Chapter 2 - The Next Step

This chain of events lead us to consider how to go on, as we had become very taken with the breed, and an opportunity presented itself when the Berlin Wall came down, and East Germany, the origin country of the breed, opened it’s doors to the world. Gill Stockton, an avid reader of Hovawart news from wherever, spotted a Hovawart weekend taking place in what was still East Berlin, with an open meeting, and a display of East German stud dogs….with commentary! It is hard to imagine such a thing in the UK. Anyway, with Union Jacks in hand, and fraternal greetings from the HC of GB, we set off for Berlin. We even got a video camera for the occasion, although the standard of filming left a lot to be desired…another profession for John to avoid! When we finally got to the meeting, after a long walk down unfriendly, menacing streets, just like they are in the spy films, we were greeted with great warmth, and John even made a little speech, which was translated into German by Ingrid Muller, who helped them the whole weekend. John had no idea what the meeting was told, but it caused great amusement, although he hadn’t that intention!

Volker with world champion Rakete v.d. Ehrenpforte
Volker with Rakete

The following day, there were some 36 proven stud dogs paraded round whilst two senior officials spoke about them, one critiquing the actual dog, with the other listing his progeny, warts and all. There were some magnificent dogs on display, and their quality was such that the original idea, vague and embryonic, of taking Tegan to a German dog, and bringing her back through quarantine (she had a lot of kennel experience, remember) died before the display was over. How to go forward ? The answer was not long in coming. Volker Wienrich, East Germany’s Stud Book Master, and one of the commentators, was taking the ring paraphanalia away, and to get it into his car, opened the back, and out jumped Raki (World Ch.Rakete v.d.Ehrenpforte). With one voice (hushed) Elaine and John said “I want one like that”. Several months later, Gill’s reading paid more dividends when she spotted that Raki had had a litter. We enlisted the support of Monika and Reinhart Hacker, Germans living 20 years in England, owners of a Tegan puppy, and Reinhart the British correspondent for a group of German newspapers. A telephone conversation established that Volker would be prepared to let one of his precious puppies come to England, so we, with Monika in tow as interpreter, set off for Gustebieser Loose, very close to the Polish border (the river Oder), in the depths of winter.

Jordis and Arpad
Jordis and Arpad in Quarantine

In preparation for our visit, bearing in mind the status of the “iron curtain” countries in western eyes, we thought to take some provisions for the “poor, deprived” people, you know, tea, coffee etc…even a Christmas pudding !! Of course, our ideas about them were as off the mark as theirs were about us. They turned out to be people, just like us, and had all the things we had, and certainly not in need of our charity or largesse…but we did leave the Christmas pudding, which was something they hadn’t come across before. We still don’t know what they thought of it! The older son of the house, Marco, was studying English at school at that time, and I think was surprised that we were not overbearing slave owners, grinding the faces of the poor, blacks and Hispanics, as his textbooks were written by the communist party of America. A mutual hobby is a wonderful way to bring people together, and break down prejudice

The puppies, 3 bitches and a dog, were housed in a shed outside, and had a single heat lamp, with sacking over the door. The outside temperature had been either -10 for 15 days, or -15 for 10 days (I can’t remember which, but the river Oder was frozen over, and we could have walked to Poland!), and the puppies and their mother were perfectly happy and thriving. Hovawarts are excellent in the cold, but do need to be protected from excessive heat. Anyway, we were amazed to be offered the pick of the bitches, a gesture of such generosity that we have always tried to replicate when dealing with overseas people ever since. Volker’s only stipulation was that we had to have a second puppy to stay with our Jordis through the quarantine period, hence we got Arpad as well, found for us by Volker from a breeder in the south.

We returned home and eagerly watched the clock until it was time to return and collect the puppies. We were fortunate that Karina le Mare’s quarantine kennels were only a couple of miles from where we worked, so, after a lovely 2 day drive with the puppies, having them taken away at Dover was only a temporary set-back, and Hovawarts having good memories, they greeted us effusively when we were at last able to visit, after a 2 week settling-in period for them. The six months finally ended, and Volker and his family came over to witness the “release from prison” as he put it. We had a Hovawart get-together day, with lots of visitors, and I am surprised in hindsight just how well those little puppies coped.


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Chapter 1 - The Beginning

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Chapter 3 - Jordis