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Meet Drake, a talented black labrador with a cupboard full of trophies. Hear him work to the whistled commands of owner, professional gun dog trainer Jason Mayhew on the Cowdray Estate.

Yet Drake was the last puppy of the litter – less desirable because of the white speckle on his chest. As a youngster, he was outshone by his half brother Flint in field tests, working with simulations and dummy birds.

Once exposed to the pressures of a full field trail with live game, however, Drake’s talent emerged as unstoppable. It’s a tale of faith, near-disaster and ultimately of triumph – a roller coaster ride for both man and dog.

Drakehe black labrador looks to the right of a cocked gun in the hand of a man dressed in shooting tweeds
Drake was England’s top scoring gun dog two years in a row at the “Gundog Olympics” – a.k.a. the Anglesey International.

In this episode of Dogs with Jobs, Jason explains how he nurtured Drake’s natural talent and brought him on compete at championship level. Jason never doubted Drake’s abilities for a second – you can hear the affection as well as his delight in Drake’s success.

Jason Mayhew smiling broadly in a field, holding the Field Champion cup, won by Drake the black labrador gun dog who sits next to him.
Field Champion Kestrelway Drake, with handler Jason holding the trophy in 2018.

Jason explains the roles played by dogs on a large scale pheasant shoot – flushing, pointing, retrieving and more.  Gun dog training is a hobby for many dog owners, who compete at informal competitions such as scurries and field tests, for the sheer enjoyment.

Retrievers like Drake work alongside many other dogs, and must stay focused and in touch with their handlers over up to half a mile, against a busy and very noisy backdrop. How do they do it? Find out in this month’s Dogs with Jobs.

labrador gun dogs with their handlers standing on a hillside, turned away from the camera
Gun dog school on the Cowdray Estate. Jason takes the dogs through exercises designed to build their confidence, and strengthen the bond between dog and handler.

Find out more about Jason Mayhew’s gun dog training.

Do you work your dog or dogs?

Or perhaps you know others who do? Please put them in touch with Kate at team@shineradio.uk. She really does love dogs and would love to hear from them.