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February 15, 2013
Eddie Bauer: A Serious Hunter and Dog Man - 3
by Brian Lynn
I just returned from Seattle after visiting the Eddie Bauer headquarters and getting the low down on their new Sport Shop line of clothing, which focuses primarily on upland hunting and shooting sports (for now).
For anyone younger than 35 years old, Eddie Bauer is probably more synonymous with suburban malls than with outdoor sports and clothing. However, Eddie Bauer started as an outfitter business for hunters and anglers, with Bauer owning the first U.S. patent for a goose-down coat. Beyond making coats, sleeping bags and other gear for adventurous travelers, Bauer was a dog man. And a serious one at that.
According to Colin Berg, the brand historian at the company, a couple of Bauer’s buddies returned from a duck hunt in Canada and couldn’t stop talking about this dog that would repeatedly jump off a cliff, into the pounding surf, to retrieve their waterfowl. Bauer apparently didn’t believe the boasting so ventured up to British Columbia to see for himself. Witnessing the drive and ability of the dog, Bauer bought it for $65 and brought the male black Lab back home to Seattle in 1930. The aptly, if unoriginally, named “Blackie” was the first registered black Lab brought into Washington state.
Blackie turned Bauer into a Lab lover for the rest of his life. Berg said that when Bauer saw the power, drive and trainability of the Lab, all other breeds were foresworn.
Bauer not only got into the hunting and training of Labs, he started breeding the dogs and had all sorts of theories. Berg mentioned an unpublished book in which Bauer jotted down notes and theories on breeding (that's a book I’d love to get a hold of for a few hours). If the quote in the book The Legend of Eddie Bauer is any indication, I’m betting Bauer had some darn good ideas:
At any rate, Bauer’s dog prowess led him to be named the 1974 “Retriever Breeder of the Year” by the Professional Retriever Trainers Association.
Some interesting facts of Bauer and his Labs gleaned from the book and archive tour: