Minnesota, USA

Member Spotlight Featuring Jill Hoffbeck

The Member Spotlight highlights the amazing members of the Twin Cities Vizsla Club. Read on to learn more about one of our members!

Where are you from and where do you call home now?

I was born and raised in Lakeville, MN, went to college in Mankato, MN and now reside in Shakopee, MN. Pretty much born, raised and lived in the south Metro my entire life except for the 4 years I spent in Mankato.

How long have you been a Twin Cities Vizsla Club member?

I have been a member of the Twin Cities Vizsla Club since 2002. I have been very fortunate to have held many positions throughout those years, from Newsletter Editor to Board Member to President, Show Chair, Hunt Test Chair, Nominating Committee, Fundraising, Fun Day and many other committees.

How did you meet your first Vizsla?

I met my first Vizsla through a guy I was dating. He moved in and his father gave us a puppy. Radar joined my family in 2001 and I haven’t looked back in over 20 years. (The dog lasted much longer than the guy!)

Is there a back story to your kennel name?

My kennel name, Cruiser’s, really doesn’t have much of a story. My breeder, Jim, had used the word “Cruiser” in Radar’s dam’s registered name and I really like the sound of it for a sporting dog, so I kept it. Now over 20 years later, I am proud of all of the Cruiser’s dogs that have passed through my doors and into the loving arms of the Cruiser’s Crew. Some of the best families out there.

How many Vizslas do you currently own?

Although I really never truly admit how many dogs I currently have, there are 5 today in my house, although one is staying for some socialization. A 6th house dog will be joining the family very soon though if everything works out! Emarald is 13.5, Garth Brooks is 6, Marquee is 4, Heart is almost 2 and Barley is almost 1…the hopeful future is 5 weeks!!

We know all Vizslas are special, but is there a particular dog that is extra special to you?

Each and every dog that has crossed my path has been special to me in some way or another. I’ve learned so much from the ones that were difficult or gave me firsts. But my heart has truly belonged to Star, Cruiser’s Notjusta Prty Face. She was everything I ever hoped for and brought me to so many places and introduced me to so many exciting people. I think about and miss her every day. She’s been gone almost 3 years and some days it feel like a day and others a decade. Her memory is everywhere I look and in everything I see, including her Great Grandchildren that were born recently.

Earlier in 2022, Jill was the Overall National Event Chair for the Vizsla Club of America National Specialty and Companion Events hosted by the Twin Cities Vizsla Club and held in Shakopee, Minnesota. We asked Jill about the event and the experience.

What drew you to the opportunity of chairing a National event?

This past April 2022, I was fortunate to be able to Chair the Vizsla Club of America National Specialty and Companion Events (NSCE) held locally in Shakopee, MN. With the help and backing of the Twin Cities Vizsla Club, we were able to put on a great event with a lot of positive comments. I was drawn to the opportunity after talking with other local people and from a personal side, having the opportunity to have such a big, major event close to home.

What did you find exciting?

The most exciting part of the planning was working with all of the wonderful volunteers that stepped up into pretty major roles and rocked them with such grace and decision that I would want to hire all of them to come work for a company that I don’t have. But if I did, I know that it would be successful because these people had passion, vision and a want to also have a successful event. Of course there were also challenges, which were expected when you put on an event over a week long with several hundred people attending. Prior to the event, a high profile delivery company lost some important event documents. We tried to find them and resolve the issue from the point of discover and throughout the event. A solution was found, and while not ideal, most people adapted. However, disappointingly, several people thought there should have been exceptions made just for them. Then there are always the people that have nothing positive to share at all, but even with these small challenges and set backs, we were able to move forward and put on a real kick ass event over a week with the majority of people having wonderful compliments about a great site, a relaxed atmosphere and most of all happy volunteers!! I was most surprised by the several people that came to me and shared that this was one of the best Nationals they had attended, as for me, it is hard for me to see all that is going right during an event. I tend to focus on what was missed. But the compliments and notes of thanks really hit home once the week was over and I was able to decompress at home and look over what a really successful week our club was able to put on and offer to the fancy.

What do you think people would be surprised to know about hosting a National Specialty?

What is surprising about holding a National Specialty, is all of the goings on in the background that people never think about or the connections needed to be made with so many different people to have something go off without a hitch. Following up with the venue and caterers the week prior, running through layouts, and handling complaints from the venue. Yes, people notice when exhibitors fail to listen and follow directions about where they can and cannot go on the grounds. I’m sure the sheer number of people that volunteer from prior to the event to after is over would surprise people also. And, for a variety of reasons, sometimes a volunteer must unexpectedly step down and is unable to follow through with what they said they would do. This sometimes leaves holes that need to be filled and usually in a rush. Hopefully the gaps we had were not too noticeable to too many people, as with any large group, we were bound to miss some! I was fortunate to not have any other work commitments the few weeks leading to the NSCE, which was a blessing as I put in full days calling on questions, following up on contracts and working through site issues.

What was your most memorable moment?

My most memorable moment that happened during this 2022 NSCE that we hosted actually had nothing to do with wins or ribbons. It was the smile on people’s faces when they sat down to a conversation with a friend from across the country they finally got to meet in person, It was watching the love on handlers faces show their wiggly puppies with love and patience. It was people being kind to each other through out the week, complimenting each other, lending a helping hand, and offering support. We really are fortunate to have people in our breed that care for the dogs and the people in it.

On a personal note, there was one thing that topped the week for me. While our judge was taking photos from the dog classes, he asked me who the handler was on the dog he awarded the first to in the Open Class. When I realized he was talking about my niece Sidney, I told him who she was. He got the biggest smile on his face as he talked about how well she adapted to the dogs she was handling and was moving each dog to its best potential. That meant so much because I have seen Sidney work so hard to be the best she can be with any breed she handles and for a judge of his quality to recognize it, I cried. Then I found out that he had talked about her the night before with our stewards also because he was impressed with her. At just 18 years old and coming off of struggles with COVID times at college (remote classes), living half way across the country and well just growing up, I knew this kid was proving all her hard work paid off. This was a proud Aunt moment.

What would you change if you could do it again?

The VCA has been working to out a National Events Guidelines Manual together for several years, so we did not have a recent guide to follow. A change I would look at if ever putting this on again is making sure this manual is complete and available to all committee chairs and volunteers so they can have definitions of what each committee is responsible for, timeline suggestions and best practices. It would have been helpful for the times and situations that I feel I had no answers to question that really should have been easy to answer.

Best advice for handling the unexpected that will always come up at a large event?

I am hardly one to give best advice for handling the unexpected that comes up at large events, because I tend to let my mouth do and say very inappropriate things. However, this event truly did show me that I can and in most cases did handle unexpected things with my chin up and few words. I am thankful for several people who helped this happened by reminding me that the show will go on regardless of what could happen. As long as we have a judge and exhibitors, we are golden…the rest is just icing. The people that reminded me of this have shown me again and again why we do what we do as volunteers and they also have shown me a way to work at handling things with a smile on my face. I know we cannot make everyone happy and as long as we can the majority, that is a win! So my advice, listen, smile and thank people for their thoughts and walk away. Just keep smiling!!

Do you any advice for someone thinking about joining the Twin Cities Vizsla Club?

Anyone who has an interest in the breed should try and belong to a local breed club. There are many advantages to being a Twin Cities Vizsla Club member. Besides socializing with people with like dogs, you have many resources to help guide you in any questions or adventures you may want to take with your pet. The TCVC offers many different events and training opportunities that are sure to attract anyone within the breed. The best part of belonging to a breed club is being able to be as involved as you would like. I am so fortunate to have met some of the most important people in my life thanks to this breed and encourage anyone to think about joining a breed club to see all the fun things it has to offer.

What’s next for you? Any exciting news you are willing to share?

What’s Next? Funny you should ask because I am currently in process of putting a bid together for the VCA 2023 National Gun Dog Championship (NGDC). If all goes well, we will have a wonderful National field event here in the Central Division again for Spring 2023. Be on the lookout for additional details!


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