Awards & Recognition

Awards & Recognition

Do your dogs have what it takes to be the best of the best? Want to cheer

on some of the top dogs in the nation? Meet Circle of Champions and

Purina Sporting Dog Award winners

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The winner of the inaugural Purina Derby Top Field Trial Bird Dog Award is a 2-year-old liver-and-white male Pointer called “Hawk.” Earning 2,318 points, Game Strut, as the dog officially is known, won the National Derby Championship and the All-American Derby Championship and was Runner-Up Champion at the Georgia Derby Championship. Hawk is co-owned by Vick Etheridge of Corinth, Miss., and Steve Scott of Hartford, Ala.

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.

Mike Tracy Wins Seventh Purina Top Shooting Dog Handler Award

Professional handler Mike Tracy of Glenville, Pa., captured his seventh Purina Top Shooting Dog Handler Award. With a string of 13 dogs, Tracy won a personal best 13 champion­ships and totaled 5,545 points.

Our Big Bully Is Purina Top Shooting Dog

A 5-year-old white-and-liver male Pointer, Our Big Bully, owned by Erwin and Karen Saniga of Nottingham, Pa., and handled by Mike Tracy of Summerhill Kennels in Glenville, Pa., rallied from 32 points behind the leader going into the final trial of the 2011-2012 season to win the Purina Top Shooting Dog Award.

With six bird finds in the Canadian Open Shooting Dog Championship in May in Ontario, Big scored 240 points and finished the season with 2,718 points.

‘Pepper’ Is Purina Top Amateur Shooting Dog

Through consistent performances, a 5-year-old white-and-black female Pointer named Neely’s Hot Pepper accumulated 10 placements and 2,155 points to capture the Purina Top Amateur Shooting Dog Award.

Connor’s EZ Button Wins Purina Top Field Trial Bird Dog Award

The 5-year-old white-and-orange male Pointer, Connor’s EZ Button, called “Button,” is the winner of the Purina Top Field Trial Bird Dog Award. A stylish, big-running dog, Button tallied 2,515 points. He won five open champion­ships, two of which were three-hour stakes.

“I think Button’s winning those two endur­ance trials — the Quail Championship Invitational and the National Championship — speaks the loudest,” says owner David O’Connor of Bullard, Texas.

In his first year since converting to all-age field trials from shooting dog competition, professional handler Luke Eisenhart of Tiskilwa, Ill., won the Purina Top All-Age Handler Award with 3,656 points. He captured 22 field trial wins with 11 dogs.

A 2-year-old white-and-liver female Pointer called “Zeva” is the winner of the inaugural Purina Top Shooting Dog Derby Award. Earning 1,319 points, Awsum Country Girl, as she is officially known, won the National Shooting Dog Derby Championship, the U.S. Quail Shooting Dog Futurity and three Derby Classics under professional handler George Tracy of Glenville, Pa. She is the first Purina Award winner for owners Bill and Margie Ricci of Powhatan, Va. “Zeva is a stylish dog with tremendous bird-finding ability,” says Bill Ricci, who did the early training on the precocious bird dog.

“Aero is just a wonderful dog for an amateur to own,” says co-owner David Furin. “He has a calm, focused disposition when he’s going to the line, and his work ethic is fantastic. He’s the same dog every day.”

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A 4-year-old male English Coonhound, CH GR NITE CH ‘PR’ Halies Red River (“Red”), was honored as the 2011 Purina Outstanding Nite Hunt Coonhound. During the 31st annual competition, Red earned 600 points from 15 of 23 events.

It was co-owner Jody Jessup’s fourth consecutive year to handle the Purina Award winner. “This fourth award is the most special to me,” Jessup says, “because Red is mine and my wife’s dog.”

An American Leopard Hound representing intelligence and a willingness to please, GR CH C and M’s Southern Swirl, was honored as the eighth annual Purina Outstanding Bench Show Coonhound. The 2-year-old red merle female outperformed 1,784 hounds to win the Purina Award.

“‘Swirl’ stands out to judges with that red merle,” says co-owner Curtis Elburn. “She also has nice ‘cat feet’ that stay tight on the bench. We knew she had potential.”

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.”

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