Jose Stienstra: Dog Sport Is for Me about Fun And Sharing It with People I Love
Hi, I’m Jose Stienstra-Pelsma, and my nick name is “the mother of the Dutchi’s”. I’m 51 years “young”, I have a husband Klaas Stienstra and a son Jack Stienstra. We live in Hoogkerk, near Groningen in the Netherlands and we own a family company called Active Dog Care – a day care for pet dogs and dog school.
We are also the founders of Kennel v. Le Dobry. We had Dobermans from 1975 till 2000. From 1997 until now, we breed and train Dutch Shepherds shorthaired. Our goal is to breed Dutch Shepherds for dog sport. We want to show the world that they are great working sport dogs who can compete with German Shepherds and Malinois. This is also the reason why I started the World Dutch Shepherd Federation 5 years ago. This year will be my last year as president of the WDSF.
Congratulations once again to your 1st place! I would like to ask you, what does this victory mean to you?
Thank you. This victory means the world to me and to our kennel v. Le Dobry. First I want to say that my son Jack Stienstra trained and prepared Holland Messi v. Le Dobry. His work made it possible to gain this victory. Jack and Messi competed 3 times at the World Championships of the Dutch Shepherds and two times at the FCI IPO WCH. Jack chose to be a helper at this year´s WDSF Championship. So it was an honour for me to be trusted to participate with the experienced Messi in the World Championship WDSF in Roden.
Everybody dreams to become the World Champion. It is the crowning glory of all the hard work, a highlight in my career as a trainer and a handler and on top it all, we are also the breeders of Messi. A huge part of my joy is working as a team with Messi, being unconditionally supported by my family, friends, club and team members and being surrounded by people who share the same passion for the sport and Dutch Shepherds. In the end, it is about fun and sharing it with the people you love.
…and what does participation in the WDSF World Champion 2018 mean to you?
Participating in the WDSF World Championship 2018 was fantastic. It is an honour to compete for your breed at the highest level and show the quality of the Dutch Shepherd. As the founder of the WDSF, I saw the World Championship developing to what it is right now. There were 5 dog sport disciplines at the 5th WDSF World Championship and almost 150 participating Dutch Shepherds from 18 countries – and that was simply amazing! One big “Dutch” family with the same goal: to show the world how special and diverse our breed is. It was wonderful to see old friends again, to make new friends, to talk, have fun and compete with each other.
What were your feelings and emotions at the moment when it was clear, that you are the winner of your category?
I was very emotional after we got our score for my work. My father was diagnosed with cancer and because he is getting the treatment, it wasn’t sure that he would be there. When I hugged my parents, there were tears flowing. My father has always supported me, he is one of my biggest fans and I am so grateful that he felt good enough to see our performance. As I´ve already mentioned; winning the title gets its value thanks to the people you can and want to share it with. On the other hand, I was relieved that I was able to show that Messi is a magnificent dog and that I am a good handler. Not everybody wished me luck, so I was focused to prove that negative people were wrong. It put a lot of pressure on myself and I was not sure if we could pull it off. But Messi really helped me to do it.
With what expectations and goals did you arrive to the World Championship?
My goal was to have fun and show the world that Messi is a phenomenal dog. He was in an excellent condition, well-muscled and happy. Jack trained him very well. Messi is named after the football legend and is very talented just like the football player. I had no doubts about our chances, but I also knew that there was no room for mistakes. The competition was strong, the pressure was high, I was pretty emotional and I had to keep my head together. Actually, I had no expectations, I simply hoped that we would perform on the high level as we did during the training towards the event.
How do you see your victory now, after a few months – has it changed anything? How did you celebrate your success? 🙂
One day after the World Championship, Messi got a very high fever. We took him immediately to a clinic and we had a couple of stressful days. When your dog fights for his life, a victory isn’t important anymore. I only hoped that he would make it and would be healthy again. Fortunately, Messi is doing a lot better, but we are still investigating what caused the sudden illness. At the moment, Jack prepares Messi for the Dutch Championship of working dogs. If Messi recovers, we hope he will be qualified for the FCI IPO WCH. I really hope that Messi and Jack will take part in this event in September. Right after the World Championship, I was completely exhausted. The sudden illness of Messi, my concern about my father´s health, the amount of energy it took to be a member of the WCH organizing team, also being the president of the WDSF, and the negative vibe of a small group of people… For me it was a rollercoaster of emotions and till now there was no proper moment to celebrate the victory.
Could you please describe your performance in each phase? What pleased you, what disappointed you and what would you do differently? Did you learn from your mistakes if there were any at the trial? 🙂
Tracking: The grass was very high, but that was the same condition for everyone. The tracks were good, but as the grass was flattened, you did not always see your track. The heat also played a role. As I already had the phases B and C on Saturday, I had “only” tracking to complete. Messi can track well, but yes, 10 meters behind the dog you never know. The start was quiet, Messi was focused, but the judge noticed that Messi was tracking with a slightly higher nose on the first leg. Unfortunately, I can’t confirm this because I was walking behind him, so I didn´t see this. There was no article on the first leg, so I thought: “Oh-oh, did he miss it or what?” The first corner was perfect without change in pace, he continued to search calmly and with deep nose. The second leg gave the same picture. Messi indicated on the article nicely, but in my opinion he can do this better in terms of concentration. I saw that he looked around where I was, I think that this was caused by the tracking line. The judge could not see this because of the height of the grass. Messi then carried on tracking well without accelerating, he searched the track neatly as described in the trial rules. The second corner and third leg of the track were nice as well as the angle and he indicated on the article on the fourth leg happily, the same image as with the first article. Then the fourth corner followed with a little higher nose but immediately proper tracking, however this was a deduction of another half a point. Last article was indicated on correctly. Tracking was fantastic, the articles were well indicated on, but due to the concentration, I think that the laying down on the tracking line itself was not the same as in the training. But I was very happy with our certainly well-deserved 99 points in tracking.
Obedience: The training on Friday did not go well and therefore I knew that for Saturday, I had to focus more on the game, and that I had to keep my head at the competition and not at organizational things or all kinds of peripheral phenomena. That’s why I stayed home on Saturday morning and did some daily things. I wasn´t able to support both my son and my husband. Jack was a helper in IPO 1 and IPO 2 categories and Klaas had to do tracking. Normally, I would be on the side-lines in both cases. Fortunately, they both did very well. Letting Messi out, I noticed that I felt uneasy and empty. But amazing Messi just told me: ”I will drag you through it, it will all be fine!” And that was true. I went to the competition field around noon. I excluded myself from the people and only tried to concentrate on the game. After a good warm-up and doing some fun things, we had to sign up and we had to do down stay first. When I was there, I noticed that there were a few twigs and I hoped that Messi would not move to get them. My heart pounded harder than normal. When Messi went to down position, he seemed to indicate by a few barks that he felt like it. I’m ready, let´s rock and roll. Messi was forging a little in some places, but with tempo changes he again was in the right place, he was well-concentrated in the group. Then I made a mistake myself, but you have to continue. Messi took the command well and I did not hear the audience, so he sat. He can do this faster on video. The finish was good too, but looking back at the video, you can see what he is doing. You do notice that he jumps up, but you do not see that he did some extra steps – when you turn around, it looks like a perfect exercise, but on the video you can see that he is walking along too much. Retrieves were good, nice picking up of the dumbbell with enough speed on the way out and back. Nice finish. His jumps over the hurdle could be a bit higher, but they were clean and finish was correct. Retrieve over the A-frame was also a neat exercise. Send away exercise was performed on a very short distance, the judge told me to give a command to Messi to go down after 20 meters. Messi reacted well and turned around quickly and went down. Points might be high, but I was not the only handler with a high score. However, I was happy that Messi showed nice drive and motivation and I was very happy with the awarded 96 points. A dream to get these points at the World Cup.
Protection: We did a preparation before the protection phase – a few bites with my husband. Messi always has a conflict with him, so his bites were good, firm and hard. Then we went to the starting point. In my opinion, Messi could run a little faster to blind 1 and 2, but then the diesel got going and he put the speed into the blind search. From the bark and hold to the end of protection, I saw a very driven dog with good, hard bites and good outs, also transports were nice and super-correctly presented in my view.
Can you tell us more about the whole competition from your point of view for those who could not be there?
48 competitors participated in the 5th WDSF IPO World Championship. Besides IPO sport, there were also World Cups for 4 other sport disciplines on the same location: Mondioring, IPO R, Agility and Obedience. In total, there were 148 Dutch Shepherds from 18 different countries and every coat variety was represented. An incredible achievement for this not so numerous breed. The event started with an impressive opening ceremony. I was part of the organizing team that was responsible for the IPO discipline, so I know how much time and effort our team of volunteers put in this event. The location of the KV Noordenveld in Roden is beautiful. The competition field is surrounded by trees and with the nice weather there was enough place to find some shade. There were many opportunities to walk your dog. The local press (newspapers, radio and television) were also interested in the event and it was fun to see and hear the interviews and impressions on the local news. Participants and spectators enjoyed the competitions. The passion for the Dutch Shepherd united us, participants were happy to see each other again and to meet new people. The positive atmosphere was also noticed by the press and by spectators who never heard about a Dutch Shepherd. I am very proud that we did such a great job promoting our dogs.
There was sufficient accommodation to stay overnight, good sound system, and a super fun party night. It was a joy to be present and the atmosphere that one felt was warm and welcoming. The tracking fields were equal for everyone, high grass and sufficient space. The tracklayers and competition leaders took their task seriously. The tracks were of good length with correctly placed articles and the results from tracking were very good. The quality of various dogs was very high. The competition field was nicely prepared, all flags of participating countries were on the top of the flagpoles, and a special space was available for the press and other guests. The update of the results and videos was quick and online. The competition days went smoothly, according to a schedule. There were four young but very talented helpers and the judges evaluated the competitors fairly. The quality of the participants was high. Of course, some dogs had troubles with the helpers and the way how they used their voices. But it was an exciting trial with a lot of spectators and interesting people from the dog sport world.
Back to Messi again… 🙂 What is he like? What is his strongpoint?
Holland Messi v. Le Dobry is a wonderful dog with a very stable nature. He has a heart of gold, he is friendly to other people and animals. He is also flexible. He usually works with Jack, but he has no problem to adjust to me. His strong points are his open-mindedness, his muscularity, his flexibility, his aptitude, his power, his friendship and loyalty. He is an uncomplicated, hard-headed and experienced dog. Tracking and protection are his passion. He is simply a dog you can build on.
Why did you choose the Dutch Shepherd? Why is this breed exceptional to you? To whom would you recommend this breed?
I went for a Dutch Shepherd because they are unique. They are sensitive, affectionate and versatile. A Dutch Shepherd can be jealous if he doesn’t get the exclusive attention he wants. I recommend this breed to people who want to be active with their dog. You have to keep in mind that the Dutch Shepherd is not a tough dog. They are trainable and love to work for you. They will protect you and are simply there for you.
What are your dog sport plans, goals and dreams for the future? What place does dog sport take in your personal values ranking? Is it just a hobby or maybe even something more?
Dog sport takes a huge place in my life. It is my passion. I love to train and work with my dog, but I feel truly blessed that I can share this with my family. It is motivating and helpful if people close to you know what dog sport and training is about. Klaas is less motivated to stay active in dog sport. I really miss our trainings together, because I admire his expertise and feel for dogs. Jack is young and has his own plans and vision. My goal for the future is to return once again on the highest level. I participated in the FCI IPO WCH with Tessa in Breda in 2005. If Jack is not going to go to the FCI IPO WCH in September, I would love to present Messi in Italy. It depends on several things, but the first priority is that Messi is 100% healthy. If this is not possible, I hope to achieve my goal with Queen, Holland Quincy v. Le Dobry. It would be my dream to see Jack or me to win the FCI IPO World Champion title. Because that is the only title missing.
Do you have any life motto?
The world is going to judge you no matter what you do, so live your life the way you want to.
And do you have any message to our readers? 🙂
Life is not easy and training dogs is also not easy… But when you find a buddy, it is always a pleasure to train. A dog is never disappointed by you, he is always happy to see you and will give his/her best to you. If your dog does something wrong, you have to look in the mirror. You are the person who he looks up to, you teach him the things he wants to do. Your dog is your friend, so be honest and don’t start a fight that is not worth it. Training is about joy and that’s the most important.
Thank you very much for the interview and wish you and your family only the best – good luck and health,
Edit: Eva Fiedlerová
Photo: Tereza Vajnerová and author’s archive, Le Dobry Hollanders