2014: Zeus’s Year In Review
2014 was quite simply an amazing year for both myself and my dog Zeus Sohn Von Holbrook Vom Krafthaus.
When the year started in January, I had almost no dog show experience, and little expectations with regard to success in showing. The first show we did in 2014 was the 2014 IABCA Buckeye State Sieger. IABCA as an organization is relatively young and not as well respected and regarded as others (like AKC or UKC). But the bottom line is that it was good show experience for me and my dogs, and we did show before judges. During that weekend, Zeus earned both his IABCA National and International Championship titles (Junior Puppy Class) and our Rottweiler Maximus earned the same in the Baby Puppy Class. What a great way for us to start off the year!
Zeus’s next title came about a month later when we had him evaluated for his AKC Canine Good Citizenship (CGC) Certification, which he passed! Maximus was also evaluated a couple of months later, and he passed as well. Here’s a photo of both Zeus and Maximus wearing the CGC medallions:
Our first “big” show of the year came in March – the 2014 AIRK Nationals in Charlotte, NC.
This show was tremendously demoralizing for us. Our relative inexperience really showed here in this competition, and we struggled. Both our dogs competed in Puppy classes, and either dog received better than a “P” (Promising) rating. We really came away crushed, but tried to look at it as a learning experience.
The following month (April) I decided to take both Zeus and Maximus to the 2014 American Rottweiler Club Nationals and compete in their Club Sieger in Wisonsin.
This show represented a HUGE turning point for us – had we not had some measure of success at this show, it might well have marked the end of our dog show career. This time, Zeus earned a V2 placement in the 9-12 Month Old Male category:
The wave of emotion I experienced when Zeus got 2nd place in his class and received a “V” rating is nearly indescribable. Such elation – I was so very proud of my buddy Zeus. To have it happen at the American Rottweiler Club Nationals just made it so much better. I remember calling my wife Karen with tears streaming down my face – “Zeus got V2!!!” I can remember thinking that if Zeus never placed again at a show that I’d always have this memory to cherish. As it turns out, this would not be our last victory for the year.
The following month (May) we decided to compete in a UKC show right in our back yard of Dayton, Ohio. Traditional conformation showing requires a bit more skill on the part of the handler than does a Sieger show. But Zeus and I had been practicing all of the elements and were determined to succeed. In the UKC, a dog has to earn a total of 100 points AND beat three other dogs to earn their Championship title. I had hoped that before we eventually had to retire Zeus from competitions that he’d do enough UKC shows to meet these requirements. Waling in the show with “0” points that weekend, Zeus nearly met all of the requirements for his Championship title in those two days earning 85 points and beating three dogs, and earning a “Best Male” and “Reserve Best Male” ribbon in the process:
For me personally, the wins were even more gratifying because I have to go up against the breeder of our dogs (Christy Hutchinson) more than once that weekend – and she has many years of show ring experience. She had introduced my wife and I along with several of her other customers to the world of dog shows (which we’re very grateful for). I have to confess that my biggest fear in the show ring was that my inexperience at dog handling would limit Zeus’s success, but I was determined to show my own dog. I’m so glad I didn’t give in to my feelings of inadequacy and continued to show Zeus myself. When the UKC judges this weekend placed Zeus and I ahead of other more experienced handlers and their dogs, I was extremely proud of Zeus and I.
When we returned to this same UKC show in July, Zeus needed just 15 points to complete his UKC Championship. I knew that just stepping in the ring in a couple of shows would earn us that. But I certainly didn’t expect what we actually earned that weekend:
Zeus not only went “Best Male” and “Best of Breed”, he went “Group 3” which means that he took 3rd place in the entire UKC Guardian Group. Had he taken 1st place, he would have then competed for the coveted “Best of Show.” I had also decided that Zeus wasn’t just going to compete in “beauty contests” conformation competitions – I wanted him to also do working/performance events. So that weekend I decided to enter Zeus in Rally Obedience. In UKC, the first level of Rally Obedience competition is “RO1” While I had signed Zeus and I up for Rally Obedience classes, we had not yet started the classes before we competed that weekend. However, I’ve been doing basic obedience work with Zeus since he was a puppy:
We ended up receiving not only three qualifying scores for Zeus’s Ro1 title, but three placements – two third place, and one first place. If you’ll notice in the above photo of the ribbons Zeus won, you’ll see a large red, white, and black “Total Dog” ribbon. In UKC, if a dog places in both conformation and performance events in the same event, they received the UKC “Total Dog” award. Of all the accolades Zeus has received this year, I may be most proud of that one.
Having been bitten by the Rally Obedience bug, we competed in two other trials in 2014 – one was an AKC trial which gave us one of the three qualifying scores we needed for Zeus’s AKC “RN” (Rally Novice) title:
Then came another UKC trial where we completed two of the three legs necessary for Zeus’s UKC RO2 title:
The next major show for us in 2014 was the 2014 Rottweiler Klub of North America (RKNA) Breed Survey in Nashville, TN. Based on his UKC wins, as well as his V2 placement at the ARC Nationals Club Sieger, one would think I might have had a little confidence going into the Nashville show. But I knew from attending this show the year prior with Zeus (as a 4-6 Month Puppy) that it was easily one of the most competitive Rottweiler shows in the country because it was the nicest Rottweiler show in the country, with the best venue. Zeus would be competing in the 12-18 Month Male class – a total of nine dogs were entered in the class, including some who had competed successfully on the European stage. If the V2 placement in Wisconsin was a shock, Zeus placing V1 in his class in Nashville came as utter, surreal disbelief. Zeus then went on to beat the older, more developed winner of the 18-24 month class (highly unusual that the younger dog beats the older dog) to win “Best Youth Male.” I’d say it was a dream come true, but such an accomplishment seemed so unobtainable for us, I never even dared dream of the possibility.
Going into the Nashville show, I thought it would be our last show of the year – a show we did because it was relatively close for us, and it was so much fun. But given Zeus’s tremendous performance in Nashville, it suddenly made a great deal of sense to go to Gainesville, Georgia and compete in the RKNA Klub Sieger in October. To me, Zeus was a great dog. But was he good breeding stock? That’s an entirely different question. If you look at his show performance to help answer this question, some might consider his V2 performance at the AKC Nationals Club Sieger a “fluke.” Others might not give much credence or credibility to his UKC Championship title, and even less to his IABCA National and International Championship titles. But those wins coupled with his Nashville performance? Taken together, they leave little doubt that Zeus is, from a breed standard conformation perspective, an excellent stud dog based on the opinion of several different judges. However, a solid performance at the RKNA Klub Sieger…the RKNA’s biggest and arguably most competitive show of the year….that would remove all doubt as to Zeus’s stud worthiness. If Zeus could simply earn a V rating from the German ADRK judge (one of the top Rottweiler judges in the world) presiding over the show, it would prove Zeus’s worth as an extremely desirable stud dog. So off to Georgia we went!
Having agreed to provide some photos of this event to Total Rottweiler Magazine, I had the opportunity to see the quality of the dogs being shown, and had a bird’s eye view of how the judges were viewing the dogs. After the first few classes had been judged, I was convinced that Zeus wouldn’t place. The judges were as stringent as any I’d ever seen. I just hoped – prayed – that somehow, someway, Zeus could come out with a “V” rating even if he didn’t place. But even those hopes began to diminish as I saw some VERY nice dogs come through the various classes that did not receive a “V” rating. Soon it was time for Zeus to compete – once again (and for the last time in his life) he would be competing n the 12-18 Month Male Youth Class. And once again, it was a VERY competitive class with seven dogs entered. The results? Not only did Zeus get a “V” rating, but he also came in 2nd place in his class – V2.
Our final show of the year was just last month in November, and was our first true AKC all-breed conformation show: The Mid-Ohio Cluster. It ended up being largely a good practice venue for us, but reinforced many of the negative AKC/ARC stereotypes I’d been hearing about for many months. But at least we came away with a couple of AKC blue ribbons to add to Zeus’s growing collection:
We ended up doing shows in 10 our of the 12 months of the year. That was a LOT of shows – more than I thought we’d be doing. My only regret is that I didn’t have the opportunity to finish Zeus’s AKC RN title in 2014, and neither was I able to finish his UKC RO2 title. We were actually registered to compete in an AKC Rally the weekend of Thanksgiving – a plan that as it turned out was overly optimistic. Family time over the holiday prevailed – as it should. But I’m sure we’ll be able to finish those titles in early 2015.
Incredibly, we started the year uncertain whether we had a dog which would be at all competitive, and finished the year with what is no doubt one of the most well-titled Youth Male Rottweilers in the US. As with so many things in life, we have many people to thank for the success we’ve enjoyed this year with Zeus, but a few stand out in particular. Of course, I thank my wife Karen for her love and support. Many thanks to Christy Hutchinson of Krafthaus Rottweilers for selling me this fantastic dog, and introducing us to the crazy world of dog shows. Christy showed us the ropes and helped in many different ways – I hope we can continue to count on your help! Thanks too to Kathy Yontz – Kathy’s probably misplaced more ribbons than I’ll ever win. She’s easily the classiest lady I’ve met in the Rottweiler show world and is a great friend – thanks so much for all your great advice and patient instruction! I also have to give thanks to my dear departed friend Caesar. Oh how I wish I’d been introduced to conformation shows, or Sieger shows, or Rally Obedience – Caesar would have loved doing those things and excelled. But he did teach me how to love a dog, and I think in many ways his spirit lives on in Zeus.
Believe it or not, all the accolades, ribbons, and trophies weren’t really what we were after. I got involved in doing shows and trials in order to spend more time with my dogs. To foster a closer relationship with Zeus and our other dogs. Eventually, the closeness of the relationship that Zeus and I have – the bond that we’ve built together though countless hours of working together – became an integral part of our mutual success. We learned very early on with Zeus that NO ONE could show him but me. And when we’re together in the ring, something happens…something awesome. We make a GREAT team, and I’m so happy I made the decision to show Zeus myself. From that perspective, if we never win another show in 2015 and beyond, we’ve already won the greatest award that could be had.
Somehow though, I think Zeus hasn’t won his last accolade in the show ring. In my next post, I’ll put some goals down for 2015 that Zeus and I plan to work toward. 🙂
John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.