This time I want to tell you how our actions in the past year will affect the future of the FCI. I am not saying it is not important to summarise our achievements and to explain why we proceeded in a certain way, but I want to talk about our future as an international organisation, but most important about the future of our dogs worldwide.

Three aspects have been transcendental during the past year; cooperation and collaboration, innovation and preparation for the future. These three aspects will lead our organisation for the next year.

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Rafael de Santiago
FCI President
Day of the Dog

380 events throughout Germany!

Over five million dogs live in German households. And they are fully-fledged family members. Either as a buddy, a social partner or comforter. Reason enough to celebrate a festival for our versatile companions. And that’s exactly what the VDH did again this year by declaring 11 June as The Day of the Dog. Dog lovers celebrated vigorously – in many places all over the country – and for an entire weekend.

On 10 and 11 June, it was then finally time. The Day of the Dog brought dog lovers together throughout Germany to take part in 380 different special events revolving around our beloved four-legged friends. The extensive programme ranged from varied walks and wide-ranging pedigree dog shows to dynamic sporting tournaments and impressive working dog demonstrations. Numerous veterinary practices and dog training areas also put on an open day. There were a lot of innovative, informative and amazing things to be experienced. A lot of people took advantage of the glorious Whit weekend weather to enjoy The Day of the Dog from the first ray of sunlight to the last. And it was well worth it. Both for the two-legged and the four-legged participants.

Water fun and adventure at the reservoir

At the Talsperre Pöhl reservoir, for example, where there was a lot more than just fun in the water going on. What the Saxony Water Work Group displayed was rescue work at its absolute best. The water professionals were well organised with two rubber dinghies, surfboards, dolls and two experienced trainers, while fifteen dogs from Germany and the Czech Republic showed off their abilities during training. “A number of dog training centres and breeders of the Newfoundland, Landseer and Lagotto Romagnolo breeds were on hand and took advantage of the possibility of some introductory training”, explained delighted trainer Yvonne Bernhardt. It is a well-known fact that Newfoundland and Landseer dogs are born to work around water, but the Lagotto Romagnolo, the famous truffle dogs? “Oh yes! You would have been amazed how well it went!”, says the lady from Saxony, laughing. Whereby the breed – often wrongly reduced merely to its good snout for expensive delicacies – is also classified under FCI Group 8, i.e. retriever, flushing and water dogs.

Extremely well organised

“Working with so many dogs had been an ambition for some time, but we managed very well”, reported Yvonne Bernhardt. The regional press followed the entire event with interest in the most glorious sunshine. And the puppies that were familiarising themselves with a life jacket for the first time naturally attracted a lot of attention. “Sufficient protection against the sun was provided and all the dogs had a great time despite the high temperatures”, added the water sports enthusiast. The Saxony Water Sports Group was taking part in the Day of the Dog for the first time but decided there and then to also join in the event next year. “It really was a great day that gave us a lot of enjoyment. And everything was extremely well organised by the VDH. The banners, the signpost, etc.... kudos to all those involved”, stressed Yvonne Bernhard.

Quick canine sport test

Acquainting as many people as possible with the numerous facets of canine sport was the goal the still young Gomadingen Association for Sporting and Utility Dogs had set itself for The Day of the Dog. The chairperson of the association, Angelika Schupp, once again demonstrated her ingenuity and was praised accordingly. “We simply turned the classic table from Turnierhundsport (canine tournament sport) into a single obstacle, for example, and, by doing so, provided a lot of visitors with a sense of achievement”, commented Angelika Schupp. The participants were able to let their dogs, accompanied by a trainer, jump on the table and only then request them to “sit” and then “stay”. It may sound easy, but it’s not that easy for everyone. “An unfamiliar place, unfamiliar table and unfamiliar trainer – these are all factors that can really quite unsettle some dogs and their people”, pointed out the canine sports specialist. That day, a lot of people had, with professional guidance, managed to get their dogs to respond to targeted signals in the desired manner for the very first time. “It was important for us to enable the visitors to experience a sense of achievement. You have to offer more than simply sending them out on a course and leaving them to their own devices”, said the Chairwoman with a laugh.

Informative fun with limbo sausage station

A lot of fun was also provided by the Rally Obedience variation in which the dogs are supposed to run through a street full of tempting treats and interesting toys without showing any interest in them. “We arranged for the dogs to be held by assistants at the start and sent the owners ahead to the end of the street. A number of dogs did not bypass a single bowl on the way to their owner while others demonstrated their bonding by flying to their owner as straight as an arrow”, said the committed dog lover.
Things were also bright and cheerful at the fun station, where the dogs were supposed to cross a pool and overcome a hurdle with a sausage hanging from it – the limbo sausage station. They were allowed to catch and eat the sausage, of course. “However, some dogs didn’t even see it. Others refused to even put a paw in the water”, commented Angelika Schupp with a smile to show just how much she enjoyed being part of The Day of the Dog. “However, we would like to see even more visitors next year. We think the fact that it was Whit weekend simply cost us a lot of spectators. Last year – in poor weather - we definitely had a lot more guests”, pondered the canine sportswoman.

All-round talent boxer

Enlighten people all about the subject of “Dog & Team” and enhance their awareness! That is the motto of the Weser-Ems regional group of the Achim Boxer Club. “There are so many different possibilities to challenge and encourage dogs in an appropriate manner. We also wanted to show, among other things, that guard dog activity is a great sport rather than a case of priming the dogs, and that a fun course can also be tough and strenuous”, says First Chairwoman Claudia Gilster. The demonstrations, all of which were presented with a lot of atmosphere, obviously inspired many guests to think about what is really important for the Man & Dog Team. “In any case, this is the feedback we got”, said the delighted Chairwoman.
The programme included a fun course, a dog race, the services of an animal photographer and a lot of stalls selling things. “The IPO sport sequences, in particular, expressed the sporting side and made sure that all the dogs could also be petted by the protection work helper”, explained Claudia Gilster, who regretted the sudden inability of the police drug detection dog to attend. But he will definitely be there next year.

A great campaign

“In principle, The Day of the Dog is a great campaign that is very well received by our association members and guests. Many of them found it a shame that we don’t organise something like this more often”, reported the Chairwoman. Everybody really enjoyed getting to know so many different people together with their dogs and being able to help provide information and raise awareness levels. “Whatever happens, we will be here again next year!”.

Dog & Co.

The Day of the Dog also signalled the start of a new trade fair highlight in northern Germany, with Dog & Co., the Hanover Dog Fair, celebrating its premiere on 10/11 June and attracting 17,500 visitors. They were delighted to see the approximately 4,000 pedigree dogs from more than 200 breeds and shopped eagerly at the more than 100 stalls. “A really successful start! The event was really well received by our participants and the feedback has been consistently positive”, said a delighted Leif Kopernik, Chief Executive of VDH and ideational partner of Dog & Co.
The Dog & Co. supporting programme delighted everyone: ranging from the Dog Frisbee Show to the training demonstrations by shepherdess Anne Krüger and the Dog Diving Pool, which provided for some pleasant cooling off in the hot summer temperatures. “A successful premiere! We had visitors from the far north, from North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse and other federal states and there were even people from other countries there”, concluded Carola Schwennsen, chief executive of the Dog & Co. organiser, Fachausstellungen Heckmann. All in all: a complete success, which is why the date of the next Dog & Co. has already been decided on, with the sequel scheduled for 30 June/1 July 2018 at the Hanover Exhibition Centre.

Patron Christine Theiss

The Day of the Dog was, incidentally, held under the patronage of a very big dog lover. Multiple kickboxing world champion, doctor, presenter, mother and owner of two German Boxers, Dr. Christine Theiss, is this year’s VDH Ambassador of the Dog and she supported The Day of the Dog with total conviction. “It is important to me for people to think about what breed is suited to their life before they decide on a puppy, so that the dog and the person can then also be happy together for many years”, emphasises Christine Theiss, who was born in Thuringia and now lives in Munich with her family.

And this is exactly what many enthusiastic dog lovers were advocating on The Day of the Dog, with others showing how wonderful life is with a dog and demonstrating how to live happily together.

Gabriele Metz