Special dogs

Dogs that track deer

How prepared are you for when things don’t quite go as planned in those final moments of a stalk? We discuss deer dogs, their training and the best procedure to enhance the chances of finding a lost animal with Tony Lowry from UK Deer Track and Recovery.

What would be on your ‘essential’ kitlist for a stalking foray in the UK? Beyond the rifle and appropriate clothing, and depending on the nature of your stalking, I’d guess a knife, binoculars, mobile phone, sticks, headtorch and windchecker might feature. What about a dog? A dog that is capable of tracking a deer for more than a few hundred metres? How prepared are you for when a stalk doesn’t go quite as planned? In the vast majority of cases, the stalker gets within a sensible...

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The rough shooter's dog

Author: Ben Randall

The sight of dog and Gun working together to put game in the bag is a joy to behold, but how does one achieve such a partnership?

Before taking the first steps towards acquiring a dog, the prospective owner will have – or should have – a good idea about what they want their dog to do when it grows up. For many, the end goal is typically either a peg dog, a dog for picking-up behind the Guns, or a dog that will perform steadily in the beating line or when walked-up shooting. Cross-over between the three is not rare. It is the last of these roles, though – the rough shooting dog for walked-up sport – that is the...

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Life changing labradors

Author: Heather Waktare

It’s okay to cuddle up on the sofa with your gundog, they can be so much more than just a working companion.

Three years ago my brother Bruce and his wife Gayle decided to up sticks from their two bedroom cottage in Walton-on-Thames and head for the Scottish Highlands. This announcement came as a big surprise to me. They were both true townies with a penchant for good restaurants, trendy pubs, cinemas, coffee shops etc. They found a house just 10 miles north of Inverness on the Black Isle, and soon after settling in they announced they were going to buy two dogs, not just pooches, but gundogs!...

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Mole, the millennium dog

Author: James Chapel

After more than 1,000 shoot days at his side, James Chapel looks back at the long and loyal life of his remarkable black labrador, Mole.

Mole was my first labrador and, although my family have always had a number of dogs, he was also my first proper gundog. I lead a very enviable life in that I run the William Powell Sporting Agency based in Banbury and, as a direct result of this, end up attending/hosting/managing over 100 days each season myself. The actual business is involved in far more than this, but one person (and as Mole found out – one dog) can only attend so many days in a year. My first sight of Mole was of him...

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Logan’s Run

Author: Peter Curran

Following the piece in the first issue on how far we drive to collect our new puppies, Peter Curran reports on a 1,000-mile plus adventure to collect a new pointer.

We enjoyed the article on puppy collection in Issue 1 of Gundog Journal and thought other readers might like to hear about my long journey to collect two pointer puppies in October 2014. Being a keen pointer and setter field trials competitor, I wanted to obtain another full working dog with similar good blood lines as one of my current pointers. Having found the breeder and line I wanted, it was just a case of arranging the finer details for a long trip to Scotland.   Cotswolds to...

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My Dog of a Lifetime (Part 1)

We ask six people from the shooting world about their all-time favourite gundogs.

  David Bontoft Owner, Hull Cartridge I remember my first conversation concerning Madge. We were having a splendid lunch at the Sandringham Flower Show in July 2012. My daughter Faye was having dog chats with Amanda Clark, wife of David who was then the headkeeper at the marvellous royal estate in north Norfolk. Amanda mentioned that her son-in-law Sam had a cocker bitch and it was due to have a litter any time soon. My ears pricked up and I zoned in on the conversation. Faye was...

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My Dog of a Lifetime (Part 2)

We ask people from the shooting world about their all-time favourite gundogs

  Will Templer Sporting agent Having had springers most of my life, I wanted a change on several accounts, but primarily because I was spending ever more time behind Guns as a sporting agent. Although springers will sit happily at a peg, I wasn’t good enough at teaching them and never managed to train one to be totally silent. This led me from a German wirehaired pointer (seldom in the same county!) to a wirehaired viszla because of a feature I saw on Crufts, where a woman was...

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My Dog of a Lifetime (Part 3)

We ask two passionate shooting people about their favourite gundogs.

Neil Fletcher Former leicester tigers rugby player Although I’d been involved in country sports with my dad from an early age, I only really got in to shooting seriously when I joined Leicester Tigers in 1996/97. I started going pigeon shooting with Dean Richards and an old boy named Brian. Brian knew everything there was to know about decoying pigeons and geese and was a real old countryman. He had a black lab called Harley and I loved to watch him working, retrieving shot birds from...

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FtCh Speckle of Ardoon

Patrice Fellows turns the spotlight on a spaniel that confounded her own breeding to become one of the best ever, and a trainer who most definitely did it his way.

The late Keith Erlandson was a man steeped in spaniel training and he made up 20 FTChs, but none is as legendary as the cocker spaniel FTCh Speckle of Ardoon. Known in his home as The Polecat, she was, in his words, ‘brilliant, dauntless and dangerous to know.’ Erlandson also considered her ‘a freak of nature’. She was bred in Northern Ireland by Will Sloan out of Colleen of Elan, a ‘sticky little bitch’ who ‘never seemed inclined to do much work.’ Colleen was the offspring...

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Billy Steel Jnr

Author: Anne McKay

The winner of the 2018 IGL Retriever Championship talks to Anne McKay about his methods.

Born into a keepering family, as a 12-year-old boy Billy Steel Jnr got his first labrador to call his own. Sadly, this dog passed away at only one-year-old. But his father, Billy Steel Snr, gave him another labrador, a bitch called Kirsty, who went on to be used for beating, ferreting and anything else required. At the age of 14, Billy took the day off school to compete with Kirsty in his first novice Field Trial at Carmichael Estate, near Biggar in the Scottish Borders, and proceeded to win...

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FTCh Breeze of Drakeshead

Author: Patrice Fellows.

We dip into the pantheon of legendary gundogs to select one each issue.

John and Sandra Halstead have owned several legendary labradors, but FTCh Breeze of Drakeshead was their greatest winner. He is the only dog to win the IGL Retriever Championship three years in a row, a feat never repeated before or since. Remarkably, the last two wins were accomplished with a heavily bandaged paw. John first qualified Breeze for the Championship in 1984 when he was not yet two at the Duke of Wellington’s Estate at Stratfield Saye, Hampshire. He ran alongside their older...

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Man’s Best Hunting Buddy

Author: Glyn Ingram

Working dogs are not confined to the shooting field. Glyn Ingram of the British Deer Society (BDS) takes a closer look at the crucial role of ‘deer dogs’.

Photographer / TWEED MEDIA Man and his best friend have been hunting large herbivores together for a very long time, at least 20,000 years and possibly as long as 30,000 years. In fact, humans and dogs have evolved in tandem. From our very first beginnings we were hunter-gatherers and only began to domesticate livestock around 9,000 years ago; the relationship between man and dog started long before that. Dogs appear in ancient cave art from many cultures around the world and invariably the...

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Dreams Do Come True

For some people the childhood ambition does come to fruition and here Louise Jarvis explains how her love of art and animals were only ever going to lead to one career.

It was very straight forward for me, there was no Eureka moment as a teenager or rat race escape plan, I knew from the age of about four years old that I wanted to be an artist. I received a VHS video from my mum one Christmas around this age, Tony Hart’s ‘How to draw animals in pastel’, and that was pretty much it – I was hooked. Every birthday or Christmas that followed included letters to Santa, pleas for art materials, videos and books on animals or art. There was a brief period...

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From the Law to the Labrador

Retired police officer Vikki Stanley has been competing since 1988, and won the Chudleys Gundog Championship at the Midland Game Fair in 2019. Gundog Journal caught up with Vikki to find out about her life with dogs.

Tell us about your home life? My husband Roger and I live in a Deganwy, Conwy, on the north coast of Wales. I was born in Lancashire but spent holidays in Wales so it felt natural to move here. I have five labrador dogs – all black. There’s Pip (eight years old), Bob (seven), Digga (two and a half), Odyn (two and a half) and my new puppy Gunny (six months). They all live in the house with us. Now that I am retired, I run my own soft furnishing business – mainly making curtains and...

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Wildfowling Dogs

Author: Tom Sykes

When it comes to wildfowling having a dog is just as important as having a gun for Tom Sykes, and here he explains why.

Wildfowling provides many moments of sheer sporting magic and it has to be my favourite type of fieldsports. The early mornings may be tough, but these adventures can be incredibly rewarding as you can find yourself in wonderful locations on the foreshore. The unmistakeable sights, sounds and smells of the saltings on a crisp morning makes the early alarm call that little bit more bearable. A trip onto the marsh can become even better if you have the chance to bag a duck or goose for the...

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My Dog of a Lifetime

Joanne Perrott - Founder of the Ladies Working Dog Group tells us about her dog of a lifetime.

Being asked to choose my dog of a lifetime has been bittersweet for me. I was introduced to working dogs by my father Ray Sheldon. I was so honoured to be asked to write this, and wanted so much to tell him, but sadly we lost him to cancer on 25 October last year aged 63. It’s hard to talk about any of my dogs without mentioning Dad because he’s always been a part of my life with dogs. I know he would have been delighted at my writing this, so I’m going to include his favourite dog too....

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How a dog can save a life

Author: Leigh Fell

Working with gundogs is good for us on so many different levels and, as Leigh Fell reports, dogs provide great support to people suffering from mental illness.

Photograph: JO SHEPHERD AND NIGEL KIRBY Doris Day famously said: “I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source.” As a member of the Scottish National Rural Mental Health Forum I personally believe truer words have never been spoken. Bearing in mind the ever-increasing incidence of mental illness and suicide in rural and farming regions, the vital, unspoken role that dogs can...

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Sofa surfing spaniels

Having fallen in love with shooting later in life Jo Bennett and her springer Clover won top-placed spaniel at the Chudleys Championship in 2019. Jo’s dogs are now proof that being allowed on the sofa is no barrier to success.

Tell us about your home life? I live in a little cottage on the outskirts of Faversham in Kent. I have no children and I am single, working as a personal assistant in the private sector. I break all the usual rules when it comes to my dogs, Clover, Chilli and Monty - not only do they sleep in the house, but on my bed and sofa.   What is your daily routine with the dogs? If I am working, I wake up at 7.30am and I take the dogs to a quiet field somewhere or nearby Ashdown Forest for...

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Don’t accept defeat

Trainer Damian Barson reports on a remarkable man who has not let cerebral palsy stop him working his dog on shoot day.

In the course of my work I come across all kinds of dog owners. First time owners are often excited at the prospect of having a working dog but unaware of the training commitment this will bring. More seasoned handlers have chosen their dog with care for certain characteristics, perhaps with the memory of a former companion in mind to whom the new pup may unfortunately never compare. As much of my training is on a one to one basis, I get to know the owners very well. We share the highs and...

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Difficult Days

Author: Joanne Perrott

In social media world every dog handler seems to be perfect, but this is not reflective of real life training. In this first of a new series Joanne Perrott speaks to handler Abbie Reid from Riverlily Working Dogs about what to do when things go wrong.

How did you start working dogs? My first dog was a black lab called Mya. This was 12 and a half years ago now. I tried to train her myself. I started with books and CDs, but decided I needed the help of a gundog trainer. So I found someone to help me. That’s where my passion for working dogs started.   Tell us about the dog you had your most difficult moment with? I now have seven dogs and my most difficult dog to train so far has been Sherman. He’s four years old now, a lab,...

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Overcoming Nerves

Author: Lindsay Corbett

Lindsay Corbett tells us about her dog of a lifetime and shares how she overcame her nerves in order to compete in the Cocker Championships.

Managing to get out of living in the cities and moving back to Wales with work finally allowed me to get my long awaited dog. I hadn’t had one since childhood when I had an untrainable Jack Russell. I liked the idea of a spaniel, having grown up with my dad’s retired springer. I remember playing with her on the lawn, throwing dummies, and sending her for them in order. I thought it was incredible that she was so well trained. She’d then get fed up of me doing the same thing over and over,...

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