My grandfather’s dog

My grandfather from my mother’s side with Ilse van de Kilstroom, his guide-dog, in 1946/1947; my grandfather was the first blind person with a guide dog in the town of Zwolle and was heavily involved in organizing the regional  office of the Dutch Blind Union in Zwolle. My grandfather and all his sisters turned blind at a later age of what we believe to be cataract although we are not very sure and it must have run in that generation of the family.

Ilse was a Saarloos wolfdog which is a crossbreed between a German Sheppard dog and an European wolf. The breed was created by Leendert Saarloos in Holland and Saarloos ran a school for guide dogs in Dordrecht.
The dog was a quarter wolf and could not bark but howl; she was afraid of fireworks and at the end of the year my grandfather would arrive home at times, drenched in sweat, as Ilse had pulled him along in a dash to get home. When my father started dating my mother and take the dog for walks, it did happen that they ran into my father’s older brother and if that happened, Ilse would do her best to sink her teeth in the leg of my uncle and she ruined several of his trousers and coats, somehow she had it in for him.

Even though Ilse served my grandfather very well as a guide dog, these family stories do make me wonder how well suited this Saarloos wolfdog really was as a guide dog 🙂

(Photos by my father on some very vintage camera)

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