Your dog sweden
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Dog breeder, international judge and popular educator
Gerard O’Shea has been involved in dogs from childhood onwards. Which now amounts to over 45 years’ experience. Very well known as a successful breeder, international judge and popular educator. Giving a variation of lectures, seminars and workshops in a broad variety of dog related subjects. Rescent author of the book “The Rottweiler Standard”.
Childhood dreams Ireland
I am originally from Dublin, Ireland. The oldest kid of a large family. And I have always been interested in animals, and especially dogs, from an early age. It all started with a cross breed dog called Pepé. Who was named after the Looney tunes character, Pepé Le Pew. He was a cross between a German Sheperd and a standard Dachs hound. Which nowadays seems quite unbelievable. This dog taught me that it could be a really valuable connection between human a dog. As a child he followed me everywhere, on all my wild outdoor child adventures. I was very much an outdoor kid as I suppose was most of the kids at that time. And whether we played high and go seek or when swimming in the river or had rival conflicts with other neighbourhoods’ kids Pépé was always by my side. One day when I was about 10, I went to the local library. And upon looking at the British encyclopaedia of Dogs I came across a photo of a Rottweiler. I love at first sight. All my primitive boyhood fantasies were represented in the visual aspect of the Rottweiler. I can clearly remember not having permission to take the book home I went to the toilet and tour out the section about the Rottweiler.
I had those few pages for many years with the intention that someday maybe I would have the possibility to get my own Rottweiler. This was a little bit crazy as at this stage of my boyhood life I had never actually seen one in the flash. And then it happened. About a year after taking the pages from the book I was on my school bus and saw a man walking a big black dog that looked very much like the dog in the book. I jumped off at the next stop and run and run trying to catch up with the man and his dog. I remember my schoolbag was so heavy that I abandoned it throwing it in to a garden on the Whitworth Road in Dublin. This gave me just enough energy to catch the man and his dog. I was totally blowen a way. He was everything I wanted in a dog. He was big, powerful, quiet intimidating. But at the same time nonchalant to my present as I run beside him asking the man a million questions about the breed. You know those really educated questions like how big is he, how strong is he. Has he ever bitten anyone, has he ever killed another dog? The man basically told me to get stuffed and go to school. No questions answered but I was overjoyed, they actually excited! It was not just a picture in a book. They were real. The Rottweiler was a real dog! When I calmed down and was looking for my Schoolbag it took med forever as I could not remember what garden I troughed it in. But my quest for a real Rottweiler had begun!
So now my birthday, Christmas and any other special event was geared towards getting anything to do with the Rottweiler. Books, magazines and finally a trip across Dublin using two public buses with my mom to visit the St Patricks day dog show. I was only 11 years of age, we had no car and going by bus alone was out of the question. I remembered that first Dog Show well. Sitting ringside with my mam, legs swinging from the chair as I was not tall enough. And class after class telling my mom what dog I thought should wind. And my mom every time explaining that to her, they all looked the same. Interesting enough with my mom, even years later when I was very successful in showing dogs. My mom still maintained that all the Rottweilers looked the same. She could tell who was a girl and who was a boy, but that was about it.
My first Rottweiler
Time went passed, and after visiting a few shows, I contacted a breeder from Northern Ireland called Redge Kelly. But he would not sell me a dog because of the neighbourhood I grow up in. Which was a very hard north Dublin suburb with extreme high unemployment. But I was determent to get my Rottweiler. So I started selling newspaper after school. I had a popular crossroad where I would sell the evening Herold or press while the cars were stopped at the traffic light. Then later in the evening I would clean tables and floors at Oredern´s Pub in the village. Then I got a third job working on a building sight as a gofer. Crazy when I think about it, three jobs by the time I was 13, just to try to get enough money to buy a Rottweiler puppy. In 1978 you would pay approximately 250 pounds for a puppy, which was ridiculous amount of money by todays standard. With a little help from my dad, I finally got money together and me an my dad took the train to Northern Ireland to a little town called Down Patrick. And there I bought my first Rottweiler. It was a strange thing in those days. The dog was a pedigree but I could still decide what his name should be in the Kennel club. As the breeder had no kennel prefix yet. The street I lived in was called Glenthies parl. So, I called him Kane of Glenthies. A year later my dad surprised the family with another Rottweiler puppy and of course his had to be Abel. Kane and Abel where very well known in the neighbourhood. Everybody had huge respect for them as most people had never seen a dog like this, let alone two.
Kane was never good enough to be shown and was to Dog aggressive. Abel was my entrance to the show game. He had very limited success, winning one our two classes. But either way I was hooked. Now my goal was to get not just a Rottweiler, but a quality Rottweiler. I was 18, and had joined the military.
The top kennel in Ireland was owned by Joe Watt so approached him at a show and told him I wanted a top dog if possible. He was breeding a very good female to an absolute top male so I booked a pup. Of course, the interest in this litter was very high and because I was young and had not had so much success in the showring., I was way down the list for picking pup. It was a big litter and I remember the day I took the train to Belfast to collect and hopefully pick my pup. Joes house was full of a lot of well-known people. Already to collect a puppy from the same litter. I remember feeling quite intimidated as everybody there had already been very successful and in the breed for a long time. So, I spent most of the time just starring in at the puppies while the men spent most of there time in banter and competition as to which of them the top dog. There was one puppy male a lot smaller than the other males but had something about him. It was how he carried him self although barely 8 weeks there was a sense of arrogant and confidence about this puppy. But as I said, he was small. Then Joe declared now we begin with the picking. One by one different established kennels went ahead of me. Always making preference for size head and bone. Whilst saying nothing I kept my I on the puppy I noticed from the beginning. It almost felt like when we would play street football and the two dominate kids would stand there picking their teams. They would pick and pick until finally you where the only kid left standing. So begrudgingly one would except you because there were no other kids left. Maybe not the best system for your confident. With every puppy that was picked ahead of my wannabe choice I started to doubt my preference, who was I to believe that I could see something that obviously they where missing. Finally, all the puppies were removed from the kennel and the little boy that I have seen from the beginning was standing alone. Still proud and strutting his stuff wondering where all of his friends has gone to. I suppose many would consider him the runt of the litter. Joe picked him handed him to me leaned across and whispered in my ear, I do not understand how none of them could not see him. Do not worry about the size because you never know. The puppy’s name was Byron Jack.
And not so long after this I went to Lebanon with the military for six months. Almost every week I asked my mum how Jack was doing. Fine, fine he seems to be growing fine. But remember to my mum all Rottweilers looked the same. She even sent med photographs by letter and in no photo, Jack was standing normal. I came home excited to see my family and friends but of course I could not wait to see how Jack was. I dropped my bag and went through my house as I know he was in the backyard. To my surprise and delight Jack had grown up to be a real stallion of a dog. He had all the swagger he showed as a pup but now bigger than both Kane and Abel. So my first goal was to get him out so world could see him. His fist show was the Rottweiler Clubshow of Ireland. In those days puppyclass was till 12 months and Jack won Best Puppy in show with a huge entry. His father won best male. And to my surprise Jack was given 2nd best Male under a German breed specialist. And in the open critic I was absolutely blown away when described Byron Jack as being the type of Rottweiler, we all should be striving for. Jack went on to be the Breed record holder in Ireland and I am not sure if still retains that title. So, remember big prices can come in little packages. Now I was in, I was one of the big boys. I had an opportunity and I decided to push it. I started to show Jack with my friend Noel Beggs at many shows. Got much more involved in the Rottweiler club and met up for training every week on the outskirts of Dublin. Soon I was on the Rottweiler board and was buzzing with ideas for the breed and the club. It was suggested to me that I should become a judge so I started judging quite regularly at unofficial shows. Limit and open it was called. The hunger for learning was always there, I was always reading and trying to improve my dog knowledge, but most of all I was not afraid to ask questions ringside. Discussing the dogs with the quest of knowledge something I find is somewhat missing today. In 1991 I judged my first championship show and I loved it. I was very lucky to have attended so many Siegerstyle shows in both Rottweilers and German Shepards with my cousins. So, the open critic was very valuable to me. Interestingly my favourite judge of that time when it came to how they handled the ring and the transparency of his judging was a judge from Sweden, a German Shepard breed specialist Bosse Nyman. How later in life our paths would cross in a way I never expected.
Becoming a breeder and judge
Together with my ex-wife June Wall and friend Noel Beggs we registered a kennel with the prefix Eveready. And started the endless puzzle of breeding quality dogs. The journey that never ends.
I slowly started to judge other breeds and this prompted a broader interest in dogs in general. And therefor I also started handling many other breeds. Breeds that where completely different to Rottweilers. Everything from Pekingese to Poodles Toy and Standard, Akitas and Boxers. I had great success winning multiple groups and Best in shows in Ireland. Looking back involving myself in other breeds really thought me to understand what was so specific in my own breed, the Rottweiler.
A few years down the road I moved to Sweden and a whole new dog culture opened up for me. Coming from abroad I could se many of the benefits Sweden had to offer but I could also see what was valuable to bring with me. For the first few years I handled professionally in Sweden and Europe. I was very lucky to have the possibility to handle top Swedish dogs such as the Rottweiler male Retrievers Gaston and the amazing Davo´s Beenellie, a St Bernard female, both winning many groups and Best in shows, in Sweden and abroad.
Your Dog Sweden
With the increase popularity of my handling classes and seminars my company needed a name. I finally come up with the name YOUR DOG SWEDEN as I knew that my range of interest when it comes to dogs would be extended to more or less any subject. Further more I had come to the emotional conclusion that I would never leave Sweden.
As YOUR DOG SWEDEN and my seminars continued to develop, I took a backstep from the All-breed show as time would not allow me to be so active in both.
I was constantly discovering new and innovating technics to teach and get the best performance from dogs. And in particular problem dogs or dogs that had more or less no experience. It became more and more obvious to me that the show world needed to embrace a more modern concept of training such as shaping, targetting and understanding when to introduce the pressure that comes with choreography.
Finally, the development of YOUR DOG SWEDEN started to become my main focus. Handling classes went from once a week to weekends to international workshops. During this period, I worked for a year and a half in F18, the Military base south of Stockholm. As a civilian dog handler. F18 was where they had the project for the Cambodian Mine searching dogs and it was also the headquarters for the Swedish police dogs in Stockholm. One day on my lunchbreak I was amazed to see my judging idol having lunch in police uniform. Bosse Nyman worked at the same place. He was in charge of the Police Dogs section. Of course, not being Swedish, I immediately introduced myself. We instantly hit it off and now suddenly I had a new source of knowledge. I can remember having many discussions regarding technics and principals around judging. And how to be decisive economical without being over personal. Especially in the critic format. Being a dog school there was a lot of discussions about temperament, behaviour and what reactions we can influence. My time there I still consider to be very valuable to me.
Kennel Just Ask
When I decided to become a member of the Swedish kennel club, I applied for a new kennel name as I left my old one in Ireland. And then came to me the name JUST ASK. I came up with the name because of my work and classes. I would very often say to my customers – if you have any questions – JUST ASK. And then I thought it was a useful pronoun before any dog’s name.
I have been very fortunate in having bred some very successful dogs in show, work and wonderful family members. Many of these dogs have gone on to have international success as my passion for the breed continued. But of course, none of these achievements would be possible without the great effort of our puppy buyers.
Today together with my wife Ia, we are continuing to breed highly successful Rottweilers in different fields. And as of recently we venture on a new project with the Danish/Swedish farm dogs. Exciting times ahead. And this was all prompted by a change of lifestyle. When we relocated from Stockholm to an old Swedish farm called Karltorp, Lillkyrka in July 2019. 20 minutes outside Örebro. If you live on a farm, of course you also have to have a farmdog. And to our delight this old Swedish breed is a pleasure to live with and are a great addition to both the farm and our Rottweilers. As of recently we have decided to take YOUR DOG SWEDEN into a new field. After years of travelling to numerus different countries for talks and seminar we are in the process of creating online programs and digital education. Of course live classes will continue in show dog handling, Dog Management and Dog Anatomy and movement.