RE, Belg & Fr CH
Beggy of the Two
CAC, CACIB, tan, SelB80
Somewhere it must have been written that the Belgian Shepherd was going to occupy an important place in my life. I was barely two years old when my father, due to his business, took residence in a building situated next to a brasserie - sadly long since gone - that had an emblem depicting the head of a Groenendael. The entrance to the brasserie was guarded by a kennel of wrought iron which housed a couple of these black long coated Belgians.
My father himself had owned a couple of Malinois, though I was too young to really remember them, but he never tired of talking about their qualities of character, intelligence and affection.
To my great disappointment however, he didn't want to have a dog at home. This was primarily because he felt that he didn't have the necessary time to look after one properly, but also because he feared that it might bother the customers. I therefore had some revenge to exact on fate; a revenge I have cultivated for twenty years.
In 1973, I bought my first house - with a garden! and set about studying the market with the aim of finding a Groenendael or a Malinois. As often happens, fate had decided otherwise and one fine day I met Erik Desschans and his kennel of....Tervuerens. After all, they were the colour of Malinois and had the long coat of the Groenendaels!
In short, I had found a dedicated breed enthusiast, and thanks to him in 1974 I acquired my first dog Zed with whom I discovered the pleasures of showing and working. Then in 1977 I took my first foundation bitch, RE French Ch Beggy of the Two whose show career was so exceptional that I found myself bitten by the bug of showing and breeding dogs.
Erik and Leisje Desschans also provided me with two important elements for my future as a breeder: firstly, the opportunity to acquire a lot of experience by studying their own litters very closely - which I did with enormous enthusiasm. Secondly, also thanks to them, I met my alter ego, Firmin Aertgeerts, and his wife Paula. Right from my first litter, sired by their stud dog sr Zarka of the Two, they joined forces with me in the development of our kennel.
Our completely different approaches and a sometimes diametrically opposed view of things gave rise to many deep discussions over the years, but we also really complemented each other, and - very importantly - we continued to chart our progress with a critical eye throughout twenty years of breeding during which we experienced the inevitable ups and downs.
The Foundations of the Kennel
At the time I lived in Hoeilaart, a village situated in the south of Bruxelles in the middle of the Foret de Soignes, which also included the hamlet of Groenendael, and bordered the village of Tervueren. The kennel's affix was chosen because of that particular geographic location as etymologically Hoge Laer is the origin of the name Hoeilaart which means 'high clearing'.
When we first started the quality of the Tervueren variety was quite poor: mediocre structure often with stright rear ends, long bodies, faded or mottled masks, tall ears wide at the base and weak characters. All of these faults were very common and there was therefore much work to be done.
Many elements helped shape my opinions on type, character and breeding policy: the experience acquired at M and Mme Desschans' kennel, the magazines edited by Dr Surget, enthusiastic discussions with the experts at the time (Messieurs Beaudoux, van Ceulenbroeck, Mesdames Bossi, Demillier and others) and indepth study of the first edition of the book written by Madame Jacqueline Aubry (the famous Chemin des Dames) and the discussions that I was able to have with this great lady of the Belgian Shepherd world.
Creating and Establishing a Line
Whenever anyone plans to start breeding, they should start with good foundations. They should determine in advance - within the scope of the breed standard - the type of dog they prefer and that they would be looking for within the first generations. Then they should choose the foundtion bitchs and stud dogs that would enable them to fix this type into their own line.
We feel that it is imperative that a Belgian Shepherd combines a mixture of strength and elegance: a dog who totally lacks one of these two elements cannot be a good Belgian Shepherd. In addition, the dog must be typical and this means, particularly in our breed, that the head is of tremendous importance: expression is a term that is rarely applied to other breeds! The head must certainly not be heavy, but neither should it be exaggeratedly long: My experience in 20 years of breeding has taught me that such exaggerations lead to atypical dogs with absence of stop, receding skulls and hooked noses.
When I started I was particularly impressed by the "Chemin des Dames" type of dogs from Onix x Vega, as well as by the Tervuerens Vici des Hauts de Bievre and Tarass de la Pouroffe (quite different in type but which complemented each other) and the Malinos of l'Assa.
Thus, our foundatin couple was:
RE French and Lux Ch Beggy of the Two. Through her sire - If du Puits d'Ombelle - Beggy was a granddaughter of Tarass de la Pouroffe and of Tania du Chemin des Dames (a red sister of RE Vega) - through her dam she also went back to Chemin des Dames, mixed with the old French Tervueren bloodlines (Clos St Clair and Clos St Jacques)
sr Zarka of the Two, a son of the aforementioned Vici des Hautes de Bievre (again a real concentration of Chemin des Dames), though Zarka was out of Udine du Bois du Tot who went back through Clos St Jacques to Kiou de l'Assa who was out of two Malilnois, the father being the famous Cesar de l'Assa.
This foundation couple produced RE Dolly, Darka (CAC), Gaella (CAC), Gini (best junior at the Dutch Specialty Show) and especially the Belgian, French, Dutch and International Champion RE Grimm van de Hoge Laer, the cornerstone of our kennel.
For her last two matings, Ch Beggy of the Two was bred firstly to the stud dog sr Sam (without affix), a litter consisting soley of two dogs, Jaras (CAC - RCI3) - whose owner Pauline Stern-Hanf became my companion in life and within our breeding affix - and Juno exported to South Africa where he founded a line. Lastly, Beggy was mated to Un Vison du Chemin des Dames, a litter which produced some important dogs such as the Dutch Ch Kwando and the sr Kleo, Best Tervueren at the Belgian Specialty Show, who remained at the kennel and is the dam of a number of very interesting Belgians.
(Jean-Louis Vandenbemden, Hoge Laer, translated from French by Amanda McLaren, copyright J L Vandenbemden 1998)
1998 YB p178-181
Courtesy of: dhuckestein