I seem to have this need to learn as much as possible about dogs and the things that they can be trained to do. Sometimes we get lucky and have a really big event happen close to home. The United Schutzhund Clubs of America WUSV 2008 World Championship was being held near Cincinnati this year. So yesterday, I took a day off from training dogs and drove to Florence, Kentucky which is only about an hour away. A friend rode with me and we met up with another friend who was already there. The three of us sat in the stadium watching the top German Shepherds and their handlers from all over the world test their training against one another. Since this was the first Schutzhund event I had ever attended, I was trying to figure out why they weren’t getting higher scores. They all looked pretty good to me! There are 3 areas that they are tested in, obedience, tracking and protection. The tracking was held at a different location so we didn’t get to see any of that. They would run a few through the obedience part, change the equipment on the field and then run some through the protection part. I think maybe they do it that way so the decoys or helpers get a chance to rest and cool off. They have to wear a bite suit that makes the Stay-Puffed marshmallow man look thin. It was about 80 degrees and it was hot to just be sitting there in the sun. I can imagine how overheated those guys were getting. They did a really good job in spite of the heat. I enjoyed watching the dogs do the protection phase, they all seem to enjoy it so much. The obedience portion was interesting as well. They have to retrieve what I think is the biggest dumbell in the world. They also retrieve a smaller one from the other side of an A-frame wall, as well as over a solid jump. We sat there for several hours just watching. All the announcements were in German, so we really didn’t have a clue as to what was being said. There was a second announcer who would repeat the score in English, but we couldn’t always hear him. But the scores were posted up on the big scoreboard in the outfield as well as on the wall at the back of the stadium, so we could follow along with how they were doing scorewise. I enjoyed watching it and I will probably read up about how the scoring is done so that the next time I go to a Schutzhund event, maybe I’ll be able to see what the judges are marking points off for.
The people were all very friendly, in spite of the fact that many of them didn’t speak english. There were vendors selling all kinds of dog related equipment. We browsed among the crates, dog trailers, tugs, bite sleeves, balls, collars, leashes and harnesses. I bought a couple of balls and a new tug. Then we saw the jewelry guy,Gerhard Becker Jewelry USA. He has some really beautiful stuff. One of my friends, Gail, who was with me, decided she had to have one of the rings. We spent a lot of time at that booth. She finally decided on a beautiful silver ring. I think my friend Renee, from Follow Me Dog Training, LLC would also like the ring as she has those same patterns in her logo. Take a look. So a day off from training watching dog stuff, shopping among dog stuff and talking about dog stuff is what I do on a day off.