Awards & Recognition

Awards & Recognition

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Purina Sporting Dog Award winners

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Professional handler Luke Eisenhart of Tiskilwa, Ill., captured his second consecutive Purina Top Shooting Dog Handler of the Year Award. The honor was achieved with 15 dogs that won 24 field trials, netting their handler 4,334 points.

Among Eisenhart’s top-winning dogs was Erin’s Blackstreet Affair, the 2006 American Field Pheasant Futurity winner, who contributed six of the 24 wins.

A 7-year-old white-and-black female Pointer, Ninnescah Nicole, owned by breeder Dr. Richard Steckley of Wichita, Kan., and handled by professional handler Chuck Stretz of Blackwater, Mo., excelled with her animated, stylish, front-running performances to earn 2,035 points and win the Purina Top Shooting Dog Award.

A stylish 5-year-old white-and-liver male Pointer, Purpleline Dan, proved his ability to find birds by winning two back-to-back championships that contributed to his earning 2,180 points, enough to make him the Purina Top Amateur Shooting Dog.

Owner-handler George Hill of Wentzville, Mo., who has competed in shooting dog stakes since 1980, was thrilled to win his first Purina Award. “I have never had a dog as outstanding as ‘Dan,’” Hill says. “He is something else on point. He has a super nose and always stays in front of the course.”

A 3-year-old white-and-orange male Pointer, Touch’s White Out, called “Sam,” is the winner of the Purina Top Field Trial Bird Dog Award. An exceptional bird finder, Sam earned 2,575 points with five placements that included winning the National and Missouri championships.

Sam was handled by Ike Todd of Dancyville, Tenn., who co-owns the dog with Keith and Jessica Wright of Covington, Ind. “Sam is a great athlete,” Todd says. “His brain and his desire to find birds make him very focused. When you turn him lose, he’s looking hard for birds, and he’ll go find them.”

A string of six Pointers that earned 15 placements and 2,543 points in all-age competitions put professional handler Andy Daugherty of Grovespring, Mo., on top to win his second Purina All-Age Handler of the Year Award.

Though it has been 13 years since Daugherty won the Purina Award in 1997-1998, he has placed among the top five handlers every year. “This award is something you work for all year,” he says. “It is rewarding when it comes together and you win.”

Mohawk Mill Blaze excelled on finding wild quail and won the National Amateur All-Age Championship, earning enough points to make the 4-year-old white-and-liver male pointer the Purina Amateur Top Field Trial Bird Dog Award.

It was the second time in the four-year history of the prestigious award that breeder-owner-handler Gary Winall of Powhatan, Va., has won. “’Blaze’ is a real strong dog,” Winall says. “He is magnificent on point, really pretty, one of those very exciting dogs who doesn’t come along too often.”

Striking with precision and displaying unwavering endur­ance, GR NITE CH ‘PR’ Feelin Big powered through the competition to win the Autumn Oaks Nite Championship. Despite the early September heat, “Big” tirelessly outperformed nearly 200 dogs, earning 1,250 points and treeing seven raccoons during the three-round hunt. His flawless performance in the final series allowed the 2-year-old hound to pull ahead of the competition. A lean tricolored Treeing Walker Coonhound, Big is reminiscent of his parents, W NITE CH Miami River Big D and W NITE CH Hanna’s Creek Feelin Frisky.

Owner-handler Alexandra “Alex” Washburn of Bruce, Mississippi, had a feeling that the 2016 National Amateur Retriever Championship in Stowe, Vermont, could be the last shot for her 9-year-old male to win a National. With impressive style and sharpness, NAFC-FC Coolwater’s Hawkeye Legend sailed through 10 challenging tests over land and water, outperforming more than 100 top field trial retrievers to become a “legend” among the great ones that have won the prestigious event.

With two sharp-tailed grouse finds in a fast-paced one-hour horseback stake, a 3-year-old Pointer named Fireline edged to the front of the competition to win the Saskatchewan (Canada) All-Age Championship. Outperforming more than 50 bird dogs in the five-day trial, the orange-and-white male called “Spot” is handled by pro handler Mark McLean of Doerun, Georgia. McLean also handled the Runner-Up Champion and the winner of the Derby trial. Working with Spot since he was 6 weeks old, McLean credits the resilient dog’s stamina, speed and ability to learn for their win.

A pleasing, determined and seemingly tireless 3-year-old Pointer called “Patch” commanded the field with eight finds to win the National Championship for Field Trialing Bird Dogs in February in Grand Junction, Tennessee. Whippoorwill Justified consistently stayed to the front of handler Larry Huffman of Michigan City, Mississippi. “Patch finished the three-hour horseback stake as strongly as he started. He caught the judge’s eye with his smooth, flowing gait and his precise pointing ability,” says Huffman, a three-time winner of the esteemed event.

Balancing high energy with excellent steadiness to wing and shot, a far-ranging white-and-orange Brittany named “Kate” won the Mid-America Brittany Championship with pizzazz this past April in Raymond, Nebraska. FC Sniksoh Little Diamond worked smoothly with pro handler Jimmy Johnson of Ravenna, Ohio, completing the hourlong stake with three finds to top the competitive 43-dog field. “Kate is snappy and stylish. She grabs the gallery’s attention as well as the judges’,” says Tom Wonderling, who owns the 4-year-old female with his wife, Jane, of Pulaski, Wisconsin.

A hard-charging 8-year-old male black Labrador Retriever called “Mickey” propelled through 10 challenging land and water series to win the 2016 National Retriever Championship this past November in Bonham, Texas. NFC-AFC Windy City’s Mighty Mouse, a four-time National Finalist, topped 97 retrievers to give owner-handler Charlie Hines of Hinsdale, Illinois, a 27-year veteran of the sport, his first National win after having handled 13 National Finalists. “Mickey has a positive attitude,” Hines says.