A LETTER TO A FRIEND
My mentor and longtime friend Cyril De Meulenaere died in May 2007. It is always a shock to know one will never see or talk to a friend again. This is true of people as well as dog friends and it reminds me to really treasure and be grateful for the friends, be it two or four legged, in my life while they are still here. I have lost many dogs in my fifty-five years as a breeder; they have taught me so much and given so much of themselves. Every day I tell my present closest companions, Annie, Norah, Gretchen, and Music how much I love them. I guess I’m too shy to tell my two legged friends how much I love them also. Dogs are definitely easier to open up to but I hope and pray my two legged friends also know how important they are to me in this life and that I truly do love them.
Cyril was such a friend. We met when I was fifteen years old in Belgium. I had come to work in the schnauzer kennel of Van Stedeke for the summer. Cyril was the manager and newly married to Denise with a little baby girl called Karin. MME de Pret who owned the kennel was an alcoholic. When she got high she could get mean to the dogs and I remember going to Cyril and ask for help. Cyril said I was crying for the dogs. I was too young and ignorant to understand how alcohol could affect a person. Cyril and Denise were very understanding so that helped me cope.
Then I grew up, years passed and I went on a trip to USA. I came here 1960 to work in a kennel for six months. Well that six months visit has turned into a forty-seven year stay. I love America and what it stands for and proudly became an American citizen.
One day around the mid 1970’s I got a photo in the mail of myself and a schnauzer sent by Cyril. He traced me through a photo of one of my schnauzers that was printed in a German magazine. This was a dog I had exported to Finland from the USA and he was the number one standard schnauzer in Europe then.
Anyway, we continued keeping in touch from then on. Cyril got some of my black miniature schnauzers and I got some of his p/s giants. He was then the top breeder world wide of these beautiful dogs. He bred the famous Int. Am. Champion Faust VD Havenstadt, who is the big star in p/s giants. Faust has left his gene pool in all p/s world wide, including the last World Champion in Mexico City this May 2007, CH. Skansen’s Rufino.
Almost every year I would travel to Belgium to visit Cyril and his family. Cyril was the consummate dog person, he was so skilled with any dog but the schnauzer is where he left his biggest legacy through the kennel name VD Havenstadt. I had the privilege to travel with Cyril to many world shows, all around Europe. I loved his companionship, he taught me a lot and eventually I got to take Faust over to the USA. Faust was dedicated to Cyril, so Cyril and Denise flew with Faust to California to make the changeover a little easier.
After a few weeks Faust accepted me as his friend, he slept next to my bed, went with me everywhere, he was the perfect pet. Faust sired many beautiful litters, greatly improving the p/s giants here in the USA. Because of my great love for Faust, Cyril generously let him stay with me. Faust died of old age next to my bed. He will never be forgotten.
Now it was Cyril who left, also an old man. My heart is full of wonderful memories thanks to friends like Cyril and dogs like Faust. Be sure you take good care of your friends, they are gone too soon.