Monday, October 13, 2008

WUSV 2008 Florence Kentucky, USA

My trip to the WUSV world competition in Florence Kentucky was the opportunity of a lifetime. This competition is almost always in Europe somewhere. So when we found out it was being held in the USA, a large group of schutzhund enthusiasts from Ontario decided to make the trip south and watch this world class event. It is hard to describe in words what it was like having the opportunity to watch so many dogs who are at the world level compete. It was breath taking, incredible, amazing, almost unbelievable. There may not be another opportunity in my lifetime to be a spectator at the worlds. And the chances of me getting the chance to actually compete at this level are far less indeed!

I did manage to get some photos of the Canadian team. They are not the greatest, but neither is my camera. One of my favourite moments was when the Canadian team member Darryl's dog Alon v. Alder Tal hit the helper so hard during the escape that he was able to knock the sleeve right off of his arm and prance back to Darryl quite proud of himself sleeve in mouth... the crowd went absolutely crazy at this point, as dogs that over power the helper in any way at a trial is always followed by clapping, cheering, and praise. It was a magical moment. My camera was not fast enough to capture this moment, but pictures of this are available. No other dog as far as I know was able to over power either of the helpers. Way to go Canada! It's hard to really describe the feeling in the stadium at that moment... And, to see the helper after the routine on his way back to the dugout with a huge smile on his face was just priceless.

Our hotel was filled with Canadian schutzhund people, and a few Americans. We also had the entire Belgian team staying in our hotel and ran into them frequently. We were lucky as our hotel was literally across the highway from the host stadium.

Our days were filled with morning to late afternoon competition watching. We observed a large portion of the competitors perform their obedience and protection routines. None of us ventured out to watch the tracking portion.

My favourite team to watch out of all the dogs I was fortunate to see was the German champion, Javir vom Talka Marda with handler Michaela Knoche. This team placed 3rd overall at the worlds, but their performance was unforgettable. The obedience routine was comparable to a well trained dressage horse and was breathtaking. It left me wanting to see more and more. Javir's protection routine was a crowd favourite, as his super close jumping up at the helper's face during his hold and barks resulted in much cheering from the crowds. What an amazing dog.

I had many good conversations with some good friends and met some new friends. It was 4 days of competition and talk with like minded dog people. We also got some great deals on some dog equipment. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, perhaps a bit too warm for some of the dogs. It was an experience that will not be forgotten, nor equalled. It left many of us wanting to make the trip to Germany in 2009 to watch next year's worlds. Something to dream about!

Gabi & Yoschy

Ralph & Billie

Darryl & Alon

William & Greta (I did not get pictures of Greta's Protection - forgot my camera!)

Ken & Chevy

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Beauty of Fall

One could easily argue that fall has some of the most beautiful displays of colour.