While Laura is away at the 2016 GWPCA we bring you this reprint from a few years ago – Enjoy!
A most interesting comment was made to me at this year’s GWPCA national. I was shooting the breeze with a group of friends, most of whom I’ve known and respected for years. I said, “So, Ed, what’d you see that you liked.” He took off his hat and scratched his head and said, “Meh, nothing new.” I said, “Wait, you haven’t seen x, y or z dogs before.” He said, “Yeah, but they’re always on Facebook, they’re advertised, I’ve seen them. I meant nothing brand new that knocked my socks off.” Right about then, another gal piped up with, “Facebook ruined the national.”
So we cussed and discussed the concept and it seems that many of us who are long time dog people, used to go to the national to see what was new and exciting. Social media has brought all those cool debutantes directly to our computer screens. Now, granted, we haven’t put our hands on those dogs, haven’t seen them move, haven’t watched them in different situations to independently evaluate temperament, haven’t seen them work. Nonetheless, the picture is out there and some people have made up their minds about those dogs.
We talk a lot about social media in our culture today and the impact it’s had on the sport. But this was a new concept that hadn’t even crossed my mind.
“Pictures came and broke your heart, We can’t rewind we’ve gone too far.”
Fortunately, at least for the time being, old-fashioned rock and roll is still alive and kicking in the GWP club, at least in the form of devotion to the dual purpose dog.
The GWPCA remains the only major pointing breed club which holds our National Field Trial (all horseback stakes, including a one-hour Championship), National Specialty Show and National Hunt test at the same time and same general location. This makes for a very long 10+ days (not counting travel time!) for those of us who try to participate in or at least watch most everything. I rode behind several very exciting young dogs at the field trial (and heard about several I didn’t get to see). The derby and futurity stakes were larger than average and from all accounts showcased quite a number of excellent young dogs.
At the show, I was fortunate to get my hands on a few good dogs that met the standard quite well. These dogs had correct coats, substance, balance and darker eyes than most.
As an example of the dual nature and quality of the breed, the same dog, who sired the Field Futurity, Derby and Puppy stakes winners, also sired the National Specialty show Reserve Winners Dog and Winners Bitch.
We maintain our focus on the dual dog with an annual event that began in 2002. Instead of offering a Top 20 (show dog) competition, the GWPCA All Star Committee each year hosts a competition for the Dual Champion, Champion-Amateur Field Champion, Champion-Master Hunter and Champion-NAVHDA UT1 dogs in the breed. (NOTE: the North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association – NAVHDA – is a registry and testing organization designed specifically for the “Continental Versatile Hunting Dogs.”)
The AllStar Invitational is judged by a panel of three judges, identities kept secret until the night of judging, who score each dog from 1-25 on 4 key elements of the standard — General Appearance (Type, size and proportion), Structure (Head, neck, body, forequarters and hindquarters), Coat and Movement. Most dogs are shown by their owners or even their field trainers. The judges’ scores are tallied and the highest point total is declared the AllStar Winner.
The event is funded entirely by the membership and fund-raising of the Committee, which hosts drinks and appetizers for the attendees. Dress is formal and the event is taken very seriously by all. I know many members, myself included, who have pursued advanced field titles on their dogs simply for the opportunity to compete in the AllStar. Those who have won it will tell you it is the most prized award on their list.
Our judges this year were U.S. breeder-judge Laura Myles, who also routinely judges hunt tests and field trials; Australian breeder Mandy Atkinson; and, well-known all-breed judge Dr. Gareth Morgan-Jones.
This event gives me encouragement for the future of the breed. As long as the AllStar remains a goal for many, if not most, our breed will be in good hands.
As always, this is JMHO.