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ATCC Member Profile

John Voortman

John purchased his first Airedale in 1952! He served as Vice President on the very first Airedale Terrier Club of Canada Executive in 1970. How wonderful to highlight John for our 35th Anniversary, one of the few remaining active originals and the last of the originals who still breeds and exhibits Airedales. While John leaves the conformation handling to Will Alexander, you can still find John in the kennel stripping down the next Champion!

Airedale Memories

John and Ellie Voortman and their beloved CH Nanouska Vaní T Asbroek winning Best In Show. Photo taken by Alex Smith and courtesy of John and Ellie Voortman.

John and Ellie Voortman and their beloved
CH Nanouska Vaní T Asbroek winning Best In Show,
handled by Will Alexander and Judge Francois Van
Leewuen. Photo by Alex Smith and courtesy of
John and Ellie Voortman.

We bought our first Airedale from Barbara Strebeigh, Birchrun Kennels in 1952. This was my entry into the Airedale world and the origin of our Oakrun Kennel name. We used this name when it was time to name our farm – result Oakrun Farm – which was followed by Oakrun Equestrian Centre. Then the small bakery was started. We could not use the name Voortman, as my brothers were already baking under the name Voortman Cookies. One morning, after struggling to come up with something original, Ellie suggested we continue with the name Oakrun, resulting in Oakrun Farm Bakery. It has been, and is, a very good name for us.

One of the biggest lessons I ever learned was the first time we showed an Airedale. The week before the show I worked very hard to get my dog ready. I did not know about stripping, so I used scissors. The more I snipped the worse it got. The night before, I found someone who had owned an Airedale at one time and still had the electric clippers. I was so happy that my dog looked so much better, I thought.

Full of confidence, the next morning we went to a show in St Catharines. At the entrance to the building, an older person was sitting on a wooden crate. I passed him, proud of my good looking dog. He called me over and said “Where are you going with that poodle?” After my reply, that this was an Airedale, his reply was that you do not clip an Airedale like a poodle. The grumpy old man gradually changed into a very helpful person. He started telling me the things I would have to learn about Airedales and invited me to his kennel to talk and learn more about Airedales. That grumpy old man was Ted Ward. Next, I got to know Jack Frye and received valuable lessons from him. He too, was the son of a baker and we both loved Airedales, we had a lot in common.

My next contact, mentor, was and still is Henk Bennink. I learned more about Airedales from him and still call on him for advice. Henk is always willing to help and to share. Over the years I have learned and had contact with a long list of people from Canada, USA, England, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, Holland and Germany. Each time I asked for help and information, I never found one person who would not help and share. That is what is great about Airedale people – competitive about showing and helpful at all times.

I have so many good memories tied to Airedales. My mother died when I was a young boy of 8 and I do not know what would have happened to me if it had not been for my dogs.

Do not forget that this is a hobby and a sport. Forget about making money and do not let it control your lives.

John Voortman

 

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