A picture of a hunting dog smiling at the camera.

Orvis-Endorsed Operations Manager Reid Bryant talks with Orvis Ambassador Melinda Benbow and 2021 Breaking Barriers Award-winner Durrell Smith about their individual approaches to training dogs.

Melinda surrounded by dogs

Melinda Benbow

Melinda Benbow is the owner and operator of Urban Uplander Pet Care LLC in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her professional knowledge of pet care and dog training has allowed her to create and manage one of the top pet care companies in Indianapolis for the past 7 years. Melinda and her company are dedicated to providing quality pet care in the form of in-home care, boarding, basic obedience, and socialization days. Through her services, she has been able to help the pet owners of her local community achieve balanced, well-socialized, and enriched dogs while fostering the dog and owner bond. Melinda has also directed her scientific understanding of operant conditioning and learning theory to her relatively new passion for upland sporting.  With this new hobby came her breed of interest, the elegant English Setter. As a novice bird dog trainer, she has spent the past few years learning from both positive reinforcement bird dog trainers and traditional bird dog trainers on how to truly achieve a balanced dog in the field and off. Building these relationships has helped her in her efforts to bridge the gap between different methods of training and the people who utilize these methods. Even though her journey into the field world is still relatively new, she has still been able to contribute to the upland community by showing the average pet owners of sporting breeds that there is space for them within this community as well as room for more women and people of color.  

Durrell Smith with one of his dogs

Durrell Smith

Durrell Smith is a 31-year-old Georgia native, visual artist, art teacher, bird dog handler/trainer, and podcast host. While creating compelling abstract assemblage pieces or India ink and watercolor illustrations based on his field experiences and hunting dogs, he also runs a podcast called The Sporting Life Notebook (formerly The Gun Dog Notebook), along with his nonprofit, the Minority Outdoor Alliance, co-founded with his wife Ashley. Durrell is the recipient of the 2021 Orvis Breaking Barriers Award, which honors individuals or organizations going above and beyond to bring new communities into fly fishing or wingshooting. As a first-generation hunter, Durrell seeks to learn with and contribute to the active outdoor community by connecting with sportsmen, sportswomen, and visionaries within the bird dog community who are willing to share stories and knowledge about the discipline, creating a bridge to welcome those aspiring to join the bird dog community. 

Reid Bryant with one of his dogs

Reid Bryant

Around the edges of his work as Endorsed Operations Manager at The Orvis Company Vermont, Reid Bryant is a hunter, angler, writer, and host of The Orvis Hunting and Shooting podcast. After nearly fifteen years as a farmer and a teacher in central Massachusetts, Reid followed his love of the sporting life to Orvis, taking on various facets of Orvis’s hunting and shooting businesses. In this capacity, he manages far more days afield than he likely deserves. Reid has documented what he has learned in outlets such as Shooting Sportsman (for which he is an Editor at Large), Covey Rise Magazine, Gray’s Sporting Journal, Gundog Magazine, American Angler, The Drake, and The Fly Fish Journal. He is the author of The Orvis Guide to Upland Hunting and Training Bird Dogs with Ronnie Smith Kennels. See a sampling of his work at www.reidbryant.com