Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Love is….

 Carrying the load when their bodies grow old.

This past weekend we took our two oldest collies to a dog fair.  It was a nice event, with lots of vendors, fun activities and contests for the dogs, and all the money went to dog rescue.  But Ryder and Kori just can’t do all the walking that an event like this requires, so we pulled out the wagons and pulled them around the fairgrounds.  

They really enjoyed attending the dog fair, and competing in some of the contests.  They both won the marathon down, it was a tie, as they are very good at lying in the soft grass for long periods of time.  And Ryder won the pie eating contest, with their collie friend Kelsea winning second place, and Kori coming in third.

I only took a couple pictures, and didn’t get any of the contests, I was too busy enjoying the moments with my sweet collies.  For us, it wasn’t about the pictures, it was just about making memories, as you never know how much time you will have together.

They seemed to really enjoy the “pie” so I think I will recreate the contest at home, so all the collies can try it.  I will make sure to get a video if I do our own pie eating contest.

Hopefully everyone will spend a little time this week making memories and spending time with your loved ones, both four footed and two footed alike.  After all, that’s really what love is all about!

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Titles, history, and enriching your dog’s life…

Some people are history buffs.  They may be fascinated by the Civil War, or Ancient Rome, still others may be obsessed with prehistoric times or the Salem witch trials.  There are endless time periods and subjects to study, and with all the resources we have at our fingertips, almost anyone can do research on whatever passion drives them.  For me, it’s the history of the collie that keeps me captivated, and also keeps me trying new things with my collies.

I enjoy pouring over the many volumes of the Collie Club of America’s Library of Champions.  I am always excited to find new sources of information about the collies and breeders of the past.  And one great source for collie historians are the older CCA Yearbooks.  Not everyone may be aware that each year the CCA publishes the collie yearbook for its members.  And if you aren’t a member, or if you are a newer member, some of the older yearbooks can be found on EBay and other websites.  While the Library of Champions is a wonderful record of all the past collies who earned that title, the CCA Yearbook also includes and celebrates all the other titles the collies have earned each year.

There is a great saying, “A well balanced dog has titles at both ends.” (Of its name). I know the American Kennel Club, or AKC for short, believes this to be true, which is why they created the title “AKC Breeder of Merit.”  Earning the coveted “CH” before a dog’s registered name is a cause of celebration.  Becoming a conformation champion means that a dog conforms to the breed standard in both appearance and structure.  But equally important, in my opinion, is that the dogs we breed are also capable of earning titles that appear at the end of their names.  That’s why the CCA Yearbooks are equally valuable when learning about the more recent history of our beloved collies.

With the CCA Yearbooks, you can look back through the years and see which breeders have produced collies that have earned herding, agility, obedience, Farm Dog, Scentwork and other performance titles.  The ability to earn these other titles demonstrates the soundness of mind, body and temperament of the dogs we are producing.  Our collies should be more than than just a pretty face, they should be able to perform the work they were originally bred to do.  That doesn’t mean the champion title before their name isn’t valuable, it is a huge honor to earn that title, but I think the other titles are just as important.

I’ve mentioned before that when looking for a reputable breeder, it’s important to find one who has earned the title of AKC Breeder of Merit.  But many may not realize how a dog breeder earns that title.  To qualify for this title, the breeder must meet all of these requirements:

  • Has a history of at least 5 years involvement with AKC events.
  • Earned AKC Conformation, Performance or Companion* event titles on a minimum of 4 dogs from AKC litters they bred/co-bred in each breed applied for.
  • Member of an AKC club.
  • Certifies that applicable health screens are performed on your breeding stock as recommended by the Parent Club.
    Health test requirements can be found on the Breed Health Testing Requirements webpages.
  • Demonstrates a commitment to ensuring 100% of the puppies produced are individually AKC registered.
Our Kori, herding ducks

There are so many fun and exciting things to do with your dogs, and your dogs will love all the individual time and attention.  When deciding which sport to try first, or which title to pursue, I think researching your collie’s own ancestry, and all that those dogs have accomplished, is a great place to start.  If you see many collies in their pedigree earned herding titles, you may want to consider giving herding a try.  Or maybe when researching your collie’s own history you discover that many of the collies have earned obedience or agility titles, try taking a class to see if you and your collie enjoy that type of competition.  The collie truly is a versatile breed, and the sky’s the limit for activities you can try together.  And when your collie earns a title, they will become a part of the breed’s history!  My Sophie and I have decided to try Barnhunt next month, not sure how it will go, but I bet we will have fun while doing it!

Friday, September 8, 2023

Happy World Literacy Day!

We just learned, thanks to our friends at the Five Sibes, that today is World Literacy Day! Since I am an avid reader, a book-a-holic, a bookworm, a bibliophile….I had to quickly write a post in celebration for book lovers everywhere! As I didn’t have anything planned ahead of time, this will be short post. If you’ve read some of my past posts about Terhune, you know what his books mean to me. (Click here to read more)  Books and reading, along with writing stories, are a passion of mine.  I hope, through World Literacy Day, more children and adults can discover the magic contained within the pages of books!

Since this is a collie blog, and since I am a long time Terhune fan, I wanted to share the news that his book, Lad: A Dog, is available for free on Amazon kindle.  You can get your copy here!  Happy Reading!

***Also, if you want to see a carefully preserved clip of Terhune and his collies at Sunnybank, please watch this video.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

You can teach an old dog new tricks!

 During the height of the pandemic we spent a lot of time isolating at home.  Many of us began working from home, and travel restrictions were put in place.  Even going to the movies or grocery store was considered a risk.  It was a time of constant worry and stress, and for many, a very lonely experience.  But for those of us with companion animals it wasn’t quite as bad, and for our pets, it was a very happy time.  All the activities that typically separate us from our animals, such as work, school, sports and vacations, were no longer an issue.

I know my own collies were never happier, as I was home with them 24/7!  And the bonus of my being home all the time, was all the walks we took, just to get out of the house.  Unfortunately, one of the activities we all enjoyed was also canceled.  There were no dog shows!  One thing the AKC did to help mitigate the loss was to begin allowing the Trick Dog test to be performed by video.  With unlimited time together, my collies and I began to train and learn dog tricks, so they could earn a new title.  It was a unique way to bond and have fun with my collies, and it kept us all from becoming too bored.

With the slow, gradual return to “normal,” AKC is now allowing the test to be done in person or virtually, it is the individual’s choice.  If you want to do the test virtually, you can find a trick dog evaluator on the AKC website or by joining the Facebook group, Trick Dog Titles. To do the test in person, you can search for upcoming tests here.  To earn the Trick Dog title your dog must perform each trick twice.  There are five levels of Trick Dog titles, we have only passed the Novice level so far.

  • AKC Novice Trick Dog (TKN)- Your dog performs 10 skills from the Novice list. (see link to “Application” below for lists of skills). If a dog has a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certificate or title on record at AKC, it can do 5 Novice tricks (CGC + 5) to earn the Novice title. See the list of tricks here.
  • AKC Intermediate Trick Dog (TKI) – Your dog must have the Novice title, plus perform 10 Intermediate tricks. See the list of tricks here.
  • AKC Advanced Trick Dog (TKA) – Your dog must have the Intermediate title, plus perform 10 tricks from the Advanced list. See the list of tricks here.
  • AKC Trick Dog Performer (TKP) – In this title, handlers perform a short routine with at least 10 tricks with at least 3 tricks using props. See the requirements here.
  • AKC Trick Dog Elite Performer (TKE) – In the highest level of Trick Dog, the Elite Performers perform a routine that has a story/script. At least 5 props are used. See the requirements here.

We had so much fun earning the TKN title, and I think we are going to try earning TKI next!  The collies all strongly recommend you give this a try with your dog, and if you do, please come back and let us know  in the comments.  As this is a fun activity the collies easily mastered, we decided to add it to our Versatility series, to show the amazing versatility of the collie breed. Want to see the other posts in our Versatile Collie series? Click on the links below:

Therapy dogs
Service dogs
K9 nose work
Pulling a Sulky (AKA Carting)

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Happy 12th birthday to the best dogs in the world,

Today was a special day, today my two oldest collies turned 12 years old.  They have given me 12 years of love and companionship, 12 years of smiles and friendship.  And I’m so grateful to celebrate another birthday with them, as every day with a senior dog is a blessing.  They also have a brother, Luke, who is just as loved by his family.

It happened before I was ready, and my heart is heavy knowing there won’t be many more birthdays.  But we are choosing to live in the moment, to embrace the gift of each day we are together, and hoping for many more to come.

What do you do when your dog grows old? 
When his feet are tired and the pads are worn? 
When your words of praise are muffled in his ears, and his eyes are milky from their years of use?
When his face is grizzled and his color isn't as vibrant?

You love him.

You rub the feet that dutifully carried him by your side.
You speak your praises more loudly, so everybody else can hear the words that he can't.
You guide him the way he has guided you, and prevent him from getting lost as you were before he came along.
You kiss his muzzle and admire the wisdom that has beset him in his later years.

And when it comes time to put him to his final rest, knowing that an irreplaceable part of your heart will follow him, you will do so knowing that you loved him.

And he loved you more.

Jackie Short-Nguyen

I also wanted to include a link, because these collies had an unusual birth story, it can be found here:

The collies born from a storm

Friday, August 25, 2023

Collies in Nature….such a pretty sight to see!

 Summer is slowly fading, the nights are getting a bit cooler, so we decided to join the Nature Friday blog hop before the flowers disappear!

Monday, August 21, 2023

Sunnybank Remembered

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:

Sunnybank (2012)

Sunnybank revisited (2015)

Sunnybank (2016)


A Collie named Lassie, a Place Called Sunnybank

The Gathering at Sunnybank

Summer Days, Sunnybank 2018

It All Started with a Book!