Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The Broholmer

In a previous post I wrote about Bonzo, the Broholmer and promised to write about the breed.
This breed dates back to the late 16th century. The daughter of the Danish King Frederik II married the Scottish King James VI in 1589. King James gave some English mastiff-like dogs as a present to the Danish court. These dogs were mated with local dogs - resulting in what today is regarded as the start of the Broholmer-breed: The Old Danish Dog.
They were big and were used for stag and big game hunting. This type of hunting was banned in 1777 and hence the need for such big hunting dogs disappeared. They were then used as guard dogs on large farms and manors. Slowly the interest in this type of dog declined and the breed became almost extinct. In 1850 a nobleman called Niels Frederik Bernhard Sehested to Broholm Manor on Funen revived the breed and it is from him the breed inherited its name. But the breed lost ground again at the beginning of the 20th century because of the two World Wars, distemper, epidemics and in-breeding.
At the end of the 1970s, the Danish Kennel Club organized a nationwide seach for the Broholmer through an extended advertising campaign. This is how the Broholmer Society was started and by the end of the 1990s, the breed was accepted by the FCI.
To own a Broholmer you must be a member of the Broholmer Society and you must sign an agreement in which you agree to let your dog participate in the breeding program. The dog has to pass the required tests ( X-ray of elbows and hips to detect HD, tests to ascertain mental stability and compliance to the FCI breed standard) before being accepted for breeding.

PS: the dog on the picture is Bonzo.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Haiti - Sniffer dogs

Rescuers from all around the world converged on Haiti in the wake of the earthquake which totally destroyed Port-au-Prince. Finding survivors amid the rubble is a job tailor-made for dogs. They can cover a larger area and smell and act more quickly than robots and listening devices.
The magnitude of the disaster is so great that rescue teams who have never before gone into an international operation are being pulled into action. China, Russia, Peru, Mexico, France, Britain, Belgium, the US all had sniffer dogs on their team. Taiwan sent one dog!
Breeds such as labradors, golden retrievers, border collies, German shepherds and Belgian Shepherds are ideal as working dogs.
The dogs are trained to recognize a specific smell: the scent of a live, not a dead, human. Sniffer dogs are adept at detecting a scent that doesn’t match the people surrounding them. This is how it goes: the dogs are saying to themselves, "This is it ... oops, that's you ... then, this is it ... ah, there's nobody there". At that point, the dog barks until it receives its reward.
During training, the dog is given a tug toy by the supposed victim. That's why the dog always wants to find the victim. That's where the fun is. It's a hide-and-seek game.
In the field, the dog's handler has to find a way to give the dog its toy as if it had come from the disaster victim, to reinforce the hide-and-seek behaviour. And if the dog doesn't find anything, a rescue team member might have to hide amid the rubble to give the dog a chance for positive reinforcement. Once the dog finds a survivor, other methods come into play for the actual recovery. It's not that dog's job to tell the rescuers exactly where the victim is. The dog’s job is to tell its handler where the strongest human scent is. At some point, the live-scent dogs will have to be replaced by cadaver dogs. The search teams will head home, and Haiti's rescue effort will become a recovery effort.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


The Humane Society of the United States wrote this on its website:

"Our hearts go out to the people of Haiti, for the trauma and loss they’ve already experienced since the earthquake hit. News agencies report that thousands have perished, many are still trapped in the rubble of buildings, and hundreds of thousands of others are without shelter, medical care, or other life necessities. Governments and relief agencies are deploying to deal with what amounts to one of the worst disasters of modern times, with its impact compounded by the chronic poverty, deficient infrastructure, bare-bones medical care, and other problems that afflict the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.

When people suffer in this terrible way, so do animals. HSI, The Humane Society of the United States, and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association are working on a preliminary review of Haiti’s animal-care needs, taking into account the security, transportation, housing, and supply challenges that we would face in deployment. Fortunately, one of our veterinary teams had been conducting a program at a veterinary school in the neighboring Dominican Republic when the quake struck. We are looking to determine if they can get into Haiti to conduct an on-the-ground assessment. We are also communicating with human relief agencies, and looking to cooperate with them. One difficulty is that there are no organized animal welfare groups anywhere in the country, and no animal shelters or veterinary schools. This lack of infrastructure will complicate any response."

Sunday, 17 January 2010

In memoriam Bonzo

The picture is of Bonzo and this is what my Danish friend, RH, wrote about him:
“Bonzo was a very special dog, I guess, every dog is special to it’s owner, but I would like to tell you about my special dog, Bonzo.
I got him when he was a little puppy, just 2 months old. I had seen pictures of him and fell instantly in love and gave him his name Bonzo. I drove about 400 km to pick him up. He was so brave on the drive home, and was sleeping on my lap safe and sound.
Bonzo was to live on a small island in the Baltic Sea, not in a large family, but with me only…so you can imagine the bond between us grew strong fast.
Bonzo turned out to be a very loving and caring dog, towards other dogs, big and small, and all people too. He was playful, alert and loved our long walks along the beach and in the fields nearby.
Bonzo made many friends in the community, and was known for his calm and loving spirit, and his graceful walk.
I lost my beautiful boy Bonzo, after having him for only 2 years. It turned out, after a few weeks of illness, that he had cancer. Adenocarcinoma Glandula Adrenales. A form of cancer, that cannot be treated. His organs would just set out, one by one. He felt no pain, but was exhausted!!!
Bonzo was my very best friend and loving companion, and I miss him very much. I think about him every day, remembering our great times together.
In Loving Memory.”

I shall be writing about the Broholmer, a Danish breed, in my next post.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Where's the dog?

John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Mr and Mrs I N Phelps Stokes was a wedding gift to the couple from a friend. Sargent’s original intention in a series of preparatory sessions was to depict Edith Phelps Stokes wearing an evening dress and standing alone. Seeing her as she arrived in his studio to pose, wearing everyday attire, Sargent decided to change his plan for the portrait. She was to be accompanied in the portrait by a Great Dane but, when the dog that Sargent had in mind became unavailable, Edith’s husband suggested that he take its place in the portrait.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

And the winner is....

This year’s Brussels Dog Show, organised by the Société Royale Saint Hubert, was the 113th edition. It welcomed 3245 dogs of mixed nationalities. This year Best in Show was won by Very Vigie Century Fox, an American Cocker Spaniel.
History of the breed: the first Cocker in America is said to have arrived with the Pilgrim Fathers on the Mayflower in 1620. Settlers in subsequent centuries brought more with them to help explore and exploit the country's wildernesses. American Cockers were developed from the English Cocker in the 19th century, to retrieve quail and woodcock. Originally they were divided from the English Cocker solely on the basis of size, but over the years they were bred for specific traits and the differences grew greater. By the 1940s the American Cocker differed so much in type from the English Cocker that it became impossible to judge them together and in 1945 the two breeds were separated and each officially recognised with their own standards. Bred as hunting dogs they still retain some of their hunting instincts, some are still kept as working dogs but most are now commonly found in the show ring or as companions. The American Cocker is a very popular breed.
The above picture was sent by my friend, PC, who is a great lover of the breed. She is a collector actually. She has eight of them.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

In case you missed it..........

In the first Sunday Times of the year, I found this picture of David Beckhman and his Xmas gift from his wife.
The text underneath read:"Victoria Beckham bought her husband David a dog for Christmas, presumably on the grounds that you can't have too many of a good thing. The problem is, she bought a bulldog-poor miserable creatures which through the narcissism of generations of owners have been inter-bred to the extent that they have become parodies of the beasts they once were; sickly, deformed and with a likespan less than half of that of normal dogs. Kelly Brook also got a dog for Christmas, which she dressed up in a furry pink jacket. " The writer goes on to say that there is a marked change in the celebrity zeitgeist. Last year there was a market in little black African children!
What about the old adage: "A Dog is For Life, not Just for Christmas."?

Monday, 4 January 2010


Bergamasco Sheepdog

I lent a helping hand at the recent Brussels Dog Show and saw a breed of dog I had never seen or heard of before.
The Bergamasco or the Bergamasco Sheepdog or the Bergamese Shepherd dog or the Bergamese Shepherd is an ancient shepherding breed which traces its origins back thousands of years. Believed to have originated in Persia (in the area that is now Iran), hardy, vigorous shepherding dogs worked with their nomadic masters, tending and herding flocks of sheep in the harsh Persian mountain climates. The breed was exclusively selected for its working abilities, and its bloodlines were kept a secret by the shepherds for many years.
Trade routes brought these nomadic tribes west and some settled in the Italian Alps.
The Bergamasco's coat is its most striking physical feature: three kinds of hair combine to form dense, flat, felt-like mats that continue to grow over the course of the dog's life, reaching the ground at approximately 5 years.
The coat is striking and unusual in appearance, but is actually a very efficient protection system for the dog. The mats protect from cold and wet. The Bergamasco can tolerate extended periods outdoors in freezing cold, or even wet weather, without becoming uncomfortable. In addition, the coat protected them from the attacking bites from wolves, and in modern times can protect them from bites from other dogs, and also protects from insect bites. The matting does not extend all the way down to the skin, and so the mats do not pull at the dog's skin. Also, air is able to circulate down to the skin in between the mats, allowing the skin to breathe.
Contrary to what many first-time observers think, the coat is not at all difficult to maintain.
Many people who are allergic to other dogs find that they are not bothered by the Bergamasco's coat.

Friday, 1 January 2010


Happy New Year to all.

Bonne et Heureuse Année à tous.
I took a picture of the monument symbolishing world peace outside the Peace Palace in The Hague on 28th december. It contains the peace flame that will burn forever.