Chapter 15 - First British IHF Champion

We missed out on the IHF meeting in Germany, although DJ went with Maggie and Lloyd, and took a very creditable 3rd place in a huge open class.

The Hovawart Club of Great Britain had originally invited the late Terry Thorn to judge its show in 2007, but his health had deteriorated too much to take up the appointment, so, at quite a late date, the club’s patron, Ans Schellekens, stood in.

It is, as they say, an ill wind, because Mercedes repeated her win of the previous year. We were so very thrilled, as we had determined that this would be her last outing, and she became the first British Hovawart to gain the title of IHF Champion.

Pines Mercedes IHF Champion 2007

Each country in the IHF has two sets of “green cards” that can be awarded each year at nominated shows… in the case of the UK it is the club show and Crufts… and to become a champion, a dog needs to win 3 of these under 2 different IHF judges.

We were, and are very proud of our Mercedes, and so very grateful to the people along the way, whose kindness and help enabled us to have the privilege of having her share her life with us. It is easily said, but she really was something very special.

As well as Mercedes’ success, we enjoyed more with Orchid winning reserve best bitch for what has subsequently proved to be the first of three in a row, and Limerick took the best veteran trophy. To round off an exceptional day for us, DJ was best dog, and the best in show line-up had distant echoes of a decade before.

In the end, we are only left with memories, but such memories…

Orchid’s 2nd Litter

We had been very pleased with the progress made by the Orchid and DJ’s “tree” litter, and decided to repeat the mating.

This time there was no doubting the success of the mating, but events conspired to make difficulties even then, as we had a long time booking for a week in Luxor just when the puppies were due. It is not possible to exaggerate our gratitude to our good friends Maggie and Lloyd, who came to our rescue, and whelped Orchid (more probably watched her whelping) for us. A lengthy, and very expensive, ‘phone call kept us abreast of developments, but it was hard being unable to be in two places at once. Despite the odd alarm, only learnt about some considerable time later, we came home to a super litter of nine, this time, naturally, named after Egyptian deities.

Orchid, in her usual manner, had the whole business under control, and once again proved to be an excellent mother. She was particularly good at playing with her puppies, and teaching them the basics. There are those of this breed that could manage very well without human assistance at all.

The End of an Era

Our lovely Mercedes died, aged 7, after a short stay in the vets to sort out what we thought was a blockage, but turned out to be an obscure lung problem, when a torsion caused a build-up of blood that ultimately burst.

We have looked up the condition on the internet, and there is a study in the USA that listed 18 cases over a 21 year period, so I suppose she was desperately unlucky, but we were devastated, not least because we were not with her at the end. Indeed, the vet had phoned at 7pm to say that she seemed to be improving, only to phone again at 9pm to say she had died. It is not possible to say how bereft we feel, even 2 years later.

Mercedes was a once-in-a-lifetime dog, she never really stepped out of line, or pushed herself to the front, but was always “there”. At least she has left a legacy with more than 30 of her beloved puppies to carry her genes into the future, including our “Whistle”, who patently misses her mother desperately even now. They had a super relationship, exactly as you would expect from Mercedes.

Crufts 2008 was inevitably a rather sad time for us. People are very kind and sympathetic, and half the time you want to talk about the loss, the other half wishing everyone would just disappear…trouble is, you don’t know which mood is in place at any one time, and you can’t alter what others do anyway.

Gill Stockton was our judge, and in bitches we had the unusual sight of a complete line-up of blondes for best bitch. We only had Limerick and Whistle there, and didn’t fare terribly well. Indeed, the whole of 2008 proved rather disappointing for show results, the only high spot for our own dogs being Orchid’s best of breed at a very poorly attended Welsh KC in August, but a very muddy Richmond saw the debut of the “Egyptian” litter, with several looking most promising.

Happily, too, DJ continued his winning ways, both at home and abroad, ultimately culminating in his Dutch title, thus emulating Limerick’s sister Beck (Tipperary).

To date, these two are the only Hovawarts with such an achievement.