The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show hosts an obedience competition for the first time ever in 2016. This year, the Best In Show winner is a German shorthaired pointer named C.J. But after 140 years of focus on conformation, the “beauty contest“ aspect of canine competition, the country’s most famous dog show finally welcomes a host of obedience dogs from all over the country. Competing in obedience was Belinda Venner of Saline Michigan, and her own German shorthaired pointer, Tesla.
Westminster Dog Show is no stranger to the German shorthaired pointer breed; however, such is not the case for the sport of obedience. Belinda wanted a dog to train to Obedience Trial Champion (OTCH) level. She noticed German shorthairs (known to hobbyists as GSPs) at the Detroit Kennel Club Dog Show at Cobo Hall. She loved the smooth, speckled coat, the athleticism and general affability of the dogs.
At that time, Belinda had Sparta, an aging chocolate Labrador retriever. She had done some obedience work with Sparta, but wanted a dog she could take to the ultimate title in obedience competition. She thought the GSP looked like a dog that could fit the bill.
However, her obedience instructor had other ideas.
“How many German Shorthaired Pointers do you see in Obedience? Nobody does that!”
Belinda explained to Inquisitr that the German Shorthair is known as a very busy breed.
“They do not like repetition. To do high level obedience you need lots of repetition.”
The opinion was echoed by a Golden-retriever-owning friend.
“You want an OTCH? You’ll never get there with a Pointer. You need a Golden retriever.”
But Belinda was so taken with the Shorthairs that she decided to get one anyway, and take it as far as the dog could go. She started scouting for breeders. After talking at length with one breeder who had a very good reputation and a string of winning conformation dogs, she decided to buy a puppy. But the breeder had other ideas.
“Oh, you want to do obedience? I don’t think this is the dog for you.”
Finally, Belinda turned to Karen and David Nauer in Colorado Springs. Both were AKC judges and longtime breeders of GSPs. David listened carefully to what Belinda was looking for, and decided to select a puppy for her. But with the puppy came a disclaimer.
“These are very versatile dogs, but there are only 15 German Shorthaired Pointers in breed history with an Obedience Trial Championship. I’m not saying it won’t happen, but…”
15 dogs in breed history meant only 15 dogs since 1930.
Belinda wasn’t put off by this. She welcomed a roly-poly speckled pup named Voyager’s & Stelor Hi Voltage Charm – Tesla for short – and began training right away.
She ended up with a serious-minded dog with a strict work ethic who didn’t like to make mistakes. It wasn’t planned this way, but Tesla excels at everything.
Besides obedience, she tried agility, tracking and field trials. She also became a breed ring conformation champion. With relatively little difficulty, Tesla surprised everyone (except Belinda) and earned her OTCH title around the time she turned 3 years old.
Even beyond this, Tesla was blessed with a kind heart. She was inducted into Therapy Dogs International. Belinda spearheaded a literacy program for her local school through, “Tail Waggin’ Tutors.” Tesla lies on the floor and the kids read to her for half an hour. Belinda told the Inquisitr that the kids are so into it, they wonder why the dog’s eyes are closed.
“Why won’t she look at the pictures?”
Belinda assures them that Tesla is listening and picturing the story in her mind’s eye.
Tesla’s reading program was so successful that Belinda was contacted by Therapy Dogs International to help with a local hospice program. Twice a month, Belinda takes Tesla to hospice to visit one patient for a half hour. This continues until the patient’s life ends.
“We are currently on our third patient. She’s a sweet lady who turned 100 years old last July. Tesla just lies on the bed with her.”
At 8:30 Monday morning, Belinda and Tesla, the team who defied all expectations, will usher in Westminster’s first-ever Obedience Trial. It seems only fitting to greet it with the first-ever German Shorthaired Pointer to have a Breed Championship, Obedience Trail Championship, Master Agility Championship, Master Hunter Advance, and Therapy Dog Excellent titles.
Move over, Golden Retrievers. It’s a good year for firsts.
See more about Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on Inquisitr in articles like the following.
- The 7 New Dog Breeds in 2016
- New in the Herding Group: The Winn-Dixie Dog, the Berger Picard
- The Working Group: ‘Batman of Dogs’, Ricky Bobby the Doberman
- Westminster Gets Winston the French Bulldog Off the Couch
- The Nonsporting Group: Dreaming With Dalmatians
- Best in Show Winner, “C.J.” Another German Shorthaired Pointer!
[Photo via Belinda Venner. Used with permission.]