Once upon a time there were three extraordinary dog personalities. They had travelled from different parts of the world to bring joy, good spirit and last but not least good genes to the ‘Baden Württembergian Allgäu’. For years now they have been enhancing Kolben life with their personalities.For example the legendary ‘Heinerle’(Mompesson Perfect Partner), Moni’s ‘Perfect Partner’, a proper aristocratic English Springer Spaniel: he warms every visitor’s heart with his hospitality. With his unique charm he not only loves to escort people to the guest room, he’s also not above warming their bed himself and offering them and their dogs his beloved toys.Although this meanwhile greying gentleman moves a little stiffly now and then and -after getting up - needs to shake his legs until the creases in his trousers are correctly placed again, he is never too tired to accompany the Cocker Spaniel packs on their walks.And he simply loves to show Kolben visitors around. At a cheery trot, with shining, if not totally clear eyes, he proudly circles around them.Unforgettable moments are those of him watching over puppies as they happily play and roll around .He moves amongst them like a majestic hovercraft, hardly touching the ground and ever careful not to disturb or hurt one of the soft creatures.Good- naturedly he accepted Klaus (Winterwater Creeks Catch The Rainbow), his son, as second man in the house, in spite of his sometimes extremely jaunty temperament. Dignified, he showed him how to behave in civilization, tolerated his sometimes rude treatment of the tomcat and taught him that only dead toys may be treated without extra care.
Then there is ‘Teddy’ (Northworth Top Priority) who fully answered Moni’s hopes and expectations. Before his arrival in Germany she had even tried to make a deal with God and promised to give up smoking, that unhealthy and expensive habit, if her expected import- puppies turned out be as lovely as she hoped with all her heart that they would be.As soon as he left the plane Teddy dived into the airport's dazzling lights as if entering a stage, shook his fur and started to play happily with the dancing autumn leaves. A true merry Cocker from the very beginning!He wasn’t able to deny his Finnish roots, though- as the journey went on by car, he and his travelling companion started their primitive song in a solemn, but deafening tone… reminding the driver of moose sounds and reindeer elegies.Unprejudiced and happy he dives through the Kolben pack to this day, exactly as merry as he was from his first hour in Germany.
Third member of the very special gentlemen is ‘Lurchi’(Northworth Fly N' Destroy), sparkling eyes of a teaser in a furry face! He can behave unbelievably silently and give Moni a real scare when he’s nowhere to be seen-only to come back to life with a scratching sound and getting up from the clean sawdust like a freshly breaded Wiener Schnitzel! He just loves to dig his way deep into it. And this is only possible because he has an ability, totally foreign to Cockers - he can climb like a little mountain goat.He loves nothing better than cleaning up after Klaus or Heini. Whenever he sees a chance of success he starts fishing through the doggy-run fence with his fat little paws and trying to get their toys. Oozing pride he then carries his catch around and shows it to everyone.
It’s a great gift for a breeder if such personalities grow up in your kennel to share your everyday life over the years. Such special characters with their joy of life, with their huge and unconditional love are very rewarding and make us grateful for every day of breeder’s routine.
It’s time now for Moni, as per every year on Christmas Eve, to start preparing huge plates of delicious sandwiches filled with liver sausage – for her dogs. When the fire is crackling in the stove and the candles are shining she still takes time to hand out some special treats to her special darlings.
A little ‘thank-you’ for their faithfulness in good and bad times alike. In lovely as well as awful weather, in illness as well as health, these little creatures never ceased to proffer a silent heart-to-heart talk.
We well-meaning people tend to meddle with the ways of nature – perhaps especially where our love of animals is concerned – often with surprising results!
It came about that, one fine day in August, up on the Kolben a mouse family decided to make itself at home. Well knowing that they would find tasty food and a warm home there, they made their way to the kitchen.
Moni caught these cute creatures in the act and had no intention of sacrificing the fridge door and sharing her provisions of food with them. So she decided to be rid of them.
Wisely she went in search of a long weapon. Eye to eye with such little creatures and their beady eyes, not even the most determined of women will be able to commit murder.
Boards, sticks and brooms failed to do the job and a few resentful looks went towards the kennels, a few nasty thoughts were dedicated to the absent cat. What’s the use of keeping gun-dogs and cats if, at the crucial moment they are all either disinterested or absent instead of on duty!
As fate would have it, a suitable weapon could not be found and Moni was at her wits’ end.
Then she remembered that a nearby farmer had a litter of motherless kittens and it suddenly dawned on her that these mice might serve as hunting practice for them.
The bucket that was serving as a temporary prison for the frightened mice, was made more comfortable with wood-chippings and hurriedly carried to said farmer.
What a disappointment – the son of the family took one knowing look in the mouse prison and gave his opinion: these were a sort of mouse that cats wouldn’t eat: shrews.
Throwing a distracted glance at her hostages, Moni realised there was not only no answer to the problem………..
…… one of these was pregnant – and who knows but the other following her was possibly a daughter from a former marriage!What would this little shrew-type soul suffer if she had to witness the killing of her mother or a cat eating her?!
What would Moni’s soul suffer if she were to be so cruel?!
Breathless with fear, speechlessly the pregnant mother pleaded with Moni to have pity.
Of course Moni graciously accepted her fate.
She took her bucket and set off towards the woods, determined to give Family Mouse a new home and a second chance to lead a happy mouse life.
After all, shrews are really man’s friends and the natural enemies of such nasty creatures as slugs and bugs
Just at that moment dear old Heinerle remembered that his name is „Perfect Partner“ and wanting to prove that he is the man of the family, he could only just be stopped from putting an untimely end to the shrews as they hurried towards safety – something that he will never understand!That night this episode haunted Moni’s dreams – with the exception that mother and daughter shrew had by then gone by ambulance to Leutkirch hospital and settled in the maternity department there.
Recently I happened upon the website of my ex-sister-in-law Monika, the super-breeder of Cockers and ruling presence on the Kolben. I was so fascinated by the many Cockers, cups, awards and stories that I decided to send Monika my compliments although we haven’t met for over ten years now. I know the house so well, surrounded as it is by its green, picturesque landscape. At one time I was married to Monika’s brother and of course we visited the family at least once a year, originally near Heidenheim and later, on the Kolben.
I remember my first contact with the dogs, just stroking them, whereby that didn’t come easy to me as at the time I was allergic to animal hair. My bed was covered with dogs’ hair because everyone was allowed to take his favourite dog to bed with him. Fortunately in time I overcame my horror of dogs’ hair – they were such lovely, cuddly animals that you couldn’t help loving them – large or small.
I think it was in the summer of 1994 that I last visited the Kolben. It was to be a girls’ get-together and I was looking forward to it. Another sister-in-law, Renate and two of Monika’s friends were also invited.
We arrived early in the morning – but there was no sign of Monika!
The house was deserted and the kennels full of barking dogs. All very unusual! The dogs and no Moni – there’s something wrong there! But we still had no idea of the adventure we were in for!
We got ourselves breakfast – everyone having some idea what and where to find things.
Later on the phone rang and we learnt that Moniika was in hospital, having fallen down the stairs the night before! We were all shocked but that soon gave way to a desire to help, as organisation was now called for – the dogs were barking for their breakfast and making that proved a problem, as we town-folk just had no idea of how to mix such things as curds, vitamins, goose eggs, carrots and other vegetables that go to making dogs’ food so healthy and tasty. We might just about have managed to open a tin of dog-food but there was none of that anywhere in the house! At least Renate declared herself capable of making some porridge for the puppies.
Fortunately Monika could still speak and managed to convince the doctors that they must let her go home at least for an hour to work out a plan of attack so as to enable us to look after the dogs. The damaged leg had to be rested for the next 8-10 days and the doctors were adamant about it. A girl was found who could help us – our guardian angel so to speak – she loved animals and had often helped Monika. In the days that followed, we obediently poop-scooped, let a dog have a sniff at a bitch so as to see whether she was possibly on heat, swept the kennel clean in much the same way as if we were clearing up a child’s bedroom!
Coping with the numerous cats was a minor problem, none at all really and the geese managed to survive. I was given the job of keeping the many plants alive, which was no problem – after all, my ex. was a gardener and had in the years we were together taught me a thing or two.
There was a slaughterhouse not far away where I was to fetch buckets of meat for the dogs. On the way there I felt really sick at the thought of the drive home with buckets of stinking meat in the car. Monika said I should take strength with me as the buckets would be heavy.
But a kind man took one look at my utterly inappropriate town attire and high heels and carried the heavy bucket to the car. I think he saw the SOS written on my forehead!
I could but thank God - and also the kindly man - who had spared me a day of back-ache.
Monika was astonished to hear how helpful he had been – he had never offered her any help!
Secretly I thought she really is a super-woman and after years of doing the job she also has the muscles for it!
We should be grateful that we have them.
I was among the first to make use of this valuable assistance and I will support this method at all times.
However, not only breeders but also their club have to learn how to put it to use.
Mistakes are always possible. Any and every diagnosis is made by responsible people but people are not infallible. Mistakes may also be made in assessing DNA tests.
In the case of inaccurate results, no matter how these have been reached, as member of a group I expect a reaction or at least a tip as to how I should proceed in my attempts to obliterate this error.
The general reaction however seems to be a curtain of silence, which I find inexcusable. A club functionary who describes the breeders in his club as “Mafia” is merely stating his stand point, an opinion not destined to help in any way. We need people with some understanding of breeding. Groups are formed, of people who should decide what names dogs may be given – have we really no more serious problems to solve?
Not all that long ago, German cocker breeders were considered to be among the best in Europe. What is our position nowadays? Are our functionaries with their rules and regulations crippling us?
Regulations: help or hindrance?
Yet again a breeder is left alone to face his problem. A stud-dog, according to DNA tests PRA carrier (B) is clinically (DOK vet) tested not free of PRA and is removed from the breeding scene. His father is also DNA tested and declared to be PRA free (A) which in its turn indicates that his son can at the worst only be a carrier (B).
Or should we not be relying on these tests? Is this dog possibly the victim of a different sort of PRA? Where can a breeder expect help from his club when he finds himself faced by the necessity to scrap his carefully made breeding-plans?
Why do clinical tests done by DOK vets carry more weight than the gene tests? The DNA tests are said to be 99,5% reliable. This leaves a risk of 0,5% with which we breeders have to live.
On the other hand, the clubs soon plan to enforce rules saying that untested dogs or dogs tested as carriers or affected may only be mated with dogs that have been tested and declared to be free (A)
This seems to indicate that the DNA tests are considered to be very important. And yet, in actual fact it is purely the diagnosis of a DOK vet that really counts.
Another case: a bitch (A x B bred) that was DNA tested free of PRA was then checked by a DOK vet and diagnosed as not free of PRA and as a result was not given breeding permission.
Where are we to look for the error? Where do we find any comment from our club functionaries as to how such different results can be possible? Where can the breeder turn for assistance – he had trusted DNA tests as a first-rate method to help him with his breeding plans – what now?
Do both these dogs have some completely different form of PRA? Is there any indication of this possiblity? We breeders go to the trouble of keeping to the club regulations but are our clubs only there to make regulations or shouldn’t they be expected to offer breeders in such situations some sort of support and at least try to explain these discrepancies?
A breeder who has dedicated himself to the well-being of his breed doesn’t need any club – but clubs need members for their very existence!
I take much pleasure in my maid Dana every day.
From somehow looking like a bulky country bumpkin in former times she has meanwhile emerged as a cultivated, neat young lady. In some way she appears to be dressed for a children's party, with white ankle socks and a dark pleated skirt, her hairs carefully braided to two queues. And polished shoes.
and to her horse "Satchmo", who won 2x times the goldmedal in the world championship