Are you one of the many fans of the KBTF Rescue Calendar? The 2018 Calendar is one of the most charming we’ve ever had: it’s flying off the shelves already, and it’s just been released. It’s therefore fitting that this issue of What’s New? leads off with a “Cheers for Volunteers” article about Lode Coen, who has been designing the covers for the KBTF Annual Calendar since approximately 2013.
Lode Coen is from Belgium and is second cousin to the KBTF Chairman of the Board John Van den Bergh – they have known each other since childhood. Lode says that although John is his second cousin, “He feels more like a brother ... definitely one of my best friends.”
Mr. Coen lived in Silicon Valley for about ten years (1987-1997) and his cousin John helped him get settled in the Bay Area initially. In 1996 Lode moved back to Belgium where he is a teacher at an art & design college in Antwerp, Belgium although Mr. Coen indicates that he is “about to retire on November 1st of this year.”
Lode Coen has been married for almost 35 years to wife Melanie; they do not have children. Although Lode’s father died in 2008, his mother is now 88 years old and he has two younger brothers. All of Lode’s family (except John) lives in Belgium. Lode tells that although he lives in Belgium, he has been traveling a lot lately, including visits to Barcelona, Madrid, and Malaga in Spain. He also has been studying Chinese for four years and made a teaching trip to China last year. After his retirement, he is considering a move to Spain or China, or perhaps, he will just keep traveling all over the world.
As a designer, artist, professor and entrepreneur, Lode obviously had just the right skills to help with the KBTF Rescue Calendar. And John was well aware of Lode’s skills. So when the KBTF calendar project began, he asked Lode for help with the art and design. Lode says that he became a KBTF volunteer because John asked him, adding “I did it out of friendship for him.” Lode says that he enjoys being a volunteer and especially enjoys helping John and working on the calendar project with him and Judi Young, who does the work of creating the calendar and putting it together.
Lode says that he is not really a dog person, although he used to have a dog to when he was very little. Coen writes “I loved my dog, it was a German Hound (Deutsche Bracke), but he was run over by a car and died. I was only three or four years old when that happened, and I was inconsolable for a long time. A few years later, growing up and going to grammar school, I started disliking dogs and fearing them, as neighborhood dogs always chased me when I was bicycling to school. Therefore, since I was a young boy (five or six years old), I've always been a ‘cat person’ (though there's been no cat in my life for many years—and one can never actually ‘own’ a cat. This explains why I'm definitely not a ‘dog person’.”
However, Lode does admit that his attitude toward dogs changed recently. He was visiting some friends in Barcelona a couple months ago; they're exchange students at the University of Barcelona, a young Czech man and his Vietnamese girlfriend. They lived in a student house, where there was also a golden retriever. The young woman had prepared wonderful Vietnamese food, and all three friends were talking and enjoying the meal, but suddenly Lode had an asthma attack. “It's very scary,” Lode said, indicating that he felt like he couldn't breathe and was going to suffocate. As he was trying to calm down and regain his breath, he went outside on the porch. The dog followed quietly and stood next to Lode all through this crisis. Lode felt he was giving support, just by being there and by looking up to Lode with his eyes. He seemed concerned and his quiet presence helped Lode regain his breath. He concludes this story: “What a wonderful creature, perhaps the reincarnation of my childhood dog. I'm still afraid of dogs that I don't know, but this was such an amazing experience, I was touched.”
So our hearty Cheers and thanks to Lode Coen who creates the beautiful cover designs for the yearly calendar. He is a true professional who adds to the enjoyment of all of us who appreciate the Kerry Blue Terrier and the work done on their behalf by the Foundation.