Darwin with Birgitta the first time I saw him at 12 weeks of age

When we made plans to attend the 2010 Kleemann in Zistersdorf, Austria we thought it would be nice to attend the event without the pressure of having a dog participating. That all changed in July when we were in Germany and learned that a dog I had first seen when he was twelve weeks old was for sale. Darwin vom Hege- Hof had been one of the most tested dogs in Germany and certainly one of the most successful in Zuchtschau events since he was eight months old. Now we would once again be going to the Kleemann as an owner.

We arrived in Zistersdorf in the late afternoon and found a nice community doing everything it could to make the participants comfortable. The town was bustling with activity, the pubs and restaurants were full of participants. It was nice to see people that you had not seen since the last Kleemann but it was clear everyone was anxious for the activities to start. After twenty-four hours of travel and with darkness approaching sleep sounded great.  

Thursday morning came soon enough and the breakfast area at the hotel was full of participants all preparing for the events to get underway. Registration would be held at a nice facility akin to a community center and the Zuchtschau would be held at an athletic facility both within walking distance from the hotel.   The registration provided the opportunity to renew old acquaintances and make new ones. It is the first time most of the participants are in one place and you can see and visit almost everybody. Not hard to believe was there was food and drink available. One thing that was noticeably different was the lack of Americans in attendance. Most noticeably was the absence of Willie and Rob Engelking who were unable to attend because of Willie’s illness. Many people asked about their absence and expressed concern and best wishes over Willie health.

Darwin at the Zuchtschau with Birgitta

The Zuchtschau started at 1:00 PM and the crowd moved from the hall to the athletic field. After the opening ceremony concluded judging started in two rings for the males and two for the females. Again there was food and drink to be enjoyed but most of all there were one hundred and fifty great dogs to review and that is your only chance to see them all. Darwin would be lead by Birgitta Krause-Hofstetter, Mr. Hofstetter’s daughter, who had enjoyed so much success with him at Zuchtschau events. After all the dogs had been evaluated the judges were ready to select the top males and females. Ten dogs from each ring were chosen to move forward. First the males would be judged. Darwin was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the top ten from Ring #1 and he entered the final ring with the other top males for the next cut. This time the judges would narrow the field to ten and Darwin was the first to be selected to be included. At this point we were very pleased but also very nervous.

The V1 through V5 Rüden at the 2010 Kleemann

The next cut would be to five and again Darwin was the first chosen to be included. At the very least we would have a male in the top five and were very pleased with our good fortune and very proud for Birgitta as she would be rewarded for her efforts. Darwin would be placed as the V3 Rüden at the 2010 Kleemann and we could not have been prouder of him or for Team Hofstetter. With the Zuchtschau completed we looked forward to the field and water work.

Friday morning came in with the roar of the wind and off and on rain. There is a saying in Germany, “When the weather is bad the hunter will stay in the house”, this would have been one of those days for sure. With winds of 30 to 40 miles per hour and rain we headed to the fields, staying in the house was not an option. As the first dog worked in the field it immediately became clear this would not be a day of showing off your dog’s ability it would be a day for survival.

An International group was on hand for the field work in our group with Romania, England, USA, Spain, and Greece all represented in this photo

All of the five dogs in our group were required to make five searches and considering the conditions the dogs did extremely well. The judges in our group were very experienced and on this day did everything they could to help the dogs be successful. As the day concluded all five dogs had received the required “4” in search, nose, and pointing to move on to the water work the next day.

Ponds at the 2010 Kleemann – they are not connected

Saturday brought better weather with some wind but no rain and we were on our way to the water. The ponds were not large but were back to back and the wind was coming from right to left. The first dog was sent to the pond on our right and into the wind. Darwin would be next and to our surprise he was sent to the pond on our left with the wind behind him, this was a concern to us but not Mr. Hofstetter. In the search without the duck Mr. Hofstetter sent Darwin across the pond and he immediately started his search searching both the left pond and the right pond without another command. Next would be the search with the live duck. Again the left pond was used and the duck went to cover on the far left corner of the pond where Darwin would get no assistance from the wind only the track on the water. Mr. Hofstetter again sent Darwin and turned his back on the pond and visited with the judges. He wasn’t worried even if I was. Darwin immediately picked up the track and followed it to the reeds at the far left corner and exited the pond into the foliage around the pond and went out of sight.

Darwin returning with the duck

A few moments later we could see Darwin returning to Mr. Hofstetter along the top of the dike around the pond. You could not see if he had the duck but for once I was relieved as I knew he would not return without the duck. As he approached Mr. Hofstetter you could see he had the duck and proudly presented it. Only one part left and that would be to retrieve a dead duck to hand. The duck was placed in the water and again Mr. Hofstetter sent Darwin for the retrieve. Darwin entered the water and directly proceeded to the duck, returned to Mr. Hofstetter, and delivered the duck to hand flawlessly. The test was concluded for Darwin and the KS title would be his.   The adventure to Austria proved to be very successful for us. We are very proud for Team Hofstetter and for Darwin KS vom Hege-Hof.