The images and stories that landed in our inbox for The Field Gundog Awards’ photo and hero gundog categories wowed us and put a smile on our faces in equal measure. Now it is up to you to vote for your favourite from our shortlists. You can vote on as many categories as you like.
Voting closes on Thursday 12 August at 6pm. All category winners will be notified by 17 August by email. The winner in each category will be published in The Field’s December 2021 issue.
Gundog Photograph of the Year: IN THE FIELD
An exceptional motion shot showing a gundog at work in the field.
Gundog Photograph of the Year: WORKING FROM HOME
An exceptional portrait photograph of a gundog at home or in any non-sporting setting.
A gundog or working pet that goes above and beyond the retrieve.
Nominated by Linda Walker
Evie is my homebred German Short-haired Pointer, aged eight-and-a-half. She has worked many a season on the local shoot as an HPR, hunting, pointing and retrieving. I have also field trialled her, and I'm very proud of her success. She is also a show champion with 10 CCs to her name, plus winning BIS at the Breed Clubs Championship show. She is my hero and has recently undergone intensive surgery to remove a large breast tumour. The lab results came back as highly aggressive, the highest grade tumour they see. The operation was just four months ago and I'm treating her holistically and giving her the best life I can for the time she has left. As you can see, show champion Jolicoem Lalique (Evie) is beautiful with amazing working abilities. She's worked and trained on the North York Moors and here in the south where we live.
Nominated by Krista Radzina, on behalf owner Barbara Binaccioni
Hobbit: a strong, reliable dog, Hobbit enjoys nothing more than working during the winter months picking up pheasants. Always eager to please, he is also a very loyal and devoted pet – every home should have a dog like Hobbit!
Nominated by Tom Newton
I am nominating Jet, also known as Balderend Beauty. With all the struggles of the virus this past year, training and life in general has been very hard. Everyday for 108 days in a row Jet and I would get up at 5am and head into work for a long day at the yard. She really pulled me through the dark, miserable mornings with her joyful nature and her ability to listen and observe my every word. A true delight of a dog. In November, my 89-year-old grandmother took ill from covid where she was hospitalised. Two weeks later she was allowed home but she was very weak and it was one of the hardest periods of my life. She was with us for another six weeks, living in her front room being cared for by the family. Once my shift finished at work I would head over to see her. On entering her home, little Jet would calmly go over to her bed and sit patiently until she was instructed by my grandma’s nod to allow her up onto the bed. I am so sure my little Jet knew something wasn’t right, the way she was so attentive and gentle with my grandma, nuzzling up to her slowly and lying with her so very quietly for the duration of my visits. It was a pleasure to watch. Sadly my grandma didn’t make it through this awful ordeal, but I have some amazing memories of her and some brilliant ones with my little pup Jet. Little Jet also had a couple of days light beating at the end of our abrupt season. On one of her outings, the drive had finished and all the beaters were tromping back to the meeting place, when Jet picked up a scent and scuttled into an old coal shed. She picked and brought to hand a partridge that had made a dash for it into the old shed! She brought it back to me in front of the game keeper and about five beaters. The game keeper said: ‘That is going to be one hell of a dog’. This, as you can imagine, made my day. I smiled for about a week! In conclusion, this dog is my best friend. I have a true friend in Jet and I cannot thank her enough for what she did for me and my grandma. I am so proud of her, she is my hero.
Nominated by Colin Butcher.
My six-year-old working Cocker Molly is an extremely important member of my team and head of our feline division for The Pet Detectives [which recovers stolen animals]. Molly is an excellent example of how working dogs can be of enormous benefit to society as opposed to staying within their field of expertise as gundogs or field trials experts. Molly is the only dog in the world that is trained to find missing, lost and trapped cats and achieves this by tracking their unique scent signature using a methodology known as scent match recognition. This method is based upon a similar technique used by German police forces to link suspects to serious crime scenes. Molly’s story is extraordinary when you consider that she had three different owners before she was even 10 months old, with the third owner placing her on the website Gumtree as a giveaway and describing her as unruly and untrainable. I rescued her from Gumtree and with the help of several experts within the field of scent training, designed a 12-month training programme culminating with her becoming the only cat detection dog in the UK. What makes her achievement even more extraordinary is that every single search requires her to take on the new scent profile and to dismiss the previous scent signature, an incredibly difficult task for any dog to achieve. However, she is an absolute star and took to her training and role with the heart and character that is typical of all spaniels. Molly (at the time of writing) currently has 157 recoveries to her name. She has also located terriers which have been trapped in fox earths or rabbit warrens, several tortoises and once found a £30,000 stash of stolen jewellery hidden at the base of an ancient oak tree.
Molly is a truly remarkable dog. She has all the top qualities of every working gundog, but she puts her unique set of skills to the benefit of deeply distraught pet owners and has lifted the hearts of thousands of people because behind every single recovery there are 157 happy and extremely relieved families, as well as thousands of people touched by what she can achieve.
Nominated by Arthur Ashmore
From the day we had my springer, affectionately known as Little Stan, home four years ago he has been outstanding. Whether sitting as a peg dog, picking up or beating, he just does it.
Sadly last year he was diagnosed with epilepsy but with help from the vets and medication he has had no more fits since last November. The prognosis for him is that he should be able to continue working and doing what he does best.
Nominated by Malcolm Barrah.
My boy Suyian (a four-year-old Labrador retriever whose name means ‘wild dog’ in Maa, the language of the Maasai). Why do I think he deserves the Hero Gundog Award? Without him I’d still be fighting for my life with a 24% heart rate. All my doctors had given up on me and written me off as a lost case. They even said to me and my mother that they just wanted to make things comfortable before I go. After I heard this, I looked at the then six-month-old puppy I had and thought, ‘Well if I’m going to die, I may as well leave the family with a well-trained dog’. So I started out slow and steady doing very little as often as possible. Eventually the pup and I developed an unlikely bond to the point he could feel if I was about to have one of my blackouts and would come back to heel or bar my path until I stopped. Slowly, the more I trained him and walked him, my heart rate increased. Within six months I was doing long two-hour walks on the flat, and within a year I was back out on a shoot. I now sit here writing this today with two fully-trained gundogs with a third in the making, and a 48% functional heart (which is way more of an improvement than most cardiomyopathy patients experience).
Nominated by Tessa Driscoll.
Our nine-year-old black Labrador Tetley has been an amazing working companion in the field over the past years, picking up three days each week, memorably finding a partridge that four spaniels and two labs had hunted for and failed to find. Tetley has made some stunning long distance retrieves, his amazing nose has never let me down, including at home in the kitchen if anyone opens cheese or cream! Away from picking up, he was a regular blood donor at the Royal Vet College until his retirement, including one of his blood donations being used to treat a cat. This has made Tetley a feature on the RVC website with the following quote: “Tetley is one of our lovely donors. When we couldn't source any cat blood for Burberry, we used Tetley's blood as a xenotransfusion which allowed Burberry to become stable enough to have the operation he needed to repair his leg.” Tetley also is a registered ‘Pets As Therapy’ dog, making regular visits to a local secondary school to help children aged between 12 and 16 who have anxiety, problems with socialising, exams or disabilities. He adores the attention and never fails to put a smile on the children’s faces with his attitude and antics. He also recently went to visit a Disability Challengers group as he is utterly bombproof and is the ideal dog for older disabled children, as absolutely nothing fazes him. At home he is impossible to ignore, lying in every doorway to ensure there is no chance of missing out. Recently we have experienced some difficult issues at home and Tetley always seems to know if someone needs cheering up. He has the most enormous character that I, and most people I know, have ever encountered in a dog, and it is that amazing resilience and sheer bloody mindedness that has stood him in good stead. Last June, aged only eight, and having had intermittent lameness for a few weeks, he was diagnosed with cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) in both his front feet — a truly devastating diagnosis as there is no effective treatment other than surgical removal of the cancer. As it affected both front feet, that was a major problem. Tetley was given a prognosis of three to six months before the pain would be uncontrollable and we would have to make the hardest decision. Despite having six labs, all of whom we adore, Tetley is such an enormous character, we could not imagine losing him so early, so after much discussion with specialists and my own vet, it was decided that, against the views of the specialists who felt that the procedure would leave Tetley poorly functional, we went ahead and radically removed three of his toes from his front feet as the only way to successfully treat the cancer. My aim was just to have a happy dog who was comfortable walking around the garden with his chums and who would be able to return to his Pets As Therapy work. So, with much anxiety, in August 2020, he underwent major surgery on his front feet. However, as we suspected, he was not going to let major surgery hold him back and much to our vet’s amazement, Tetley was trying to walk by himself within 24 hours of surgery! Although it was a long and tricky recovery, requiring much nursing and physiotherapy, he has defied all odds and on one of the very few days that Covid allowed us last year, he finally returned to retrieving, hunting in woods to find a hidden cock pheasant! It was the most emotional retrieve after having been so close to losing him, to see him back doing what he loves most. He has, as always, massively exceeded our expectations for him! We think he is a true hero for what he has endured and the amount he gives back.