Thursday, August 30, 2007

25 years!

The Silver Anniversary!
It's hard to imagine it's been 25 years since the GWPCA was granted official AKC recognition for our National Field Championships. And it's even harder to imagine many of us who were there at that event, will be in attendance in 2007, but we will be. We are all a bit grayer, a bit slower, but I'll bet most of us still can remember that event like it was last year.

A Bit of Background

The breed first appeared in the US in the 1920's and became more popular following WWII. Their German breed name Drahthaar continued to be used. In 1953 Drahthaar owners gathered in Chicago and formed a club to promote the breed and to learn from each other. They decided to call their club the German Drahthaar Club of America and registered with the American Field. The club held their field trials under the auspices of the American Field as well.

In 1959, the breed was granted AKC recognition and the name of the breed was changed (per AKC request) to German (Deutsch) Wirehair (Drahthaar) Pointer. The word pointer was added to the name at the request of the AKC to designate which group of sporting dogs the breed would compete with. At that time, there were no versatile testing programs for any breed, so they had to choose which cubby hole to fit into. While the breed is well known for their retrieving abilities, it certainly would not wish to compete in Retriever trials only. The choice was made to be included with the pointing breeds and be able to enter pointing breed field trials. At this time each breed club chose what their requirements would be for a dog to complete a Field Championship. The GWPCA requires every dog working toward a FC title to earn points in retrieving stakes and to complete a water test before that title is awarded.

The club became the German Wirehaired Pointer Club of America and is the official parent club for the breed here in the United States.

The First National Field Trials
In 1963 the GWPCA held it's first Annual field trial in Ingleside Illinois. This event has been held every year since, always held in the mid west. In 1976 the Seattle-Tacoma GWP club held the very first National outside of the Midwest, and after that it began to rotate around the country. One should note that the GWPCA National events are unique compared to many other pointing breed clubs Nationals. Even in the beginning, it was decided that our National Specialty show and National Field events would be held at the same time, in the same location every year. They were determined that we keep our breed together, one breed which could and would be competitive in both venues. Today that tradition continues with many dogs showing at the Specialty and then heading over to the trial grounds.

We Are Official!
In the early 1980's the club asked AKC to grant our National Field trial official Championship status. While the club members always referred to this event as the Nationals, no official title was bestowed upon the winners. In 1982 we were granted permission to consider our event as our National Championship and we were allowed to give the title GWPCA National Champion to the winner. After 2 years of probation, the GWPCA proved to AKC that indeed our event was worthy of the title of National Champion, and we dropped the GWPCA prefix. Today all dogs that win either our National Championship, or National Amateur Championship carry the title NFC or NAFC on their AKC pedigrees.

The 1982 National Championship came home to Illinois and was run on the Green River grounds. Unfortunately the title of National Champion was withheld that year. Our National Amateur Championship was won by FC/AFC Halb's Miss Chief, bred and owned by Doug and Penny Ljungren of Seattle WA. Missy was owner trained and handled by Doug.

In 1983 we moved to Selah, WA, quite a different venue from the wheat fields of Illinois. Our 1983 GWPCA National Champion was FC/AFC Baron Vom Schyrental owned by Mike Weatherton. The Amateur Championship was once again awarded to FC/AFC Halbs Miss Chief. (Since 1980 this is the only GWP National event I have not attended!)

The following year we headed east and the venue for the Nationals was Killdeer Plains, Ohio. It was to be another Sure Shot year. FC/AFC Halb's Sure Shot (full sister to Miss Chief) won all the marbles and was named both 1994 National Champion and 1994 National Amateur Champion! "Shooter" was owned, bred and handled by Doug Ljungren. (This double win has only happened 3 times in the history of the event

As the years flew by, the event has grown in size and prestige. Today, our National field events include a Puppy Classic, a Derby Classic, the Futurity, a water test and the two Championships. What used to be run in a 3-day period, now typically takes almost a week to complete!

While our National Championships have grown, they have never lost their original purpose. To bring together the best our breed has to offer both in dogs and in people. It's a week where old friends and competitors come together to celebrate their devotion to a breed, to swap old stories, tell stupid jokes, consume a bit too much Yucca Flats and just have some fun.

25 years... and back we come to Illinois! If you would like to see some truly classy German Wirehaired Pointers in action, be in Pinckneyville, IL October 29th. 25 years.... I can't be that old!

For more information about the 2007 GWPCA National events, go to

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