The USCA holds two national IGP championships each year: In May, the Working Dog Championship (WDC) which is an all-breed IGP championship and in November, the Nationals which is a GSD specific championship. If measured by participant count and spectatorship, these are by far the biggest IGP championships in the Unites States. These two events attract the highest level of competition.
At the 2019 WDC in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, there were a whopping 79 entries (73 IGP and 6 FH). Remarkably, six of the entries came from one kennel: Mack-Zwinger. Four offspring competed with their parents Elsa & Eiko. How this came about is the subject of this blog: Karen MacIntyre, of vom Mack-Zwinger kennel.
From Left: 21 Richard DeCoste & Harley IGP3; #78 Ashley Rebee Foersch & Basha von Ballamhain IGP3; #; #68 Joli vom Mack-Zwinger IGP2; #18 Claudia Hoffman & Jaecar vom Mack-Zwinger IGP3; #1 Mike Harrington & Hanyo vom Mack-Zwinger IGP3; #24Jen Sutrick & Hannelore vom Mack-Zwinger IGP3;
#76 Karen MacIntyre & Eiko vom Mack-Zwinger IGP3, FH, RH2
Karen is an USCA IGP Judge, USCA Conformation Judge, USCA Breed Warden, National level IGP competitor and Breeder. Following is the roster of vom Mack-Zwinger dogs entered in the WDC with one additional dog that although is not vom Mack-Zwinger, but was sired by one of her dogs.
2019 USCA WDC FH Champions Karen MacIntyre & Eiko vom Mack-Zwinger IPO3, FH, RH2
Karen grew up in a family that loved and raised German Shepherd Dogs. After graduating from school she was able to get her own dog in the 70s and quickly took to obedience training. She started with AKC obedience at first. Then one day during a veterinarian visit, the vet suggested Karen check out Schutzhund as it was called then (now called IGP). She started with the North American Schutzhund Assoc. in 1981 and then moved to USCA in 1983. She competed in 15 national championships, all with Handler/Owned/Trained (H.O.T.) dogs. Meanwhile, she also trained many of her dogs for search work which included cadaver, water and rubble searches. She found that many within the working search dog community had negative association with Schutzhund dogs for that type of work due to temperament needed. Overcoming this stigma was a big motivator in her selection and philosophy for her breeding program.
Vom Mack-Zwinger breeding philosophy was heavily influenced by a frustration in finding working dogs with good environmental temperament. Karen above all wanted a balance of drives, environmental stability and structure. She found this combination and balance to be a rare combination. She was also disappointed in the direction many of the show and working lines were headed. She set out on her quest and whelped her first litter in 1981.
Mike Harrington & Hanyo vom Mack-Zwinger IGP3 (male) 'Send Out' during obedience
Her breeding program was proven in IGP competition as well as search & rescue. There was a key decision that ultimately resulted in the large representation in this years WDC. It was about ten years ago, having followed the offspring of Sid vom Haus Pixner (particularly with search dogs in Austria) as well as working-confirmation balance in the J-litter Talka Marda, Karen learned that Ajay Singh was planning a litter from of these dogs in 2007. She took the risk on a puppy from this breeding named Nessie vom Patiala. Next, she found a diamond in the rough, Uno vom Siegener Krochnen, a very strong dog that had been through multiple handlers before he found his home with Karen. Uno and Nessie were Karen’s idea of the dream match. They produced the EE liter (Eiko and Elsa) which is the foundation of what is shown in these photos today. EIko has won the FH Championship at this event and is a x4 IGP National competitor. Elsa is a multiple-time national IGP competitor. Four of the offspring competed in this event with their parent Eiko and Elsa. Eiko is also certified cadaver dog (IPWDA Cadaver & Water), water search dog and rubble disaster dog (RH2).
Jen Sutrick's Hannelore vom Mack-Zwinger IGP3 (female) defending the 'Attack on handler out of back-transport' by Ryan White
Karen DeCoste's Joli vom Mack-Zwinger IGP2 (female) Bark & Hold on helper Colt Dickson
Ashley Rebe Foersch's Basha von Ballamhain IGP3 (female) during 'Attack on handler out of back transport' by Ryan White
Karen’s primary source of motivation is her training group. Her friend and fellow competitor Claudia Hoffman keeps her encouraged to put in the work. Her dog sport club, Southern New Hampshire Working Dog Club, is a serious club focused on high level competition. She also trains with, and finds inspiration from, with multi-time national champions and world competitors Mike Diehl and Frank Phillips.
Her advice for a person new to the sport is to “hang in there!” It takes a lot of work before you start to see the results and be prepared to put a 100,000 miles on your car before you get anywhere. She subscribes to the Philosophy “do something to get something.” It works in training, it works in life…it just works.
Richard DeCoste's Harley vom Mack-Zwinger IGP3 (male) during pressure phase of the Long Bite with Jeffery Davis
Karen MacIntyre & Eiko vom Mack-Zwinger IGP3, FH, RH2
Karen MacIntyre checking out with judge during obedience with Jaecar vom Mack-Zwinger (male) BHOT IGP3
I don’t know if we will ever see this incredible achievement of a six dog from single kennel competing in a national championship again. I was glad to have been there and photographed this remarkable event.
Brian Aghajani is a freelance photographer based in Houston. He began his fascination with dog sport in 2000, has titled three dogs to IPO3 and competed in a handful of national IPO championships. He is an official photographer for most National IGP/Mondioring competition including the USCA, GSDCA, AWDF, AWMA and USMRA as well as the WUSV World Championship. Follow him on facebook