JILL POHOLKE [nee McMasters]  04th April 1949 – 14th March 2013        by Pat Dunstan

Past Secretary of the Labrador Breed Council of Australia, past Publicity Officer, Secretary, President and LIFE MEMBER of the LABRADOR RETRIEVER CLUB of VICTORIA.

In paying tribute to JILL and her life with her beloved KADNOOK LABRADORS I must start with JILL herself.

A strong, intelligent, ethical open character with firm views on most subjects, she was never frightened to express her views or call a spade a spade. Combined with these attributes Jill had a heart of gold with a great gift of generosity and friendship.

Labradors were her passion from when she was given her first Labrador puppy in 1963. Much loved BRUCE, as he was called, was stolen from army camp during Jill’s stint in the Army. However on returning home after finishing her time in the Army in 1967 Jill purchased a cream dog pup she called Kim. He was registered as OAKBANK THE SIGNALMAN and was the foundation of her Kadnook Kennels. Every dog to this day can be traced back to him.

The first Kadnook litter was born in 1969 after Jill acquired a black bitch AMITTA CINDERS LASS, who was subsequently mated to Kim. The results of the mating I will quote from Jill’s own words.

‘This first litter created a huge new learning curve for me. I first became aware of hereditary diseases in the breed, entropion, and hip dysplasia both reared their ugly heads in the resultant pups, and so started a whole new awareness of the responsibility of being a breeder for me.’

From this time on Jill became deeply interested and most knowledgeable in both the hereditary diseases and medical problems of the Labrador. She was a leader in the difficult task of persuading fellow breeders that it was in the interest of their dogs, their clients and themselves to utilize the schemes that were available to guide them as breeders in an attempt to eliminate some of the breed’s hereditary problems. This also involved encouraging other breeders to exchange information of problems on a need to know basis, difficult in that time of finger pointing, innuendo and slander.

Then came perhaps the most rewarding of all Jill’s breeding efforts.

During the 1970’s The Royal Guide Dogs Association was in trouble. Only producing 12 ½% of graduate dogs from their breeding program they engaged Wally Conron as their breeder. On discovering that OAKBANK THE SIGNALMAN was the only dog to have produced multiple graduates in one litter, Wally made contact with Jill who agreed to let Guide Dogs use Kim free of charge. Kadnook ‘then became deeply involved very early in the development of the breeding program of THE ROYAL GUIDE DOGS ASSOCIATION supplying much of the breeding stock in the developmental and progressive stages of their program.’ As the result of this the number of graduates rose quickly to 70%. This association continued for many years until Wally’s retirement.

Over the years Jill and Wayne became increasingly involved in breeding dogs for Detector Dogs, providing basic stock to Australian Custom’s to establish their breeding program, to Assistance Dogs for the disabled, and assisting children with Autism Spectrum by providing tracking dogs.

Parallel with these activities Jill was busy showing and working her dogs while rearing her family with the help of much loved Nana. In November 1983 romance blossomed and Wayne Poholke became Jill’s lifelong companion. Kadnook became a join affair with Jill ‘as the breeder, handler and full time carer of the dogs, while Wayne worked the dogs successfully as hunter and triallers.’ The combination of their talents meant that the dogs were tested in all spheres with breeding stock truly able to be called dual purpose Labradors.

In 1990 to aid in the development of the kennel’s breeding program, a working bred dog KELVINHEAD KADNOOK CLYDE [IMP UK] was imported from Scotland. MONTY was followed in 2001 by KELVINHEAD DROP O’SCOTCH [IMP UK] [GROUSE].

Kadnook’s first champion was titled in 1974 and was followed by a Field Trial Champion in 1984. That year brought the breeder’s dream come true when KADNOOK THE PROPHET became a TRIPLE CHAMPION, [field, show, and retrieving]. Shortly after a PROPHET daughter obtained her OBEDIENCE CHAMPIONSHIP giving the kennel titled dogs in all aspects of recognized competition for Labradors. Another mile stone in 1976 was Jill’s bitch CH. KADNOOK THE SEEKER CDX winning PUPPY IN SHOW at MELBOURNE ROYAL SHOW.

At a recent count the Kadnook breeding record stands at:

                                6 Grand Retrieving Trial Champions

                                1 Grand Champion [Show]

                                112 Show Champions

                                23 Retrieving Trial Champions

                                3 National Retrieving Trial Champions

                                5 Field Trial Champions

                                7 Tracking Champions

                                5 Obedience Trial Champions

                                1 Triple Champion

                                2 Dual Champions

                                4 outside Retrieving Trial Champions titled by Kadnook

                                19 outside Show Champions titled by Kadnook

There were as well many multi-titled dogs and bitches that reinforced the Kadnook commitment to the Dual Purpose Labrador. ‘In achieving this record Jill and Wayne were ably assisted by a wonderful group of people they called the Kadnook Team. The Team consisted of owners of Kadnook dogs who believed in the Kadnook aim to produce a true DUAL PURPOSE RETRIEVER. The Team successfully exhibited and trialed dogs bred by Jill.

Throughout her entire career Jill ‘never lost sight of the fact that the Breed Standard was written for a Working Retriever. She quickly acknowledged that FORM FOLLOWED FUNCTION and made up her mind that the Kadnook dogs would be breed as FUNCTIONAL LABRADORS.

Jill’s aim from beginning to end was to breed Labradors whose conformation and condition allowed them to do the job they were bred for while conforming to the breed standard. Particular emphasis was placed on temperament and soundness and with a belief that both genetics and training skills were equally important.

Always curious as to the area and conditions that made the Labrador the dog it was, Jill and Wayne accepted an invitation in 2011 by one of their clients to holiday in NEWFOUNDLAND LABRADOR itself. An eye opening experience looking at where Labradors worked in the harsh conditions even in summer brought them back to Australia even more convinced that efforts should be made to heal what now seems to be a growing division within the breed [Retrieving and Show]. Jill felt strongly that this could be achieved within the Breed Standard by promoting the Functional Labrador.

There is no doubt that Jill fulfilled her dream. The kennel’s remarkable record clearly demonstrates that.

Jill will be sorely missed by Wayne, family, friends, and the Labrador world to whom she contributed so very much.




Jill’s own words,

Wayne Poholke,

Wally Conron.