So now Laurie and I are onto the next lef of our trip. Holland.
Our drive takes us to visit Joep Selgers and his wife of Von Der TrippleAlliance Rottweilers, a kennel who I have been watching keenly over the past year. Joep post a fair amount of training videos on facebook, which makes stalking his work quite easy from the otherside of the world.
When we arrived midmorning I could have sworn that walking up his driveway was taking a trip through a Hans Christian Andersson tale. Picturesque does not even describe his home.
Joep is a modest school teacher who was very accomodating to us wanting to see and photograph his dogs and to see his beautiful home. Discussion rarely left rottweiler centric issues, and Joep was very honest about his dogs and did not shy away from criticising his own work in a truly humble way. This has been a consistant attitude with the people we have met so far on the trip, they don’t hide their dogs or their short comings and are quietly proud of their achievements.
Joep and his wife prepared a lovely lunch before we all left for the schutzhund fields to see some training in preparation for a trial a few days later that included a contingeny of British trainers and handlers who were being assisted by the club. There were no borders here, just people and their dogs.
We had the privilege of meeting Henk Baks who owns a dog who video’s I have watched on repeat, Ercas Vom Kinzigtal. As Henk admitted, nit the prettiest dog around, but he had a heart built to work and win. Although Ercas has been retired for nearly a year, a quick obedience demo and a courage test showed he still worked like a young champion.
Laurie and I withErcas cim Kinzigtal
Henk and the other club members were a pleasure to spend the afternoon chatting to and watching their practice for their trial, but alas we had an appointment to finally see the girl we had bought nearly 2 years ago from Robert Weiss at Checkpoint Charlie.
We arrived in Heinsberg the following morning and finally met Robert and bis wife. We sat down, had a coffee and started talking about Bluelady Vom Checkpoint Charlie, also known as chilli due to her intensity and drive. We were introduced to her mother Enya who was social, open and friendly before meeting a female from the C litter, Coco, who took a liking to my socks and didn’t care about the toes inside. What is it with dogs and sock eh?
A wonderful lunch was provided by Robert and his wife before we left for the schutshunde training grounds to finally meet Bluelady.
Bluelady came out to great us without any hesitation, took a sniff straight away, with good positive body language showing confidence. She is a beautiful rottweiler, with a great temperament, appearing open and social. Robert was smiling with pride at the girl he had bred, she was fast and determined and I could see there was so much more potential yet to be extracted from her. Robert told us that they had kept the training low key so she wouldn’t become hectic and unmanageable for the old guy, Erich, who was looking after ber for us. We could see the potential when she did the courage work though. Definitely strong character with tbis one. Open and social, we were told, but “don’t annoy her, because she will let you know!” Me likey!!!!!!
We played with her for a while, took photos then watched as other dogs came out for training. One of these was Airon vom Checkpoint Charlie. He is from an earlier litter than our Bluelady. A medium sized rottweiler, full of mucles which looked like they were all fast twitch. His owner Andre from Holland had done a fantastic job of training him in dog sport. The little guy den’t miss a beat and worked every minute like it was the first.
I had the opportunity to take a long attack from him. This, for those who don’t know schutzhunde, it when a man with a bite sleave runs at a dog from across a field, and the dog in turn runs at the man. The man, called a helper, moments before impact shouts at the top of his voice. This is a true courage test to test if the dog will persevere or skittle away.
So I took a sleave, put it on my left arm, stood at the field and let Andre know I was ready. Constantly going through my mind was “don’t forget to picot, don’t forget to pivot!”
Airon ran towards me like a cannonball. Now, one thing I forgot to mention is that it was at the end of dusk and it was getting pretty dark. Dark field, black dog, Johnny the old man with poor sight quickly lost sight of the dog. Lucky for me I was a good helper and was able to use my entire body as a cushion for Airon to use to jump into.
It was at this point also I remembered my iPhone in my pocket. I realised it when I felt the impact of Airon’s foot into my ribs, sternum and I think one pushed through to my kidneys too.
THEN I remembered to pivot.
What a powerful little guy he was running away with tbe sleave. I went over and patted him as he huffed and puffed after the sprint. Happy as a pig in mud.
We spoke with Andre for a littlw while and had Airon constantly licking my hands trying to get another pat. This is the beautiful balance that schutzhunde creates. Sadly not permitted where I live, so i forsee, without an outlet and education for working dogs, and education through the schutzhunde shstem for the owners, that Australia is going to have many accident with dog bites. You can all thank the Australian German Shepherd Club for that.
But I digress, back to nice people and nicer dogs. The cold was sucking any residual warmth from my bones, and Laurie didn’t look too warm either. The club house has a nice heater. So I sat on it, and warmed myself with a German beer.
Seems every club house, service station and bakery sells alcohol here. Which is fair enough, no binge drinking here. In fact, towards the time someone is preparing to leave, discussion turns to calculations and confirmation from others that the driver will be fine to drive. This is social responsibilty working well.
Soon we returned to Roberts home where we were to enjoy a Russian farmers delicacy. Bulls testicles. BULLS. TESTICLES. Yeap. Do I need to justify the amount of Finish Vodka I drank leading up to dinner? I think not.
It wasn’t too bad. I was a little sick from the cold so there really wasn’t that much I could taste, so it ended up being alright. But definitely didn’t taste like chicken.
The next day was an opportunity to travel in style with Robert driving us to Holland again to visit another schutzhunde club and meet up again with Andre as well as make some new friends.
This club had a very German Centric method of training which I am very familiat with but don’t prefer as my method to go to. But it was good to see the genetics of the rottweilers shining through with their work drive pushing the helpers and handlers to always do more.
The rottweilers ability to recover quickly and be ready for the next task is what makes them such formidable guardians and great cattle herders.
At this club we also met Andre’s dogs brother Arkan. A powerhouse of a dominant rottweiler, which Benny the owner told us was a sweetheart at home and best friends with his young daughter.
After a couple of hours in the cold field we returned to Roberts home again to relax with a beer and an early night for me.
The next day is going to be alot of driving for us.
Tour de Rottweiler part IV