This past weekend we had perfect Summer weather! The sun was shining, with low humidity and a nice gentle breeze, it was a wonderful weekend to be outside with your dog. And this weekend, in New Jersey on the historic grounds of Sunnybank, the collies and their people gathered together to celebrate both Albert Payson Terhune and this breed we all love so much! There was the sound of laughter, and collies joyously barking, echoing across the hills of Sunnybank and the fire blue lake once more. The collie folk call it “The Gathering,” and it is hosted by the Collie Health Foundation on the 3rd weekend of August every year.
|Terhune and his Sunnybank Collies
|Albert Payson Terhune and Anice Terhune
I’ve written about Sunnybank, Terhune, and his books numerous times over the years. And I doubt I could improve on my previous posts on the subject, so I will link them down below. But to briefly explain, Sunnybank is a magical place for most collie lovers. It was the home of Albert Payton Terhune and his wife Anice, and it was where their beloved Sunnybank collies lived. Terhune wrote numerous books and magazine articles about his collies, and is thought to be the main reason collies were so popular in the past. (No disrespect to Lassie) Children and adults couldn’t help but fall in love with the collie after reading one of Terhune’s stories. Most of the grounds of Sunnybank have been sold off, the house and barn torn down, but the main ten acres are still there, along with the root cellar and the graves of the Sunnybank collies.
Living within a two hour drive of Sunnybank, we have been fortunate to be able to attend The Gathering many times. For me, no matter how many times I attend with my collies, the excitement never dissipates. When I first turn down the long, winding drive and spot the sparkle of the “fire blue lake” through the trees, I am transported back in time. I can almost see the Terhunes strolling across their expansive lawn, the Sunnybank collies gaily romping by their sides. Visiting Sunnybank is something every collie enthusiast should get to experience at least once. And The Gathering isn’t just about Sunnybank or the Terhunes, there are guest speakers, a celebration of rescue collies, a puppy match and silent auctions of collie and Sunnybank memorabilia. On Saturday they have walking tours, and they offer both the Therapy Dog and Canine Good Citizen tests.
I have had three of my collies take the Therapy Dog test at Sunnybank, and all three have passed it and gone on to earn AKC therapy dog titles. Ryder was my first Therapy dog, followed by Scarlett and Sophie, and all three still do visits. I decided somewhat last minute to have Addison take the test. So we spent a little over a week preparing for the exam, and she passed with flying colors. The evaluator loved her, and was very impressed with her happy, gentle nature and her beautiful face. We didn’t plan on taking it, but my friend Diane suggested I go ahead and have her take the CGC test too. I was hesitant, as there are some portions of that test I hadn’t practiced with Addi, but I decided to give it a try. She easily passed that test as well, earning two titles in less than hour! You just can’t beat a collie with the correct temperament, they have such an innate sweetness and eagerness to please that it makes them very adaptable.
It was such a fun weekend, visiting with friends, surrounded by collies, and earning new titles. We even got to visit with Handsome Finn, who is Addison’s uncle, and belongs to our friends, Steve and Diane. (He is one of Maizie and Sophie’s littermates, and earned his Therapy Dog and CGCA titles at Sunnybank a few years ago!)
Our little Rosie visited Sunnybank too, to get in a little practice at the puppy match, before we enter her in a real show. I think she enjoyed being at Sunnybank, even if she wasn’t aware of the history beneath her paws…
Here are the links for more information and pictures: