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Pyrenean Mountain Dogs in HOLLAND before and after the 1940-45 war

by F. A. Dekkers, Best, The Netherlands

Best, the village where I was born and that still is the place where I live is situated in the province of North-Brabant in the southern part of Holland. The region has been backward in developement during many centuries. At the time that the people from the north-western part of Holland sailed out and discovered new worlds the people of North-Brabant toiled and moiled as peasants on their poor soil for a scanty living and their descendants did the same for many centuries after.
All changed at the end of the 19th century when roads and railroads were built and bridges crossed the mighty rivers that separate the northern part from the south of Holland. Bit by bit more prosperity reached the southern regions and life got better. Although my village was like many other surrounding villages there was one big difference. In Best there were 5 grown-up Pyrenean Mountain Dogs belonging to 4 different owners. So when I was a child I knew those big white dogs, but did not know which breed it was. I didn't know too that there was only a limited number of these dogs in Holland and my special relation to the breed was hidden in the future.
Two of the owners of Pyrenean Dogs visited regularely dog-shows in Holland and Belgium. One of them was Mr. Harry van Zeeland, who was employed at the railway-station at Best and owned a Pyrenean kennel.

Probably this is the beginning of a marvellous story that is worth telling.


During a journey that Mr. and Mrs. Crane (owners of the famous Basquaerie-kennels) made in the year 1937 through France, Belgium and Holland, they bought from Mr. Harry van Zeeland in Best a young Pyrenean Mountain bitch, born 7-8-1936, and gave her the name "Gerita of Basquaerie".

You can understand that it was a great honour for Mr. van Zeeland to be able to export a puppy to the U.S. and the daughter of Mr. van Zeeland, who is living in the house of her parents, still has photos that were sent in that years to her father by Mrs. Crane.
We can ask ourselves how someone from the United States hit upon the idea to buy a Pyrenean puppy in Holland but it is most probable that the first contacts came at the dog-show in Brussels (Belgium) in 1937. This dog-show was visited by Mr. and Mrs. Crane and Mr. van Zeeland was one of the exhibitors at this show.

© U. Hock-Henschke