Any falconer's dog must be sensible around the birds and must understand its role in the whole proceedings - in short it must be hawkwise and this is why Steve's Brittanys are all registered with the "Hawkwise" kennel suffix. Steve, and his late wife Barbara, first met the breed at Crufts in the early 1980s. Although not actively seeking a hawking dog at the time, because he was still beating Warwickshire flat with a stick, the advantages of a pointing dog were obvious.
When Heart of England Falconry was started in 1985 an appreciable part of the winter income was generated by hawking parties. Without a dog this was hard work and not as successful as it might have been. A dog was a necessary investment but they already had a pack of ageing whippets, and were reluctant to inflict a large, boisterous German pointer on some of the older dogs, who were slowly rusting away. The diminutive Brittany seemed a more suitable choice but they were very rarely available. However Barbara found an advertisement for a litter in the local paper and, after a little research, bought one both as a surprise present and an act of faith in the success of the infant business.
This tiny, black & white scrap was to become their foundation bitch. Registered by her breeder, Kathy Gorman, as Walgoreg Emerillion she was given the pet name of Nem. This was short for Eneme (French for enema on the basis she could flush anything out). Nem started pointing flies in the back yard at only eight weeks of age, thus answering the old question of "how do you teach the dog to point".
She continued to hone this skill on our rabbit pen and on a pair of aviary-kept silver pheasants. By the time the hunting season started Nem was ready to go, and proved to be a zealous huntress. Her very first "hawking" point was in kale and produced a cock pheasant. Steve was mightily impressed but confused by her subsequent refusal to move on from the spot. Further investigation revealed a hen bird sitting tight in the same place. She was to work on many different kinds of terrain and proved her worth many times over. At nine and a half she finally paid the price of too many hard miles and picked up a wrist injury which was to force her retirement. Given to a friend she continued to do limited work until finally passing on at the grand age of 16.
Nem was shown just once, at the Brittany Club Open Show in 1988. She won 2 classes and ended up Reserve Best Bitch to her mother. On the advice of Mike and Pauline Bevan, she was mated to Rosevale Dominic and produced 5 bitch puppies. Of these Hawkwise In the Brambles (pet name Villain) was kept. She worked in tandem with her mother and eventually carried the baton by herself. Like Nem she was a truly dedicated worker and won many new admirers for the breed. Villain was a sable, which is not a recognised show colour in the breed, being a rich mahogany with black tips to her ears giving a 'burnt toast' look. Despite this she was shown once, winning a good Novice Bitch class at the Brittany Club Open Show.
Villain had two litters. The first, to the Bevans' Sh. Ch. T'Chao de l'Hospitalier at Brittyhill, produced 6 pups. There was only one bitch, which was an exact replica of her mother, and Steve thought it would be difficult to work two such identical girls together. He therefore opted to keep a dog, a fairly bold decision as there were few Brittany dogs that displayed the biddable nature that he was seeking. Careful selection resulted in "Trouble" (Hawkwise Highlander) being kept. A boldly marked sable like his mother he was so pretty that several people remarked that he was "too pretty to be any use as a worker". He was quickly to prove them wrong. Going up to Scotland for a six month hawking season it was intended to let him run behind Villain for an hour a day to "educate his nose". However an injury to her left him carrying the burden of being a full-time hawking dog, working in front of clients, from the tender age of 5 months! This put an old head on his shoulders and gave him more experience, before his first birthday, than most dogs get in a lifetime.
Villain's injury never cleared up and she was mated again, this time to Foscott Phlash Gordon at Aberdon. Of the 6 pups it was decided to keep another dog as Trouble was doing so well. This pup was named "Hassle". He was much larger than Trouble but suffered from completely hero-worshipping his older brother. If worked together he simply followed Trouble and never developed any real initiative as a result. In the end he was sold and went on to do track & search competitions.
Trouble became very well respected by all who saw him work but this is a tiny number of people. As Steve's admiration for his abilities grew so he felt that his dog was of a quality that would be good for the breed as a whole. In consequence Trouble was entered, in 2004, at a Brittany Club Championship show where he qualified for Crufts, without winning anything more. The following March dog and owner turned up at the NEC - and failed abysmally. Trouble had just finished a hawking season and was "as thin as a kipper". He was also totally badly behaved and did not show to advantage. Not an impressive debut.
Mortified by this Steve and Trouble attended the local ringcraft class. In time they entered the Brittany Club Open Show under Mick Young. To Steve's great surprise and gratification Trouble went Best in Show and a few weeks later was Best of Breed at the Three Counties Championship Show, judged by Mrs K Clements. From there they travelled on to the Bournemouth Championship Show and won the Reserve Dog CC (Challenge Certificate). This time the judge was Pauline Bevan. Bournemouth proved lucky for him as Marion Reeves gave him his first CC there in 2006. All four of these wins were under Brittany breeders. In an 'Indian summer' moment Trouble was awarded a Reserve CC at the 2011 Brittany Club Championship Weekend. At over 10 years old it was a testimony to his soundness and general good health. The judge, Margaret Green, is one of the breed's earliest enthusiasts and is President of the Club. Many thanks Margaret.
Hawkwise Highlander at Stud
1. Trouble's first bitch was Kilimazing Russet, a poaching dog from Coventry. Russet was a proven worker and a good example of a typical Brittany. She had 5 orange & white pups of which 3 went for work with falconers.
2. To further prove Trouble's ability Steve was lucky enough to be able to buy a young, black roan bitch from Debbie Mooney.
Mia (Challowmoon Ukraine at Hawkwise) was worked for a season under the hawks and acquitted herself well. She proved steady and responsive. She and Trouble were mated and she produced eight pups. The litter of 8 looked like liquorice allsorts. There were 2 tricolour bitches (one of whom is now the dam of two litters, each of 11 pups) and a black & white. The dogs numbered 2 orange & white, 1 black & white, a sable and an unusual sable that looked like very dark mahogany. With the exception of one dog all the others were sold to working homes.
Hawkwise Woodworker - a very unusual sable. "It's the end of the season and he has had many compliments from people we went shooting with. He performed admirably and he is now finally starting a bit of retrieving... which is great!!"
3. Another liquorice allsorts litter of 8 was whelped to Hilda Whalley's Spring Special. This time there were 4 orange & whites, 1 black & white, 2 tricolours and 1 sable. One bitch, Whalrim Aftereight, competes at obedience and is shown with some success.
4. A repeat mating to Challowmoon Ukraine, after a second successful season in the hawking field, produced 9 pups, our biggest Brittany litter yet. Seven of these are destined for the hawking field while 1 will be shown and trialled and 1 worked in agility and shown.
"Pup (Hawkwise Bonnie Prince) is doing really well. I am very, very pleased with him. He is an extremely fast learner, picks things up very quickly. He retrieves with enthusiasm and is working to the gun with a passion, and does not get mixed up when out hawking. He does know when and when not to retrieve, all skills he has basically taught himself. When he is told "No" he never needs to be told again. Honestly I have never known a dog so forward as Charlie. He still needs to be a little more steady when on point, but time and experience will do that. He quarters at a good pace (also self-taught) with only a little instruction and guidance. His scenting ability is amazing - the dog has the nose of 10 dogs. Charlie is also now working cover well, something that has required some encouragement, but he has got it. I could happily sing his praises all night, he is, to me, one in a million, a bloody good dog and will get better as this working season progresses. Good breeding, Steve, well impressed." Jeff from Yorkshire.
"She (H. Bisou) is the most intelligent pup for her age I have ever met. Here is a photo of her pointing her first pheasant at ten and a half weeks." Pete - Leicester
H. Bedouine, owned by Norma Ansell and Maurice Cook, has been competing in agility in the Medium category. At the last count she had graduated to Level 7 and will hopefully continue to progress to the very top flight. She was the highest rated Brittany competing in agility but has now been joined by one of her daughters. H. Bedouine over Gefni whelped 4 dogs and 2 bitches to Sh Ch Eastonite Tamoshanter in August 2010. Maurice has kept a tailless bitch. In 2012 a second litter, to Sh Ch Rocchus Folio, resulted in 5 dog puppies.
H. Babiole avec Badgerbeck won the Puppy TAN (Natural Aptitude Test) at the Brittany Club Championship Weekend in October 2006 - aged 28 weeks!
Hawkwise Bricoleur at 7 weeks.
5. Field Trial enthusiast Fiona Wensley brought her good working trials bitch Sif Goldbraid and had a traumatic whelping. Of 4 pups she is keeping an orange & white bitch and a black & white dog to trial. The others, both orange & white are with falconers. The black dog "Harken" has worked particularly well and has twice been awarded the "guns' pick" at trials.
"Harken" achieved a rare distinction. He won his 3rd Challenge Certificate at the LKA Championship Show in December 2008 (only his 4th show!) and became a Show Champion as a result. However, because he had already won his Field Trial Certificate of Merit he has become a full Champion, one of very few Brittanys to achieve this distinction. He is now Ch. Dag of Skinfaxi. *We have subsequently bred 2 Hawkwise bitches to Harken.
6. Hawkwise Brittanys also acquired Gudrun Ringmaiden, the litter sister to Sif Goldbraid, and she whelped 2 bitches and 6 dogs on 4th of October 2006, having already started to work with the hawks . 3 have gone for hawking (H. Barrie was with us until 5 months and was pointing pheasant, rabbit and marking occupied warrens), 1 for rough shooting, 1 for obedience/agility.
7. Brittyhill Simone, a hawking bitch owned by Mark Belmonte (and dam of the Best of Breed at Crufts in 2007) whelped 10 pups in January 2007. These pups are mostly going to hawking homes. One has been bought for show. After their first season the reports are very favourable.
8. Brittyhill Simone made a repeat visit in March 2008 and produced another 10 pups. Mark is intending to keep a bitch for work and breeding, his original Brittany bitch having been a full sister to Hawkwise in the Brambles.
9. Just one week later Challowmoon Ukraine at Hawkwise produced her third litter to Hawkwise Highlander. 4 bitches and 3 dogs duly arrived safely.
At the Brittany Club 2010 Championship Weekend Hawkwise Desperate Dan won the TAN - with litter sister Hawkwise Dawn Chorus coming second. Two pups from Brittyhill Simone also graded when only 6 out of 15 runners achieved their diploma.
H. Desperate Dan with "Most Improved Dog Trophy" from Leamington Dog Training Club and (right) the Brittany Club's TAN Trophy.
"The little bitch (H. Dark Secret) that sat on the blue table turned out a good dog, good in cover and water" Keith - Notts
"She (H. Dawn Chorus) is such a wonderful dog. I am not working her, she is just part of the family, but she points pheasant, partridge, rabbits and the occasional snipe or woodcock while we are out walking, She retrieves well even in water. She also works well with the whistle." Paul - Rotherham
10. In June '09 Jane Hurley's bitch Patouche Symphonie whelped 3 orange & white bitches, an orange & white dog and a black & white dog. The latter has gone to South Africa where it is hoped he will add fresh breeding to his new owners kennel of working Brittanys. One of the bitches is with a falconer. All the others are likely to be shown or to do obedience/agility.
11. Jonathan Grassi brought their home-bred bitch Cos d'Estournel for mating on 11th March 2010. Pups were produced on May 11th, the litter comprising 2 bitches and 8 dogs. Jonathan and Catherine are retaining one bitch, *Chambertin Clos, while the other will be going to John Masterman in Yorkshire as part of his breeding programme (He owns Golden Future - see below for picture). *Pouilly Fume from this litter has now been used on Hawkwise Fair Copy to 'double up' the influence of H. Highlander in our bloodline.
12. See below for our next home-bred litter - the 6th generation of Hawkwise Brittanys.
13. On 27th March 2010 Craig Crutcheley brought his super, working bitch Sky Adventure for mating from Yorkshire. She is full sister to Golden Future and these pups could do well for show or work. Sky Adventure produced 4 bitches ( 2 orange & white, 2 tricolours) all being worked under hawks.
14. Stourling Domina, a black & white bitch belonging to Alison Pettit, whelped 8 pups on 4th January 2012 to Hawkwise Highlander. There are 2 black & white dogs and 6 bitches (3 x black & white and 3 x orange white).
THE 5th GENERATION
In 2007 Hawkwise Witchcraft (H. Highlander x Challowmoon Ukraine at Hawkwise), owned by Sharon and Martin Philpott, produced 11 pups to the same owners Amber Hawk, and Steve purchased an orange & white bitch, Broadwing Corn Dolly at Hawkwise.
Update: Dolly has finished her third hunting season now and works enthusiastically. She is a happy and responsive girl and is a reliable worker. Like all Brittanys she has a sunny temperament. At the Brittany Club Championship Show in October 2007 she passed the TAN (Test d'Aptitude Naturel) and also qualified for Crufts where she won the Junior Bitch class.
Broadwing Corn Dolly at Hawkwise working in Perthshire
At the 2008 Brittany Championship Show Dolly again qualified for Crufts with a pleasing win in the Novice Bitch class and went on to win the Postgraduate Bitch class at Crufts 2009.
12th Litter On May 8th 2010 Broadwing Corn Dolly at Hawkwise produced 4 bitches and 5 dogs to John Masterman's fine working dog, Golden Future (see below for photo). All are predominantly white with orange patches. We will be retaining a 6th generation Hawkwise bitch, H. Fair Copy, as the foundation of our 7th generation of Hawkwise Brittanys, providing of course that she meets our demanding standards of work & looks.
GOLDEN FUTURE owned by Mr J Masterman
A second bitch will be going to Jersey where her falconer owner intends to breed her with his working dog, Hawkwise Barrie (H. Highlander x Gudrun Ringmaiden). Two other dogs will be working with falconers and a bitch is going for rough shooting. A further bitch will be trained for agility.
15. April 10th 2012 and Broadwing Corn Dolly at Hawkwise produced another bumper litter to Ch Dag of Skinfaxi (his first litter). There were 10 survivors from a round dozen pups and the 3 bitches and 7 dogs that remained have all now gone to new homes. Two of the bitches (a tricolour and an orange & white) will be worked with hawks, as will 6 of the dogs (a tricolour, two orange & whites and four black & whites). The remaining orange & white bitch, *H. Happy Feet, has been bought by Stuart & Chris Hammond who have twice bred from her.
This was a really attractive litter. All the pups showed great alertness and responsiveness, had good, short backs and nice heads.
16. May 18th 2013. Hawkwise Fair Copy produced her first litter (and our 7th generation of home-bred Hawkwise Brittanys) to Ch Dag of Skinfaxi (himself a Hawkwise Highlander son). Her 9 pups are showing great promise, and one dog, *H. Iceman, has already sired the 8th generation. In 2014 H. Iduna has already won 2 CCs (at her two first shows) and it is hoped she will become a champion in the near future. She is destined eventually for the trialling field, as is litter sister H. Inayah. In 2016 H. Iduna was placed 2nd in both a Novice and an All Aged trial with Worcester Gundog Society, the latter award meaning she can now compete at Open level.
*H. Inayah over Gefni works on 2 local shoots and, in 2016 produced 8 more 8th generation pups to Sh Ch Curacao Tank Calzaghe of Sultair. In 2017, at the Brittany Club's Championship Weekend, she won the Advanced retrieve Trophy.
17. October 14th 2015. H. Fair Copy produced our biggest litter yet to another Hawkwise Highlander son, Pouilly Fume. Twelve 7th generation Hawkwise pups (6 dogs and 6 bitches) arrived safely - all being orange & white. Most of the litter have gone to working homes (9 of these being to existing Brittany owners) and 3 of the bitches should be bred from in the fullness of time. Despite intending to keep a bitch Steve was eventually chosen by a smart dog pup, *H. Land Agent (Toby). Watch this space!
18. June 4th 2017. H. Fair Copy's 3rd litter (to Rochus Huxley) comprised 1 dog and 7 bitches! All are orange & white. Steve's partner, Sue Connolly, is keeping H. Nugget.
Hawkwise Nugget at 7 weeks
Hawkwise Fair Copy (Golden Future x Broadwing Corn Dolly at Hawkwise)
This white and orange bitch, Scoundrel, is very much her mother's daughter as you can see from the photos. She has been a wonderful brood bitch and Steve's companion in his first ventures into working Hawkwise Brittanys to the gun and competitive Field Trialling. As an 11 month old puppy she came 3rd in the Puppy Stakes and 2nd in the Novice Stakes at the Brittany Club Working Test. From the pics below she always showed great promise and has moved our whole breeding programme on to another level. With 29 pups from 3 litters her influence is sure to live on. Already H. Iceman and H. Inayah (1st litter) have been bred from and H. Land Agent (2nd litter) has mated his first bitch. H. Nugget is being retained as well.
Hawkwise Fair Copy showing plenty of enthusiasm at 16 weeks
First water retrieve at 17 weeks
2013 saw H.Fair Copy produce her first litter to Ch Dag at Skinfaxi (see Brittany Breeding Plans). She had no working test or trial successes but did continue to work well (now on two local shoots). She did win a couple of classes at Brittany Club shows and came second in the Advanced retrieve.
2014 and a 3rd place in a Novice Working Test with 39 dogs competing. Again she won her classes at Brittany Club shows. At Le Weekend (the club Championships) she reclaimed the Advanced Retrieve competition, while her daughter, H. Inayah, took the Scurry prize. Another daughter, H.Iduna, went Best in Show - winning her first CC at her first ever show. What a debut! Both these two daughters had graded at Spring Pointing Tests before they were a year old.
In June 2015 Hawkwise Iduna won Best of Breed and a second CC at the Three Counties (her second show). In the world of Field Trials H. Iduna took 2nd place in both a Novice Trial and an All-Aged stakes in 2016. This qualifies her for the Open Trial circuit so we will we see her at the HPR Championships at some date in the future?
TRAINING THE HAWKING DOG
Steve has been a dog trainer since he was in short trousers (a long, long time ago) and, starting from 1987, has worked 12 Brittanys under hawks. These have either been his own or dogs that have been loaned to him. He has also seen a lot of other Brittanys in the hawking field. While this does not make him an expert it does mean that he has reasonable experience of the breed. Anyone wanting guidance, advice or counselling (when HPR owners get together it can easily become a group therapy session!) can contact him at any time. Details are on the Home Page, see also Publications Page.
A useful link is www.thegundogclub.co.uk.
THE BRITTANY CLUB OF GREAT BRITAIN
Anyone who is thinking of owning a Brit, or who already has one, should join the Brittany Club of Great Britain. Through their website you will have access to a host of different activities, as well as a fund of knowledge, advice and support, visit www.brittanyclub.co.uk. Steve has served on the Committee since 2007 with a special responsibility as Falconry Representative. He has also qualified as a Breed Judge but pressure of work means that he is unlikely to take the opportunity to practise these skills in the show ring.
Steve is the Regional representative for the West Region of the UK (Birmingham to Cornwall). He organises training days and other events for Brittany owners in this area. You do not have to be a club member to participate in these.
In 2014 Steve was elected Chairman of the Brittany Club