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ATCC Member Profile

Henk Bennink

Henk Bennink I really can’t remember a time in my life that wasn’t shared with dogs. As a youngster, I owned a smooth Fox Terrier, then a Dutch Shepherd, and as a young man my best pal was a cross between a Bouvier and a Belgian Sheep Dog. Dogs have always been a part of who I am, you might say.

In 1942, I joined a club in Holland and trained police dogs with my Bouvier/Belgian Sheep Dog, named Lukey. He was completely trained, but after WWII, I joined the Marine Corps and was heading overseas to the Dutch East Indies. My vet informed me that the climate differences were too great for my dog to tolerate, so Lukey and I went our separate ways. Even in the Dutch East Indies, however, I had a dog. It was called a “Snake Dog”, and yes, it actually hunted snakes!

My return to Holland, after serving in the forces, was short-lived. Soon I would immigrate to Canada, and so when I left Holland, my beloved Lukey went to my brother, and my equally loved Airedale Terrier Ida, went to my sister.

A change of setting did not change my interest in, and my regard for the Airedale breed. Ironically, on a sad visit to a vet, to put down my first Canadian dog, a German Shepherd, the vet inquired whether I had owned Airedales in Holland. When I replied I had, he asked if I would be interested in acquiring another. I replied: “Yes, I would”, and soon I was the proud owner of 4-year-old Raceway Major Boy, my first Airedale stud dog. Soon after, we acquired Cindy, and in 1958 we began breeding Airedale Terriers. With my family, I continued to do so until the early ’90’s when my ailing health prohibited me from continuing in the kennel and breeding business.

The naming of our kennel similarly arose from casual conversation with a fellow dog lover. As we discussed our dogs, I mentioned I hadn’t yet come up with a kennel name and he kindly suggested “Dean Ridge”. He explained to me why this name would be a good one: “Dean” he took from the headmaster or “top” man of a school. “Ridge” he explained, was the peak of the rooftop. He pointed to the rooftop of my home. Everything about this name, he explained, made it “tops”! How could I refuse?

For close to fifty years, I have been involved in some way with the Airedale breed in Canada, and my memories are almost too numerous to recount. I have enjoyed showing Airedales, judging, obedience training and breeding good quality puppies. Over the years we sold dogs to so many wonderful people, including Tiger Williams of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (He heard there was a bear in his neighbourhood so he took his two Airedales out with him and together they chased the bear up a tree! It seems a Tiger and an Airedale make a formidable team!). Tiger and his family were a real pleasure, always.

At other times, I had to occasionally disappoint my fellow Airedale lovers. I remember, while I was judging, a woman approaching me and informing me that only one more point would make her dog a champion. In my characteristically straightforward manner, I informed her that it wouldn’t be today! (I always attempted to maintain a fair objectivity even if it didn’t always translate to instant popularity). I judged for several years until, due to illness, I had to pass this privilege on to others more suited to the long hours in the ring and the inevitable stresses of accurately assessing all the various and beautiful dog breeds.

On a personal note, some favourite Airedale memories are those shared by my family with our dogs over the years. My Best in Show with Clayton when he was only nine months old is a favourite victory, but at home our Airedales scored big too.

No 1 Airedale in Canada 1983

Henk Bennink and Ch. Deanridge Clayton

Shown winning Group 1st under Judge Richard D. Renihan
In limited showing his record includes
1 Best in show       1 Group 2nd
3 Group 1sts         3 Group 4ths
5 Group 3rds       25 Best Of Breeds


Henk Bennink Imagine our surprise when we discovered Rascal, out on the football field, attacking our sons’ opponents, as he endeavoured to protect his boys from being tackled. Nor will we forget Drummer, who recognized nightly which one of the six of us fed him, and dutifully approached that family member (whoever it might be), thanking them with a grateful nudge (even going so far as to search out one of my sons in his bedroom to bestow the necessary thank you!). These are only a few of the many, many wonderful memories our Airedales have given us.

To those new to the Airedale breed I would encourage you to start with the best quality puppy you can afford to buy. Study the breed, and the Airedale Standard, and seek out the right breeder before you buy a puppy. And to all of those many people who I have come to know through my interest in Airedales, I would like to issue a heartfelt thank you. We began the Airedale Terrier Club all those years ago with some hard-working, dedicated Airedale enthusiasts and the club has grown and prospered due to the efforts of all those who continue to work so hard. Thank you.

And a special thanks goes out to Mr. and Mrs. John Voortman for donating the beautiful trophy in my name. Finally, my compliments to all those who have worked so hard over the last ten to fifteen years and who continue to do so, making the club what it is today. I hope the ATCC will continue to thrive for many years for the sake of the Airedale, because the Airedale Terrier is simply too good a dog to be forgotten!

Introduction of the Henk Bennink-Deanridge Trophy, with Irma and Henk Bennink, and John and Ellie Voortman

Introduction of the Henk Bennink-Deanridge Trophy for
Best Canadian Dog at the National Specialty
Left to right: Irma and Henk Bennink, John and Ellie Voortman

Henk and Irma Bennink


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