Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Wizard Astrid and her Hovawarts, Ayda and Zerline

I am very excited to introduce you to a very versatile Hovawart Wizard, Astrid!

I first met Astrid on Twitter and have always been amazed by her energy and the diversity of the activities she undertakes with her Hovawarts. From any kind of training to Search-and-Rescue (SAR) work, and everything in between. You name it: Astrid, Ayda and Zerline do it.

Thank you for participating in the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardry!

Ayda, Astrid and Zerline
Hovawart Wizard: My name is Astrid Reijerkerk and I live together with my partner René Berendse and our two at home living kids, daughter Caitlin ( 22) and son Brendan (14). We live in Purmerend, a village near Amsterdam, Holland. I have a website, and we are on Facebook and Twitter as well. Recently I also started my own dog training school: "De Spoorlijn" (in English: "the tracking line")! I didn't thrived anymore on the local school where I was giving classes and it was always one of my dreams to have my own dog training school.

Hovawarts: We have 3 dogs, a female mixed dog from 16 years old and our two female Hovawarts, 10 year old Ayda, "Ajonja von der Tegelkuhle", and 3½ year old Zerline, "Dratini’s Bayleef". I got both as a puppy from a breeder. Ayda comes from a breeder in Germany and Zerline from a breeder in Norway. Ayda and Zerline are related to each other, Zerline's father is Ayda's half-brother.

Zerline discovering "Treibball"
Ayda is spayed but Zerline is not. One of my other big wishes was to let one of my dogs to have a litter. We therefore got Zerline checked for hip-dysplasia (HD), had her eyes tested, passed a mental-test, a Canine Good Citizen Test+, and showed her. This is all required by the Dutch Hovawart Club. Finally, in March last year, Zerline became the mother of 8 puppy’s! We are still in touch with all the families and have regular "family reunions".

The daily life of my dogs starts with a walk in the morning before I go to my job and in the afternoon we walk again. During the week we train with them as well, I train obedience and my daughter trains agility. Every Sunday we have SAR training and sometimes we have to search for missing people. We have even been on missions abroad in Spain and Norway.

Ayda and Astrid (right) on a SAR mission in Norway,
courtesy of www.reddingshonden.nl
Both dogs are trained SAR dogs and we volunteer for the biggest rescue organization in Holland. Unfortunately Ayda cannot join me anymore because her vocal cords had to be surgically removed. But Zerline is still with me on missions. Like last week, when we had to search for a missing person, together with other rescue groups. The dogs seem to know when it is for training and when it is for real. We always start by letting the dogs take the scent of all the people in the group so they know their scents can be discarded. The missing lady was found very quickly though by another group, and we let the dogs find one of the handlers instead. Zerline deemed this to be very odd and tried to convince me this was a real search and she was certain this person was part of the group before!

Both dogs are kind with other people. Where Ayda only really cares for the people she already knows, Zerline just likes everybody. Zerline likes other dogs as well and always wants to play with them. Ayda needs her space: she barks at other dogs and she doesn't want to interact with them.

Ayda on tracking training
I love the breed because they enjoy doing things with me. We have developed such a deep bond together during the years of rescue work. It is difficult for me to describe in words what they have come to mean to me.

Especially Ayda. She really is my best buddy, we share such a strong and deep bond. In a way I think it was Ayda that picked us instead of the other way around. When we couldn't find a puppy in Holland, and drove to the breeder in Germany - a 10 hour car trip - to "just have a look", we decided to stay and played with the puppies the entire weekend. During that weekend Ayda just picked us, and she was the one to drive home with us.

My message to future Hovawart owners would be that with a Hovawart respect is key. But it doesn't come for free, you have to show respect for your Hovawart before you can receive their respect in return. This means to stand side by side, and not above, your Hovawart. To be consistent yet always fair and gentle. To never shout but to reward good behavior. Preferably with a lot of treats, the love of a Hovawart goes through it's stomach!

***

Hovawart Wizards, like Astrid, try to provide real life information for Muggles - those not yet touched by the Hovawart's magic - to learn more about Hovawarts in the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. A place where Muggles can read how we play, what kind of training and activities we undertake. What makes Hovawarts special to us, and how they made us into Wizards. The role they came to play in our lives. And the hard times we shared. Helping Muggles to make the best choice possible if a Hovawart could be the Magical Creature for them, or at least what to expect.



3 comments:

  1. How neat to meet others in the community. Her dogs are really pretty!

    Sam

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love to hear about the lives of Hovawarts and their people! Wonderful that you can do so many activities with your beautiful dogs - they look so full of joy and fun!

    ReplyDelete
  3. @Sam
    They are talented and good looking :)

    @Kelsey
    Isn't it amazing? Astrid's home must be heaven for a working dog :)

    ReplyDelete

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