About Us

Welcome to Rosewood Kooikerhondjes, home of Hamlet, Yorick, Rosalind, and our retired mamas, Elsinore and Bianca.


Rosewood Kooikerhondjes, 2010

Hamlet, 2008

Taga’s Hamlet is the original Rosewood kooikerhondje, joining Rose’s family in 2001. His travels brought him from Aarhus, Denmark to Iowa City, Iowa. He then moved with us to to Virginia, ending up in the little town of Harrisonburg in the Shenandoah Valley. He loves hiking and swimming, and will fetch almost anything you throw into the water for him. Here he is fetching a hot dog bun out of Slate Lick Lake in the summer of 2008. Unfortunately, after several attempts to breed him, Hamlet was discovered to be sterile. Nevertheless, he has earned his place as a well-loved pet at Rosewood.

Shaking it out

Lady Elsinore, also from Taga’s, was the second addition to Rosewood, arriving about half a year after Hamlet. She lived with us in the Mid West for four years, and then decided that New England suited her just as well. She lives with Rose’s sister Joyce and her family in Boston, Massachusetts. Elsie was retired from breeding in 2011.

One of Elsie’s daughters from her second litter, Bianca, is the third Rosewood kooikerhondje featured on this web site. She has had two litters, and retired from motherhood in 2012. She lives with her favorite human, Jorie, in Montana.

Yorick tries to take himself seriously

Yorick is our fourth dog, and he lives with Hamlet and a pack of humans in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He’s a Dutch born dog from Altforst, The Netherlands.  Now he is finding his place among the children, chickens, horses, dogs, and humans that make up his world!  He had his first litter in 2011.

Down, you cowardly broom! Death to you and all your kind!

Also in 2011, Rosewood acquired our newest breeding female, Ammerville’s Rosalind Layka, or Rosy. Also from The Netherlands, she now lives down the street with a retired couple from our church, Pat and Dwayne Martin.

Rosewood’s Beginnings, 2000

The dogs were Rose’s idea, and were the result of years of research to find The Perfect Dog. Rose had a list of criteria for The Perfect Dog: small, smart, easy to train, doesn’t bark too much, doesn’t shed all over the place, has a good health record, gets along well with children, is polite and obedient, and most of all, is beautiful and unique–not something you would find on every block.

She soon discovered that the type of dog she was looking for does not exist–unless it is found framed and hanging over a mantelpiece! However, a little-known breed that is gaining popularity in Europe captured her eyes and heart. She waded through web page after web page in English, Dutch, Danish, and Finnish. She wrote emails and called breeders and discovered that this sprightly little breed promised to meet most, if not all, of the above criteria.

HHandsThe family was planning a trip to Germany in the summer of 2001 and it didn’t take much to convince everyone to take a weekend detour to visit Kennel Taga’s near Arhus, Denmark. Ann and Alan Skødt were warm, knowledgeable, and clearly devoted to their many dogs as well as to their exotic parrots and tropical birds. They had two new litters with available males, and we spent quite a bit of time looking at one darkly-colored pup, just a week old.

Because the pup was from Denmark (and because Rose taught Shakespeare), we wanted to name him Hamlet; however, the litter’s assigned letter was Q, so we came up with Quarto-Hamlet, a diminutive Prince of Denmark.

Hamlet came home via Chicago on Saturday, August 25, 2001. He was everything we had hoped for–beautiful, confident, energetic, and brilliantly happy to be part of a new pack.

AAtailsupHe picked up English quickly and learned readily. He rarely barked. He was quite easy to house-train, was a quick study in puppy kindergarten, and was a neighborhood kid-magnet.

It didn’t take long to decide to try for another one. While in Denmark we had met a promising young couple, Mowgli and Chiquita, whom the Skødt’s were planning to breed provided Chiquita gained her championship.

She did, and they did, and we put in a request for a female puppy, Lady Elsinore. (We couldn’t name her Ophelia, could we?)

She was born on Halloween.

When she saw her betrothed at the cargo bay on January 2, 2002, she jumped and barked at him–he retreated–and she has been in charge ever since.

The lovely Lady Elsinore, while beautiful, was not the easy dog to raise that Hamlet was. Comparatively, Elsie was more nervous and excitable than her companion. She chewed voraciously as a puppy, destroying books, woodwork, and the living room sofa. Twice! Elsie was difficult to house train; or it could be that she was on par with the average dog, but paled in comparison to Hamlet’s precociousness in that area!

By the following Halloween when Elsie was a year old, she was well on her way to becoming the fine dog worth all the effort we took to bring her up well. Although not always demure, she was–and is–quite the lady!


We hope we’ve given you an honest introduction to our dogs, relating both our satisfactions and our frustrations. Hamlet and Elsinore illustrate the fact that all dogs are individuals, and there can be some variation within a given breed, even though that breed has been shaped for generations for specific genetic traits that are generally consistent in both body and temperament.

Six of the small folk

Six of the small folk

Much of what you get in a dog is the result of the effort you put into raising, socializing, and training your companion. Dogs are much like children, and although we do not anthropomorphize our dogs, the similarities are obvious–dogs are at least half the trouble of kids, and both are living dependents that are our responsibility. Like our boys, our dogs are responsive, intelligent little learners, and rely on us exclusively to provide for their many needs. They are our creations, and we are ultimately responsible for the quality of their futures.

Bringing a dog into one’s life is much like any other commitment, and is not to be done without considerable forethought and planning. If we do our job well, we can expect many years of mutual respect and amiable companionship!

Rosewood’s Transitions, 2005 to the present

Dr. John Reuben Stoltzfus, 1972-2005

Rosewood Kooikerhondjes has gone through some transitions since acquiring our first dogs when were were a family of four in Iowa City. Rose and Reuben had two more sons, bringing the small folk in our family to four boys and two dogs. We moved everyone to Virginia in 2004. In the summer of 2005, Reuben was killed in a car accident, and the boys, dogs, and I moved to Harrisonburg, VA to be with extended family. Over the next few years, we slowly mended our lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Elsie went to live with my sister Joyce in Boston, and Hamlet stayed here with us. In 2009, Yorick came to us from The Netherlands, and in 2011 Ammerville’s Rosalind arrived, also from The Netherlands.

In 2010, Rose re-married, and Bruce entered the scene, making us a complete family once again.

The Buckwalter Shenk Stoltzfus family, Jan. 15 2010

In 2013, our family decided to follow a call to work in relief and development in East Africa, where Bruce and Rose had both lived as children. We went first to Kenya, working for Samaritan’s Purse, and in 2015 transitioned to Ethiopia, working for Mennonite Central Committee.

Overlooking the Great Rift Valley, Iten, Kenya

Overlooking the Great Rift Valley, Iten, Kenya

Deciding what to do with the dogs was far and away the most difficult part of the transition to living and working in Africa. Hamlet has been my steady companion through the birth of two children, the deaths of my husband, father, and father-in-law, my courtship and re-marriage. We struggled with the idea of taking him with us to Kenya, but in the end decided it would be too stressful on him because of his age and a torn ACL. He and Yorick have an ideal situation in the loving McDonald family, but still, leaving him behind as I entered some of the happiest and most fulfilling years of my life was almost more than I could do. Hamlet, Prince of my heart!

Hamlet, happy and healthy in the fall of his 14th year

Hamlet, happy and healthy in the fall of his 14th year

Now, Rosewood is no longer a breeding kennel, but a far-flung, close-knit village of kooikerhondjes and those who love them, stretching from the Shenandoah Valley to the Great Rift Valley, with origins in the heart of Europe.

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