Looking back on the IFR World Championships 2019 IGP and IFH.

Dear Rottweiler Friends,

I hope you all arrived home safe and well from our successful IFR-events in Denmark.  

My sincere thanks to the Danish Rottweiler Club and its hard working team for its willingness to organize the event.  I know how much dedication and idealism it takes to do so and I offer you my honest compliments :  you ran a smooth event and allowed us to enjoy the Rottweiler in all his facets and this we certainly did !

The show to feast the 70th anniversary of the Danish Rottweiler Club was, because of the IFR’s 50th anniversary, also recognized as a regional IFR-show.    The event may perhaps not have attracted the numbers that were hoped for, I hear that the conformation of the dogs was high, all placements were well deserved and supported by participants and spectators and that the atmosphere in and around the ring was even exceptionally great !

The Meeting of Delegates on 18 September 2018, preceded by a preparatory meeting on the day before, was one that was long overdue and awaited for.   In fact, these meetings may very well even prove to be the most important meetings since the founding of the IFR 50 years ago.

Based on the research by the Board and the conclusions by the meeting that was organized in Wohlen (Switzerland) in 2018, a proposal was drafted to implement very concrete decisions concerning the existence, form and content of the breeding regulations and breed suitability tests that all IFR-Member clubs must mandatory have and impose on their members.

These regulations and tests must assure that all breeding dogs are healthy in body and mind, have a self-assured nature, a well-balanced nervous condition and a sufficiently high stimulus threshold. They aim at the world wide breeding and keeping, thus the preservation, of the Rottweiler as a healthy social versatile dog breed that – where ever bred and kept and even if not put to actual practice – has the physical and at least the intrinsic mental characteristics of a working dog.

The proposal by the Board was unanimously accepted, including by the ADRK that fully supports our goals and the instruments we defined to realize these !

I thank all Delegates and their Clubs for their presence and support.  As I said : the need for a homogeneous breeding (and keeping) strategy is urgent, our plans are ambitious, the time is short, … but our shared idealism, optimism and willingness to work is high and together we will get it done : the Rottweiler is more than worth of our efforts !!!    Facta non Verba !!!

Still on 18 September, the IFR organized its very first World Championship for tracking dogs (IFH I and IFH II).  

On leaving the Meeting of Delegates in the afternoon, the staggering news reached us that none of the dogs had obtained a passing score. 

Please believe me when I say that nobody who was responsible for the event can be accused of superficiality or a lack of involvement !    To the contrary : I assure you that the tracking conditions were even in particular not ignored nor taken lightly, not before and not during the competition! 

Mr. Knud Rasmussen, an experienced judge, was appointed as the tracking director.  His task included to take care of the selection of the tracking fields, the instruction of the track-layers and the organisation of the track area.     In this, he was mandated to refuse grounds should he have found them not appropriate to use in the event.  The tracking fields were however accepted.   They were most certainly not the easiest grounds and they were at the very least challenging, but then again regulations clearly state that the tracks can be laid on all natural soils and a higher degree of difficulty is to be expected at a trial at this level. 

After having seen the tracking grounds, the evening before the World Championship IFH, the performance judge Mr. Heiner Pellenwessel - who without any reservation has my highest respect because of his knowledge and experience and especially because he is a true dog(sport)lover in heart and kidneys – has met with the track-layers and has given them very precise instructions on how he wanted the tracks laid on those grounds.    Let me assure you that these instructions were such that they ensured that each dog would get the best opportunity as materially feasible to perform at his best !

Unfortunately, the day of the trial, weather conditions changed and were just as unforeseen as they were terrible : very strong winds, rain showers, hailstorms.  Let’s be honest : nobody could control this.    

Should the World Championship have been cancelled ???    I think not !    All those involved : the supervising tracking director, the performance judge, the track layers and the competitors themselves chose for sportsmanship and accepted the challenges and the tracks.

Even though none of the dogs obtained a passing score, the judge told me that he was very impressed by their work : courageous, enduring, intelligent, never giving up  … .   No work was broken of because of weakness … the dogs only gave up when they were forced to … !

As I said during the closing ceremony : I know there is nothing I can say to make you happy but let me tell you one thing : even if none of the dogs passed … in our eyes none of the dogs failed !!    Be proud of them, just as we are proud to have witnessed them at work : true Rottweilers … working dogs !

The same goes for the IGP-World Championship when the first morning of the trial an inexplicable high number of dogs did not pass.   The very evening before the trial I had discussed the tracking fields, the work of the track-layers and all conditions with the performance judge Mr. Morten Jensen  (again a truly experienced judge, patient and with an eye and a heart for the work of the dog). I did so again after the first day of the trial and I saw the grounds for myself.

The judge confirmed what was obvious for all to see : these tracking fields were indeed not the easiest ones but he also stated that they were not of a nature to be refused.  In his opinion they  allowed for good tracking and for judging the work of the dogs.  When we discussed the manner the tracks were laid, he insisted that nobody could ask more from the track layers than what they were already giving : their very best.  

So again, with all comprehension for the disappointment of those that did not obtain a passing score, there was no breach of regulations and nothing that could or should have motivated a demand for other grounds or tracklayers, nor was there a reason to cancel the trial or to demand that it would be changed into a B/C event.   Tracking was indeed very difficult, but not impossible.  Where dogs failed, others obtained good, very good and even excellent scores.    Differences on equal or at least similar fields and therefore the draw of tracking order, proved important and ultimately even decisive … but then again, they are “part of the game”.

In the stadium, up and around the grandstand there was a particular good and relaxed feeling amongst competitors and spectators.  Sportsmanship and an shared passion for the Rottweiler overcame chauvinism and each dog and handler received and enjoyed the respect and loud appreciation from all !     

Here, the judges for obedience (Clemente Grosso) and protection (Edgar Scherkel) did a great job.  They saw what had to be seen, said what had to be said, took wat had to be taken but - with an eye and a heart for the dog and dogsport – they also gave what could and had to be given. 

Finally, allow me to repeat my closing words to the competitors :

From whatever continent, country or culture, whatever your ambitions or expectations were and regardless if they were fulfilled or not, let me tell you this : we have enjoyed each and every dog !!!

We have seen high wills to please, perfect abilities to alternately show high and low drives, hardness and taxability, perfect (self)control, intelligence, endurance, strong wills, ... we have seen everything that defines the working dog.

To use some words stolen from the Kohima poem : when I go home, I will tell them of you and say, I have seen true Rottweilers today !!!

And honestly, ... I could not imagine or give a better compliment to all of you than this !!!

See you next year in Hungary !!

On behalf of the IFR-Board,

D. Vandecasteele

A proud IFR-President.