Interview with Carolyn Noteman, Breeder of DragonFly Hollow Kromfohrländers
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Carolyn Noteman: I live in the beautiful mountains of Southwestern Virginia. I have been involved in dogs for 53 years. My parents were breeders of Toy & Standard Manchester Terriers. I have been involved with breeding off and on since I was seven. I have only been breeding Kromfohrländers since 2018.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Carolyn Noteman: My kennel name is DragonFly Hollow. I currently have five Kromfohrländers.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Carolyn Noteman: My female “Emme,” Birkenstrand’s Zanadu, is my foundation bitch and has produced a lovely first litter. The sire of my first litter, “Boo,” was exceptional and very dear to my heart. Boo passed away in a freak accident. We miss him dearly.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Carolyn Noteman: I currently have a facility with indoor/outdoor kennel runs. It is insulated and climate-controlled. My first litter was whelped in the kennel as I was building my house. Future litters will be whelped in the house and, eventually, moved to the puppy playground area in the kennel. I like to watch the puppies in person and on camera as they explore new things. Watching their reactions and recovery from new stimuli allows me to better understand the puppy and determine which household it should live in. I use Avidog techniques as well as some of my own techniques in raising puppies. I use different sounds, textures, and other sensory stimulating factors.
At 49 days I also have someone the puppies have never met conduct puppy aptitude tests. My favorite test is the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test. At around five weeks of age, the puppy’s go for daily car rides. They are exposed to many types of people. I take the eight weeks I have with these puppies very seriously. Matching the right puppy to the right home is essential. The puppies are exposed to crate training, potty training, leash walking, and problem-solving. It is the greatest eight weeks ever, especially for me!
Am I working with my breed’s parent club to gain full AKC recognition for my breed?
Carolyn Noteman: Yes, I am on the Board of Directors for the Kromfohrländer Club of America. I am the AKC Liaison as well as the International Liaison. I am the Chairperson of the Breeders Committee and a member of the Health Committee.
What is my “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies?
Carolyn Noteman: For the eight weeks that my puppies are with me, I seldom leave my farm. It is the best eight weeks ever. I observe the puppies in person and on camera. I believe that watching them explore, react to and recover from experiences and stimuli shows me which type of family they would be best for and successful with. For me, the number one job of a puppy is to be a wonderful companion and friend. Titles and competition are icing on the cake. That being said, when looking for a puppy that will be successful in the breed ring, I look for outstanding structure, a confident, happy nature, and a pup that genuinely loves attention and adventure. These are also qualities that I look for in a pup that may be considered for future breeding.
As for a pup destined for a Performance home, I also look for the same qualities as above but I may also look at the pup’s response to noises and how fluidly the pup moves in play, and I watch as the puppy navigates moving around the play area. Sometimes a pup that is a bit longer in the loin has a better turning radius and will excel at Performance Sports.
Do I compete in Companion Events? Performance Events?
How would I define “conditioning” as it relates to my breed?
Carolyn Noteman: Conditioning can mean several things to many people, but to me, I prefer to look at conditioning with a holistic approach. For my dogs, I have a physical conditioning program that includes running hills and flat areas as well as sprints and endurance runs. We do stretching and massage, which they love! We also use fit balls for balance and stretching.
I also believe conditioning includes the mental aspect of their lives. It is unfair to take a dog to any show that has not been prepared for the sights and sounds of the atmosphere. In cooler weather, my dogs travel along on errands and we use these opportunities to train and get them used to the sights and sounds of life. I also have working Border Collies, and all of my dogs travel to training or events even if they are not competing. I like to take advantage of unusual circumstances to train my dogs and let them experience life.
Are there any health-related concerns in my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Carolyn Noteman: I DNA test all of my breeding dogs for everything. I believe it empowers me to make better breeding choices. There are two health concerns that we always test for in Kromfohrländers and they are Von Willebrand disease and Hyperkeratosis. I also have my dogs OFA tested. If we are careful with health testing when our number of dogs are lower, we can avoid many pitfalls of other breeds.
As for nutritional needs, the Kromfohrländer is a very healthy dog; however, all dogs need healthy, balanced diets. I feed raw and kibble and have attended many health conferences concerning dog nutrition. I enjoy the topic and feed my dogs mostly home-grown ingredients. Living on a farm makes this easier for me.
Do I think my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Carolyn Noteman: I am a believer in quality over quantity, but I would like to see more people join in the preservation of this amazing breed.
Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Carolyn Noteman: I don’t think the Kromfohrländer is suited as a first-ever dog, but if a breeder really knows their puppies they can be a very good family dog. Their devotion to their people is strong and passionate. I do think candidates like puppies are based on individual qualities. Matching the right puppy to the right person is a skill every breeder needs to learn.
What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?
Carolyn Noteman: The biggest misconception may be that they look so docile and adorable. Hidden from sight is their amazing athleticism. Kromfohrländers make fantastic and enthusiastic competitors in Agility, Dock Diving, Scent Work, and more. The key is to figure out your dog’s personality and likes, then find a sport that fits them.
If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?
Carolyn Noteman: Kromfohrländers are a fun breed that can be whimsical. You will see some with heavier grooming and those who prefer a more natural look. It is that scruffy look that we all fell in love with in the first place. Both looks are acceptable in our Breed Standard. I must say that I have appreciated the patience and kindness of the judges that we have received at our shows.
Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Carolyn Noteman: If you are interested in breeding, just reach out to others and find a mentor. I and others are happy to help. The preservation of this breed is so important. Do not be discouraged by the shallow gene pool, as there are wonderful breeders overseas who are also willing to help. I have brought two young males from Denmark and Sweden respectively to help diversify the gene pool. A lovely female has also been brought to the US from Sweden. I collaborated with another breeder to purchase some outstanding semen from overseas in order to help the preservation of this breed. It truly is a labor of love.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with one of my dogs?
Carolyn Noteman: I compete in Sheepdog Trials with my working Border Collies. My Kromfohrländers adore the Border Collies. One day, some of my laying hens got out of the coup when I was out in the field exercising a Kromfohrländer and a Border Collie. The Border Collie immediately, on command, went to gather the chickens. The Kromfohrländer joined in and followed everything the Border Collie did. I was quite impressed with my Kromfohrländer, but at this point, I think the Kromfohrländer is so versatile that it can accomplish anything.