With a philosophy of furthering the Stabyhoun population as a whole, Francis Otten from Kennel V. ‘t Hollandse Hout seeks out only the best homes for her pups. And this time, one of those just happened to be in England…

IMG_6719In Spring 2013, we had our 6th litter and, as always, it was a wonderful experience. We founded our kennel six years ago when we had our first litter of Stabyhoun pups.

Our goal is to maintain this special and rare Dutch breed for the future. One way of doing this is to carefully consider each and every combination from a perspective of making a good contribution to the entire population. In finding the right homes for our puppies, we look for families that will give a Stabyhoun what he needs: activity, interaction, care and plenty of attention. And then, for those who might be interested in breeding themselves and carrying on our lines, we offer all the help and support in the world.

This is a highly sociable breed that enjoys being with his owner. Spending too much time alone in the house or in a kennel while everyone is at work or in school will almost certainly lead to an unhappy dog.

The proud parents to-be for our 2013 litter were a great match. Both the mum and dad represent the breed extremely well and boast wonderful characters. Of course that is what we wanted their offspring to reflect.

Although this was Dieuwke’s first litter, nature is remarkable and she knew exactly what to do. Completely calm and relaxed, she delivered five beautiful puppies – all in good health and with superb Stabyhoun features. We already had a waiting list and four of the puppies were spoken for immediately. For the last male we began searching for a very special home. This is something that can’t be rushed and most good breeders have a clear idea of what they seek in a future family for one of their puppies.

Since the beginning of our breeding activities we have found good families abroad. We have puppies in the USA and Italy but, as you can imagine, the decision to export one of these rare and wonderful puppies is never one that is taken lightly.

Although we were open to the idea of exporting a puppy to England, I admit that I had to think long and hard about it. Thoughts about where he would live, whether he would get the chance to take part in training sessions, and whether his family would have enough time for a puppy came flooding in. A young Stabij needs a lot of attention but he must also be allowed time to develop slowly and carefully. I need not have worried. It was instantly clear that the family Christina Savage had in mind for our puppy was absolutely perfect.

The puppy that was destined for the UK, now named Hoover, stayed with us after his brothers and sisters had left. But from that moment on, he was no longer ours.

Although in many ways we treated him as part of the family, we were careful not to bond with him completely over the following eight weeks. I noticed myself being even more careful with this puppy than I had ever been with any of my own – it was a big responsibility to look after someone else’s puppy and one we did not take lightly.

Nevertheless, my family and I hugged and loved him as if he were our own. We took him to the vet for his vaccinations; we worked with him. Very often, Stabijs are keen and willing to work, and so was our Hoover. It took almost no time at all to teach him basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘come here’, ‘no’ and ‘leave’. And he responded brilliantly to his new English name. We taught Hoover to walk on a lead and took him everywhere by car so that he would be well-adjusted to being on the back seat when the time came to say goodbye.

There are some benefits in allowing young puppies to spend a little longer with their breeder. Hoover learned a lot from his mother and our other two females; his grand- and greatgrandma.

Gysbert Jurre #2One evening, Hoover came with me to a meeting with the Dutch Stabyhoun Association (NVSW). Surrounded by more than 50 people who were talking, laughing and applauding he showed just what a sturdy and well-balanced pup he is. Before long he was asleep at my feet.

During our walks he played with other dogs – grownups and puppies – including a Jack Russell, a Poodle, a German Shepherd and a Beagle. This was a puppy that always knew how to behave; politely greeting strange dogs in their homes and making friends wherever he went.

It was important for me that Hoover was allowed to spend some time alone – away from his family. He needed to find his own feet and learn to manage on his own. At the age of 13 weeks, Hoover began joining us regularly on walks to the nearby forest. He loved to run and play with the other dogs, and learned to keep an eye on me as the leader. I want my dogs to follow me, not the other way around. And so he did. Although taking care of a puppy for 16 weeks is a big commitment, it is  also a real privilege. The chance to see a puppy from our own litter grow up beyond the first eight weeks, to see his character begin to emerge, was simply wonderful and I would not have been without it.

We prepared Hoover for the big wide world and the journey with his new family. They had already ‘met’ on Skype and of course seen many pictures of their new companion. When the day of our separation drew nearer, we hugged and played with him as much as possible. And then, on a Sunday morning in June, we met his new family.

They were wonderful and Hoover responded instantly to them. He only looked back a few times and then just walked alongside them as if he knew that it was where he belonged. By the time they left he clearly felt safe with them and, to us, it felt good.

Today he lives with the best family that we could ever have hoped for. Annie and Nick give him everything he needs and will continue to do so for what I dearly hope will be a long life in the UK. Now, we look forward to seeing the Stabijhoun population grow in the UK and will be proud if our Hoover contributes to a litter in the future.

In May 2015, Hoover became the father of 7 healthy Stabyhoun puppies in the UK as the first official UK stud dog.