Well, a couple of months ago, my friend Jane calledme up and asked me if I would like to go to the 1st HGH trial to beheld in the U.S. I said yes, of course, and so, this weekend we headednorth from Virginia to northern New Jersey. With a few more stops thanwe wanted, it was a 7 hr drive from Charlottesville to the trialfields. For poor, tired Jane, stuck driving her father's 3 speed truck(which just might be older than I am...) it was another 3 hours homefrom my house. We had a bad start, as Jane's car wouldn't start onFriday, and it took some finagling, and the purchase of a truck tirefor her to make it to my house about 6 pm on Friday. So we drovethrough Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the chilly dark, surprised atthe leaves swirling across the road.
We got there at 2 a.m., discovered that our hotel was rather a dive(although, it WAS clean) and crashed into sleep. We woke way too earlythe next morning (8 a.m. ) and stumbled over to the trial grounds,and on the way discovered that in the black of night we had driventhrough the unbelievable peak Fall colors of the New Jersey mountains. The day was clear and sunny and the trial fields were lined by orangeand red and gold trees, with the colored mountains in the background. Wow!
I didn't record the order of the dog's running, so I'll just tell alittle about each one that I remember. This is an entirely subjectivereport, and my experience with herding consists largely of a year spenttrying to train my GSDs to gather (I now understand why I was sounsuccessful!!) and some training and testing of a number of youngborder collies that came through rescue. I currently am doingSchutzhund with my American GSD male (working on his 3) and my Germanworking-line female (working on her 2).
Many of the points were lost to handler commands, and lack of"obedience". Since part of the scoring is for obedience, if a handlergave a command that was not carried out, or had to recommand, points could be lost. Many other points were lost to handlers not helping orusing their dogs effectively to move or control the sheep, or nothandling in ways to take advantage of, or minimize their dogs'strengths or weakness. Other points were lost due to overenthusiasm ofthe dogs, causing the dog to overexcite the sheep, or to hinder themovement of the sheep, or even to move the sheep where the handler didnot want the sheep. 200 GSD-broke wool sheep were used. The sheepwere to move calmly out of the pen, cross a "bridge" (in this case aset of panels), make a right turn along a treeline, then the sheep hadto be moved through 3 stone walls to go on to the traffic portion,where the sheep are held on a road by the dog while a vehicle passesonce from each direction. The sheep were then to be moved into the"wide graze" where the dog is to pick up a four-sided border (the widegraze was about 2+ acres, roughly rectangular, with a road as 2 bordersand a mowed path as the other 2), then out of the wide graze onto the"narrow graze"---which appeared to be about 100 feet by 300, which wasbordered by a treeline on one side, and a mowed path on the others.
We were able to see part of the first run, by Ulf, handling aKirschental bitch for her owner. Viska was not happy to be workingwith Ulf, but passed with score of 62 and gleefully rejoined her owner.(60 is passing).
Ellen Adomelis trialled with her dog Jubel v Marinik. Jubel is redsable bitch out of Ingo Degen von Fernheim and Nichol v Kirschental. Ellen is a vet, and an AKC herding judge, and Jubel had gotten thefirst leg on her UD the weekend before. Jubel worked with glee, andwas very diligent and attentive to her stock. She passed with a scoreof 70. I don't remember well, but I believe most of her points werelost to problems in the beginning with control and enthusiasm.
Victoria Brown was the last person to trial. Her dog, Reba v. Marinikis out of Anthony Irving's old competition dog, Bacchus vd GuteMaedchen, and Tracy v Greenfield. Vicky was the last to run on thesecond day. Reba is a very nice, very strong bitch. She started outwith too much enthusiasm, and the team had a lot of trouble in leavingthe pen, in doing the bridge (which immediately followed the pen) theflock was split (seperated into 2 groups) by the dog and in the corner(where the dog should stand still and act as a pivot point for theflock) the dog wouldn't hold the stand, and ended up sort of harryingthe flock on the treeline. On the graze, the dog, while enthusiastic,was not diligent at first about picking up and patrolling the borders,and "broke the border" several times to come in and harry the flock.The sheep, overstressed by the prior activities of the dog, wereextremely slow to spread out and graze, and lingered near the handler.After repeated difficulties in moving the sheep off of the wide graze,the team retired from the field. Reba seemed like a strong dog thathas a lot of potential, but this day she was blowing off her handlertoo much, and a little too full of herself, not taking her jobseriously, as well as having misfortune in the draw, getting the sheepafter they had done the run 11 times before and were tired and not veryhungry (the same 200 sheep were used for each run.)
Lynn Bobo trialled late in the day on Sunday, with the only non-GSD, aBelgian Sheepdog. This dog was obviously very capable, enthusiasticand diligent, but needs more training to gain a more confidence inmoving the stock, and in leaving the security of her boundary. Afterstruggling to pull the sheep off the wide graze, her handler retiredher due to concerns over heat stroke. (The dog has suffered from heatstroke on other occasions and the handler is particularly wary, andknew she had probably already lost enough points to fail.)
Jean DeNapoli trialled with her dog, Triple J Return of the Jetta. Jetis out of Debbie Zappa's old competition dog, Natan, (a Vopo vKirschental son) and a old line German-bred bitch. Jet had sometroubles with covering the whole of his herd, didn't cover theboundaries as well as he should, and was too concerned with coveringthe front of his flock, which hindered the movement of the flock fromarea to area. (His owner explained that at home, he works very lightsheep which often run past the shepherd, so he has gotten very used tocovering the front and not the back.) This team failed despite Jean'spersistent handling, and Jet's repeated efforts to move the sheep, witha score of 56.
Beth Johnson and Sage did not run.
Ulf Kintzel ran his young dog Treu, out of his unregistered bitch Cora,and Alf v Fafnerhaus. Treu, a lanky young (18 months) sable, workedhard and diligently, displayed excellent obedience and diligence andhad a very smooth, calm run with a score of 91 points. Ulf rannon-compete, so while this was the high score, it is not in theplacings.
Susan Sopranzi ran a beautiful dark bicolor dog, Chatelaine's Ace ofSpades, out of Mo-Jo's Icon Corbeau and Almhar's Caliquen Treasure. Theowner says he probably will be going for his AKC breed championshipsometime in the next year or so. Ace had some very good stock sense andjudgement of flock, and plenty of drive for the work. While the dog isa little nervous with people, he did a very nice job with the stock,and received a score of 69.
Sue Sternberg ran a fantastic, nice-moving bicolor named Vinnie. Vinnie's ancestry is unknown, and hard to determine by looking at thedog. He was found on the streets of Queens, with, I believe I heard, abicycle chain around his neck. Sue is very active in rescue work, andapparently her training time has been diminished because of it. I wastold that Vinnie had done some schutzhund work and done fairly well atit. He was strong, enthusiastic and had a fantastic sense of stock. Unfortunately, he lost 8 points due to the fact that he didn't displaya grip. Sue is a relatively new handler, and a lot of points were lostbefore the grazes. They passed with a score of 60. A dog to watch,and my favorite dog for the weekend.
Susan Sullivan had two very nice runs with her dogs, Luther and Jazz,both of whom are sons of the Am. dog, Hylock's Prosecutor, out ofAmerican bitches. Luther almost didn't run because he was the alternatefor the weekend. However, he came home from the weekend with the highscore of 87. Susan is an accomplished handler, and her dogs have a lotof experience on the stock. They both put in nice performances. Luther was very smooth and diligent and accomplished and particularlygood at keeping an eye on his flock and his borders. Jazz was verydiligent and enthusiastic, although every now and then he liked to "mixit up" with his sheep. Their "cross-training" came in handy on leavingthe graze, as they did very nice controlled gathers, which many of theother dogs had not been trained for. Jazz came in 2nd for the weekendwith an 82.
Dorit VanderWilden had a tough run, last thing on Saturday afternoon. It had been a warm afternoon, and the sheep were tired, grumpy andreally didn't want to be moved anymore. Dorit ran her 8 year old bitchSuki, out of American (Tanaquil kennels) and German lines. What adog!!!! 8 years old, mild dysplasia in one hip, and this bitch couldwork many border collies into ground. A powerful, hard-working,diligent bitch, she was hampered by a handler who was greatly affectedby trial nerves. She had a mediocre start to the run, but had a verynice wide graze. However, the handler couldn't get the dog to bringthe sheep in off the graze. She tried and tried and tried, and Sukidid almost everything that was asked of her, but she didn't understandwhat was wanted. Dorit tried to send her out on the border, then bringher in on the sheep, but Suki didn't understand that she was *supposed*to break the border in this situation. Finally, after about 45 minuteson the wide graze, she got the sheep in and moved on the narrow graze.Because of the many, many, many commands that were used at this point,many points were lost. Again, the dog did the grazing portion of thenarrow graze well, and the team struggled in their effort to pull thesheep off the graze. A collective sigh of relief went through thespectators as the gate closed behind the last sheep on the repen aftera run that lasted about 1 hr 45 min. Unfortunately, Suki and Doritfailed with a score of 55 points, but boy, did that dog WORK. And shepulled up the hill on the way to the car. Beautiful, beautiful, TRUEtrotting structure. A g-daughter of Dingo Haus Gero Dorit thought. (A Photo of Suki is available on-line.)
Carol Weigand and Bear, an 8 year old bitch out of Susan Sullivan'sbreeding, put in a nice, clean peformance with some bobbles along theway, and came in with 67 points. 8 points were lost because the dogdid not display a grip. (Ouch!)