Report of 2009 National Championship

Over the weekend of the 17/18th October, the German Shepherd Dog League of Great Britain (Working Branch) held its annual National Championships, hosted again this year in the Warrington area by the South Cheshire branch. The Tracking took place on the grounds of the Daresbury Estate on Saturday, and the Obedience and Protection being held at the Victoria Park Stadium, Warrington, on the Sunday. A big “thank you” to all the members and friends of South Cheshire who again gave freely of their time and effort this year; thank you also to our evergreen and valued sponsors Arden Grange. Thanks are also due to Daresbury Estates, for the continued use of their land for this event.

The judge this year was SV Teaching Judge Herr Uwe Stolpe, who is well known to our organisation and has officiated in the UK before on a number of occasions. Uwe has tremendous enthusiasm for our sport and proved himself an excellent and friendly Judge.

Tracking began on Saturday at 9am, Mike Baverstock and Glyn Andrews acting as Tracklayers. A big thanks to these two guys, who have been called on a lot this year to spend the day walking round in the wind and rain! The weather was poor; it was raining and very windy. Tracking was, as usual with this venue, on recently grazed pasture. Conditions proved difficult for some dogs, with article indication seemingly particularly problematic. It is interesting that this was the case for some of the more experienced dog/handler teams, who generally post high scores in this phase. Personally saw no obvious reason for this anomaly – just a training issue, I consider.

Henriette Bohnstedt set the standard with “Excellent” 99 points (with Jaeger); Eric White scored “Excellent” 97. Geoff Tordoff and Richard James followed with “Excellent” 96. A couple of other competitors made 90 or over; Dougie Bannerman 93 and self with 92. Unusually for events in the UK these days, 7 dogs failed to qualify; bad luck to these teams.

Sunday proved to be a little better weather wise. The obedience and protection were run in 2 groups, which maintained the interest throughout the day. The first group ran both phases in the morning; the later group in the afternoon. Best obedience performances came from Dougie Bannerman with a controlled and spirited 92 points, followed closely by Geoff Tordoff with 91 points. Henriette Bohnstedt (with Casper) and Dave Martin both made 90. Brian Walden made 88, and Richard James and Phil Sergeant 85. All these were tidy and correct rounds with some minor faults. It is obvious that the standard in this phase has improved over the last 3 or 4 years.

The protection was characterised by powerful and correct helper work and insightful and informed judging, which tested the teams fully and made high scoring difficult. The helpers must be congratulated for their consistent and fair work; in my opinion both these helpers would be acknowledged as excellent anywhere in the World. It’s great to see the way we have moved forward in this context in the last 5 years. This view was strongly echoed to me by Herr Stolpe after the Trial.

Best protection was Geoff Tordoff on 92, followed by Dougie Bannerman on 91 and Henriette Bohnstedt (Jaeger) with 86. This made Geoff with his dog Bandit the deserved 2009 GSDL Working Branch National Champion; it was nice to see a new face at the top this year. Dougie came second with his young female in her first major trial; well done to both these teams. Henrietta made third with her veteran Jaeger, well done also.

Another super event; whilst some teams did not achieve the outcomes they hoped, there were many teams new at this level of competition and I am sure they will take the positives from their experiences at the event and learn from the mistakes. It is evident to me that the quality of dogs in the UK is now high; I am confident that Trial outcomes at all levels will reflect this in the near future. Well done to all.

By Chris Bows