buck Shope has over 20 years of experience in training dogs for hunt tests. He has qualified many dogs at the Master National and titled over 50 dogs at the Master level. His Basic Retriever Training classes offer instruction in obedience, collar conditioning, force fetch, pile work and swim-by. His instructional programs include both working with the handler to train their own dogs, as well as a complete training programs for dogs boarded at Swift River. Instruction is tailored to dog and handler, from beginner to advanced.

Buck is continually interested in increasing his skill and knowledge of retriever training. He participates in workshops and seminars given by top retriever trainers such as Andy Attar, Pat Burns, Mike Lardy and Dave Rorem. He has also had the opportunity to train with noted field trial pros Ed Forry and Alan Pleasant.


Tara Yohan has been involved in Labrador Retrievers since childhood. Her mother, Nona King is the owner of Birchangreen Labradors and a respected breeder of Labradors for over forty years. Tara is an avid hunter and she has trained and handled 5 of her own dogs to the Master Hunter level with a 6th one on the way.          

Some words from our clients and friends

"I first met Buck at one of my workshops. I was immediately struck by his respect for the dogs and his passion for the sport. His desire to advance himself and stay on the cutting edge is impressive. I always enjoy my time with Buck and can't think of a better person to spend time with enjoying man's best friend!"

Pat Burns

"Buck Shope is the most knowledgeable, dedicated, inspiring, conscientious retriever trainer I have ever known. But more importantly, he thinks like a dog. His understanding of a dog’s point of view and individuality is key to his success in producing outstanding results. He encourages more than coerces.

As much as my dogs were born with retrieving instincts, he was born with teaching instincts. Not only has he taught my dogs, but also equally important, he has taught me (perhaps a more difficult task). He made me an equal partner in the process, which enlivened my relationship between my dogs and myself."

-Geoff Gaebe, Owner/manager of Addieville East Farm for twenty-five years, dog man for decades more.

"Swift River Retrievers has played a huge role in the development of my Golden Retriever, Lucy. Using a well conceived and easily understandable series of routines, Buck Shope brought out the best in my dogs' abilities and trained me to handle her with confidence and success. Buck is a true "pro" with a wonderful way with both dog and owner. I'd recommend him for the first timer as well as the experienced retriever owner."

Gordon Hamersley

Margaret2016"Buck has taught me so much about training dogs for field work. He understands dogs and how they learn. He treats both dog and handler with respect and does all he can to help each team reach their full potential.

His approach is clear, systematic, and easy for the new handler to follow. He lays the process out step by step, taking the handler through collar conditioning and force fetch, on to handling drills and blinds. He makes sure the handler understands what and why they’re doing and he sees to it that the dog gets full benefit from the process.

When questions arise he is available for help by e-mail or in person.

His Tuesday night lessons with individual dogs are invaluable, both for younger dogs going through the early steps of training and more experienced dogs looking for challenging drills. And, helpful to all handlers, they provide a chance to see lots of dogs in various stages of learning.

His workshops for more advanced dogs are wonderful training opportunities. He provides a full hunt test set-up that can be worked from varying skill levels. Each set-up is designed to utilize different factors and to provide a particular challenge. He discusses the set-up and guides each handler through the process of running their dog.

I am currently training my second and third dogs with Buck and am looking forward to his guidance through Master Hunter."

Margaret Stubbs