Ian & Elaine Stubbings
Ian with Kasi Elaine with Greta

In 1973, because we could not afford to have children (Ian was a lowly Brand Manager at Rowntree in York and Elaine a Registrar at the local Psychiatric Hospital), we decided our home needed a dog, so Ian set about the task of researching the best dog for us using his marketing skills. We wanted a medium sized dog that would be good with children (eventually) and also have a wow factor. It came down to either an Elkhound or a Keeshond. The first Keeshond breeder who would have puppies turned out to be Audrey Woodiwiss so when Ian was in Leicester on business he called in to see her and came back raving about these wonderful dogs with nests in their fur where the tails nestled! Audrey of course would not sell her dogs to just anybody, so we were subjected to her version of the inquisition, before she agreed to let us have a male puppy. We took delivery of Final Edition of Duroya (Robbie) at the end of September in our little red MG Midget, a mode of transport of which Audrey certainly did not approve and which he rapidly outgrew anyway. He was called Final Edition because he was out of the last litter sired by the great Commandant of Duroya who was 13 years old at the time. His dam was Duroya Evergay who lived with Margaret Foster. Audrey thought we might have some fun showing him although she was not sure that he would grow big enough. At his first show at the Corn Exchange in Leeds he did nicely and we were bitten with the showing bug. At that show we met Mary Smyth who gave us useful tips even though he was not her preferred type. At that time he went with Elaine to work at Clifton Hospital and her various clinics. At a children’s psychiatric unit, where he was very tolerant, he even helped a little boy to talk again.

Ch. & SA Ch. Final Edition at Duroya
(From a Pen & Ink by our Sister-in-law, Diane Stubbings)

Later he proved to be a very able guardian for our daughter, Catherine. When we brought her home from the Maternity Hospital he got up on his hind legs to inspect the occupant of the pram, and obviously gave his approval to his new kennel mate! Thereafter if anyone approached the pram he would put himself between the “intruder” and the baby until he was sure that their intentions were good!

Over the next several years we made many new friends in dogdom and these friendships have lasted to this day. In no time at all we seemed to find ourselves on the North of England Keeshond Club committee and remained on it until we went to South Africa in 1979. The Chairman at the time was Tommy Reed and Ann Reed was the Secretary. Fellow committee members over the years included amongst others Peggy Blair, Jean Hardcastle, Joan Shaw, Sheila McIntosh, Dave Kitson, Margaret Burdon, Dorothy Mason, John and Janet Tierney, and Alec Shaw. We have many happy memories of the committee meetings, particularly those at which Elaine had to break off from the business every now and again to breast feed first our daughter, Catherine, and then later on our son, David. The rest of the committee never batted an eyelid and the debates continued as if nothing had happened. Ian took on the job of resurrecting the Newsletter and Yearbook publications at a time when technology was crude to say the least. Producing them on a portable typewriter and duplicator is a far cry from the modern computer and desk top publishing. We remember only too well the problems which Pam Luckhurst, John Beacock, and Dave Barbour have today of getting material from the members to make these publications worthwhile.

One of Elaine’s hobbies back in the seventies was the spinning, weaving and knitting of Keeshond wool. Many garments appeared as raffle prizes at the time. When we finally moved out of our house near York, we made the mistake of putting all the surplus Keeshond hair on a bonfire in our back garden. The smell remained over the village for days!

Josie winning RBIS at Birmingham National

We made Robbie up to Champion (he did grow to the standard), and he also went BIS at a couple of Open Shows. Our first bitch Boreasvale Blondine (Vicky) (bred by Jean Hardcastle by Boreasvale Brewstra out of Duroya Greta) had a litter of 10 puppies on New Years Eve/ New Years Day 1976/7 sired by Robbie. You should try telling your Scottish neighbour just after midnight that you are too busy with puppies to bother with the conventional celebrations of Hogmanay and First Footing! Duroya Indra of Vandersee (Lena) (Ch. Surprise of Ven x Duroya Heiress) quickly gained her Junior Warrant, but was run over aged 16 months, when we were visiting Ian’s mother, who lived on a very busy road in Mansfield. Duroya Josephine of Vandersee (Josie) (Ch. Riesling of Rhinevale x Duroya Imogen) then joined us and became a Champion very quickly and was Reserve Best in Show at Birmingham National 1979 and although we left the UK mid way through the show season that year no other Keeshond overtook her points in the Dog World ratings. Josie had also taken BIS at several Open Shows. By the time we left the UK we had judged Keeshonds at open show level. Ian had judged at Chasewater Open Show and also the Driffield Championship Show (without CCs) and Elaine had judged the Driffield Open Show when it was held in conjunction with the Driffield Agricultural Show.

Robbie, an enthusiastic stud, was used several times in the UK, and if we go back far enough in the pedigrees of the dogs which we have today we find his name more than once. He was so enthusiastic that once he detected a bitch in season more than a mile away, and he set off like a rocket across the disused Pocklington airfield and we had to follow him in the car to retrieve him. On another occasion he escaped from our back garden, and by following his footprints in the snow we found him trying to mate a Bassett Hound which had been tethered in front of its house at the other side of the village. Thankfully we were able to intervene just in time.

Rand Daily Mail
Puppy of the Year

In South Africa Josie and Robbie became South African Champions but in two matings only produced 3 dogs (no bitches). All 3 became SA Champions, of which SA Ch. Vandersee Addition (Bowser) and SA Ch. Vandersee Ad Lib (Dusty) continued to live with us. We imported Tingalary Tandora of Vandersee (Tina) (Sam the Candy Man x Tingalary Tizzwazzy Tizzy) from Joan Shaw and SA Ch. Duroya Leader of Vandersee (Kips) (Duroya Joker, Josie’s litter brother, x Karola of Duroya) from Audrey Woodiwiss and from their litter came our SA Ch. Vandersee Aunty Amy. Bowser was the Rand Daily Mail Puppy of the Year 1981 and was Best in Show at Hottentots Holland Championship Show, and RBIS at the Breede River Championship show.

Bowser at the Epol International
SA Ch. Vandersee Ad Lib

Both Bowser and Dusty took turns winning the Utility Group in the SA Epol Interprovincial Competition. Apart from dog showing Ian was chairman of the Port Rex Kennel Club and Elaine was chairman of the East London Kennel Club. We ran All Breeds Open and Championship Shows as well as taking show training classes. In 1985 the East London Championship Shows Weekend experienced unprecedented rain (there had been drought conditions for 11 years) when in 1 hour 6 inches of rain fell. Bridges and swimming pools were washed away. Shows in South Africa did not bother with such sophistications as wet weather accommodation. The Miniature Long Haired Dachshunds were literally floating around the ring and even the Rottweilers and the GSDs were aquaplaning. The joint clubs suddenly had to find an indoor venue for the 2nd day. This was accomplished overnight much to the amazement of the exhibitors, and the shows on the second day were held in the ballroom of one of the hotels near to the beachfront. The owner of the hotel opened up a bar for the exhibitors and did a roaring trade. The Indian gentleman who ran the local convenience store made a fortune selling samosas and curry bunnies and the local ice cream parlour had never had a Sunday like it.

Because in South Africa there were only a few dogs in each breed we both were judging groups at Open show level and Ian judged the Utility Group at Championship Show level in 1986. In that same year however, when showing at the Dogmor Dog of the Year event in conjunction with the Goldfields Championship Show in Johannesburg, Ian suffered his first attack of angina which resulted in him having a bypass operation at the tender age of 40.

  Amy with Catherine

After 10 years in South Africa, we moved on to Switzerland in 1989, with just 3 dogs, Josie, Bowser and Amy, where Ian’s business commitments prevented us from showing. Josie lived to the ripe old age of 16 and Bowser nearly reached the same age. Amy went on to Japan with us in 1998 where she died a year later aged 13. We did not show in Japan either – the thought of completing an entry form in Japanese was daunting to say the least. We did however occasionally see another Keeshond when Amy was being exercised on a local park in Tokyo.

Over the years we have had considerable experience of shipping dogs around the world, and we have learnt two very important lessons:

  1. Always use a professional livestock shipping agent, to be absolutely sure that best possible arrangements are made and to ensure that all the correct documentation and equipment is provided.
  2. Always either collect the dogs in person at the final destination, or make sure that you can arrange for someone you can trust and who has experience of handling animals that can do the job for you.

We made the mistake with Amy’s trip from Switzerland to Japan of allowing the agent who was arranging the shipment of all our household effects also to handle her travel arrangements. She was sent on two weeks ahead of us and the Japanese authorities were to arrange kennelling and vets care until we arrived at our apartment. Someone from Ian’s office checked with the authorities by telephone from time to time and was assured that she was in good hands and was in good health. However she was delivered to us by a general transport contractor, who would be delivering parcels etc, in a general purpose, non air conditioned truck at a time when the temperature in Tokyo was around 30°C with about 90% humidity. Her travel box was broken and the delivery lady manhandled her to the door of our apartment in a most unceremonious fashion. She was covered in her own urine and faeces and was quite dehydrated. Never again will we allow that to happen.


When Ian retired in 2001, we returned to the UK and, after he had had a second bypass operation in 2002, we decided to become gluttons for punishment again and find another bitch to show and breed from. His fitness regime of walking up to 5 miles per day made no sense without a dog. In 2003 Norkees Special Edition at Vandersee (Greta) (Ch. Stratus Eastern Knight x Norkees Show Quest) joined us from Brian and Moira Curry and last year (2006) she had 6 puppies by Margaret Foster’s Venway Zeevaarder. We kept one of her daughters, Vandersee Autumnal Mist (Kasi). Kasi won the Reserve CC (with BPIB) at SWKA 2007 under David Cavill, and not to be outdone by her daughter, Greta took the Reserve CC at Darlington 2007 under Gordon Lister.

Our love affair with Keeshonds has been both long and rewarding, but also of course it has come with much heartache. Our original dog, Final Edition, suffered a stroke when he was 8 years old which brought about a sudden change in temperament. He became extremely aggressive particularly towards his 2 sons, and we had no choice but to have him put to sleep. In her old age, Vicky was arthritic and became almost totally blind. In our last few months in South Africa, we were obliged to keep most of the dogs in boarding kennels. We kept Josie with us but she haemorrhaged so badly that she had to have an emergency hysterectomy. That was how we solved the mystery o

  Bowser, Dusty and Kips

f why she only had 3 puppies. She had polycystic ovaries, so we were lucky to have had 3 puppies at all. While he was in the kennels, Kips suffered a spinal injury and was left paralysed, so he had to be put down. Because we knew that the maximum number of dogs that we could take with us to Switzerland would be three, we found new homes for Dusty and Tina. Shortly after we left South Africa, we received the news that Tina had been stolen from the garden of her new home and was never seen again. When we were in Switzerland, Josie died in kennels whilst we were on holiday. Bowser on one occasion was coming down the stairs with his nose firmly stuck up Amy’s backside (she had recently been in season) and fell and damaged his knee so badly that he had to have reconstructive surgery, but this gave him another year and a half of happy life. When we were preparing to leave for Japan, we had to agree with our vet that he would not be fit enough to make the journey and reluctantly therefore had him put to sleep. In Japan, Amy died in kennels whilst we were away in Europe. You could say we have not had the best of experiences with dogs in kennels, which is why, having returned to the UK with no real desire of any further travelling abroad, we bought a caravan again so that we can take the dogs with us wherever we go. These are just examples of the things which you must expect in your lives when you make a commitment to such wonderful animals.

The sad times however are always far outweighed by so many wonderful, happy moments.

When we came back from Japan, we did toy with the idea of getting a Japanese Shiba Inu, which had been a very common sight in Tokyo, but in the end we had to come back to our first love – the Keeshond.

Whilst we certainly would not claim to be great experts on Keeshonds, our long association with the breed has given us certain insights which we are only too happy to pass on to others.

For further information contact Ian & Elaine Stubbings

Telephone: 01759 304773

Email: Vandersee

© Ian Stubbings January 2008



Ch. SA Ch. Duroya Josephine of Vandersee



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