DSH-Spezial: We interviewed you after your first WUSV championship in 2012. My final question then was, are you going to participate with Hank next year? Your answer was: “Yes, I want to defense our title with Hank yet in 2013 and 2014.” You have truly made so. Is one able to plan such thing before hand?
Helmut Huber: Of course not. You can never count on winning. You can hope for it, but you cannot really count on it. But for a chance of winning I have believed in since the dog has been very consistent in his performances. Always! But you cannot predict how far those will take.
DSH-Spezial: The consistency of Hank’s performances has been impressive. It is really noticeable once comparing your results. You have been Hank’s handler 15 times in German national championships BSP, in WUSV, in Landesgruppe-level and in 7-Länderkampf. You have been a winner 11 times and twice on a second place. Has winning become routine and do you still consider yourself credible?
Helmut Huber: Yes, I think this is crazy, too. I believe Hank’s records cannot be beaten by any dog. None, since I cannot believe this myself either. I did not even think a dog could achieve something like this. But still, it has happened and of course I am happy for it.
DSH-Spezial: Will winning become easier after a few titles, since your dog becomes more predictable?
Helmut Huber: No, it is always a challenge. Dog doesn’t care whether he wins or not. He doesn’t know that. But of course dog learns over the time and gets more experience. For me it has always been exciting, whether I am able to motivate my dog time after time so that he will make the best possible performance. I have always succeeded in it and I am proud that my dog has remained so good.
DSH-Spezial: Can you give an example what you did differently this year compared to the past?
Helmut Huber: For example in tracking I have always used food as a motivation. I used hidden film cans for a while. This year I have rewarded Hank with a ball at an object. I have given him a ball at an object, praised and petted him and let him chew the ball for a while. He must lie down, though. Then I’ve taken the ball off and continued.
DSH-Spezial: As a matter of a fact you had this year the same luck in a draw than last year. In 2014 you had to start with the protection on a very first day. Is this the kind of luck you have hoped for or would’ve you rather have something else.
Helmut Huber: Actually it does not matter in which order the performances are. I don’t even think of it. I just want my dog to do 100% of what he can. And so he has done. I am super happy with him. On Wednesday I did not even think if I’m going to win or not.
DSH-Spezial: You had a day off on Thursday. What did you do?
Helmut Huber: I watched interesting dogs, did a lot of walking with Hank and more or less just relaxed.
DSH-Spezial: So, no training that day?
Helmut Huber: No.
DSH-Spezial: On Friday was tracking day. There was a gossip going on at the stadium that your track was laid twice and that you showed up late on purpose so that you got the last track. Before you give your side of the story I want to tell, that I do not believe in this crap. Everyone, that takes a minute and thinks this over, understands that laying the track down twice is not possible. What happened?
Helmut Huber: My estimated start time was on Friday at 9:21. It was also said that dog handlers must be one hour and fifteen minutes earlier on a meeting place for tracking. This applied also for Wednesday and Thursday. I was there one and a half hour before just to notice that the group has already left. The game official at the meeting place said that team leaders should have known that on Friday the take off for tracking was two hours earlier. I called Jens-Peter Flügge and he knew nothing about this. I offered the track officer gas money for taking me to the field. He declined and said he doesn’t even know where the tracks were that day. I was going to be disqualified. And there I stood. Gladly I have a French friend who sent his wife to pick me up and after a minor adventure and some lost nerves I finally got there in time.
DSH-Spezial: Yes, that should not be happening on a world championship level. Gladly enough everything went fine. How satisfied you were with Hank’s tracking?
Helmut Huber: People there said afterwards that it was breathtakingly beautiful. I think it was the best track Hank has done for the past five years. The judge took off two times half points, because the dog should lie down faster at an object. I am satisfied. I knew that with 98 points it is still possible to win the World championship title.
DSH-Spezial: Then you had yet another day off during which dog handlers made very good performances. How did this day go for you?
Helmut Huber: On Saturday I helped US participant Sigrid Riess-Mundry. His mother lives 5 kilometers from my home in Waldkraiburg. Sigrid came already 4 weeks before the games to stay with his mother and practiced with me. His protection was on Saturday at 13, so we practiced on a nearby field at 10. Hank was in a car and I parked it so that Hank could see us doing protection. After that I took Hank and made the final practice for obedience. Hank was all over protection mood. Obedience was the most difficult for us in Philadelphia, because the dog was in protection mood during the obedience. I am glad we did this kind of final preparation. Otherwise the history would have repeated itself.
DSH-Spezial: After Saturday it became obvious you needed 95 points to win the title. How could you sleep your night and what was going on in your head when knowing this?
Helmut Huber: After the track I thought everything was possible. I knew Hank was in super mood and that he may just as well achieve something like that. We had done very careful preparations, the practicing had gone well and I was convinced I can do it.
DSH-Spezial: Your turn was on Sunday morning after the third couple.
Helmut Huber: It was for my dog’s benefit that he could work in the morning. After all, he is almost 7 years old. Older dogs just are better in the morning. Therefore the luck in the draw worked for me.
DSH-Spezial: Was this, after all, the best win?
Helmut Huber: Yes, the most exciting and the most beautiful. The dog worked in all parts once more very well, even improved his performance. He made a spectacular protection and technically flawless. I don’t think he could have worked any better, and that is the reason why I am happy and proud.
DSH-Spezial: The hardest victory was then last year, or what?
Helmut Huber: Yes, because I made a big mistake myself and still accuse myself on it. I was on the first couple after the protection group and I am mad about myself for taking the dog there too early and did nothing, like taking the dog away from there. He was in a wrong mood after seeing the protection. I did not believe in our victory, but after all, everything turned out well. There was a lot of luck there.
DSH-Spezial: For the last question, how are things going on with Hank today?
Helmut Huber: Hank is lying on a couch. He goes for running three times in a week with my daughter and her poodle. Other times he is just watching TV with me, my wife spoils him and this all works for Hank brilliantly. Hank will live the rest of his beautiful life with me.
Helmut Huber is preparing Hank’s son for competition career.