About Birkenstrand Kromfohrlanders
I grew up with dogs...a german shepherd, labrador retriever, beagle, golden retriever, irish setter, chihuahua...there was always a dog around. I began my adult journey in the dog world in 1990 as a volunteer worker at the Humane Society of Huron Valley after a few years of practice rescue of cats and dogs for a many years!
That expanded into my becoming a founder of one of the first breed-specific rescues in the world (The Australian Cattle Dog Rescue of Michigan), which I did for almost 15 years. We saved hundreds of abused, neglected, homeless ACDs, a very tough and intelligent breed.
I also began to study dog, cat and horse behavior from books at the public library.
I started showing a registered ACD in American Kennel Club (obedience and conformation) in the mid-90's and also showed (and bred) Border Terriers for a few years. I showed my abyssinian cats, too! I got my first of 3 horses at different times (2 Morgans and a Norwegian Fjord over the course of 10 years).
I had gotten interested in rare breed Wirehaired Portuguese Podengo Medio dogs in 1992 from breed books and 12 years later, I was the founder and first breeder/exhibitor of WPPMs both the US and Canada at rare breed shows. We sometimes called dogs like this 'internet breeds' because it was much easier to use that instead of the old way- looking up breeder ads in backs of foreign magazines, writing paper letters and hoping for the best.
I knew about the Kromfohrlander from my old breed books but in 2010, I began to look into it. The Kromi seemed as though it may be a better fit for me at this point, after an old riding injury started to bug me.
I had been running the top animal acting company in Michigan during our film incentive years (2008-2010) in which I connected many of Michigan's best animal trainers (that I had met through all these years) with set jobs.
I became enamored with this cute, scruffy, loving, medium sized companion dog breed with very little "agenda" other than regular exercise! They were NOT A TERRIER, did not want to do terrier things, like try to go after my cats or chickens and did not have the urge to run away. I did not have to use special fencing. They wanted to be with their owners. The grooming didn't scare me, with the shedding and stripping breeds I had lived with before. The size was perfect, bigger than my little dogs but smaller than Wirehaired Portuguese Podengo Medios.
There were no breeders of Kromis in the USA, so I knew I would, once again, be taking on the mantle of the flagship person in another rare breed. It took me 2 years to connect with (and obtain a puppy from) a breeder overseas, Helene Kjaersgård-Jensen, Hoolahop's Kromfohrlanders, in Denmark.
In December, 2012, I organized the information package to admit the Kromfohrlander into American Kennel Club's Foundation Stock Service (FSS). I flew Helene's sister Ida to America, along with Hoolahop's Felix and his brother Hoolahop's Frankie, who went to a trainer friend in Hollywood, after a few months of prep work here (I have done prep for several puppies who went on to film set trainer homes in Los Angeles). We did discover that the temperament of the Kromi is typically not as gregarious or "chill" as is required for being on set and working all day with strangers. They do love their home and their people but new things can be off-putting to them. Still, he has done some film work, as shown in photos on this page.
Some have proven to be quite good at it, such as Wattson (DJK Prince of High Voltage, born and raised here). He has been on many episodes of Saturday Night Live, lots of Caspar mattress ads and The Company Store ads, films and commercials. His trainer also competes in agility with him. He was a stellar puppy and he loved clicker training, which I have used since 1997 (as one of the first so-called 'crossover' trainers- for dogs, cats, horses and chickens). Also pictured here is my Bubba, Birkenstrand's Gypsies in the Palace (a Jimmy Buffett song).
We started by showing Felix in 2013 at United Kennel Club shows, since the AKC Foundation Stock shows were very few and far between then.
I flew to Finland to bring over Krumme Furche Hummer in summer, 2013 for his owner in Pennsylvania.
We took Felix and the 3 girls that followed him (Hoolahop's Darling/Dahlia- Denmark, Hoolahop's Krystal- Denmark and Krumme Furche Jenji- Finland in 2014) to Meet the Breed and dog shows from Richmond, Virginia to Lexington, Kentucky to Chicago, Illinois to Ontario, Canada. Hummer was also shown at some of these shows.
We finally had our first litter in 2016, with Krystal and Hummer. The theme was 'All My Music,' which set me looking through my big box full of hundreds of old cassette tapes for name inspiration.
Finding potential puppy owners is always difficult in a new, rare breed. We had primarily pet owners who would never show or breed, so, in 2018 we repeated this excellent match-up and got a few people who were interested in being part of the legacy of this breed.
What followed were some breeding collaborations with other Kromi owners (who had imported on their own) and with my own special keeper pups when they were old enough.
We always DNA tested for the Kromi-specific disorder, canine footpad hyperkeratosis and in 2019 we began also DNA testing for von Willebrand's Disease 1 (the least concern VWD strain, as even affected status dogs are unlikely to experience a clotting issue due to its randomly occurring nature).
Fletcher learning targets in winter, 2013 as a puppy
Numbers of Kromis at my house grew over time but that happens when you take responsibility of a breed in America. I do not believe boarding-type kennels are good for Kromis but I do use crates and do small dog shifts in my large dog yard.
My dogs spend a lot of time with me- working on my orders and get lots of playtime outside with both Steve and I.
We live in a "Lakecrest" Sears Kit Home on a few acres at the edge of a beautiful nature preserve, just 2 miles south of Ann Arbor, which consistently ranks as #1 town in Michigan, for good reasons. It is a very cool college town with arts and culture that is home to lots of smart people of all ages.
I have been a dog breed/animals jewelry artist since 1992 and am now a porcelain tile artisan (since 2001, also one of the first sellers on the handmade site, etsy) and work from my home studio. I used to be a vendor at dog shows. Take a look!
MARY D TILES
I am also a vocal performer ("Mary in Ann Arbor") for The Stephanie Miller Show on Sirius XM's Progress 127 channel and Free Speech TV.
Steve is a well-known animation historian and has been a professor of animation history and traditional animation for 22 years at the top art college in Michigan and runs his own blu-Ray company that restores and releases public domain vintage cartoons.