The opening ceremony of the IFR World Winner Show 2022 is one that we will remember. It was an impressive combination of historic and modern elements meant to honour our Federation and it’s Member Clubs.
Drums, bagpipes and flags, modern and historic costumes, the presentation of the new IFR-logo and IFR-flag, a procession with children and adults, a display of trophies and statutes that emphasized the spectacle but also its core : the Rottweiler and the fact that the show was to be an festive eulogy to the breed and proof to the world that the Rottweiler has his place on every continent, in every country, in every culture and in every family …
It was a ceremony that gave goosebumps and even brought emotional tears in the eyes of one the judges and I am sure many others ! The same was true for the short ceremony on the second day when the Ukraine flag was carried into the stadium, followed by a flag of peace. My respect for this : there were no words, no speeches, no politics, nor reproaches … just an impressive silent appeal for peace, for that what should bind us all before anything else, above and for all thoughts of nationality and material interests : being human and able to enjoy our human rights and freedom !
As I said : I was a happy man. After two years during which a miniscule virus prevented us from traveling and meeting freely, even to a significant and harmful extent prevented a free breeding selection and did not allow us to keep, train and show our dogs the way we want, the ceremony proved that this monstrous little cell has not succeeded in harming our passion for the Rottweiler.
333 entries from 18 countries, 46 registrations for the IFR Utility Dog Test and the presence of Rottweiler Friends from many countries (even from North and South America) proved that the Rottweiler and his Friends have never been away !
To the Italian Rottweiler Club SIR : my eternal gratitude for your willingness to organize the show in such a short time and for making it such a success ! I know all too well how much time, effort, dedication and especially idealism it takes to be willing to organize such an event and making it a success ! You succeeded beyond my expectations ! My congratulations and my gratitude !
Alla Societá Italiana Rottweiler, "SIR" i miei eterni ringraziamenti per aver realizzato in così breve tempo un grande spettacolo, degno di un vero mondiale. Grazie per la vostra disponibilitá, e la vostra organizzazione, é stato un grande successo ! So davvero fin troppo bene quanto tempo, impegno, dedizione e soprattutto sacrificio ci vuole per essere disposti ad organizzare un evento del genere e renderlo un grande successo ! Sei riuscito oltre le mie aspettative! Le mie congratulazioni e i miei ringraziamenti !
The stadium offered the perfect show field. It was divided in 4 rings that were large enough to judge the dogs during movement and still left more than enough room for tents that offered shelter against sun and rain but also for commercial stands and catering, for tables and chairs, etc. … and even for parking space and the tents and kennel cages of the participants.
Music and a colorful podium, flags, banners, the display of a very rich price-table, a fairly numerous audience around the rings, the chatter in so many different languages, the enthusiastic meeting of old and new friends, the presentation of the new IFR-flag, a show-mascot wearing the show’s t-shirt, … it all added to the festive atmosphere.
In one word : great !
Important was that this year the IFR World Winner Show would for the first time be more than just another big show.
The show – and this goes for all shows - is not an event that is meant to reward "beauty." The idea of "beauty" has to do with personal esthetical preferences and recent evolutions towards highly unwanted extreme traits have proven that such personal preferences are highly threatening and harmful for the breed, for its conformation, its utility and its health.
The Rottweiler was and is not meant to be beautiful in the esthetical sense. What makes a utility breed "beautiful," and what is to be rewarded, are the qualities that enable him to do the work he was created, bred and kept for. The breed should therefore be evaluated in function of its conformation to the breed standard and thus in the context of its original utility and definition as a working dog and not in function of personal subjective arguments based on esthetical appreciation.
This not only concerns his physical conformation but also his mental characteristics ! Both are defined in the FCI breed standard and the “complete Rottweiler” answers to all these traits, not just the physical traits.
The IFR cannot and will not accept that our beloved Rottweiler breed would, like so many other breeds, evolve towards a “breed of show dogs”. For this reason, without prejudice to the value of all participating dogs, including those who do not participate in the utility dog test, the IFR show regulations were amended, in particular with regard to the awarding the title of “IFR World Winner”.
As of now, the title of IFR World Winner can only be awarded to dogs that have not only proven their excellent physical conformation with the breed standard but also the presence of the characteristics that enable him/her to function as a companion dog and as a working dog !
He/she will have proven this by first obtaining the BH or FCI-Companion dog certificate and on the eve of the show by passing a test that recognizes the presence of the characteristics of the utility breed.
This time, not less than 46 dogs were entered for the test ! A success !
I had the honor to judge the test with my Italian colleague Carlo Fretta and it was a pleasure.
The test consists out of first answering an attack out of a blind by biting the sleeve of the attacking helper and then preventing his escape and secondly a courage test by answering an attack on longer distance.
As was announced before, this test is not meant to reward the quality and degree of training and/or the aptitude to participate and succeed IGP-trials. What we look for is the presence of the natural drives of the utility-dog, the courage, dominance and the taxability that are needed to react on a threat and to answer an attack but also the ability to change from high to low drives and to even under taxing circumstances show sufficient self-control and discipline to function in a socially acceptable manner.
Not all dogs passed, but most did. For me as a judge but before all else a dog lover, it was a pleasure to judge the test, for once not with a sharp and critical eye for the criteria that are proper to a competition sport but only with an eye and heart for the dog’s nature.
The test ends with the appreciation “pass” or “not pass” but without grading the performance. I was therefore a bit surprised to learn that SIR had foreseen a trophy for the dog that passed as “the best”.
Luckily, we both took notes on each individual performance and were unanimous : the trophy went to catalogue number 134 (Goku). Not because he showed the best grip, the best guard or the highest degree of control and training of in general the best performance as an IGP-dog (that trophy would in my opinion have been for catalogue number 137 - Joker vom Erler Teufelsstein or 139 - Kumo vom Hardebuscher Hof) but precisely because of on the one side maybe showing less training (= conditioning) but at the same time a very convincing strength of natural drives and courage while still well balanced and controlled.
I enjoyed the event and when listening to the public’s reactions … I was not alone in this ! The event was filmed and broadcasted by “Working Dog”.
A question that I was later repeatedly asked during the show, was if the judges had to consider the fact if dogs had yes or not passed the Utility Dog Test or character test. The answer is simple : no ! The results of the test were not published or announced (unless of course in case of termination or disqualification) and were only given to the ring stewards and secretaries on the morning of the show. The judges were not given this information and they judged the dogs totally independent of the character test. Only if in a class none of the placed dogs would have passed the test while others in that class would have, then the ring steward would have asked the judge for an additional selection between the dogs that did pass the test. This was however not needed in any of the classes. So to be very clear : passing the test is necessary to obtain the IFR-title but can, may and will not have an impact on gradings and placements.
As far as the judging of the conformation of the dogs was concerned, the following.
At the opening ceremony I appealed to the judges : their judgement is meant to be influential and guiding for the future of the breed and was therefore to be based on the breed’s definition in the FCI-breed standard only.
I needed not to worry : all judges are well experienced and knowledgeable and all have judged the breed since long before certain modern fashion trends started to take the breed away from its original and true definition : Bianka Miksic (Croatia), Kristiina Niemelä (Finland), Peter Friedrich (Germany) and Frank Beiboer (the Netherlands).
The 4 rings offered more than enough room to judge each dog correctly and the presentation and judging – although starting on “Italian time” - went smooth and well disciplined. Writing the critiques in the language in which they were dictated, so without loss of time by translation, certainly helped. My compliments to the ring secretaries and stewards ! Each judge has congratulated and thanked them for their hard concentrated work.
On Saturday 07 May the young classes were judged, on Sunday 08 May the adult classes, starting with intermediate class.
As far as the results are concerned, I leave this to the judges and I let the given gradings and placements speak for themselves.
If you allow me a strictly personal thought, not for the first time, I regretted that nowadays, even with such high entries in a class, it is often difficult to end with 4 placed dogs that show a high homogeneity in type. I cannot blame the judges for this. If homogeneity is not there, then it just is not there … but the establishment of this might be an opening for a renewed discussion / publication on genetics and especially on breeding techniques as e.g. the value of line-breeding and the dangers that occur when breeding techniques make room for breeding only with so called matador-dogs or for a breeding selection based on show-results only. But I will leave that for another occasion, medium and person.
A technical problem with the microphone made it difficult for the judges to explain their choice of the 4 dogs that were selected in each class for the later finals but this brought no problems.
The false note came during the finals of the first day and was not to be blamed to the organization nor to the judges nor to the large majority of the participants who – whatever placements were – showed great sportsmanship !
The false note entered when the judge decided upon the male IFR World Youth Winner. Both young dogs had in their respective classes (9 – 12 months and 12 – 18 months) already been judged to be excellent (“V”).
The judge that was appointed to now decide which of them deserved the title of IFR World Youth Winner chose for the youngest dog and motivated his decision by referring to the shape of the head of the elder dog.
The reaction of a part of the public – regardless if it was based on a sense of nationalism or on friendship for the handler/breeder/owner or even if based on personal preferences – was uncalled for and totally not acceptable !
I am not defending the judge’s decision nor do I criticize it ! I respect it. The judge was asked to do his job : appreciate the dogs in the light of the FCI-breed standard and so he did. Nobody is obliged to agree with him but he was asked for his expert opinion, which he gave and motivated and this demands respect !
No other considerations, especially no considerations that have to do with nationality, identity of breeder, owner or handler and/or personal preferences can and may allow for the behaviour that was shown by a part of the public : this boo-shouting, whistling and ranting was not just unsportsmanlike but was an insult ! It was an insult not only for the judge and for the organization but as far as it was directed against a reference to the breed’s definition it was even an insult of the breed itself !
Those that think that the behaviour of a certain part of the public can or should give direction to what a judge has to do : think again ! The IFR takes its responsibility for the breed seriously, including the importance of an honestly judged show for the breed’s future. We invite experienced judges and we ask for their fair opinion : meaning their own independent opinion and not one that is influenced by the organisation nor one that is prompted or dictated by the preferences of a certain part of the public.
The same goes for some other inexcusable things that happened. Imagine hearing that a participant spit saliva on a dog because it was placed before his/her dog ! Imagine a representative of a national Rottweiler Club who was absent but still dared to call the judge insulting names on social media !
This behaviour is not acceptable but harmful. It is harmful for the show, for the organisation and future organisations but as the show is also a source of breeding selection, it is also harmful for the breed.
It might even prove to be harmful for the offenders themselves and/or the dogs and people that they seemed to promote since most conversations afterwards showed indignance. They indicated that the public’s general impression was that all misconduct was related to a certain nationality and even now my email-and Messenger-box fill with messages that cry out for sanctions against all participation from that nationality .... Also formal complaints are announced ! These will have our attention and will be discussed. Cfr. art. 10 of our regulations about the IFR-show in case of unsportsmanlike conduct.
Back to the show. There were no further incidents, also not on the second day and the show ran smoothly and festively.
The dogs that were at the end of the second day designated to be the best male and female at the show had both participated and passed the Utility Dog Test and were therefore automatically awarded the title of IFR World Winner 2022.
The IFR titles 2022 were awarded to :
- IFR World Youth Winner 2022 :
- Male : Kamaro is Rojaus Slenio
- Female : Rea von der Ava-Forst.
- Male : Negro Saetta Negri Rott (BOB)
- Female : Calamity Jane
My congratulations to them, but also to all other participants !
The prize cups for the winning dogs were unique and impressive but there was also a very nice souvenir for each dog : a medal on a colourful ribbon (the Italian colours) and to be honest, I enjoyed these the most and especially when seeing so many dogs actually wearing the medal : a token of the handlers love and pride for their dog. And that is basically what it is all about : the breeding and keeping of the Rottweiler as close as possible to the breed standard, a healthy utility dog, but with his place in our human society and especially happy in the family. That image, is the one that I will take home and cherish before everything else.
It was a great event, one to remember. Again my thanks to SIR and all its members and helpers that made the show into such a success and then not only but yet in particular Mr. Salvatore Dell’ Aquilia and Mr. Prix Ferrero. I’ve watched them at work, it was impressive and they did a truly amazing job.
My thanks to all participants and spectators for your presence and not less impressive enduring passion and support for the breed
It was good to meet you all again, I enjoyed it. We will meet again, first this year in France for the IGP and IFH World Championships and next year again in France for the World Winner Show and in Czech Republik for the World Championships.