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!

Friday, August 18, 2023

Pet Therapy is good for the Soul!

Volunteering with your dog can be very rewarding.  One way to do this is to get your dog certified as a therapy dog.  It requires a monthly commitment, but some therapy dog teams (meaning owner and dog) do weekly visits.  There are many ways to provide pet therapy, you can visit Nursing homes, hospitals, airports and even court rooms.  Therapy dogs are even participating in a program called READ, where young children struggling with their reading skills will read stories to a therapy dog. 


To get your dog certified as a therapy dog, you must first choose which therapy dog organization you want to join.  Why is this important? Each organization has their own set of rules you must adhere to, in order to be a member and be covered by their insurance.  Each organization also has their own test, which your dog must pass in order to become certified as a therapy dog.


I have had three of my own collies pass the test, and some of the collies from my past litters are also working with their families to provide this valuable service.  With collies being such an intuitive breed, I have found that they easily pass the test with very little training needed.  To me, the biggest requirement in becoming a therapy dog is a solid temperament.  Without that, the dog may not be comfortable around sick individuals or people who are upset or crying.  The dogs may also not be comfortable with strangers reaching out to pet them, or with having strangers seeking comfort.  Some dogs that normally have very even temperaments may still not be comfortable in these types of situations, and that is okay, not every dog wants to be a therapy dog.  


For those dogs that do enjoy it, the testing to become certified usually includes the following:

1) Initial meeting

The dog is seated at the handler's left side. The evaluator approaches the dog and the handler and stands facing the team from a distance of about 4 feet.

The evaluator approaches and enthusiastically greets and touches (handshake, pat on the arm, etc.) the handler.

The evaluator asks the dog's name, loudly repeats the dog's name, and then circles the dog and handler.

The evaluator inspects the dog, petting the dog and touches ears, mouth, paws and tail.

The evaluator may hug the dog.


Note: This portion of the test is the ideal time for the evaluator to examine the dog for cleanliness, grooming, health, parasites and proper weight. The evaluator should nicely and diplomatically point out potential health problems, excessive weight, and other issues and make helpful suggestions.


2) Cane/awkward stranger

The dog is seated at the handler's side, the evaluator approaches with the cane moving erratically with hunched posture, while speaking in an odd voice. The evaluator pats the dog on the head and body and bumps the dog gently with the cane.


3) Quiet Crowd

Groups of people (2-5) stand in a gathering. If possible dogs (1-2) are present with the group of people.  Medical equipment (wheelchair, walker, cane and crutches) is present during the test.


The dog and handler walk together with a loose lead threading though the group of people.

The dog may be on either side of the handler. 

Groups of people mill around and quietly talk to one another.

Creating their own heeling pattern, the dog and handler make right, about & left turns while meandering through the crowd.

The dog and handler wander casually through the crowd three times.


4) Training

The handler positions the dog to the left and faces the evaluator.

This test is performed with the use of a 20' long line.

The handler replaces the leash with the long line and drops the long line to the ground. (The evaluator may step on the leash to keep the dog in place during the stay.)


Also part of the training portion of the test:

Sit: The evaluator asks the handler to sit their dog. The handler may give more than one command and coax the dog into potion.  The handler must not force the dog down into a sit with their hand.

Down: The evaluator asks the handler to down their dog. The handler gives the dog the command to down. The handler may use more than one command. The handler must not force the dog into position with their hand.

Stay:  The evaluator asks the handler to tell the dog to stay (from either a sit or a down – handler preference). The handler gives the dog the command to stay, walks to the end of the long line and returns to the dog. The dog should remain in place while the handler returns to the dog at a normal pace. The handler may tell the dog to stay more than once and if necessary, back away from the dog telling the dog to stay repeatedly. The handler may take a fair period of time, give the dog more than one command to stay and reposition the dog a few times, if they break the stay.

Come: The evaluator asks the handler to tell the dog to stay (from either a sit or a down – handler preference), to walk out to the end of the long line and call their dog. The handler gives the dog the command to stay, walks to the end of the long line, turns and calls the dog to come to them. The handler may use more than one command.


5) Food distraction

The dog is seated next to the handler facing the evaluator. The evaluator drops a piece of food on the floor. If possible dogs (1-2) are present with the group of people.

The evaluator instructs the handler to walk past the food with the dog at the handler's side.

The handler and dog then turn and while walking back, pick up the piece of food.


6) Walker

While the dog is seated at the handler's side, the evaluator approaches noisily with the walker.

The evaluator pats the dog on the head and body and bumps the dog gently with the walker.


7) Loud crowd

Groups of people (2-5) stand in a gathering. If possible dogs (1-2) are present with the group of people. Medical equipment is not present during this portion of the test. The handler and dog team walk briskly through the crowd while being exposed to the following diversions:

A metal bowl is dropped behind the dog and handler.

Pans or bowls are clanged together.

People are loudly laughing, talking and slapping each other on the back.

One of the evaluators runs.

An evaluator shouts loudly at another evaluator simulating an argument.

(Other distractions may be used, depending on the circumstances of the test: opening and closing an umbrella, passing with a noisy cart, someone rides by with a bicycle, etc.)


8) Canine to canine interaction

Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 15 feet, stop and speak to each other, turn and line up facing the same direction and walk forward for about 10 feet.


9) Crutches 

While the dog is seated at the handler’s side, the evaluator approaches with the crutches, as if disabled.

The evaluator pats the dog roughly on the head and body and bumps the dog gently with a crutch.


10) Working with other therapy dogs

An evaluator/test dog team approaches the handler and dog.  The handler and dog are positioned with the dog seated at the handler’s side.  The evaluator/test dog positions themselves the same way, but facing the handler and dog situated about 5 feet apart.  The two teams hold this position for 10 seconds.

The handler/dog team holds their position and the evaluator/test dog team swing around so they line up alongside the team being tested.  The teams hold this position for 10 seconds.


11) Wheelchair

The handler and dog approaches the wheelchair from a distance of about 5 feet.  The handler leads the dog up to the wheelchair and encourages the dog to interact with the evaluator.  The evaluator gently pats the dog and bumps the dog with the wheelchair.


They are testing the dog with as many scenarios as they can, so they can predict or determine if the dog will remain calm and unfazed with many types of individuals and in many different locations.  It is very heartwarming to see people’s reactions to an approaching therapy dog, and I have really enjoyed the experience.  You can tell by the joy on their faces that your dog has brightened their day.  You can read about my first Therapy dog, Ryder, by clicking Here. Ryder is still doing visits for now, but his 12th birthday is fast approaching and he can’t do as many visits as he did in the past.  I’ve been working with Addison, to see if she would enjoy becoming our next Therapy dog.  I’ll hopefully have an update next week, we will see How it goes!

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Discovering that you live near (collie) royalty!

As I’m lost in stories about the lives of past collies and the breeders who developed the American collie, I’m constantly amazed by the surprising details I uncover.  While reading about Charles & Lillian Wernsman, and their Arken collies, I discovered that they lived in a nearby town! I have driven through that town, right by their property, countless times, never knowing the history.  Now I feel compelled to try and find their old property, and see what, if anything, remains of this great collie kennel!

The Arken lines began back in 1919 by Charles & Lillian Wernsman.  They became involved in collies at a time when breeders were importing fewer British collies and were beginning to develope their own family lines of American collies.  The Wernsmans bred 17 champions, and all of their collies were sable and white.

CH Halbury Jean of Arken became their first champion in 1926.  Her daughter, CH Spirit of Arken was their first home bred champion.  While 17 champions may seem like a low number, the Wernsmans never housed more than dozen collies at a time, preferring to keep their numbers low.  Their collies were mainly linebred, and was from carefully planned breedings.  They utilized Alstead Eden Emerald, CH Alstead Seedley Queen, Alstead Aviator and CH Alstead Adjutant in the creation of their line.  They also incorporated the collies from other famous kennels of that time, such as Bellhaven, Sterling and Tokalon.

They were like most of us when they first began showing collies, making mistakes and learning about what to look for when choosing a collie.  They entered their first collie, named Bit O’Heather of Arken, in the New Haven Connecticut Show of 1919.  The collie judge at that show was none other than Albert Payton Terhune!  (Terhune was the author of all the beloved stories about the Sunnybank collies) After competing at the show, and seeing the other collies, they soon realized their girl wasn’t show quality.

They began studying bloodlines and decided they really wanted a daughter out of CH Seedley Queen. Unfortunately, everyone was looking for her daughters, and they eventually decided on a granddaughter instead, and it became a defining moment in collie history.  Her name was CH Halbury Jean of Arken.  Purchased in 1925 when she was 9 months old, she became the foundation of the Arken family of collies.

CH Halbury Jean is considered to be one of the most influential collies of all time.  She is described as “the mother of the American collie.”  She was born on April 8, 1924, she was sired by Alstead Aviator and her Dam, Halbury Expression,was also from the Alstead line.  She was bred by Halbury collies of CT. She produced 6 champions, which was a breed record at that time.  Even by today’s standards that is something to be proud of as a bitch producing 5 champions earns the coveted title of ROM, register of merit.  Her offspring became top winners and producers.

Jean was bred to Eden Emerald, a breeding which produced El Capitan of Arken.  He was a beautiful dog, but was never shown due to an injury.  But he still left his mark on the collie world by siring CH Troubadour of Arken, who became one of the top sires in America.  Jean also produced a well known daughter, CH Nymph of Arken, who was the dam of 5 champions herself!  Nymph was bred to El troubadour, which produced CH Future of Arken, who can be found in the pedigrees of most American collies today.

There some truly great collies who come along once in a generation, and Jean was one of them. Edwin Pickhardt, of Sterling collies, described CH Halbury Jean of Arken as “one of the greatest bitches of all time, exquisite in head, having marvelous refinement in skull, with great strength of fore face and excellence in balance.”  It may have taken the Wernsmans a while to find her, but they immediately recognized her beauty and quality, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Saturday, August 12, 2023

A book review and a goodbye…

I have more posts planned on the history of the collie, but first I wanted to take a break and restart our book reviews, and share some news.  I’m an avid reader, and have been since I was young.  When I discover an incomplete series of books I am always impatient while waiting for the next book to be written and published. While I know a good book takes time to be written, I hate waiting! So when I come across a series that already contains multiple books, or is a completed series, I get very excited.  It’s the same when I discover a new favorite author who has already published numerous books, I love having so many books to choose from, all available and waiting to be read.

I have written and reviewed the books written by Dorothy Bodoin in the past.  She wrote a series of books that were in the mystery genre.  I was never a fan of mysteries, but she changed that.  Her stories always involved a collie or two, usually at the center of the mystery.  In her Foxglove series she has written 35 books, her most recent book came out on April 1, 2023.  I usually buy and read the entire book on the day it has been released. (Have I mentioned that I’m impatient?) But I haven’t been able to read her new book, Meet Me On Spirit Lane.  I want to read it, and I plan on finally reading it this weekend.  But my anticipation of reading her newest story is diminished, as I know it is also her last book, so I have been hesitating to open the book and start it.  Sadly, after a fall, and a stay in rehab, and then a second fall while in rehab, Dorothy passed away on March 26th, just a week before her book was to be released.

The loss of one of my favorite authors is especially difficult, since we were friends online, and I knew she was excited about returning home soon, getting back to her collie, Mia, and continuing to write her newest work in progress.  She was also eagerly anticipating the release of her book.  It’s just so heartbreaking that she didn’t get back to her beloved collie, or get the chance to finish her next book.  It’s also sad, for those who loved the series, that there will be no more stories about Jennet, her friends, and the antics of her wonderful collies.  Dorothy does leave us with 35 stories to read and reread, along with her other books.  And she also leaves the memories of her kindness and her shared love of the collie.  

Since I haven’t read Meet Me On Spirit Lane yet, I’m going to review another of her books, The Lost Collies of Silverhedge.

In Dorothy Bodoin’s Foxglove series, the main character, Jennet, is embroiled in solving mysteries, while teaching high school, caring for her collies, and volunteering for the local collie rescue.  Dorothy was a retired high school teacher and a collie owner, and I think she put a lot of herself into the character of Jennet.  In this book, the 26th in the series, a collie breeder is dead, 8 of her collies are stolen, and a ghost dog is looking for help.  The story keeps the reader engaged and turning the pages as quickly as possible, waiting for Jennet to solve the mystery and save the collies! I really enjoyed the story, and I think fans of both mysteries and dog fiction will find this to be a fun read.  I hope if anyone is reading this post, and you are looking for a new book to read, you will give this series a try.  I recommend starting with the first book, Darkness at Foxglove Corners, as starting at the beginning is always a very good place to start.  However, each book is a stand alone, featuring the same characters, but with individual storylines, so the reader can start with any book in the series, including The Lost Collies of Silverhedge.  I hope you will come back and leave a comment, to let me know what you think!

Friday, August 11, 2023

The Collies of Tazewell

One of greatest authorities on “all things collie” was Dr. Ora P. Bennett.  But that wasn’t always the case.  He started out his life with collies in an unusual manner! Someone offered to trade him a pair of collies for two of his breeding chickens.  Breeding the collies, and subsequently raising his first litter, was all it took to spark his interest in the collie breed.  He began his Tazewell collie kennel in 1903, in Washington, Illinois, and began learning everything he could about the collie.

During his lifetime he became one of the foremost authorities on the collie breed, and his book The Collie is still read and referenced today.  He was a family physician for over 50 years, he served as president of the Collie Club of America and also became a highly respected collie judge.  

His first pair of collies were not able to produce the quality of collies he desired, so he began searching for new collies to build his Tazewell line.  He decided to purchase a bitch, sired by Parbold Premier.  Under the advice of another breeder, he bred her to Parbold Pierrot.  Like many of of the American collie breeders of that time, it was the Parbold collies that helped start his family line of collies.  

As with many collie breeders of that time, Dr. Bennett was focused on importing, breeding or obtaining the top stud dogs for his line of collies.  During his years as a collie breeder Dr. Bennett’s owned many of the breed’s foundation sires at one point or another.  It’s said that each time he would bring in a new stud dog, he would breed all of his bitches to that one dog, then sell the dog to another kennel or place the male in a pet home.  The resulting puppies, that he kept, would then be bred to the next stud when they were old enough.  In this manner he built a family of collies that had a recognizable type. His line included:

Eng CH Seedley Superior

CH Parbold Peacock

CH Cock Robin of Arken

Eng CH Eden Emerald (who he obtained from Mrs. Lunt of Alstead collies, mentioned in our earlier post.)

During this time, and up until recent years, collie breeders would visit other kennels. They would sit and “speak collie,” discussing the history of the breed, the virtues of various collies of the time, and their goals as breeders.  This enabled collie breeders, and newcomers, to discover firsthand the qualities that the different kennels were producing, and to also make educated choices in their breeding programs.  By visiting other kennels they might discover that dog or bitch that could improve their own line or even correct fault.

Dr. Bennett was able to actually visit Parbold and Laund collie kennels in Europe, as well as many other important collie breeders, these were the kennels where so many of the British imports originated.  Through the connections he made, he was able to import both Parbold Prior and Eng. CH Seedley Superior.

Parbold Prior was sired by the legendary Eng. CH Anfield Model. (Below)

Dr. Bennett also imported CH Parbold Picador in 1913.  Picador had Anfield Model on both the Sire and Dam’s side of his pedigree.  Picador became Dr. Bennett’s first champion.  Before he was imported, Picador sired both Eng. CH Laund Limit and Southport Seal, both important collies of their time.

While successful at dog shows with with his imports, he didn’t finish his first home bred champion until 1924, with his CH Tazewell Tricolor.  This was twenty years after he first began his Tazewell collies! But soon after Tricolor, more of his Tazewell collies began earning their championships.  Then in 1927 Dr. Bennett purchased Eng. CH Alstead Eden Emerald from Mrs. Lunt.

Dr. Bennett claimed that Piccador and Emerald were the two greatest sires he had ever known.  He went on to purchase an Emerald son, CH Cock Robin of Arken, after judging the dog at the 1932 National Collie Specialty.  Robin was bred by the Arken kennel, a top winning kennel on the East coast. (And the subject of next week’s post)

From reading different stories, it’s said that Dr. Bennett expressed numerous times that he regretted that his top sires were not utilized as often as they should have been, and this was a loss, as they could have made a positive impact on the breed.  Unfortunately, at that time period most of the top collie kennels were on the East coast, he was in Illinois, and since travel back then was more difficult his sires were not used as often as he would have liked.

It’s interesting that the breeders of this time considered the stud dog of higher importance, as there as been a shift in focus over recent generations to the brood bitches as the foundation of  a good breeding program.  But in the early years of creating their family lines the breeders were concentrating on the stud dog.  That doesn’t mean they weren’t looking for beautiful bitches as well, but the majority of the British imports were males.  It was actually the bitches that Dr. Bennett bred that had the biggest impact on both his Tazewell line and future generations of collies.  Most of today’s pedigrees trace back to Tazewell collies through his bitches, not his stud dogs.  They were known to produce quality offspring whether they were outcrossed or linebred.

I am currently rereading his book, The Collie, which he wrote in the 1920’s, and it contains such valuable insight, I hope more collie breeders and collie fanciers have the chance to read it. For those interested I did find it available on Kindle also.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

The Impact of Alstead Collies

 I’m not familiar with the history of other dog breeds, I’m sure each breed has a fascinating story to tell of its development and history over hundreds of years.  My main focus has always been on the history of the collie in general, and the American collie in particular.  Fortunately for me, the history of the collie has been such a huge topic of interest to collie owners and breeders that there have been countless books written on the subject.  The rough and smooth collies, two coat varieties of the same breed, have their roots planted firmly in Scottish soil. The breed began in Scotland, caught the interest of Queen Victoria in the 1860’s, and was quickly imported into her Royal dog kennel. They first debuted at the British dog show in 1861.

American J.P Morgan first brought collies to America in 1888, to begin his Cragston Kennel on the banks of the Hudson River.  Because of his beautiful dogs, interest in the collie breed began to spread.  Morgan and other famous collie breeders began importing the British collies in earnest during this time period.  It is through their efforts and contributions, in creating their own kennel lines, that the collie breed developed so quickly in our country.  The collie became one of the most popular dog breeds of the time, and by the 1900’s there were already 700 collies registered.  From 1900 through 1910 there were a recorded 78 collies earning their championship, but sadly only 4 of these were smooth collies!

The American Kennel Club, or AKC, was formed on September 17, 1884.  The Collie Club of America was formed just two years later in 1886, making it one of the oldest specialty clubs in America.  The CCA collie breed standard was adopted from the English and Scottish standards, and the standard is how collies are judged and evaluated today.  Just six years later, in 1902, Clara Lunt formed her Alstead collie kennel in New Jersey.  Through her imports of British collies, and the creation of her own kennel line, she helped form the American collie.

Mrs. Lunt and a few of her Alstead collies

During the 1900’s there were only 25 dog shows a year throughout the entire country! People had to travel by wagon, train or boat, so getting to those dog shows could be challenging, but Mrs. Lunt still managed to finish her first collie champion in 1906.  She was one of the few successful female dog breeders in the male dominated sport.  She bred close to 40 champions between 1906 and 1947, when her last collie champion earned the title.  Mrs. Lunt served as president of the Collie Club of America for four years, and she also served as a collie judge for over forty years.

Alstead kennels also played a prominent role in developing the pedigrees of other influential collie breeders of that time.  Mrs. Lunt was know to be generous with her breeding stock, allowing other collie breeders to use her beautiful collies in their breeding programs, which benefited the entire breed.  Thanks in large part to Alstead collies, by 1925 the American collie had surpassed the quality of its British counterparts.  Lauded for their high quality, we have the collies imported by Mrs. Lunt as the foundation of her kennel, to thank for our present day collies.

CH Alstead Parbold President

Eng. CH Alstead Laund Luminous 

CH Alstead Spotland Sterling

Eng. CH Alstead Seedley Sterling

CH Alstead Seedley Queen

Eng. CH Alstead Eden Emerald

All of these collies helped in the creation of the Alstead line, but the most influential of them is CH Alstead Eden Emerald.  Some famous early collie kennels, such as Tokalon, Arken, Arrowhill and Tazewell, all used Emerald in their breeding programs.  He was such a great producer, that all present day American collies trace back to Emerald.  Without Mrs. Lunt’s carefully chosen imports and selective breeding program the American collie may not have developed into the beautiful and treasured collie we see today.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Where have all the collies gone?

 Collies have this remarkable ability to make people smile.  When older people see a collie, the rough variety in particular, they are transported back to their younger years.  They often remark, “I always watched Lassie on Television, never missed an episode!”  Others will talk about going to the movies, to watch the old Lassie movies on the silver screen.  Some will tell us stories of their childhood collie, back when the collie breed was more popular.  Invariably they will say, “you never see collies anymore.”

It always makes me wonder, if people have such fond memories of collies, why aren’t they more popular? Is it that people don’t know how to find a collie rescue group or a reputable breeder?  I do know that there aren’t a lot of collies available through rescue, at least in comparison to other dog breeds.  This is due, in part, to not being one of the more currently popular breeds, so there aren’t as many litters produced each year.   Since there is a high demand, you will see a lot of advertisements for litters of yorkies, labs, goldens, French Bulldogs, and so on.  But I think it’s also because there is such a strong network among collie breeders that whenever a collie ends up in a shelter word goes out immediately, and the collie is pulled from the shelter.  The Collie Rescue Foundation’s motto is “all collies belong to you and me,” and this is a reflection of how collie owners and breeders feel about our breed. 

As for obtaining a collie puppy or adult from a reputable breeder, I’m beginning to think people just don’t know where to look. A couple years ago,  I was at a park with a couple of my smooth girls, and I was surprised to see a stranger enter with a blue Merle, smooth collie!  I didn’t know anyone else in my town had a smooth collie.  I immediately approached her to say hello, and we began talking about smooth collies.  As I know all the collie breeders in our State and surrounding areas, I asked her where she got her boy.  She told me she drove down to Tennessee to get him, as she couldn’t find any collie breeders up here!  I was shocked, as the East Coast in particular has always had more collie breeders than any other area of the country.  So why was it so difficult for her to find a reputable collie breeder?

Last week I was at a nearby pet supply store, which has a few do-it-yourself dog bathing stations.  I had my Scarlett in the tub, giving her a bath, and other customers kept stopping by to comment on her.  Some wanted to tell me she was beautiful, some couldn’t believe how good she was being, some wanted to know what kind of dog breed she was…and one couple wanted to talk “collies.”  They were long time collie owners, and were excited to see another collie.  They said they had an 8 month old collie puppy at home. I asked where they got him, and they named a town about 40 minutes away.  I knew of this breeder, and he wasn’t someone I would recommend.  He doesn’t health test, he doesn’t put any titles on his dogs and doesn’t belong to any breed clubs.  (I’ll get to why that is important in a moment.)  So how did this very nice couple end up getting a puppy from him?  He was the only collie breeder they could find!

Unfortunately, these type of dog breeders are the ones advertising their litters in local papers and on Craig’s list.  Both are sources that reputable breeders avoid, as they want to ensure their puppies end up in safe, loving homes.  So breeders who do not health test or title their dogs, or belong to collie clubs, are where the general public are finding their new puppies.  Health testing is important, as you don’t want to find yourself with a dog that has a genetically inherited (and preventable) health problem.  There is no way to predict all future health problems a dog may develop over his or her lifetime, no one can foresee every possibility, but this is a good place to start.   And a breeder that has titles on their dogs has proven a few things. One, their dogs have good conformation, meaning they meet the breed standard. Two, they have good temperaments and can compete in herding, obedience, agility, nose work, pet therapy, or many other sports and activities.  You can find these well bred dogs by looking for reputable dog breeders who have earned the AKC title, “Breeder of Merit.”  And finally, it’s important that a dog breeder is a member in good standing of their National Breed Club. Breeders who are members of the Collie Club of America have to adhere to a code of ethics that others do not.

There are resources for finding a reputable collie breeder, which I will share below.  I hope they will help aid others in finding their future collie, as they are out there, just waiting to meet you!

How to find a collie:

Collie rescue is always a great option, especially if you are looking for an adult collie. Here is a link for the Collie Rescue Foundation’s website:   They have links to collie rescue groups all over the country on their website.

The Collie Club of America has district directors for different regions of the country.  They can often provide contact info for CCA collie breeders who have puppies available.  You can find the list of district directors here:

You can use AKC’s website to search for Breeders who have earned the title of “Breeder of Merit”  by clicking here:

You can also reach out to your local collie specialty club, as they will know who has puppies, adults, or upcoming litters planned.  I don’t have a comprehensive list of local collie specialty clubs yet, but I may try to put one together.  You can usually find them by searching online for “local collie specialty clubs,” and many have Facebook pages (***I want to specify these are collie club pages, not Facebook groups) where they announce their upcoming shows and events.

***I do want to caution you against utilizing the various Facebook groups as your main source.  I have seen people recommending collie breeders with poor reputations or limited experience with the breed, and trying to convince others to buy their next puppy from these individuals.  While I do believe they mean well, this is not an ideal way to find a heritage breeder.