Source: CTV News (Extract)
Posted: August 3, 2023

These dogs aren’t your average pet pooch.

The 2023 Canadian German Shepherd Dog Championship and Sieger Show has brought the nation’s top shepherds to Saint John, N.B., marking the first time the province has hosted the event in ten years.

“It’s kind of a once in a lifetime chance if you will,” says event organizer Courtney Lawton. “It’s been 10 years, like I said, since we were chosen, so if you literally want to see the top dogs in Canada, now is your chance to come out.”

The event begins Aug. 2 and runs through Aug. 6, with the first three days serving as a qualifier for Team Canada’s World Championship team. The 22 shepherds taking part are tested in three ways; tracking of human scent, obedience executed by the dog in a routine with its handler, and protection. The aim is to receive the top score out of 100.

“The whole idea of this sport is for the dog to want to do it and to really enjoy doing it,” says Fundy Schultzhund club member Kip Day. “And do it with as much energy and gusto that you can get.”

Day says the prime age for a canine to compete is normally from age’s four to seven. He adds it takes hundreds, if not thousands, of hours to train a dog to compete at this level, which is why he is never fearful of any dog on the grounds.

“That’s the furthest from my thought,” Kip says, in response to queries from friends wondering if he is worried about being bit. “I have never seen it because the dogs are very well trained and very highly socialized to people.”

“Trust, this is all,” says trainer Raino Fluegge. “You have to teach the dog in a certain way and if you have it, the dog will do it and trust you.”

Fluegge, who was born in Germany, now lives on Price Edward Island and has competed in the sport for over 50 years in 40 different countries. Like other non-team sports, he says the best part of the competitions is the comradery.

“It’s a friendly competion because we can’t help each other,” Fluegge says. “There’s not somebody there on the field that doesn’t wish you good luck. It’s a sport just me and my dog.”

The event will wrap up on Sunday with the Seiger Show, which showcases the athletic abilities and stature of the German shepherd with over 80 dogs taking part.

Outside of the dogs being the main attraction, vendors and a silent auction are also set up for guests to enjoy.

“It’s a lot of work,” Lawton says. “But it’s great to see familiar faces and new faces venture into the East Coast.”

Lawton reminds residents who plan on coming to watch any of the events to leave their own dogs at home, in order to avoid distractions for the competing canines.