Dog trains man

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wizards Kelsey and Nolan, and their Hovawart, Ethanah

I am very excited to introduce you to our very first Hovawart Wizards, Kelsey and Nolan!

Kelsey and Nolan became first-time Hovawart owners just recently, after a long and thorough search for the right breed and breeder. They stopped by on this blog as well during their quest, and without them knowing it, were thereby one of the first to inspire me to start the Hovawart School of Witchcraft & Wizardry. Their Hovawart puppy, Ethana, is growing up to become a wonderful dog. What strikes me with Ethanah are those amazing eyes. What else is there left to do than melt.

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

Hovawart Wizards: We are Kelsey and Nolan. I'm fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom to two wonderful children and step-mom to two teenagers. Nolan works in healthcare. We live in the U.S., in Washington state on a small acreage.

Hovawart: Our Hovawart is Ethanah (Thana for short), a 7-month old female. I've tried and failed at keeping up with a blog. But you can find me on Facebook!

We got Ethanah as a puppy and as a confirmed shelter-dog advocate, this was a decision I struggled with greatly. We browsed Petfinder for many months and visited local shelters. There were many wonderful dogs, but none that we felt would be the right fit for a family with a toddler and a baby.

We decided a puppy would be best and spent several more months researching dog breeds and finally decided we'd like to meet a Hovawart. A certain blog post, “A shameless sales pitch for the Hovawart breed” on Kenzo's blog was key in our decision!  We spoke with every legitimate Hovawart breeder in the U.S. When I spoke with Susan Garka, I knew we'd met the right one! Our first phone call lasted over 2 hours and ended with an invitation to meet her Hovawarts. And obviously you know how we felt about that first meeting!  Though she had no planned litter at that time, we decided we would be patient and hope for a puppy within a couple of years. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Susan. She is truly a passionate advocate for not only her own dogs, but also the Hovawart breed. She's the secretary of the American Hovawart Club and their Chair, Breedwarden. And if that weren't enough, she's also a fantastic cook and a great friend! See her website for more details:  Hovawarts Vom Treuen Freund.

Thana is our first dog as a married couple, though my husband and I both grew up with dogs, including a Basset Hound, Saint Bernard, Weimaraner, and variety of mixed-breeds, all shelter dogs or strays!

As for daily life with a Hovawart, it goes something like this:  About 5am, we start hearing the high-pitched whine and yips – the ones she knows hurt our ears and spur us into action. By 6am, my stalwart husband takes her to the park for an hour and a half long off-leash walk. There are a few “regulars” there each morning and she enjoys playing with the young Newfoundland, but somehow knows to not engage the older German Shepherd that suffers from cancer. Every other dog is fair game, however, so we frequently have to leash her before we approach certain dogs, or intervene when the play gets too rough. If you've never seen a Hovawart play, it is quite a terrifying sight! They leap, jump, chase, body-check, tumble and are generally relentless – for hours! When she isn't playing, she loves to use her nose to find a hidden hat or person. We are beginning to see her protective nature emerging. Upon approaching something new, she stops, looks alert, walks slowly forward and circles around. One person commented that it's like being stalked by a lion! The moment she finds there is no danger, she is back to her happy, friendly self.

After the park, it's breakfast time, which for Thana is a raw-food diet. By then she's ready for a nap in her exercise pen, while we get ready for our day. If we have errands to run, she often relaxes in her car crate, just happy to be with us for the ride. Other times, she'll stay home in her 48 inch crate (the one that takes up half our bedroom!), while our cat taunts her from her safe spot under the bed. If we're home and I can supervise her, she'll relax with us around the house – as long as we keep dolls, stuffed animals and crayons out of her reach! Thana tries to get the cat to play by pouncing down in front of her and woofing her deep woof, but the cat is never amused. She greets everyone with friendly nudges and kisses, but often curls up off to the side of the room just to keep an eye on all of us. We must be within her line of sight, but she is not a dog that needs constant pats and tummy rubs. We try to get out for some playtime in the yard after lunch and again for playtime or a leashed walk through our neighborhood around dinnertime. In the late evening, she mellows and becomes a “sofawart”! Sometimes she'll curl up with Nolan or I for a few minutes, but likes to have her own space and moves off to her own couch.  When we go to bed, she curls up in her own bed too. We hope one day to not need the crate, but at 7 months, she's a bit of a menace to anything she can fit in her mouth to chew!

I absolutely love that Thana is friendly to every single person and dog we've encountered – maybe overly friendly! There's not a person that can resist that smiling face and her kind eyes. She's not only beautiful, but she just exudes intelligence, self-assurance and fun. Most of all, I love how my little girls adore her and how Thana adores them. She enriches our lives immensely and keeps us laughing and smiling every day.

Thana is currently enrolled in her third round of puppy classes with Northern Tails Dog Training. I think these classes have been key in developing Thana's friendly acceptance of all dogs and people. Though she's a bit distractable and gets bored with repetition, she does great with basic commands. She is not highly motivated by treats, so it's a bit of a challenge to find what motivates her. Squeaky toys and squishy balls are top on her list, but getting her to "leave" those is another challenge altogether! Our 5-year old enjoys working with her, especially fetching her favorite ball, or hide and seek. She listens as well to her as she does to Nolan or I!

If I can offer any advice to Muggles considering Wizardry themselves, it would be to learn as much as you can about these amazing dogs - not theories but real-life experiences. Meet a Hovawart, or two or three! Hovawarts are very special, but they are not for everyone – they are a “lot of dog!”. Kenzo and Viva's blog is a must-read! Here are a few questions to consider. Are you willing to spend 2+ hours being active outside, every day, rain or shine?  Can you handle a very physical, strong, exuberant dog – a dog that other dogs and particularly their owners may find intimidating? Are you the kind of person who needs a dog to obey you “because I said so” or can you work with an intelligent, free-thinking dog who loves you, but prefers to make their own decisions? Are you okay with a dog who wants to be near your family, but also desires its own space? But, most of all, are you ready to share your life with a furry friend who is more partner than pet? If yes, then a Hovawart might be for you! 


Hovawart Wizards, like Kelsey and Nolan, 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.


  1. I love this new series and what a wonderful way to start it -- with parents who are so thoughtful about finding the right dog for their family and who are so happy with their well-researched decision!

    Hail Wizards Kelsey and Nolan!

  2. I like that you talked about the fact that they are "a lot of a dog" and free thinking. This is not everyone's cup of tea and it is also something that needs to be managed as the dog grows up. But I love it :)
    Long live Thana...

  3. Hovawarts school of witchcraft and wizardry - that's brilliant! I don't know if there are any around where we live. I've not met one or even heard of the breed before you, Kenzo!

    Thank you so much for dropping by to visit Ms Pea the night before last. It was lovely of you and much appreciated. HUGS x

  4. @Edie
    Thank you, I think Kelsey sets a high standard for a first entry. It is a joy to read they did so much making sure to match with with the right dog.

    Me too :) Must be because I am a cat lover as well. Nothing like a free thinking animal.

    You are most welcome!

  5. @Edie - Thank you for your kind words! It has been a wonderful journey. I've just discovered your blog and can't wait to pick up your books! Dog lovers unite!

    @Caroline - We're only 7 months into this, but we're glad we found such great informative resources before we began. I remember reading your website as well as this one early on. Love that you both provide realistic insights into Hovies. Maybe we also need a post on ideas to help manage that "free thinking"!

    @georgia little pea - Thanks so much for taking the time to read about our experience. I think Kenzo's new project is inspired and will only help people make better decisions and ultimately help the Hovawart breed!

    @Kenzo - Thank you again for allowing us to take part. You're doing great things!


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