Sykeston, N.D., man finds success raising rare breedMark Dinsmore wasn’t perfectly happy in his job as an information technology professional in Minnesota eight years ago, but it was a living.
By: Chris Olson, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Mark Dinsmore wasn’t perfectly happy in his job as an information technology professional in Minnesota eight years ago, but it was a living. Now he is living his dream in North Dakota of bird hunting and raising champion epagnuel breton dogs, or in English, French Brittany spaniels.
“If you had told me 10 years ago I would be raising epagnuel bretons for a living, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Dinsmore said.
Dinsmore owns L’Etoile du Nord (Star of the North) Kennels in Sykeston, N.D., a nod to his Minnesota heritage and the land from where the dogs he breeds come from, France.
“‘L’Etoile du Nord’ is the Minnesota state motto” he said.
He established the kennel in 2005 after he was outsourced from his IT job in Minnesota.
“I wanted to live where there is good bird hunting and I could have some room,” Dinsmores said. “This property near Sykeston came up and I jumped on it.”
A lifelong hunter, Dinsmore hunted with different dogs growing up, but hadn’t owned a French Brittany. In 2004 his wife asked if they could get a dog. Dinsmore said no at first, then relented.
“I knew I wanted a hunting dog, a small pointer, and something that could be a family pet as well,” he said.
He had seen French Brittanys and after talking with a breeder, Dinsmore got a waiting list to buy the breeder’s next available pup.
“That is when I got Vern,” he said. “When he was four months old we knew he was an exceptional dog.”
Vern took to bird hunting as well as Dinsmore hoped he would.
“At an early age he was considered a ‘broke’ dog,” he said. A broke dog is one that doesn’t mind the sound of a gunshot.
“He was a broke dog at 17 months old, that is very unusual.” Dinsmore said.
While Dinsmore was happy with Vern’s performance as a hunting dog and family pet, bird hunting season only last two months out of the year. To keep Vern and himself in hunting shape, Dinsmore entered Vern in his first American Kennel Club hunt test in 2005. At his first test he received his junior hunter title with four consecutive “passes.” In these hunt tests dogs are scored on the merit of their performance and receive either a pass or fail.
“He took right to it and we’ve been competing in these hunt tests ever since,” he said.
Vern has gone on to achieve the ranks of senior and master hunters at different AKC events.
In October 2006 Vern became the first American-bred French Brittany to receive tops honors after competing in field trials in France.
“While he was trialing in France, the judges would consistently comment that while some dogs are very good with the mechanics of hunting, Vern really hunts,” Dinsmore said.
After France Vern continued to place well at different AKC and United Kennel Club hunt trials around the country.
Dinsmore also has Darius, one of Vern’s offspring, and three females; Ardoise, Chloe and Etoile. All have distinguished themselves during hunts and in competitions.
Vern is the foundation for Dinsmore’s kennel. He has loaned out Vern for stud services to other pure-bred French Brittany owners.
A puppy sired by Vern costs $1,300 and a puppy sired by Darius is $1,000. Dinsmore trains other people’s dogs for $500. He does not lease out his females.
French Brittanys are a high-energy dog that need something to do — to have a purpose. Dinsmore said they are best suited for families that like to hunt, but any kind of activity that keeps them active will do.
“They are a quick, nimble dog and very personable,” he said.
French Brittanys are not hyper, like some small animal breeds. Dinsmore said he has 10 of this variety in his house.
“They will get excited if someone pulls up to the house, but a short while later they are all calm again, off doing their own thing,” he said.
The people who purchase one of Dinsmore’s pups, once they are of age, are generally looking for a good hunting dog.
“People are always amazed at how quick they calm down and how good they are with children,” he said.
Go to www.letoiledunordkennels.com for more information.
Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at email@example.com