A Tribute to my friend and mentor Mrs Rose Madsen, who started us off down the Swedish Vallhund journey

New Zealand's "Mrs Swedish Vallhund" of the Valkrista Kennel,

Rose Madsen

August 1st 1939 - August 8th 2010 

On August 8th 2010, early evening our pioneering Swedish Vallhund breeder Rose Madsen passed away in Northland after a long period of illness.  She is survived by her husband Hans Madsen, son Paul and daughter Michele. Following on from the efforts of Miss Marie Cooper and later Mr Ian and Mrs Lesley Grey who brought the first dogs into the country and in the case of the Greys successfully showcased the breed through competitive dog sports, it is Rose who is creditted with the establishment of the Swedish Vallhund breed in New Zealand.

Her story began in the early 1990's.  Then living in Otago Hans Madsen was keen to give up life as a scrap metal merchant in Dunedin.  He and wife Rose had watched an appealing 'Country Calendar' episode on the dairy farming of goats in the far north.  It seemed just the kind of adventure they were looking for.  Within a short space of time they had sold their Dunedin buisness and travelled to the far north where they discovered and brought a 69-hectare property near Okaihau in the Hokianga.  Hans felled trees on the property to build a milking plant and at peak production they owned some 160 goats, supllying milk to a co-operative.

Rose was looking for something extra to do with her spare time and with the space they had on their rural property when she wondered if dog breeding might be an interesting hobby that would fit with their farm life and her love of animals.  Flicking through a book on dog breeds she stumbled upon images of Swedish Vallhunds written by Graham Meadows.  Rose reported on the profound, watershed moment: it was turning the page to see the little Vallhunds smiling at her from the page.

"It was like I had breen struck she said. It was as though I had known these dogs my whole life, as though I had a connection to them. But of course I had never seen them before. From a detailed description and a photograph they captured my heart and were about to take over my life"


It was a while before Rose and Hans were to discover the smiling dogs were Vancy, Santa, Alpha and Aster owned by Ian and Lesley of Valdemar kennel.  Rose's initial inquiries led her to a breeder in Australia named Alwyn Hopgood.  Alwyn owned Wynrick Kennels and was keen to find good homes for her dogs as she was waging a loosing battle with cancer.  Alwyn agreed to send Wynrick Crista, a 20-month-old Swedish Vallhund bitch to New Zealand much to the delight of Rose.By the time Crysta's pedigree paperwork arrived to Madsen's they had already registered a kennel name with the NZKC, honouring their foundation bitch.  Rose, though had spelt Crysta with a 'K'.  On November the 16th, 1995, Christa arrived in Auckland from Melbourne.  On this same day, in Adelaide another litter of Swedish Vallhund pups was whelped.  The litter included a handsome gray pup, Steppenwolfe Zip.  When Zip was 12 weeks old he flew to New Zealand too.  Rose remembers him as a real gentleman with exceptional temperament.  To Rose's thinking temperament was paramount, and she extolled this over and over to the new breeders and those she mentored in the years to come.  The support of others in the breed came in between breeding some 16 champions.  Rose owned the only Swedish Vallhund stud dog to earn dual Australian and New Zealand Championship titles.

Over her fifteen year breeding career Rose imported seven stud dogs and two bitches to create the genetic diversity she knew would be important in a breed that descends from just a handful of dogs rescued from extinction in Sweden in 1942. She embraced, befriended and nurtured the new breeders.  She sent foundation bitches to all the New Zealand Swedish Vallhund kennels breeding today.  She shared her knowledge, her enthusiam, her bloodlines with those who took a genuine interest in the breed.  To anyone who would listen she would describe the "Swedish Vallhund as the ultimate dog for the kiwi lifestyle."

Rose forged friendships among many international breeders of Swedish Vallhunds, and this became increasingly easier to manage and facilitate by the computer and popularity of email.  It didnt take long for Rose to suggest an online e-group be formed to keep the owners of her puppies in touch with each other.  She encouraged gatherings of owners to bring their vall's along to 'Vall-Meets' and she hosted an annual gathering which later became a remembrance occasion also after her Krista sadly passed over the rainbow bridge in March of 2006 aged twelve years.

Rose was the easy choice to ask to be the Patron, when in 2009 the Swedish Vallhund Club was formed.  She was also gifted life membership along with husband Hans.  Rose was recognised for her work in establishing the breed she loved, and was passionate about.  Quick to acknowledge others Rose always pointed out the efforts made by her friends Lesley and Ian Grey of Pokeno, also recognising Marge and Harold  Prue from Waimate with the first Swedish Vallhunds in the South Island.  Also she was very pleased for Chris and Jonna Gibson waving the flag for Swedish Vallhunds most recently in the agility scene.  Rose was happy to hear that her pups had gone on to become therapy dogs, obedience competitors and simply loved family companions.  People who took her puppies home often became her good friends, and she was but a phone call away for anyone wanting advice on the breed.

While forging the way for the breed in New Zealand and setting the standard to follow with her generosity Rose was likely not overly mindful of the significant role she played in the history and establishment of Vasgotaspets in Aotearoa.  She was just getting on with her hobby and love of a dog breed.  She will not be forgotten, and her lovely silver grey dogs and breedlines are a legacy to the lady fondly known as "Mrs Swedish Vallhund"

NZ Dog World

September 2010