About Rijn Australian Shepherds…
My kennel is named for the river Rhine. My last name in the original Dutch is spelled van der Rijn which in English means ‘from the Rhine (river).’ I chose the name to honor my heritage. I am grateful to all of my grandparents (both Dutch and German) who had the courage and fortitude to emigrate to this great country during a dark time in their native countries’ history.
I was born with a love for animals. For most of my childhood when my parents would ask me what I wanted for my birthday, I would say ‘a horse, a dog, or a cat in that order’. While I had parakeets, hamsters and gerbils, I didn’t get my first dog until I was 16. That pound puppy, Jonah, won over many people in his lifetime and went with me to college and to the various rental places I lived in after until I finally bought my first house late in his life. I fell in love with Aussies when I met my first one while working part time at a boarding kennel in Boston in the mid 80s. The rest, as they say, is history. I couldn’t get an Aussie yet with renting and having Jonah, so I spent the next years learning about the breed and attending local ASCA shows. As soon as I bought my first house, the search for my first Aussie was on. In1990, I found Jazz and my love for the breed was solidified forever by him.
With Jazz by my side, I began to really get into search and rescue, starting in wilderness work and moving to urban search and rescue with my work’s FEMA task force. Because of a congenital defect, Jazz was never certified in the work but I remained on the task force for 11 years and ultimately became the search team manager. Jazz and I got into obedience and agility originally because of the search work, but then continued just because it was fun to do and fun to train and compete. As time went on, I added to my canine family and became involved in more dog sports including stock (herding), flyball, rally obedience, and dock diving. I continue to do most of those sports today with the aussies that I have now. I love training and competing with my dogs and also helping others with their dogs through teaching and/or behavioral help. First and foremost, my dogs are my companions. The competition is fun for all of us but I know they’d be happy playing ball or doing other activities.
I am a rep for ARPH (Aussie Rescue and Placement Helpline, Inc) and have been almost since its inception in the mid 90s. Though I hadn’t been in the breed for long, I was already deeply in love with aussies and wanted to help aussies in need. I’ve never kept a rescue, but I’ve fostered many and placed or help place many many more over the years. It’s sad that there are so many in need and my greatest wish is for some day there be no need for rescuers any more. Professionally, I am a firefighter and paramedic and after over 25 years still love my job.