June 1998 Germany trip

Unlike my first trip to Germany in October of '96 with Ray Zamora, where we stayed with a German family, that spoke English, treated us as guests, and were our tour guide. This trip with Tony Becherer we were on our own.

We landed in Munich at 1:00 pm on Wednesday June 3. We were met at the airport by Martin Hagen, the son of Dr. Hagen, the man I stayed with on my first trip. Martin helped us get to the Hertz Desk to pickup our car, which I reserved over the Internet. It turned our we didn't need Martin there as the girl at the desk spoke better English than I did.

After signing the papers and getting the keys we were off to the fifth floor of the parking structure to pickup our car and a new adventure.

Being a spoiled American I had reserved a car with automatic and air-condition, the only Hertz car that fit this was a Ford mid-size station wagon with a V6 engine. A nice sized car.

Martin rode with us to get to the A8 Autobahn, and pointed us in the right direction. Martin then caught the subway home and left Tony and I to find our own way.

With Tony reading the maps and me driving we were on our way.

We headed to Meitingen, about a 90k drive. The first thing I had to learn was how to drive fast..... The second thing is you can not pass on the right so you must stay out of the way and make room for the Mercedes to pass, The third thing is: DAMN, some of those cars go fast.

A little more than an hour after arriving in Munich we had found Meitingen but had no luck finding our room. We stopped to ask a couple of people but they were as lost as we were. Finally we stopped and asked a lady doing some yard work. With her broken English and Tony's broken German we found our room.

We had reservations for a week at the Neue Post, which was about 2k from the Korung field.

We registered, put our junk in our room, and called Toni Spindler to go to his Schutzhund Club for a training session with his club members.

Like the visit in October of '96 to Toni's club we again saw some good working dogs, a group of good club members, that enjoy each other and made us feel welcome, and good food and drinks. It was fun to renew friendships from my first visit and to see the progress of some of the dogs. One dog and handler in particular impressed me, Roland and his dog Garret. Last October when I visited Roland had just got Garret, a young dog with no titles, in the 18 months since he has a SchH III title on him and several V ratings in conformation. Not to bad for a young dog and a handler with his first sport dog.

Thursday was our first day to travel. We took off early headed to Rothenburg to buy a cuckoo clock. I had planned to buy one on my first trip but didn't get it, so that was my first objective this time. Rothenburg is a tourist town with may shops. We found the town pretty easy with Tony doing maps and me driving. After a couple of hours of shopping, gawking and eating it was off to the Autobahn to the city of Aaleen to visit the home of Helmut Freiburg a friend of Tony's. We arrived in Aaleen, a town of 50,000 people with no address or phone number for Mr. Freiburg, the numbers were at our room. We stopped at a gas station to see if we could find a phone book, Tony asked the the attendant how to find a number, she asked Tony who he was looking for, he told her Helmut Freiburg, her answer "oh the Rottweiler Man." She picked up the phone and called Helmut, she knew him well enough to know the number from memory. Was that STRANGE????

Helmut drove down to guide us back to his house where we visited with him and his wife, saw his beautiful SchH III, Gekort, bis EzA bitch, and a 4 week old litter of puppies.

Helmut took us to see his schutzhund club and new club house and into town to see the sights in Aaleen one of the oldest towns in Germany.

After our visit with Mr. & Mrs Freiburg we returned to Meitingen to meet Toni Spindler's club, BG Meitingen/Nordschwaben, and start setting up the grounds for the Korung. The club expected 3000 visitors for the two day event.

Setting up for a show in Germany is much more involved than here. They can not use paper plates or cups, everything is in dishes that must be washed. All drinks were in glass bottles and ice is not used in drinks so they must be refrigerated.

The club rented a large tent, a restaurant quality dishwasher that was mounted on a trailer, deep fryers to cook with and all the equipment to set up a portable restaurant for the weekend. They also rented a tent to turn into a beer garden complete with a refrigerated case for fish sandwiches and a refrigerated trailer to keep 200 cases of cold beer and soda.

It took 40-45 club members 6 hours on Thursday evening and all day Friday to setup this equipment.

It was fun for Tony and I to be involved, it was a little problem for me as I don't speak a word of German, but I soon learned as long as my back was strong that was all they needed. The other good thing is there was plenty of cold beer.

Friday evening about 5 pm the judges showed up to run the demo dogs through to test the helpers and the field and to setup the area for the critiques.

By 11pm we were back at the room for sleep and an early rise to be back Saturday morning.

Saturday morning was the first day of the Korung. We arrived early so not to miss anything.

Lots of vender booths to spend money at. The ADRK booth got a good portion of the money I took, with Kor books, books, shirts, wallets, pictures, etc., all from the ADRK, where better to spend my food money.

At 9:am they started critiquing the first of 24 dogs to be tested on Saturday. After critiquing a group of 4 dogs they did the protection portion for these 4 dogs.

Next they critiqued 4 more worked them and continued critiquing and working in groups of 4 until all 24 dogs were finished. At the end of the day only 6 passed from a total of 23 tested. One withdrew because of any injury incurred at home.

There were several reasons for so many dogs failing. One is was EXTREMELY HOT. In fact it was HOT HOT HOT. Second some of dogs lacked training, some of the handlers were nervous or not qualified due to lack of experience, and some of the dogs were just not ready that day.

Saturday night we attended the party and dance. It was a great evening, listening to the talks by the ADRK Officers, and enjoying the music of the band that spoke German and sang American Songs.

Sunday morning we again returned early. There were to be 21 more dogs tested. Several withdrew, probably because of Saturdays heat, but Sunday was much cooler and the last 5 dogs worked in a heavy rain.

Sunday the quality of the dogs was what we expected. Lots of dark eyes, dark mouths, and average or better conformation, plus much better work.

There were 4 dogs entered for their first Korung and 17 in for their bis EzA.

Of all the dogs on Sunday my favorite and the favorite of many was #26 Drago von der Gehren, a midsized dog with great strength, courage, drive and hardness.

On the escape he ran into the helpers legs, was knocked on the ground, got up, caught the helper before the line, and knocked the helper to the ground. It was a great moment, from near failure to a terrific conclusion. The courage test was a flying bite, that was firm and full, a test that got a grand ovation from the crowd.

The next best working dog was Bucky von der Gehren for his EzA. Though Bucky in my opinion lacks a little in conformation and markings, his control and working were excellent.

Sunday was a great day, many nice dogs, good work, at the minimum the kind of dogs you expect from Germany.

The personal highlight for me was the last dog, #46 Max vom Kiefernweg. A rather pretty dog 7 1/2 years old with a handler that I was told in his 70's. Max was going for his EzA, which he got. The expression on the handler's and his wife's face brought tears to my eyes.

I think this is what owning dogs is about, a man and his dog working together to earn a title, and his family there to support their efforts. I don't know the man but my personal opinion from what I saw that day was, Pass or Fail he still had the best dog there for him, his dog, and his wife was there to support them BOTH. Could there be more???? I think not!!!!!

After all the dogs were done the club members with our help started taking down the equipment.

We were nearly done when a major thunder storm came. The club decided to return Monday evening to finish up.

Monday morning Toni Spindler and his wife Karin met us for lunch, after lunch the three of us Toni, Tony, me and Scott Fishfader, a friend from the U.S. hoped in Toni's can for a trip to Frabo, the working equipment manufacturer in Kempten.

I learned a little on the ride out. I have known Toni Spindler as a good judge of Rottweilers, a dedicated working person, a good helper and a good friend, now I know Toni missed his calling, he should be racing F1 cars, he drives good and he uses the Autobohn for what they were designed, to get somewhere FAAAAAST......

We had a pleasant drive, four friends discussing our passion, Rottweilers, and laughing and learning from each other. A fun day visiting Frabo, buying epuipment and enjoying each others company.

We returned to Meitingen Monday evening in time to help clearing up the rest of the stuff from the Korung field.

Tuesday was our last day in Germany. We spent it driving about 200k to Stuttgart to visit a police dog training school.

I was now comfortable on the Autobahn and ready to drive 140-160k per hour, about 90-100 mph and feel ok with it. It was to slow for the Mercedes drivers but fast enough to pass a couple of trucks.

The school was a beautiful facility and Tony's friend Peter was a terrific host. He took us on a tour, showed us the facility top to bottom and explained his training program. The only sad thing was they were on a training break and no dogs would be there for a week. I was hoping to learn from their work.

We returned to Meitingen Tuesday evening and went to the home of Toni and Karin Spindler for our last visit of this trip.

Karin fixed us an excellent dinner and Toni, Tony and I got to discuss dogs.

We solved the worlds problems over dinner, the only thing left undecided was which of us has the best dogs.

One thing I know is we are all three proud of our dogs, do what we think is best for us and our dogs, and will continue to work to better ourselves and our dogs.

It is fun for me to have a friend like Toni Spindler. I appreciate the fact he will share his knowledge with anyone that wants to learn.

It is also my privilege to know Tony Becherer, I have known Tony many years, but this trip was great, Tony is fun to travel with, as long as he reads the maps and doesn't drive, and Tony is strong in his convictions to keep a Rottweiler what it ia meant to be.

The Rottweiler would have less problems if everyone had the temperament of the dogs in their heart as the 2 "Leo's" do.

After a great week, my first Korung, and a visit with old friends and new, Wednesday morning we returned to California with the plan of putting into action what I learned this week.

My advice to anyone that wants to go to Germany is , GO!

It is a clean, beautiful country, with lots of history to view, some good dogs, some great dogs, and some great people.

Driving on the Autobahn is easy, the roads are marked pretty well. The city streets in the smaller towns are narrow but beautiful.

You can usually find someone that speaks enough English so you can get by.

You can order in the restaurants by pointing and eating. This way you get variety. You don't know what you are eating, but I didn't get anything I couldn't eat.

A week there traveling by ourselves and staying in a nice bed and breakfast, renting a car and a little shopping cost me 1500-2000 dollars, that included the airfare.

Somethings cost less than here, the room for example was $50 per day for 2 people with 2 beds and breakfast everyday. The car was $171 for a week from Hertz. Gas for the car was $.85 per liter or about $3.50 per gallon. Sales tax is 16 % but if you ship your purchases home you can save the tax or you can fill out a form at the airport and they will return the tax on anything you bought to take home.

It is cheaper to ship by UPS from Germany to the U.S. than it is to ship UPS from the U.S. to Germany. Food is reasonable, the friendship is free!!

In my opinion the dog people are great. They have all been nice to me and are willing to swap dog stories and talk and brag about their dogs.

All in all I think Germany and the ADRK have a good system to take care of the Rottweiler dog. Not a perfect system, but the best one at this time.

They produce some great dogs and some that should be pets. The good thing is their system of breed testing eliminates the breeding of most of the pets. I am sure some get through the test, but most of the faults are caught and these dogs are eliminated from breeding programs.

If you have any questions about my trip, or want suggestions on where to visit, E-Mail me:

If you want help importing a dog don't bother asking me. I am not a dog importer and I do not use my friends for this purpose.

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