A short report on the 2022 IFR World Championships (Aniche - France).

My sincere thanks go to the UFR and the local dog sport club of Aniche that organized the event, maybe with a small team but with a truly big heart for the dog !   I will not mention names to avoid the risk of forgetting to mention persons but please be assured : all that contributed to this event – with no exception – you have our gratitude and respect !  

All team leaders and IFR-Delegates were requested to send their impressions and suggestions.   The result of this “debriefing” will be sent to all IFR Delegates and help to improve the organization in the following years even more.   The first reactions that I received at and after the event are however very homogeneous as far as the sporting aspects are concerned : nothing but praise for the tracking fields, track layers, the B/C field, the protection helpers and the consistency of judging during the three days of the competition.

What I may not omit is the warm welcome we received by the City of Aniche.   Not only were the mayor, the local notables and interested citizens present in just about every part of the event, we were also given an exceptional opportunity to show the Rottweiler as we know him and want to show him: a strong utility dog that deserves its place in human society.    We were indeed allowed to organize a parade from the sporting stadium to the city hall, literally filling the streets and the market place of Aniche from façade to façade, marching with our Rottweilers under our national flags and to enter the great hall where we were once again warmly welcomed !   In a country where legislation (wrongly) declares the Rottweiler to be a dangerous breed and where keeping the Rottweiler is dependent on strict conditions (incl. wearing a muzzle in all public places), this was special, something to remember, something to be grateful for : grateful to be allowed to prove that our beloved breed has its place in every continent, every country, every culture, every family … .  

Let me start this report by stating that I was very pleased with the entry for the IFH I and II competition : 8 and 9 entries for a discipline in dog sport that is all too often (very wrongly) ignored or not given enough attention.    Not only this, but many spectators attended the event and hardly any of them left the tracking fields before having witnessed the work of each and every dog, to the last one.   It was indeed fascinating to watch.  

As I said at the draw, tracking dogs prove like no other the presence and strength of qualities that are proper to the working dog : intelligence, endurance, persistence, physical and mental strength.    The tracking dog proves these without relying on conditioned behaviour, not during short exercises for which he is motivated by commands, rewards or even provocation but during a long hard work on a track full of challenges, 10 meters away from his handler, alone, drawing motivation only from himself, relying only on his own intelligence, endurance and persistent will to succeed.   

I challenge those that ignore or neglect the importance of this discipline to come and watch for themselves.   They will be amazed at the quality that these dogs show.   

Without detracting from the work of all the other dogs, including even the lowest placed ones, I can safely say said that the work of the two World Champions stood out and that their scores of 97 and 96 (excellent) were well deserved : deep, intensive, always persistent, never despondent by the difficulties encountered along the way.    Beautiful work and well deserving the praise of Mr. Xavier Bruna, who is just like his brother Jean Bruna an international renown IGP judge and in particular for the judging of tracking !

But still, while I appreciated the work of all, it will be the impression of one of the last dogs of the IFH II competition that will for me last the longest.    The dog encountered a difficulty that it found hard to overcome and that took a hard toll on its physical strength, so much so that the dog, almost exhausted, had to stop repeatedly on the penultimate leg to draw strength and take deep breaths ... but to then again and again, without encouragement, difficult or not, continue the work … deep, intensive, persistent and purposeful, … what a character.    The dog tracked and ended the two last legs under respectful applause from the public that witnessed this dog at work.  Forgive me for being somewhat emotional or even poetic, but his was truly heroic !!   Respect !!

I was also very satisfied by the fact that the price-ceremony for the IFH World Championship took place during the opening ceremony of the IGP World Championship.   The dogs from both competitions entered the field under their national flag and the competitors of the IFH were then called to the front to be honoured in the eye of everyone and with praise and respect from everyone.   

The IFR World Championship IFH is still a young competition (this was only the third edition) but clearly one that must and will grow in numbers and in importance.     As one of the team captains said : soon the time will come that reserve-participants will no longer be able to participate because there will be too many effective participants.    

For the IGP competition, not less than 56 dogs from 16 countries were registred.   Just as was the case for the IFH competition, I was happy to see Rottweiler Friends that I know since a long time but also new, young faces ... good ... our breed and sport need experience to build on and "young blood" to ensure the future !

Tracking was judged by Mr. Jean Bruna and he did so in perfect conditions : on tracking grounds that were similar to those of the IFH competition and on tracks laid by excellent track layers.   The tracks showed the knowledge, insight and experience of the track layers and gave each dog a perfect opportunity to show its best abilities.    All days of the event, like his brother did before him, the judge was very enthusiastic in his praise of the quality of the Rottweiler as a tracking dog.

Obedience was judged by Mr. R. Schmidt and I assure you that the quality that was shown to him was not inferior to any other dog sport event : we saw beautiful performances, no slow, clumsy or compulsive behavior but performances with speed, agility, a high will to please and cheerful attention to the handler.   

The fact that not less than 19 dogs achieved a "Very Good" score and 3 dogs even an "Excellent" score (one even with 98/100) will speak for itself for the quality of their performances.   As I heard a very experienced dog sporter (breeding / working Malinois) say alongside the field : even if these performances are shown at the FCI all breeds, they will stand out !

Protection then.   Needless to say that my pleasure to judge the Rottweiler during the protection part was immense.     It is the third time that I had the honor to judge protection at the IFR World Championship and while the seemingly boundless power of dogs has not diminished, control has immensely improved and I dare say that the Rottweiler is second to none when it comes to enjoying the utility dog in the C-part of the IGP program.  What’s more, he fits in while not showing conditioned to almost robotic performances but still showing the true power of the utility breed.   A joy to watch, a joy and an honor to judge.

Nothing but praise for both protection helpers.    The height of the one and the speed and menace by the other may not have perfectly matched the training and experience of every dog, it must be said: this was top-notch work.  Correct sportive work, without brutality but with correct pressure on the dog ... as it should be at a competition at this level.    For the first and last dog, the same work was shown.    It was a pleasure to work with them.

Pleasant and exciting was that In the morning of the last day of the event, everything was still possible : the winner was not yet known. 

The dice were indeed only thrown at the very last moment : on the last day, during the work of the last group for B/C.     

The final ranking seemed to be fixed when one of the last dogs obtained the excellent score of 97/100 in protection with a very convincing performance.  But even then, although the loud cheering showed that the public had already crowned the dog to be the IFR World Champion 2022, the final decision still had to fall.

The decisive performance indeed only came from the penultimate dog of the competition.  He entered the field and worked under a loud silence.   It was an extremely convincing performance : overall very powerful work but always perfectly controlled, every grip full, hard and stable, always a perfect letting go of the sleeve from a full mouth, all reactions on each attack immediate, strong and without the slightest hesitation nor any sign of weakness during the pressure phases, always a perfect intense guard towards the helper and yet also immediate obedience when demanded .... 99/100 and the World Title !   As I said, it had been exciting until the very end !

The full results can be found on www.caniva.com or our website www.ifrrottweilers.org

I thank all that were present, be it as participant or as a spectator and I hope to see you all – and many more – at the World Championships 2023 that will be organized in Czech Republik.       More details are already published on our website www.ifrrottweilers.org