MOLINE, Ill.-When not in the corner office at KONE ECU, President and CEO Kathy Hoeper and her husband can be found either in the field or at home with their German hunting dogs. Hoeper explained that she has been involved in raising, breeding, training and judging verien deutsch drahthaars for about 25 years. “When I married my husband, he was into the dogs,” she said, which piqued her interest in dogs, as well as hunting. Their breeding is very strict and the training to be a judge, which is strictly volunteer, is “grueling,” Hoeper said. The drahthaar breed began over 100 years ago from the mix of four different breeds to create the best potential hunting dogs, she said. In their first year, the dogs are tested for their instincts in a natural setting and judged on a point system. In getting qualified, Hoeper had to bring the dogs out into the field twice as an apprentice and then send her evaluations in. Then there is the advanced testing of the dogs that Hoeper became qualified to do as well. Though, she does not do the judging any more, she recounted weekends when she and her husband would drive down to Alabama, test about five dogs a day, then drive back. “The judging is strictly a volunteer position for the betterment of the breed,” Hoeper said. The dogs are highly versatile, she said, and have been used for anything from fowl hunting to tracking wounded deer. “They are one of the elite breeds.they are very much in demand for hunters,” she said. They also come with a very high price tag that she did not wish to disclose. Hoeper’s husband is still a judge and they continue to breed one litter a year, raise the dogs, and train other people’s pups. Right now they have two females and one male. “It’s a hunting dog, but also a family dog,” she said, explaining that her three play very well with her grandchildren. -

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