Ever since I was young I’ve been involved with dogs. Initially this was limited to letting the neighbours’ dogs out and this soon evolved into doing exercises with them and obedience training. As soon as I left home I started training dogs from the KNGF (The Royal Dutch Guide Dog Foundation). I worked with several dogs in agility, flyball, obedience, KNPV (Royal Dutch Police Dog Association) and IPO. I also taught at a dog club for many years. I still teach, but in the form of private lessons and behavioural therapy.
For the last 30 years I have been primarily involved in the training of search and rescue dogs and guiding dog handlers in this process, and herein lies my passion: sharing with people the language of dogs. A language that is still so often wrongly interpreted, which is such a shame.
I have given my heart to Hovawarts and Malinois shepherd dogs. I had Hovawarts for many years and bred from them, but because I missed the work drive in this breed, I limited myself to the Malinois. My character fitted them better.
Meanwhile, I’ve deeply fallen in love with the working Cocker Spaniel. Since my character has developed over the past few years a different type of dog currently fits me.
My heart beats faster and my blood runs quicker when I see dogs acting out their passion: a border collie who is in seventh heaven because he can work with sheep or a shepherd dog who catches sight of an agitator on the training field. Or a dog who can’t wait to go searching. As long as the dog is allowed to do what he really wants to, that’s the most wonderful thing there is.
Over the years I have learnt more and more about dogs and try to pass this on to people so that they will understand their own dog better. I get goose bumps when I see a dog who is suddenly understood by his handler/boss and puts on an expression that says: “Oh, that’s what you mean, why didn’t you say so before?!” I’m of the opinion that many people take on a dog before realising that they just don’t speak their language. I’ve also developed my own methods, as everyone does when they have had many years of experience in a particular sport. Every day I learn something new and that’s what I love the most: remaining open for new experiences, different points of view etc.
You can read more about this on www.ccoonscompass.nl
In 1994 I got my first Malinois. Taylor was a magnificent dog with quite a stubborn character. In 2004 I got my second Malinois: Oger, the apple of my eye. In 2006 he was joined by Raccoon, a cross-breed Malinois, who has the stripes of a Dutch Shepherd as this breed had been used in previous generations. Sadly, she passed away far too soon.
From the combination Oger and Raccoon I now have Elian and Campbell, both with stripes too.
Oger is an absolutely wonderful dog. “Sweet but terrible” as one wise person once said about him. Oger learns quickly and works fast and eagerly. He is tough with a big heart. Together we achieved police dog certification. Oger did this training at the same time as being trained for SAR work. This is not possible for all dogs to do, but he managed this fine. He is now 7 years old and is starting to get a grey face. He is still fantastic and I can’t find anything negative to say about him. Luckily that’s not necessary.
Elian is a young male with the same work drive as his father and the focus of his mother. A ball as reward is fun, but the actual searching is even better. He is independent while still taking note of me. He is agile and quick as he moves over rubble and is not at all afraid, although he does pace himself. His motto in life is “yes but…” and he is certainly not slavishly.
Campbell is the smallest of the bunch. She’s a lovely lass who knows how to stand up for herself. She’s into everything. She can search well, but because she gets easily distracted it looks like she’s cutting corners. Luckily appearances are deceptive. From the moment of her birth I’ve been crazy about her (sometimes a bit too much) and that isn’t always easy for me. She’s sweet and calm indoors, has got her brother under her thumb and in that little striped jacket there’s a small Oger. A mischievous imp! Her motto in life is “There’s always another way!”.
Giggle is a working Cocker Spaniel who doesn’t know how to quit. She’s a real star in mantrailing and never gives up until she’s figured everything out. She’s definitely a hard worker and has no problem whatsoever in climbing the highest mountains in rubble search. A tiny hole is enough for her !
I’m training her in being an operational dog in mantrailing and she’s obtained her Level I certification earlier this year. I hope to obtain her Level II certification this year as well.
Besides all this she’s the joy in my day to day life. She’s just fantastic !
The motivation for me to do this voluntary work comes first and foremost from the human need for help. We as a group want to make a difference in this respect. This applies to every SAR dog team and of course to every aid worker in general.
All you have to do to understand how much help can be needed is to close your eyes and imagine what you yourself would wish for if you were in the same situation as people who live in a disaster area or an earthquake zone. Or a loved one goes for a bike ride or walk and doesn’t return home…….absolutely awful for everyone involved.
That I, together with my dog, can be of assistance to people in need, along with the other teams from Oger SAR Dogs, and of course with all the many others who put their heart and soul into this voluntary work.
A fundamental part of this work for me is the way my 5 year old dog Jente (Malinois bitch) surprises me time and time again with what the nose of a dog can register. She does this with so much pleasure and this energises me. I learn how she learns, what motivates her, as well as what I sometimes do that gets in her way. Not always nice to learn but always healthy!
Oger SAR Dogs is a tightly knit team with an open culture where I can be myself and can continue to develop. We have very good and extremely experienced coaches who also work with their own dogs. Partly because of this they continually watch us critically while remaining sharply focussed on their own SAR work. I love working with Jente and (almost) every training session is a celebration!
Together with my 10 year old German Shepherd †Aizza and my new acquisition, cross-breed Malinois Lucca, I have become deeply attached to working with dogs. That I can also answer a need for help together with Oger SAR Dogs and many other people makes me feel part of a greater good.
My love for search and rescue work started about 14 years ago in Austria while doing avalanche training with my cross-breed Malinois †Coco. That’s when I got bitten by the search and rescue dog bug. I was amazed then, and still am, by the dog’s sense of smell.
I gladly share the experience I’ve gained over the years with my fellow team members, all 100% motivated people, who time and time again get so much enjoyment from searching with their dogs.
Together Everyone Achieves More