Daniel Solberg and Hilda, the Therapy — Hunting Dog

By Bonnie Hidalgo, AKC Field Representative

At the South Dakota Pointing Dog Club Hunt Test, I had the good fortune to meet the unique team of Daniel Solberg and his German Wirehair Pointer, Hilda. Daniel is the eleven year old son of Rick and Wendy Solberg of Baltic, SD. The family regularly competes in North American Versatile Hunting Dog (NAVHDA) events where Daniel and Hilda earned the Natural Ability title last spring. Their story goes back much farther to the time Daniel’s Dad Rick brought Hilda home. According to Wendy Solberg, when Hilda joined the family, Daniel took to her immediately. Daniel is autistic; his ability to focus on one thing makes it difficult for him to focus on multiple things. His guardianship of her meant that he looked out for her safety enough that in focusing to keep her out of streets and other hazards he subsequently learned to do the same for himself. Daniel appears to have a special talent for dog training and his parents were wise enough to let him develop that skill. Daniel and Hilda attended training sessions held by their NAVDHA Chapter, the Midwest Tri State. Throughout the winter of 2007 the two worked at perfecting themselves as a team; each learned from the other. By spring they were ready to begin competition and together they earned the Natural Ability title for Hilda.

The bond between mankind and his canine friend is one of the strongest in the world. These two are a perfect match. Hilda has the wisdom to understand her young master’s needs and wishes. Daniel has the ability to focus on the hunting skills that Hilda needs in order to develop as a great hunting companion. Daniel does a fantastic job in handling his bird dog in the field and out. The rapport they share is visible.

When the Midwest Tri State Chapter formed a branch club in AKC known as the South Dakota Pointing Dog Club, Daniel along with his parents decided it would be a great place for Daniel and Hilda to continue their education. The Club held a pair of AKC Hunt Tests on August 30 & 31, 2008. During that weekend Daniel ran Hilda in the Junior Hunter level and qualified her both days. She is now half way to obtaining her AKC Junior Hunter title which they will no doubt accomplish together in short order. After they achieve that title they will have the opportunity to advance to the next AKC level, that of Senior Hunter.

Hopefully the team will continue to learn together with the goal of one day attaining both the coveted AKC Master Hunter title and the prestigious NAVHDA Utility title. The work toward those goals will provide them with countless hours of pleasure. Best of luck in the future to Daniel Solberg and Hilda!

Daniel Solberg

Daniel and Solberg's Hilda May at work

Daniel and Hilda after their brace

Daniel receiving his award, shown with his bracemate and the Judges