The 2012 Mondioring World Championships were held from the 3rd – 7th October in Grande Synthe, which is a suburb of Dunkirk in France. This sport requires a dog that is fast and agile, and is therefore ideal for Malinois. Having Malinois myself, the draw of attending this event was great, and earlier this year I made the commitment to travel to France to see it firsthand.
My friend Toni and I arrived in France on the 4th October and drove up to Grande Synthe in our hired car. (such fun driving on the “wrong” side of the road!) There are three levels in Mondioring – Categories 1, 2 and 3, with Category 3 being the highest level and therefore the World Championship class. Unfortunately we arrived too late to see the first two categories compete. The weather was not pleasant for anyone. There was a persistent rain and the cold seemed to seep into your bones. Every couple of hours it was necessary to sit in the car on in the (over)heated administration room in order to thaw out.
There were 16 dogs from 16 different countries competing for the Category 1 level. It was won by the Russian entrant – Miss Svetlana Vasilieva with her Dutch Shepherd dog Nestor v. Treekzicht. Coming second to her was Mr Kaspar Spuhler from Switzerland with his Malinois bitch Amy vom Lothar Sturn. This proves that anyone can compete in this sport, as Mr Spuhler is wheelchair bound.
The Category 2 level attracted 13 entrants from 13 different countries and was won by Mrs Claude Cazorla from France with her Malinois bitch Etna des Loups de Saint Benoit. Second was Mr Marcel Buhler from Switzerland with his Terveuren dog Xyro du Chateau Royal.
In a flyer written by the USA Mondioring group, they state “….in order to be happy and healthy, dogs (and people?) must have a job. While it is likely that most types of training have benefits and should be applauded, Moindioring is our training of choice. The rules specifically say that it is forbidden to hit or harm the dog in any manner. Mondioring makes use of everyday occurances and environmental stimulation to discipline and test the character of the dog/handler team. In addition, there is mental stimulation for the handler AND the dog because the exercise patterns and sequences are changed each training/trial. This is a superb foundation for home dwelling pets and service dogs, as well as and especially security, police and military dogs”.
The “chien en blanc” ran on the evening of the 4th October (Thursday) but we didn’t wait to see it, it being so cold and wet. We also needed to find our way back to the hotel. We got lost a lot, even though we had borrowed a friends’ TomTom. Whenever we could, we followed others to and from the venue, as we were fortunate to have several competitors and supporters staying at the same hotel as us.
Ring sport is very demanding of both dog and handler. It is comprised of three main sections – obedience, agility and manwork. There is no tracking element, but nose work is included. The emphasis is on the dog being really well socialised and self-controlled. The dogs were walked amongst the crowds and there was never so much as a snap or a growl. Spectators also brought their dogs and families along to watch, and were made welcome.
The “big guns” began at 7 a.m. on Friday, 5th October to compete for the title of Mondioring World Cup 2012. There were 41 entrants from 14 different countries in Category 3. Apart from one Beauceron all the dogs were Belgian Shepherds. And apart from three Terveuren, all the others were Malinois. Another interesting thing was the predominance of dogs, there being only six bitches participating at this level. I asked several people about this, and because ring sport is meant to be a test of the dogs’ temperament in order to breed better dogs, they have to be entire. Male dogs are therefore easier to train as they don’t come into season twice a year. There was a bitch in season in Category 1 and she had to wait until the completion of the show before competing. i.e. she should have been on the field on Wednesday, but had to stay on the grounds (in the pouring rain) with her dog and only went on to field on Sunday afternoon, after every other dog had finished competing.
All exercises are done with no lead or collar on. The agility is demanding, with a palisade of 2.3 metres, a long jump of 4 metres and a hurdle at 1.2 metres.
The obedience section includes heelwork, send away with recall (no wait), food refusal, out of sight down stay with distraction, distance control, retrieve and scent discrimination. In this particular championship, the distance control was performed underneath a model horse and cart. The handler was seated about 15 metres away and called out the positions to the dog.
Here a dog is looking for the scented article (called a “little wood”), which is hidden on the other side of the bridge on an island of sand in the middle of the water. There are also 3 decoy little woods. The handler is about 30 metres away and out of sight of the dog.
The manwork sections are really intense, with a no-bite recall, lots of guarding for long periods of time, often without the handler in sight. During these times the dog is not permitted to bite the assailant. Biting is only allowed if the object he is giving to guard is challenged, if instructed to do so by the handler, or if his handler or himself are attacked. There are two assailants, wearing full suits as the dog is allowed to bite anywhere. The bites are timed, as the dog has to bite within a minimum amount of time in order to gain points.
The protection section includes attack with stick, face attach with accessories (in this competition the dogs had plastic balls and empty 2litre milk containers thrown at them, and in other instance balloons attached to a stick, which popped loudly when the dog was hit with them), go flee attack (includes gun shots), stopped flee attack (no-bite recall), defence of handler, search and transport and guard an object (a woven basket in this show. The dogs “threat” in this case was a leaf blower, which most of the dogs disregarded, although some did back off when blown in the face with a blast of air).
The World Championship was won by M Thierry le Pellec of France with this Malinois dog Bep. Second was M Patric Corpataux of Switzerland with his Malinois dog Cox de l’Arcane des Loups, and third was M Stefano Cetto of Italy with his Malinois dog Capone.
It was a really wonderful experience, and I’m very glad I was able to attend. The camaraderie was tremendous, as most of these people have competed against each other before. It was also interesting in that every competitor I spoke to makes use of clicker training.
Part of my visit to France and the attendance at this event was to meet Mr Frans Jansen, who is the President of the FCI Utility Dogs Commission. On Sunday, Mr Jansen drove down to France from his home in Holland, and we met at the show. Needless to say, I questioned him endlessly about rules and training. What a pleasant man! We are hoping he and his wife (who is a Malinois expert) will visit us here in South Africa next year.