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“Bullet” snagged his second consecutive Purina Outstanding Open Retriever Award, earning 52 points during the yearlong competition. NFC-AFC Robbers’ Stray Bullet’s achievement also marked a three-peat for handler Alan Pleasant of Black River Retrievers in Angier, North Carolina, who won in 2014 with Bullet and in 2013 with “Cane” (FC-AFC Ragin Eye Of The Storm). “Bullet is an exceptional marker and consistent on land and in water. He’s a total team player,” he says.
Securing his 10th Purina Handler Award in the program’s 28-year history, third-generation professional handler Mike Tracy of Glenville, Pennsylvania, is the 2015-2016 Purina Top Shooting Dog Handler. Tracy is narrowing the gap for the record number of Purina Top Shooting Dog Handler Awards won between him and his father, George Tracy, who has tallied 12. During the 2015-2016 season, Mike Tracy and his eight-dog string dominated the shooting dog circuit with 12 wins from 20 placements out of 26 Purina Point-earning field trials entered, garnering 2,676 points.
A chocolate Labrador Retriever called “Ammo” gracefully sailed through the yearlong competition, earning 55.5 points, to win the Purina Outstanding Amateur Retriever Award. Capping off a phenomenal year, FC-AFC-CNAFC-CFC Upon the Wings of an Answered Prayer captured 15 all-age stakes in 2014, becoming the first and only dog to win four U.S. double headers in the same year. The 7-year-old female is owned by Bill and Micki Petrovish of Townsend, Montana.
A Pointer called “Spec” stylishly commanded the competition to capture the 52nd annual Purina Top Field Trial Bird Dog Award. Handled by owner Gary Lester of Gracey, Kentucky, Miller’s Dialing In earned an impressive 3,470 points, more than 1,200 points ahead of the second-place contender. At the height of his campaign this spring, the 5-year-old orange-and-white male tallied point-earning placements at the Continental All-Age Championship, West Tennessee Open All-Age, National Championship for Field Trialing Bird Dogs, Rend Lake Open, and Kentucky Open All-Age Championship.
Professional handler Mike Tracy of Glenville, Pennsylvania, has won his ninth Purina Top Shooting Dog Handler Award in the 2013-2014 season, tallying 4,724 points by handling 16 dogs to 34 placements. Among the winning dogs on his string were the Purina Top Shooting Dog, 13XCH/7XRUCH Great River Ice, and the Purina Top Shooting Derby Dog, Hightailing Miss Kate. “Every time I win this award is as special as the first I won,” Tracy says.
Professional handler Steve Hurdle of Hickory Flat, Mississippi, is the winner of the 26th annual Purina Top All-Age Handler of the Year Award. During the year, he handled eight dogs to 18 placements in all-age horseback stakes. Among the dogs on his string was Dazzling, the Purina Derby Top Field Trial Bird Dog Award winner. “I am very blessed with some great dogs and some of the best owners,” Hurdle says. “This is such a great competition. It is a privilege to win.
A 5-year-old white-and-liver female Pointer, called “Mae,” captured the Purina Amateur Top Field Trial Bird Dog Award earning 1,085 points, which included winning two Amateur Championships and one Runner-Up Championship. Breeder-owner-handler Cecil Rester of Angie, La., describes Rester’s Fannie Mae “as the best bird dog I’ve ever had.” A competitor in amateur stakes since 1976, Rester says, “Bird dogs must have bird sense, and Mae was born with it.” Rester also credits his wife, Holly, who helps raise and socialize puppies, for the success.
FC Elder’s Rebel Run Major, a 7 1/2-year-old 15-inch tricolor male Beagle, recently was honored as the 13th annual Purina Outstanding Small Pack Option Beagle out of 4,600 hounds competing for the honor.
“Major” won 10 field trials and placed in 19 of the 20 Purina Point field trials he entered, accumulating 72 points. Owner-handler John Elder Jr. says it was Major’s “Good line control, super nose and keen intelligence to work with confidence when tracking a rabbit” that led to his winning the prestigious Purina award.
The 2011 Purina Outstanding Derby Award went to FC-AFC Trumarc’s L’il Ms Pogo, a 10-year-old female black Labrador Retriever, who had a tremendous year, earning 30 1/2 points with three wins and eight placements in 18 starts.
“Pogo is a dog that likes to please,” says owner Martha Russell. “What she’s accomplished sometimes seems impossible. We saw that when Pogo did water marks at 5 months old. We knew then she was special and had the potential.”