In 2015 I undertook a trip to Europe with good friend and mentor Laurie Boutzetis of Seeuferhause Rottweilers.
Our aim was to visit out co-owned bitch Bluelady Vom Checkpoint Charlie which we own together with Sonny Nguyen of Sanehause Rottweilers. We have owned this bitch for 2 years and have engaged Checkpoint Charlie to train and raise her to obtain her German ZTP and if possible her IPO 1.
More news on her later. But it is an exciting project to bring some serious Rottweiler genetics to Australia.
Our journey began with a seriously long trip halfway across the world, finally arriving in Helsinki, Finland. We were greeted by Anu Vehviläinen, President of the Finland Rottweiler Club. We arrived at midnight and she greeted us with fresh fruit, bottles of water and yoghurt. As we soon found out it was typical of the thoughtful nature of the Finish people we met over the days.
Our first day we decided to spend the day exploring Helsinki before meeting up with Anu Vehviläinen in the evening to meet her Drago Vom Tennaneck and Jatti Vom Tennaneck.
Anu picked us up and we went to a park to let tbe dogs have their 2nd daily run. My first impression was the immense presence of Drago. At 7 years old, his presence was dominating as soon as he jumped put of the van. He took one look at us and I knew that Anu would never have to worry being out late at night in a park. There was no aggression, but he oozed dominance and confidence. He went about his business, but I knew he knew where we were at all times.
Jatti was next out of the van. Very exuberant and pushy, immediately in our personal space and wanting to test if we were worthy. I felt that this dog, though young, would make a decision and stick to it. There was no making mistakes when in his presence.
Anu sent them out and we walked with her watching the dogs have their run. Frequently Jatti would run past us, as if checking our nerves, meanwhile Drago watching with an eagle eye.
Anu described how she reared, socialised them and the extreme importance of building a great a bond with the dogs. The young Jatti would constantly test Anu’s observational skills by taking a run at Drago. All I can say is that Anu could read her dogs like nobodies business and stopped any attempt at misbehaviour within a second of Jatti thinking it. The control of these two dogs was impressive and praise-worthy.
Once the dogs had their run we were invited to Anu’s home to talk breeding and training and for some dinner.
Anu and her two studs live in an apartment, this is European typical living, here it isn’t like in Australia, the cost of living is expensive. Knowing dogs well, they don’t require extremely large backyards, a misconception anyway, they get 2 great runs a day and then it’s chill time at home. Their manners at home are great, they know the rules well, but they let you know you are in their home.
When we arrived at the apartment block Laurie and I stood away from the car to give Anu and her dogs some room.
Without realising it I was standing in the shadows near te entrance to the building. Drago was out first and hung around with Anu, next was Jatti, who jumped out of the rear of the van, saw a suspicious character in the shadows, let out a roar and charged. Jatti covered the 30+ metres in under 2 seconds. Anu’s control of her dogs was so perfect she called him back and all I got was a swoosh of air as he turned around and recalled to her from within centimetres of me having good discussion with Jatti about being a suspicious guy. I could seriously feel the power before I saw it. I love these two dogs. An absolute credit to Uwe who bred these two at Tenanneck Rottweilers.
Over the course of the evening Anu described in detail how she bonds with her dogs and maintains the order at home and out. The rules are written in stone, Anu is the boss and the dogs know it.
The different personailties of the dogs was evident as they interacted with us. Jatti was constantly touching and sniffing us and antagonising the older Drago. Drago on the otherhand likes his space and when he was ready he came to us. This started with taking turns sitting on our feet to putting his head in my lap. I eventually had Drago sitting with me and allowing me to give him little scratches.
We watched training and competition videos with Anu and got her points of view and opinions on what she saw. I know I learned a lot from not only her opinion, but her reasoning and experience behind her views.
A 4 am finish and there was too much information to write down along with my lack of sleep for over two days.
The next days activities involved an hour drive to a private schutzhund field where we were met but other handlers that represent Finland at IPO competitions. It was time to to be shown what working rottweilers working looks like.
First person we met needs a special mention. This was was Veso. The only way to describe this man is a man mountain. He makes a 50kg rottweiler look like a puppy. He is the helper. And lifting a 50kg rotti and swinging him around was nothing to break a sweat doing. On top of this his smile was genuine and he was one of the friendliest people I have met. He should be in Game of Thrones. Watching the dogs interacting with him showed the true strength of these rottwwilers. Only one was to describe how the dogs performed, they took the fight to this 6’5″ 140kg man mountain(sorry Veso, i am guessing ). They were not phased by his own physical presence.
Slowly more and more people arrived with their rottweilers. After introductions, training began immediately. The dogs came out one after another for 10 minutes each training the perfect heel. Nothing less than perfection in drive was accepted. The dogs were pumping their legs, muscles rippling as they tried to contain themselves. Every correction given would result in the dog working harder. A correction was a opportunity to earn their reward and encouragment for them to push towards their reward. The reward? A ball they got to run with for up to 10 seconds.
For the entire sessions, heeling, drops, sits, heeling through groups the drive was sustained and did not diminish one iota. The level of focus was amazing to watch as other handlers tried to distract the dogs to no avail. What was even more amazing was the consistancy of each dog. One after another each dog came out pumping, pushing and forcing the handler to reward them.
What was even more impressive was the critiquing of each others performance and what they needed to work on to improve. Not a single person was offended, no critiques were malicious. There was alot of fun and laughing but everything was professional. On top of this there was no feeling of secrecy for these two outsiders, everything they did was explained to us with all the reasoning behind it.
I have never been so impressed with a group of trainers, handlers and helpers. There was no ego, there was no feelng of being picked on. It was an awesome thing to witness.
Thanks complements go out to Anu, Veso Sepponen, Janne Tanttu, Keijo Hakala, Jarmo Järvinen and everyone else who came out and for there generosity with sharing their training, showing us their dogs. And the barbeque that warmed my bones, so glad I decided against wearing shorts this night as it was the coldest 5 hours I have ever spent.
Part 2: Belgium