VERSATILE HUNTING DOG ASSOCIATION
NAVHDA, P.O. Box 520, Arlington Heights, IL 60006, USA Phone: 847.253.6488 Fax: 847.255.5987 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
by John Kegel
I first met Bodo Winterhelt in 1967 and a lasting friendship developed,
but it was not until l968, after I acquired a Pudelpointer from Bodo, that we started talking about forming a Pudelpointer Club of North America.
During these discussions I learned that Bodo had been involved in Versatile Testing some years ago. Apparently in l963 the "All Purpose Gun Dog Club of Ontario" was started. This club was affiliated with the Ontario Bird Dog Association and the membership consisted mainly of field trialers. A friend of Bodo's, Walter Kogut, worked out some testing rules that were a combination of German and North American field trial rules. Field and water work were separate tests held on different days. The water test was built along retriever lines. Two years later the "All Purpose Gun Dog Club" died. Two reasons were given for it's failure:
Above: Bodo Winterhelt and John Kegel at the 1996 NAVHDA Annual Meeting. Below: Bodo Winterhelt during a training clinic in 1973.
Without the benefit of a club, Bodo and Douglas Hume organized the first Natural Ability and Utility tests on Nicholson Island in l965. These tests were held under rules that were very similar to today's NAVHDA rules. Even though these two tests in l965 were successful, no club was formed and the testings were never repeated.
Being new to all this was very exciting for me. I felt at the time that with Bodo's knowledge and experience, it should not be too difficult to organize a club with membership coming from hunters rather than field trialers. Bodo agreed. Nevertheless, it took us some time to decide whether this club or organization should be strictly a Pudelpointer breed club or a club open to all pointing breeds. After weighing the pros and cons carefully, we settled on an open breed club. We got some "Founding Meeting" cards printed and mailed them to owners of versatile breeds.
On Sunday, May 18, l969 we met at The Goodwood Club in Goodwood, Ontario. The meeting was to be held at our clubhouse, but as we had only a total of 12 people, we moved over to our house and the meeting took place in our living room.
In attendance were: Douglas Hume- a long time friend of Bodo's who had sponsored the first importation of Pudelpointers from Germany. George Adolph- also a good friend of Bodo's who had the reputation of being an excellent dog trainer having once trained a Basset Hound for bird hunting. George was the owner of a well trained Pudelpointer named Rush. Rudi Lorra- another friend of Bodo's and a Pudelpointer owner. Jerry and Alyson Knap-owner of GWP (Arda). Jerry at the time was a successful outdoor writer and Alyson was an excellent dog trainer. Phil Desjardine- a long time Springer man who had just purchased his first Pudelpointer from Bodo. Alex Hoenig- an interested GWP owner. Betty McHugh-owner of a Griffon and well-known obedience trainer. Hubert Edney- a first time Pudelpointer owner. Bodo Winterhelt, Margaret, my wife and myself
Bodo opened the meeting by outlining the purpose and objectives of the club. This was followed by an election of officers.
Bodo volunteered to hold monthly training clinics at his game farm in Orono, Ontario. Future board meeting were also scheduled monthly. The test rules were explained to us by Bodo, and as he was the only with testing experience, we readily accepted them. Also, a possible fall test (Utility) was discussed.
Once my liquor supply was exhausted, everyone left not knowing that they had started a new movement that soon would expand to the United States and make history in the hunting dog world.
The Early Utility Test
Strange as it may seem, our first test was not a Natural Ability Test; it was the much more difficult Utility Test. Monthly training clinics under the guidance of Bodo Winterhelt had boosted our confidence enough to make plans to hold a Utility Test on October 19, 1969.
The test was held on the grounds of the Goodwood Club, a private 600-acre hunting preserve located 50 miles northeast of Toronto. Field and water were ideal for the test. Game birds used were quail, pheasant and duck. The format of the test was different from our present day test.
We started with the Bush Work, which consisted of three tests. Canadians refer to the woods as “bush.”
Walking at Heel – For this test, trees and obstacles were used instead of the stakes that we now take for granted.
Remain on Spot – Now called Remain by Blind, this phase was tested in the bush. Now it is tested in conjunction with Behavior at the Blind and Retrieve of Duck.
Retrieve by Track – Actually, this segment involved the drag of pheasant. I have painful memories of this test. The layout was different than we are used to now. The judges were placed ahead of the handler. The handler was placed out of sight of the dog so that the returning dog would see the judges but not the handler. My Pudelpointer, Vicia, upon seeing the judges, lay down and proceeded to feast on the pheasant. Unaware of this, I got a rude awakening when Ed Bailey called, “John, get your dog before he eats the whole pheasant.”
Search for Duck – The duck was released from the shore, and the dog had to track the duck on the water to get a maximum score.
This was followed by a test called Obedience (Signals) in the Water. The dog had to enter the water on command and respond to the handler’s hand signals.
If you could get your dog to swim to the left 30 to 40 feet, reverse the procedure, and possibly repeat this a couple of times to demonstrate that it was not an accident, then you had earned a four!
The next test was Behavior in the Blind, which was similar to what we now know as Steadiness at the Blind.
The last test in this group was the Retrieve of Duck, which was also the same as we know today.
The following Field Work was about the same as we have today. Steadiness to Wing and Shot was judged more leniently than it presently is. When the lengthy deliberations and calculations were completed, three dogs had successfully completed all eight tests. A Prize I (203 points) went to Winterhelle’s Rush, a Pudelpointer bitch owned and handled by G. U. Adolph of White Plains, New York. No dogs qualified for a Prize II. Two Prize III’s were earned. A Prize IIIa (174 points) was given to Winterhelle’s Tamara, a female Pudelpointer owned and handled by Rudi Lorra of Toronto, Ontario. A Prize IIIb (167 points) was earned by Arda Von Hohen Tann, a female German Wirehair owned and handled by Jerome Knap.
At this first test, no plaques were given. Instead, the handlers of the three qualifying dogs were given gifts.
The test was judged by Bodo Winterhelt, Ed Bailey, and Douglas Hume. Ed Bailey wrote in our March, 1970 newsletter, “The trial was a great success, an immense step for the Versatile breeds and a fitting reward for the hard work put into making it a success by Bodo Winterhelt and John Kegel.
Perhaps the most rewarding thing of all was the honor of the judges participating in this trial, the first Versatile Breeds Utility Trial.”
The Early Natural Ability Test
Six months later, our Natural Ability Test was held. The date was April 26, 1970, and the location was Bodo Winterhelt’s Game Farm and Hunting Preserve in Orono, Ontario. We had eleven entries, two of them over-age. The eleven entries consisted of six Pudelpointers, three German Wirehairs, one Shorthair, and one Vizsla. The test was run and judged along the lines of our present day NA with three notable exceptions:
A Few Points of Interest
Trials instead of tests
Until 1975, NAVHDA tests were called “Trials,” including the “Natural Ability Trial” and the “Utility Trial.”
The point total for a maximum Utility score was 208 points (now 204). This was due to the extra test of Obedience in the Water and the index number of Desire being 4 (now 5).
An individual winner of a test was declared and awarded a Prize of Ia (meaning Prize I, highest score). The next best in each Prize classification was Ib (Prize I, second highest score), Ic, IIa, IIb, IIc, etc. If two dogs received exactly the same score, the younger of the two was awarded the higher honor.
|Again, no plaques were given, but each successful handler had the
opportunity to choose a gift from a selection on a table. The gifts were
donated by members and ranged from pewter goblets to plates with game
scenes. It was another very successful test.
Editor's Note: This article first appeared in Versatile Hunting Dog Magazine in 1993. John Kegel passed away in 1999, but his vision and passion lives on in this organization he helped found.