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The 2006 Working American Pit Bull Terrier Club of America National Championships. Wow, so much to say. First of all big, huge kudos for that great family also known as Maine Association of Dogsports (M.A.D.). To pull off an event, to the extent and magnitude of this, can only be possible if you have a great group of people backing you up. A true leader is one who can muster a winning group and delegate in them their specific jobs. An “army of one” is never as successful as an army of many. So I must tell you all that this event was a second to none one. Just like our APBT!!!

There is no such thing as an easy task and everyone in MAD contributed to make this championship a most memorable one in my heart. Chris, April, Megan, Dave & Carrie, Richie, Mike, Kyle, Will and others my memory just doesn’t let me remember their names but you all know I appreciate how well you all treated me and made me feel, ……. The trophies and certificates were second to none. Many times this is overlooked in trials that I’ve been to. Nothing discourages a competitor more than to pay and win an event and receive a sub-par recognition for it. The food, the field, the huge raffle, the shirts, etc. All that effort from everyone in MAD combined to make this championship a unique one.

The judges. Let me start with conformation. Mr. Harold Card was truly the best choice. Talk about having someone who knows form and function! Not only was his knowledge of the breed evident, his candidness and happy-go-lucky attitude made the conformation ring participants feel relaxed and confident. With a smile always on his face and sharing his thoughts and experiences, it was a wealthy addition to this event’s cause. The breakthrough of the day was certified weight pull judge, Philisity Kitson. She heard about a “Pit Bull event” in Maine, went to our web page to look for the info and found her way to the championship. When she told the club that she was a certified Weight-pull judge …. “Bam!!!” (as Emeril says) she saved the day. Not only did she take charge of that event, she offered to make a write-up of the rules for our next championship! Way to go Philisity.

Protection judge John Turri is one of those persons that brings a smile to your face. After reading and listening so much about him, he stood out. Head and shoulders above any good preconceived notion I had of him. His ability as a decoy is phenomenal. Intense, knowledgeable, safe and most of all ethical. As he demonstrated in one of the incidents. The WPBTCA should be very grateful to have such a resource at hand. Thanks for everything John, I hold you in very high esteem.

I left for last our obedience judge, Annetta Cheek, last for a good reason. She has always been one of my greatest heroes. Back in the 80’s when our breed was under fierce attack by the media, Annetta’s Red Barroness Sch. III was my inspiration to cling to. Since at the time I was into personal protection and French Ring didn’t appear until the late 80’s. I would have these huge fights (besides the hate mail) in DSM over our breed. And Annetta was my “life line” whenever I needed inspiration to write about our breed in DSM. Thanks for everything Annetta, and to MAD for choosing her as the obedience judge for this championship. Her leadership, experience and knowledge should be taken advantage of fully by the club now that she might go into retirement. She’s a great leader and with her vision would make one heck of a WPBTCA President. (hint, hint ;-)

Now about the trials. The 1st trial was weight pull. Since this was the first time I’ve seen this type of event in person, it was a real impact for me. It really instilled in my heart, what a great breed we have. To see these dog’s INTENSE desire to please and give their all in a situation where they felt they couldn’t move, what looked to them like an immovable post, was simply unique. Seeing their expressions in their face, their commitment, the energy and inspiration they provoked in the crowd was a real highlight.

The obedience trials was also one impressive event. Where else can you go to an obedience trial and see one APBT after another? Dr. Annetta Cheek and others realized that having only one level was a bit too complex for some. So she took down some notes to implement at least 2 levels for our next championship. This alone will be a huge asset for the growth and participation of the club.

Now, for the protection phase. APBT’s doing bitework …. It just doesn’t get better than that! Dog after dog going on the field and strutting their stuff. We have such an advantage of seeing so many different colors, types and sizes in our breed. Then add to that all the ways the dogs responded to the scenarios, decoys and handlers, it made for an unforgettably exciting and entertaining experience. My hats off to all the people who, not only supported this event, but especially to those who competed. Like I said to all who were present there before the awards ceremony. Everything that you saw there, from the simplest to the most complex of exercises done by the dogs, takes a LOT time, effort, knowledge and work to do. Many people see a dog walking at Heel and have no clue as to the amount of work it requires for that dog to it, no matter how “simple” it looks. So again, my most sincere kudos to all who stepped into the arena.

On a side note it was nice to see some dogs with sport training trying to test their luck in the personal protection trial celebrated after the championships. There people could actually see how difficult it is for successful dog/handler teams in sports to be successful in other venues. A lot was learned by those seeking knowledge, a true feast it was! It was also so nice to share time again with the good folks I know and to meet new friends. I finally was able to meet Horst, Ron, Annetta, Leri, Harold, Aja, Mike, Jessica, Danielle, and many, many more. And of course seeing good friends again like Debbie, Chris, April, Megan, Richie (you guys just gotta taste her killer BBQ Chicken!), Mike, and many more names who slip my mind but not your person. Love you guys! I want to publicly acknowledge Carrie and Dave for their attentions and hospitality. You make it so easy to free me from my homesickness! It was a pleasure to share with you again. And of course to the big man himself, Chris Fraize, for taking up the burden of bringing me over and allowing me to stay (and bug the heck out of him lol) at his place.

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2006 WPBTCA National Working Championships final placements:

W.P.B.T.C.A. National Working Champion, Int CH, U-CD Hanson’s Capone FR II, MR I, SchH B

W.P.B.T.C.A. National Working Vice Champion U-WP Punchlines Rumble Strip

W.P.B.T.C.A. National Working Reserve Champion U-CD, UWP, ‘PR’ Punchlines Bronx Tale A.S.R. entry level, PrPD, ID, CGC/TDI

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