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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

John Jeanneney – A Visionary Leader Driven by His Passion


by Jolanta Jeanneney

Dachshund Club of America Newsletter, Summer 2022 

On July 5, 2021 my heart was broken when John Jeanneney, my husband of 26 years passed. He was 86. It was not unexpected; his death followed a long decline. His world was gradually shrinking due to his advanced age. I can still recall his last field trial that he attended, his last attempt of tracking wounded deer, and his last training line. I even have a picture when he held a puppy for the last time. There were so many “lasts”, and with many of them we were not aware of their finality. With some we knew. As a spouse and a solo caregiver, even though I knew what was coming, I was not prepared for the aftermath. So many emotions, so many tears and so much sadness.

John has left an amazing legacy behind, which involves establishing the standard dachshund as a true working dog in North America. Very few people know how his love for dachshunds started.

It all goes back to 1960s. In his private autobiography written for his family John said:

“As a graduate student at Columbia University I applied for a Fulbright Grant, which would subsidize a year of research abroad. Amazingly, I was accepted to do work in the archives of the France National Forestry School (Ecole Nationale Forestière) at Nancy in eastern France. At the forestry school I had all the privileges of an exchange student. The Forestry School had hunting privileges in a nearby National Forest. I enjoyed being a beater driving out deer and wild boar to the guns of my fellow students. It was on these hunts that I first saw the use of tracking dogs. The French were just beginning to use tracking dogs to find wounded big game. At the time the Germans were much more advanced in this art.  A German student friend invited me to spend a vacation break in Germany, and I learned more about this use of leashed tracking dogs. One of the breeds used was the small hunting Teckel, a European alternative to the longer, heavier, more extreme American/English Dachshund.

I had to have one of these Teckels. Mary Lou (John’s first wife) and I would be living in a 9th floor city apartment when we returned to New York New York. A twenty pound Teckel was the one hunting dog that would fit into this environment as I finished my Ph.D. dissertation.

I bought my first Teckel, Carla vom Rode in 1966, and she came back to the States with us. When I could get away on weekends to my parents' country places upstate, Carla hunted rabbits, pheasants, and raccoons at night. She was the versatile dog that the German breed standard called for. I did not track wounded deer with Carla because this was strictly forbidden in the northern United States.”

With his Ph.D. completed John started to teach history at Hofstra University on Long Island, NY. He moved to Wantagh, where he lived for five years. He wrote:

“The five years in Wantagh were not all bad. There was undeveloped State Park Land, and it was there that I took my Teckel, Carla, to run rabbits. Dachshund field trials began to be offered in New Jersey. Carla rapidly became an AKC Field Champion.

In 1982 work was started on a greatly expanded version of the original “Dachshund Field Trial Rules”. Gordon Heldebrant, President of the North California Dachshund Club, took the initiative in getting the project moving. I worked closely with Gordon from the East where the majority of dachshund field trialers were located at the time. Our more precise rules adapted from the AKC Brace Trial rules for beagles were accepted by the AKC and The Dachshund Club of America. They are essentially the official dachshund field trial rules in use in the USA today.”

John has always been an avid hunter, and he wanted to move into a more rural setting.

“It was in the 1970s, while living at Clinton Corners, that my fascination with tracking dogs for finding wounded deer burst forth. I was hunting on an estate in southern Dutchess County, New York, when I took, what I thought was a careful shot at a big doe. A twig, which I could not see at 50 yards, deflected the 12 gauge shotgun slug so it did not hit the deer where I had aimed. There was no blood trail after the beginning, and though I searched all day, I never could find the deer. Two weeks later, some hunters mentioned that they had found a big dead doe in a swale a half mile from where I had shot. This was very upsetting, even more so because I had learned about leashed tracking dogs in Germany. That doe could have been readily found with a trained tracking dog, but this was highly illegal, not only in New York State, but throughout the northern part of the USA.

I thought a lot about the incident and a year later had the opportunity to try an experiment.  A Department of Environmental Conservation employee, who had law enforcement credentials, asked me to find a gut shot deer for him. His credentials made a tracking dog legal in his case. I took Clary von Moosbach, my tracking wirehaired dachshund at that time, to the one visible spot of blood, and she started out on a short, six foot leash. After about a quarter mile I happened to notice a smear of blood on a sapling. Clary continued to track, no checks or hesitations, and in another quarter mile there lay the dead deer. Finding deer was easy, or so it seemed at the time. 

Some of the next steps toward the legalization of leashed tracking dogs were a lot more difficult than finding my first wounded deer. It began pleasantly, with another trip to France where I met Hubert Stoquert, who was a regional wildlife manager in eastern France. Stoquert gave me the same introduction to tracking wounded deer that we have given so many times since.  He worked a young wirehaired dachshund on a training bloodline, showing me how to train a dog.   Then we went back to his house, looked at dogs, saw slides and talked long into the evening. He generously shared his time and knowledge even though his wife was going into the hospital for surgery the next morning. Stoquert was in the final stages of setting up a tracking dog network in eastern France. When I got home I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do. For many  reasons the French and German blood tracking procedures couldn't be directly imitated in  the United  States, but  the general  philosophy, if  not the details, of  clean,  responsible hunting  and good  sportsmanship were the same.

The details of convincing New York's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to permit a research project are too lengthy and complex to describe here. The positive recommendations by Bill Wadsworth, patron of bowhunting, certainly played an important role in the granting of that research permit in 1976. Clary did outstanding work, and local, public acceptance of the "wild, radical idea" of leashed tracking dogs was favorable. Cautiously, the DEC added more handlers to my permit and expanded the area within New York State where the experimental use of leashed tracking dogs was permitted.  In 1978 the individuals on the tracking permit formed the promotional and educational association, Deer Search Inc., which was eventually to become a state-wide organization, divided into chapters. Deer Search’s system of tracking dog testing was similar to the German prototype.”

The Deer Search concept spread through national publications, and finally legalization of leashed tracking dogs in New York took place in 1986, largely through John's efforts. John has always considered this legalization as one of the most important accomplishments of his life.

John and I have met for the first time in the early 1990s. At the time I worked as a canola breeder and research station manager for Pioneer Hi-Bred in Edmonton, Alberta. I was married to my first husband Chris, and I was just starting as a breeder of wirehaired dachshunds. John was based in Clinton Corners, NY, but he taught history at Hofstra University on Long Island. He was married too. Of course we met because of our love for working dachshunds, and at the time we both had French imports. I imported from France FC Fausto de la Grande Futaie, he had FC Sheriff du Bellerstein aka Max. Back then people used to write letters, and we exchanged a lot of them, mainly about dachshunds and their pedigrees. I still have the letters – one of mine was eight pages long. At the time breeders associated with Deer Search had several litters of dachshunds out of imported stock that showed a genetic defect, which later was diagnosed as osteogenesis imperfecta. John appreciated my help with trying to solve the issue of this mysterious disease.

After having divorced our spouses, we were married on December 29, 1995. I quit my job and moved to Clinton Corners. And as they say… the rest is history.

John bred his first litter in 1968, and he followed the German system of naming puppies according to alphabet. He bred under “von Moosbach” kennel name, which in German means “Mossy Brook”. His last “von Moosbach” litter was an “R” litter. When we combined our breeding programs we started to use the name “von Moosbach-Zuzelek”, and our first litter bred together, the “S” litter was born in February 1994. I don’t know how many Field Champions we have bred because it was never a priority for us, especially for John. Above all he valued usefulness of deer tracking dachshunds and thought that they have to prove themselves in the field, on a real job.

In 1999 we moved to a rural Berne in Albany County. Our 34 acre farm property is ideal for breeding and training tracking/hunting wirehaired dachshunds. Once John retired in 2000 he finally could focus exclusively on his passion full time – tracking wounded deer for hunters, promoting the idea on a national scale through writing and workshops, and breeding Teckels according to the German standard for tracking/hunting purposes.

John and I co-founded the North American Teckel Club (NATC) in 2000 and the United Blood Trackers in 2005. John spent 41 years tracking wounded deer and bear for hunters. In most cases when he did not recover the deer, he was able to establish that this animal was not mortally wounded and would survive.

In the 2000s, the publication and strong sales of John's self-published books, Tracking Dogs for Finding Wounded Deer and Dead On! played a large role in the expansion of the use of tracking dogs across the United States. As of 2022 it is legal to use tracking dogs in recovery of wounded big game in 44 states. His adaptation and development of the European tradition of finding wounded game with dogs was the accomplishment John was most proud of over the course of his "long and very good life", as he described it.

Last spring, while John’s 86th Birthday was approaching I asked our Facebook friends to send him a birthday card for the occasion. More than 100 cards came. These are some quotes from them:

“I want to thank you in so many ways… You have touched so many lives… including mine with kindness and help. You are truly a legend when it comes to tracking dogs and have helped so many hunters and others across this country to do exactly what you have done for so many years. You started something that continues to grow to this day”.

“Your passion for tracking and the breed has really rubbed off on me and I am very grateful”,

“The mark you have on all of us will be one that will never be topped”,

“Thanks for all your contributions and sacrifices to deer hunters, trackers and dog owners all over the globe”,

“Thank you for not only sharing your skills but also building a community and friendships that will last a lifetime”. 

There has been an incredible outpouring of love for him on social media following the announcement of his death. A friend said “John was a man with a passion. He lived his passion, and shared his passion, and ignited the passion in others”. And another quote: “The positive domino effect continues as more areas legislate wounded game tracking.  He has impacted countless dogs, handlers, States, Provinces, and communities.  He has directly or indirectly helped thousands of big game animals be found for hunters.  And, he has inspired the tracking organizations that lead all over North America.”

In 2017 United Blood Trackers hosted their annual event in Berne, NY. During the banquet John gave a short speech and said: “The relationship between a tracker and their dog is special, it is not one of command and obey. The dog is neither tool nor toy, you are partners giving each other advice. Each brings something to the work that the other doesn’t have and cannot do alone.” It sums up well John’s stand on partnership of a handler and his tracking dog, based on their relationship.

His outstanding contributions to the sport of hunting and conservation led to John's 1994 induction into the Sports Museum of Dutchess County and his 2012 induction into the New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame.

He is sorely missed by so many.

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