Interview with Sheryl Fuller, Breeder of Waterbound Kooikerhondje
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Sheryl Fuller: I live in a suburb of Houston, Texas, which is almost tropical. The climate couldn’t be more different than where the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje originally came from in the Netherlands. To keep the Kooikers cool and happy, we put in a swimming pool. The pool is their favorite place to be.
I got my first purebred dog, a Basenji, in 1982 and bred several litters under the kennel name Laika. I had Flat-Coated Retrievers for about 10 years, then I obtained my first Kooikerhondje in 2008 after admiring them for several years. I started breeding dogs in 1985 and whelped my first Kooikerhondje litter in 2010.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Sheryl Fuller: My kennel name is Waterbound. I currently keep seven dogs at my house and have several in co-owned homes around the country that I breed with, due to the difficulty in keeping large numbers of intact dogs in the same house.
Which show dogs from the past have been my noteworthy winners?
Noteworthy winners include:
- GCHB Estaika’s Lucky Lukas CM CGC, a Finnish import and the first Certificate of Merit Nederlandse Kooikerhondje. “Luke” was also ranked in the Top 2 in Breed and All-Breed as well the No. 1 OH Kooiker for the first two years we were AKC eligible. Luke was acquired with Dr. Susanne Martin of Golden Gate Kooikers.
- MBIS GCHB Waterbound Everything Harvey vd Golden Gate OA OAJ CGC is a National Specialty Winner and the only BIS Nederlandse Kooikerhondje. “Harvey” was co-bred with Dr. Susanne Martin and owned by Dr. Marlene Valter and Louise Brady.
- GCHB Waterbound Making Waves RI BN BCAT CGC is the first OH BIS Nederlandse Kooikerhondje. “Breaker” was the No. 1 OH Kooiker as well as the No. 2 All-Breed for two years in a row.
- CH Waterbound Demi Delight UD RA CGC BCAT is only the second Kooikerhondje and my first dog to complete her Utility Dog title.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Hungarian import GCH Astro Dog from Wonderland BN RI NA NAJ CGC, sire of the only BIS Kooiker mentioned above (Harvey) and of multiple Group-winning GCHB Jubelend Waterbound Orion’s Belt (Archie) as well as many champions and up-and-coming young prospects.
My foundation bitch, UKC CH Vonlin’s Temple of the Winds CD RE AX AXJ CGC. “Lucy” is where it all began for me. Acquired before AKC recognition, she never competed in AKC Conformation. Now 14 years old and going strong, Lucy is extremely biddable and temperamentally stable, and has passed this on to her offspring. Lucy is the grand-dam of Harvey and great-grand-dam of Breaker.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Sheryl Fuller: I am very fortunate to share my home on two fenced acres with my husband and the dogs. The property is surrounded on three sides by cow pastures and includes two large running pens, covered dog runs, and a large puppy play yard. My dogs live in the house and several share our bed.
My puppies are whelped in my spare bedroom and moved to the kitchen at 3-1/2 weeks. They also have an outdoor puppy play yard where they spend most of the day, weather permitting.
My puppy raising has been greatly influenced by Gayle Watkins and Avidog. I use ENS and introduce a novel scent each day. My puppies are exposed to numerous different surfaces, sounds, toys of all types, and lots of visitors. They are also introduced to swimming in our pool, weather permitting.
What is my “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies? Field Puppies?
Sheryl Fuller: The “process” begins at birth when the puppies are still wet and continues until they leave. Stacked photos at 6 and 8 weeks are useful, but just sitting on the floor and watching them move is the most useful for me. I love to get in the pool and watch the puppies playing alongside the pool. It gives me a view at eye level.
For Performance Puppies, again, observation as well as aptitude tests are performed by an unbiased evaluator. Because Kooikers can be reactive to sounds, I look for puppies that are not sound sensitive when choosing Performance Puppies.
Kooikers have been approved to run Flushing Spaniel Hunting Tests, but to this date, I haven’t trained or sold any for this venue.
Do I compete in Companion Events? Performance Events?
Sheryl Fuller: I currently compete in Obedience and Rally with my Kooikers. I used to compete in Agility and Flyball as well. In the past, I competed in Hunt Tests with my three Flat-Coated Retrievers and all earned their Senior Hunter titles. I have dabbled in Fast CAT and am currently training my Kooikers for Scent Work, but have not yet competed.
It has been truly fulfilling to work with my dogs in all these different venues. Kooikers are extremely smart and biddable, and can be successful in all these areas.
Are Field Trials or parent club Hunt Tests important to me?
Sheryl Fuller: There is not a test to evaluate the work for which a Kooikerhondje was bred to do. They were bred to work with their handler to lure ducks into traps in an “eendenkooi” or an elaborate system consisting of a pond that was connected to a number of small canals leading to traps.
They are now eligible to run Flushing Spaniel Hunting Tests, but, in my opinion, there is an inherent contradiction.
I believe any competition venue that requires close communication and cooperation with their handler is useful in evaluating a Kooiker’s working ability.
How would I define “conditioning” as it relates to my breed?
Sheryl Fuller: Kooikers really love to have some free-run time. Swimming, where possible, and hiking are great ways to condition without “formal” conditioning.
Are there any health-related concerns in my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Sheryl Fuller: The Nederlandse Kooikerhondje is generally a healthy breed that lives to an average of 13-14 years. Available genetic testing has virtually eliminated two diseases affecting Kooikers; Von Willebrand disease and hereditary necrotizing myopathy. While they only affect a very small percentage of Kooikerhondje, kidney disease and polymyositis are still concerns.
There are no special nutritional needs, but Kooikers love to eat and can have a tendency to become overweight.
Do I think my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Sheryl Fuller: Everyone who breeds Kooikers is a preservation breeder because of the small gene pool. I do not think that is enough. There are a few experienced breeders that I partner with, but I am hoping for some more experienced breeders to become involved with Kooikers.
Is my breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Sheryl Fuller: Kooikerhondje are well suited to be a family dog for a family with school-age children. They bond closely with their family and are always game for whatever activity the family wants to include them in. However, Kooikers are sensitive to loud noises and sudden movements as well as wary of new people, making them a challenge for families with very young children. The children need to be old enough to respect the Kooikerhondje’s sensitivities. Active, experienced dog owners who enjoy the outdoors make the best owners. Kooikers love to exercise both mentally and physically.
What is the biggest misconception about my breed? What is my breed’s best-kept secret?
Sheryl Fuller: The biggest misconception I see is that the Kooiker has the typical trusting, outgoing temperament of most Sporting breeds. In reality, the Kooiker is extremely intelligent, wary of new people, and a little independent compared to most Sporting breeds.
The best-kept secret is that the coat is amazingly easy to maintain and does not mat. If a Kooikerhondje goes out and gets all wet and muddy, you can put it in a crate for an hour to dry and it comes out clean.
If I could share a comment or two with judges of my breed, what would I like to say to them?
Sheryl Fuller: This breed is new to the AKC. Many exhibitors are also new. They are nervous, which makes the dog nervous. In addition, Kooikers do not particularly enjoy being examined. They respond best if approached confidently and matter-of-factly on the table.
Do I have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Sheryl Fuller: Please find a mentor. It can be someone from your local kennel club with a different breed, but an experienced Kooikerhondje breeder is ideal.
Never say never. Anything that can happen will happen if you breed long enough.
Are you looking for a Nederlandse Kooikerhondje puppy?
The best way to ensure a long and happy relationship with a purebred dog is to purchase one from a responsible breeder. Not sure where to begin finding a breeder?
Contact the National Parent Club’s Breeder Referral person, which you can find on the AKC Breeder Referral Contacts page.
Want to help rescue and re-home a Nederlandse Kooikerhondje dog?
Did you know nearly every recognized AKC purebred has a dedicated rescue group? Find your new best friend on the AKC Rescue Network Listing.
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