I would like to report that yesterday my book “The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle” became the number one best seller for new releases in the category “dog breeds”, and it seems to remain so today. It does not have any reviews though, which is not surprising since it’s only been two-three days. However, if you bought the book and read the book and you liked it I would certainly appreciate a review. Also remember that all proceeds from book sales are donated to the Leonberger Health Foundation International.
In my last post I announced that my book was available on Amazon and other places. At the time it was not available everywhere it should be, not yet. However, the book is spreading throughout the various on-line bookstores and now it is available in many more places. Therefore, I have updated the lists with the links below. However, your favorite bookstore is not listed below you can search for it using the ISBN or ASIN numbers.
ISBN number for printed edition: 978-0998084954
ISBN number for the e-book edition: 978-0998084961
ASIN number for the e-book edition: B0B5NN32SR
My email is : firstname.lastname@example.org
Below are a few of the places where you can buy it. Click on a link to buy it from your favorite store. Note some locations are not yet available as of this writing.
All purebred dogs are more or less inbred, which comes with inherent health risks. That is especially true for large breeds. However, Leonbergers, especially those bred in North America, are fortunate compared to other large breeds. The Leonberger breed standard does not call for traits that can be detrimental to health. The precise and restrictive breeding regulations of the Leonberger Club of America (LCA) and other Leonberger clubs, and the work of the Leonberger Health Foundation International or LHFI, have resulted in Leonbergers being relatively free of inherited illnesses compared to other large dog breeds in America. For more information see Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, “Guide to Congenital and Heritable Disorders in Dogs,” rev. 2011
The Leonberger Health Foundation International (LHFI) was founded in 2000 by Waltraut Zieher and other members of the LCA’s health, education, and research committee to “facilitate the solicitation and distribution of donations given to support health related breed-specific research.” The LHFI also administers a program that collects DNA samples from Leonbergers to share with universities and research institutions.
LHFI’s global biobank contains DNA samples from more than nine thousand Leonbergers. Among the organization’s notable achievements are the eradication of Addison’s disease among Leonbergers and the raising of nearly half a million dollars for research into conditions that affect canine health, including osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, glaucoma, cardiac diseases, thyroid diseases, and neurological disorders. Its research also supports healthful longevity and aging as well as population diversity. Another success is the fact that since 2011, no Leonbergers with two copies of the LPN1 gene mutation (which causes Leonberger polyneuropathy) have been recorded in LHFI’s biobank.
One happy event for our family was when Bronco received his Grey Muzzle Award, which is an award given for longevity by LHFI. LHFI bestows the award on any Leonberger who has reached the age of twelve. These Leonbergers are the canine equivalents of centenarians, humans who are at least one hundred years old. The Grey Muzzle Award is also given to breeders, because they are partially responsible for the dogs’ longevity. The Grey Muzzle Award was certainly a happy event in Wikman family. If you have a twelve-year-old Leonberger, simply fill out a form on the LHFI website or send an email to email@example.com.
The foundation will ask for some information, including the registered name and call name of the dog; the breeder’s name, kennel name, address, and email; the dam’s registered name; the sire’s registered name; the owner’s name, address, and email; the birth date of the dog; and whether the dog is alive or dead. If the latter, they will want to know the cause of death. In addition, they would like you to write a one-paragraph tribute to the dog and send two (preferably high-resolution) photos—one head shot and one favorite photo. To find out more about the Grey Muzzle Award click here. To see the 2019–2020 awardees video featuring Bronco click here.
I can add that when Bronco passed away, we sent his DNA to the University of Minnesota to be used in research. This was facilitated by the LHFI.
Leonbergers have a long history in North America and the United States—despite the fact that until 1985, there were only seventeen Leonbergers known to be living in the United States.
See: Lusby, Leonberger, page 15.
In the 1870s, Leonbergers were brought to Newfoundland to invigorate the stock of Newfoundland dogs. Around the same time, two Leonbergers named Caesar and Sultan were purchased from Essig’s kennel and transported across the ocean to join the Wellesley-Sterling theater company in the United States as the stars of their productions. Then in 1879, Caesar and Sultan visited President Ulysses S. Grant, who called them the largest and most magnificent dogs he had ever seen and presented them with gold medals. During the years between World War I and World War II, a New Jersey family, the Wolfs, opened their home as a temporary refuge for Jews fleeing Germany: they also imported Leonbergers. Unfortunately, this introduction of the breed into the United States did not last, and it would be another fifty years before the Leonberger appeared in America again.
See: Bliss-Isberg, Leonberger, page 60.
See: Bliss-Isberg, Leonberger, page 64
See: Bliss-Isberg, Leonberger, page 101.
During the late 1970s and the 1980s, a few families—Waltraut and Klaus Zieher, Brian Peters, Manfred and Sylvia Kaufmann, Keri Campbell and Melanie Brown, and Mary and Reiner Decher brought Leonbergers to the United States. The Dechers had started a breeding program and were looking for a mate for their first dam, Viona. By chance their neighbor discovered through a newsletter that there was another Leonberger in the United States, and that led to the families’ finding and connecting with one another. I should add that the Dechers were careful to conform to the German breeding regulations and performed hip X-rays that they then submitted to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). Viona became the first OFA-certified Leonberger in America.
See: Bliss-Isberg, Leonberger, page 152.
On Saturday, November 2, 1985, eight of these Leonberger enthusiasts met at a hotel in Denver, Colorado, to found the Leonberger Club of America (LCA). This group of founders, which has since been dubbed the Denver Eight, appointed a registrar, formulated a breeding acceptability checklist, and instituted various policies, including the requirement that OFA certification is mandatory for breeding. LCA membership grew: it held social gatherings, began publishing LeoLetter, and imported an increasing number of dogs. Now the LCA has thousands of members across the country, and Leonbergers receive high ratings on health tests relative to other large breeds. For example, in 2000, the OFA reported that only 14.6 percent of Leonbergers tested positive for hip dysplasia, compared to 47 percent of Saint Bernards.
See: Bliss-Isberg, Leonberger, page 154.
See: Bliss-Isberg, Leonberger, page 176.
Another important historical event was the founding of the Leonberger Health Foundation International (LHFI), in 2000 (it was just called the Leonberger Health Foundation back then). According to its website, the organization was founded by Waltraut Zieher and other memers of the LCA’s health, education, and research committee to “facilitate the solicitation and distribution of donations given to support health related breed-specific research.” The LHFI also administers a program that collects DNA samples from Leonbergers to share with universities and research institutions, and of course it administers the Grey Muzzle Award.
LHFI’s global biobank contains DNA samples from more than nine thousand Leonbergers. Among the organization’s notable achievements are the eradication of Addison’s disease among Leonbergers and the raising of nearly half a million dollars for research into conditions that affect canine health, including osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, glaucoma, cardiac diseases, thyroid diseases, and neurological disorders. Its research also supports healthful longevity and aging as well as population diversity. Another success is the fact that since 2011, no Leonbergers with two copies of the LPN1 gene mutation (which causes Leonberger polyneuropathy) have been recorded in LHFI’s biobank. LHFI is one of my favorite charities.
The end of the twentieth century marked not only the end of the Cold War but also the beginning of what I call the Dog Wars of America. In 1985, the American Kennel Club (AKC) registry comprised one-third of the world’s known dog breeds. But the AKC had recognized only a few new breeds since 1887—a period of ninety-eight years. So the organization decided to change that policy, but this did not always go smoothly. The members of rare-breed clubs often did not want to be part of the AKC. For example, the Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA) was very reluctant to join, so a relatively small splinter group, the United States Australian Shepherd Association, was formed and designated the official member club of the AKC, which was not welcome news to the ASCA. The border collie is another example. Charles Krauthammer, the late political columnist, called the AKC the politburo of American dog breeding.
See: Bliss-Isberg, Leonberger, page 159.
Similarly, in 2003, a new Leonberger club was formed—the Leonberger Club of the United States—with the goal of becoming the Leonberger member club of the AKC. This essentially forced the LCA’s hand, so they applied for membership in the AKC, a process that took years to complete. But ultimately the AKC approved the LCA as members in 2010: Leonbergers would officially become part of the Working Group. Fortunately, 90 percent of LCA breeders agreed to continue following LCA regulations regardless of whether the club would remain independent or become part of the AKC. Also fortunately, AKC membership afforded more opportunities for Leonbergers to participate in dog shows, which is important to many owners.
See: Bliss-Isberg, Leonberger, page 187
For information on the history of the Leonberger starting in 1830’s see this link
Bronco grew up with several other dogs, a Labrador (Baylor), a German Shepherd (Baby), a Japanese Chin (Ryu), a Pug (Daisy), and finally a mini-Australian Shepherd Rollo. The book also describes some of the adventures of Bronco’s siblings and his interactions with them. This post is focused on Rollo and Bronco’s great patience with Rollo.
Six months after the passing of our Japanese Shin Ryu, we decided to get another dog. Rachel really wanted a miniature Australian shepherd, so we got one from a breeder in East Texas. We named him Rollo, after the Viking who was the first ruler of Normandy. In 885–86 CE, Rollo led the Viking siege of Paris but was fended off by Odo, the count of Paris. Our Rollo may not have been quite as brave as the medieval Rollo (or Odo), but he was cute and full of energy.
Rollo was not a big puppy, and at the beginning he was afraid of everything and everyone. However, he quickly warmed up to both Daisy and Bronco, and he was potty trained quickly. Rachel was the one who did most of the training: she stayed with him at night and put a bell on the door to the backyard, which he rang whenever he wanted to go outside. Every time he went, he got a little treat and praise afterward. It made him happy and proud.
We also tried to take him for walks, but he did not understand the concept right away. He would lie down on his back or stand on his hind legs and stretch his paws up, wanting to be carried. So we held him in our arms as we walked him around the neighborhood with the other dogs. He was happy up there in our arms, and he contentedly chewed on his leash and harness.
But even after he started walking on his own four feet, he was still a bit anxious and easily frightened. If we saw a cat, we had to turn around and walk straight back home. If we heard a truck engine-braking on the main road a quarter mile away, we had to turn around and walk straight back home. If we saw a man with a little dog, we had to turn around and walk straight back home. If we heard a duck quacking, we had to run for our lives back home. Ducks make strange sounds that can be very scary to little puppies. Whenever we walked or ran back home, I was right behind him as he pulled the leash.
There was one thing Rollo was not afraid of, and that was Bronco. Bronco was the biggest dog Rollo had ever seen—not to mention the biggest dog many people had ever seen—yet Rollo was continually testing Bronco’s patience. One time Rollo and I were sitting on the sofa, and Bronco was sleeping at our feet. Suddenly I saw Rollo stepping off the sofa and onto Bronco’s back, then walking across Bronco’s back down to the floor. Bronco was grumbling a bit, but he let Rollo literally walk all over him.
I also noticed that Rollo liked to play with Bronco’s tail. One day Bronco began barking at me intently, as he did when he wanted me to do something or pay attention to him. I couldn’t see anything amiss at first, but then I saw something going on behind him. I took a closer look and saw Rollo dangling from Bronco’s tail. He was biting it and using it as a swing. I got Rollo off right away, of course, which is exactly what Bronco wanted. He was being very patient with Rollo, but Rollo wanted to play.
Of course, the dogs often go in the backyard to do their business (I don’t mean the kind of business that’s taxable). This requires me to do pickup duty. On one occasion I was walking up and down the lawn, looking for poop and picking it up, when Rollo ran over to my left side and pushed me with his nose and nipped my shoes a little bit. Then he ran behind me and did the same thing on my right side. Then he ran behind me again and repeated the process, and so it went—over and over and over. Then I realized that to him, I was a sheep, and he was having fun herding me. He herded me down the lawn and back up again until all the poop was picked up. We were a team: he the herding dog in charge and I the pooper-picker-upper sheep. We performed this ritual several times. Claudia and I thought about taking him to one of those farms where you can let your shepherd dog herd sheep just for fun, but we never got around to it.
Rollo soon found something else he seemed to enjoy even more, and that was playing with balls—chasing them, fetching them, chewing them, pushing them, rolling them, kicking them, jumping on them, and biting them. It is a truly amazing sight. There’s so much energy and joie de vivre involved. To this day, whenever a ball rolls under a sofa, Rollo gets upset and barks at the sofa. Then you have to bend down and get the ball out. You better do what he wants or he’ll wail like a toddler.
Rollo also loved chewing on shoes when he was younger. Fortunately, he’s gotten over that behavior, but in the process we’ve lost a lot of shoes. One time I forgot that I had left my shoes under a table in our TV room. I was walking around the house when I met Rollo in a hallway holding one of my shoes in his mouth. He gave me a deer-in-the-headlights look, then he slowly turned around and tiptoed back into the TV room. He placed my shoe back under the table, right next to its mate, positioning it correctly so it was just the way I had left it. Then he tiptoed away as if pretending that nothing had happened.
Rollo could be quite an artist when it came to shoes. Maybe we should have framed his work instead of throwing it away. Maybe we should have established a little chewed-shoe museum so people could have paid admission to see it.
Rollo is also pretty good at finding weird things in the backyard and bringing them into the house—snails, lizards, strange-looking larvae and worms, caterpillars, and creatures that might have been space aliens. I’m not sure: I mean, I’ve seen Men in Black, and some of the stuff he brought in could have been small versions of the creatures from that movie. Our backyard looks like a typical backyard on the surface, but Rollo made us realize that it’s actually an amazing world full of amazing creatures.
One day as I was walking Daisy and Rollo, we saw a frog, or perhaps it was a toad. It was jumping ahead of us. Both Daisy and Rollo had been looking down, sniffing the asphalt and the grass. As the frog jumped in front of us, the dogs became very curious. They sniffed and looked closely at the frog, and then, for the first time, Rollo looked up at me, straight into my eyes, questioning. What is that? I got the strange feeling that he wanted me to explain.
I told Rollo, “It’s a frog.” Even though he doesn’t understand English—or at least I don’t think he does—it seemed like he wanted me to say more, give him some indication that this unfamiliar life form wasn’t dangerous. Then Rollo gently touched the frog with his paw and patted it a bit. He was enjoying himself, but the frog may have felt differently. The world is full of wonders when you’re a puppy.
It’s also full of things that can seem threatening. So even though we got a stroller for Daisy, the dog who I think uses it the most is Rollo—although not because he gets tired walking. On the contrary, he seems to have endless energy. But Rollo is a bit of an anxious dog, and he feels safe in the stroller.
Here is the second proof version of the book. This one might be it!
I received the second proof for my book The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Löwenhöhle. All the content looks good, the front and back covers seem to be ready. This might be the final version. Even if we go (me and my editor) with this version, we have already decided that the book will be released on July 3rd, 2022, which would have been Bronco’s 15th birthday. The book will be available on Amazon, including many international Amazon websites, Barnes and Noble, as well as many other bookstores.
The ISBN number for the print edition is 978-0-9980849-5-4
The ISBN number for the e-book edition is 978-0-9980849-6-1
I will add more detailed information about the book and the links to places to purchase the book at this location. Which is the same as clicking “The Book” menu item at the top.
This is post number 20 for my Leonberger/Bronco blog. I decided to make it a list of posts. Not all posts were equally popular and maybe you missed the posts you would have liked the most. You can click on the link or the picture to see a post, then click back or “Home” (at the top) go back. If you read a post I certainly would love to get a “like” or maybe a comment.
The Leonberger breed was originally created by Heinrich Essig (1808–87) in the German town of Leonberg, in what was then the kingdom of Württemberg. According to legend, Essig bred the dog to resemble the lion in the town’s coat of arms. It was bred to be a large companion dog. He registered the new breed in 1846. The Leonberger is often said to be a cross between a Saint Bernard, a Newfoundland, and a Great Pyrenees. However, in reality the story is more complicated. More on that later. One thing is for certain, the history around the interactions between the Leonberger breed and the St. Bernard is quite interesting. Also, more on that in another post. Another interesting fact is that Leonbergers were used in World War I to pull ammunition carts and cannons. Both World War I and World War II was tough on the breed and few survived.
Very few Leonbergers existed in North America until the 1980’s, when a breeding program was established. Saturday, November 2, 1985, the few families owning Leonbergers, the so called, Denver eight, got together to form the Leonberger Club of America. The Leonberger was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 2010 as its 167th breed (in the Working group). Today there are more than 2,300 Leonbergers in the United States and a 1,000 in Canada. There are about 30,000+ Leonbergers in the world. Since there are not millions of them you can still consider the Leonberger a rare breed.
Leonbergers are confident and brave gentle giants. They are great with children, very social and good companions and guard dogs. Leonbergers are double-coated, and they have webbed paws, so they’re natural swimmers. They are sometimes used in water rescue operations. But be careful, they are big, full of energy, and can be rambunctious when they’re young.
According to the original purpose of the Leonberger, and the breed standards, the Leonberger is a large, strong, muscular, elegant dog. He is distinguished by his balanced build and confident calmness, yet he has quite a lively temperament. Males, in particular, are powerful and strong. As a family dog, the Leonberger is an agreeable partner for present-day homes and living conditions who can be taken anywhere without difficulty and is distinguished by his marked friendliness toward children. He is neither shy, nor aggressive. As a companion, he is agreeable, obedient, and fearless in all situations of life.
The following are particular requirements of a steady temperament:
• Self-assurance and superior composure
• Medium temperament (including playfulness)
• Willingness to be submissive
• Good capacity for learning and remembering
• Insensitivity to noise
Leonbergers are large and muscular dogs. The height of an adult male is between 28 and 31.5 inches (72 to 80 centimeters) at the withers. The height of an adult female is between 25 and 29.5 inches (65 to 75 centimeters) at the withers. (The withers is the ridge located between the shoulder blades of an animal, on the back right below the neck.) Reputable breeders try to maintain these characteristics.
Leonbergers are sexually dimorphic—that is, there are noticeable differences between males and females. This is not always the case in dogs. Female Leonbergers are usually smaller and look more feminine. Males typically weigh between 120 and 170 pounds, and females usually weigh between 100 and 135 pounds. For comparison’s sake, below are the standard heights and weights for male dogs of other breeds.
• An Irish wolfhound, the world’s tallest dog (when standing on two feet), is 32 inches tall at the withers and weighs between 120 and 155 pounds.
• A Great Dane stands between 31 and 35 inches at the withers and weighs between 110 and 180 pounds.
• A Saint Bernard is between 28 and 35 inches tall at the withers and weighs between 140 and 180 pounds.
• A German shepherd stands between 24 and 26 inches at the withers and weighs between 66 and 86 pounds.
In other words, the Leonberger is right there among the largest breeds in the world.
In the picture below is an overview of the FCI breed standard for Leonberger dogs. I will post the full breed standard in another post.