Two Day Championship Show
Hosted by The German Shepherd Dog League of Great Britain
held on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th June at Weston Park
The German Shepherd Dog fraternity of the UK is privileged to have a breed championship show covering two days as a focal point of each year's showing activity. Popularly known as "The National", it is hosted by each country in turn and this year's event was the l9th since the first in l984, which was also held in the Shropshire countryside at the beautiful Weston Park estate, home of the Earl and Countess of Bradford.
Weston has been the venue on seven previous occasions and, although expensive to hire, it is much liked by exhibitors and visitors alike with its beautiful scenery and accessible central location. The two day format creates a very special atmosphere. Enthusiasts make a holiday weekend of the event, many bringing caravans or tents or exploring the pleasures of local accommodation.
Traditionally, the event in England has been hosted by the senior Breed Club, the GSD League of Great Britain, and this year was no exception. The League Committee comprises a number of new faces and under the efficient direction of new Chairman, Michael Dunleavy and Vice Chairman Nikki Farley, they were all pulling together to prepare the showground on a very sodden Friday evening, after a day of heavy rain. But the large expansive rings took shapes and the chairman managed to cajole a recalcitrant grass cutter into co-operating (with a little help from Jack Oliver).
Stalls were taking shape, Jubilee bunting strung out and the first arrivals settling down for the evening. A stalwart band of Working Trials enthusiasts were meeting with Bill Highcock and judge Ruth Cahill, to sort out arrangements for the North v. South Trials competition which was planned for Saturday. Weston Park shows have usually been blessed with fine weather, but this weekend's forecast was inauspicious. Would the rain blowing in over the Welsh Hills relent? Only the morning would answer that.
Saturday is devoted to the judging of all exhibitors in the age classes, from Minor Puppy to Special Yearling and yes, the weather remained dry and warm. It was somewhat overcast, but still conducive to a pleasant picnic atmosphere around the several breed club tents where refreshments, banter and lively conversation were freely available. Judging commenced at 9.00am after the introduction of the two visiting S.V. judges, Herr Wilhelm Euscher for bitches and Heinz Henrici for dogs. This year, for the first time, judging procedures were altered in keeping with established S.V. practice at the Sieger Show.
Only one dog at a time was allowed into the ring for the individual assessments, after which the whole class assembled for the first time. This certainly eliminated the usual shifting groups of dogs and handlers that can be distracting to judge and spectators alike, at some shows. A separate ring was set out to allow dogs to settle and practice a ring performance before entering the main ring. While most people seemed to like the new procedure, some did miss the chance to view dogs in the ring, as they stand naturally waiting to be judged. Many judges, too, value the opportunity to view an animal when it or its handler is "off guard", often very revealing!
A total of 78 puppies were entered of which 49 were presented. Best puppy in show was won by the George's MON TOYAH OF ROMAINVILLE, a well pigmented, very firm youngster who has, I believe, recently returned to her breeders after a somewhat unsettled start in life. She looked in fine form. John Allinson won Minor Puppy Dog with PEARLSYDE YASSO and his litter sister Parker & Allinson's PEARLSYDE YASMIN AT DRAGONROSE, took the corresponding bitch class. Sired by Conadrew Tosca, they both the excellent forehand angulation of their maternal grandsire, Ch Gavington Mascaro of Pearlysyde. Another kennel to breed a treble was the Rafaye establishment of Joe Summerhill and Karen Dixon with CH RAFAYE IGEN FROM SHOTAAN winning Open Dog and the Reserve CC and RAFAYE ENSCHI taking the Junior bitch class while RAFAYE TIMMO won Puppy Dog. A good show for these enthusiastic breeders. It was pleasing to see several Irish exhibits gaining good places in strong competition over the two days, amongst them IRISH CH QUARRYVALE ATHELETE taking second place in Open Dog class.
The first day's judging ended with the presentation of trophies to the top places in each class. Unfortunately, this resulted in a rather untidy huddle of dogs, owners and onlookers around the presentation table. Things improved at the end of the second day when the place-getters were paraded around the ring before receiving their trophies. All dogs on both days were graded by the judges and every owner received an S.V. grading card signed by the officiating judge. It has to be realised, of course, that an S.V. grading of Excellent on the Continent can be attained only by dogs that have a working qualification so that the grades awarded here are not equivalent to an S.V. grade, in spite of the format of the card. Another welcome innovation was the availability of a full printed results sheet listing the position and grades of all the dogs in each class.
Saturday evening is devoted to barbecue and much quaffing at local hostelries so that it wasn't just the deteriorating weather of Sunday morning that weighed rather heavily on some tired heads! 63 males were entered in Post Grad, Limit and Open of which 40 appeared. Heinz Henrici graded 35 excellent. Of the 84 bitches entered on Sunday 58 were shown of which 53 were graded excellent by Herr Eusher, a very creditable outcome. The senior bitch classes were particularly impressive.
Open Bitch was won by the eventual CC winner Cox and Gilbert's SEZANA von der KAHLERHEIDE, originating from a famous German kennel, she was the esteemed VA award at the S.V. Sieger show in 2000 and so was a hot favourite for the top spot. Reserve CC went to Margrit Davies' recent import, the grey sable, FINTE vom HAWELKAWEG, handled to perfection by Andrew Connolly, she is a daughter of the grey Reserve Sieger Timo von Berrekasten and has already won one CC under the New Zealand judge Carol Black. Carol and her husband Gavin, who both judged a recent Ch show were at the show and were most impressed by the event. Their suitcases were packed for the long return journey home, but they would have liked to have found space for Finte!
The dog judging concluded with a successful challenge by the seven year old ARDENBERG PUTZ owned and bred by Wendy and Graham Stephens. After winning 2 CCs, Putz has been extensively campaigned in pursuit of that elusive third ticket and has been most unlucky not to have been crowned before now. But his title was the best birthday present Wendy could have had on Sunday. The Stephens' Arden Grange generously sponsored the show as they have done so often in the past, and the presentation of a lovely birthday bouquet to Wendy was warmly applauded. Putz subsequently provided the icing on the birthday cake by going Best in Show. After judging was completed, they judges evaluated three progeny groups by APPOLLO von DAKOTA, CH RAFAYE IGEN FROM SHOTAAN and JASCHO von FIEMERECK.
Unfortunately, these paraded in pelting rain so that there seemed little time to have a good look at the dogs. A parade of imports was poorly supported in spite of the fact that there are several imported animals in the country, some used for breeding. A pity that the fancy were not given the opportunity of viewing these dogs.
The North and South Working Trials competition, held on the Saturday was finally won by the South with 1,3609 points out of 2,000 compared with the North gaining 1,311. The teams had to work an hour old track, complete a search exercise and perform exercises in control and agility. The veent was well organised, there was no invasion of the tracking ground by the unsuspecting and an interested crowd watched to the end. The overall standard of work was excellent and the League President Percy Elliott awarded the Gold medal for the highest score to the South's W.T. Ch LACTARE CERIOUSLY GEORGEOUS C.D ex - T. D ex, bred by John and Jackie Barrow and sired by Dark von Arolser Holz. This most impressive worker also took a silver medal for the best performance in Control and Agility.
medal for the Best Nosework was won by Alan Bolton's NORSHEP
STORM C.D. ex - T.D. ex, sired by Working Trial Ch Shardees
Axell. Gail Gwesyn Price, a staunch supporter of the League
for many years, also donated a trophy called the Druidswood
Trophy in memory of a minor puppy who died recently. This
trophy was awarded to the highest scoring dog on the losing
team and went to Alan Bolton.
Thanks are due to all the helpers, tracklayers and particularly to the judge Ruth Cahill, a committed enthusiast for the Working Shepherd and to the League which hosted the event and the N.S. Match Society who sponsored the event jointly with the League. Bill Highcock must receive especial commendation for organising the event from start to finish. There is some talk of altering the venue for future shows, but for me, it's Weston Park for ever!