HERDING GROUP Q&A
a corner of the pen before I knew what happened! Then she looked over at me as if to say, “Just stay out of my way, Mom. I know how to do this and you obviously don’t!” It was really amusing to see a dog that had never had any exposure to livestock of any kind take care of a flock of ducks so easily. Herding dogs are nothing short of amazing! DREWDEATON Though my permanent res-
As far as my breed’s popularity, I certainly think it could be higher. I think Collies make the most amazing family pets, and I think once people have a Collie, they will always have one! They are irresistible in my eyes. How challenging has it been for exhibitors to find “majors?” Finding majors at all-breed shows is rather difficult. At specialties, not so much. I look back at catalogs from 30-40 years ago and see 20-30 dogs in a single class, now we are lucky to have 20-30 in our entire breed at one show. Our numbers have definitely plummeted, but we see a significantly larger turnout for stand alone specialties rather than all-breeds, which I find to be a shame. Is there a market for “pet quality” puppies in my breed? I find the Rough puppies much easier to find excellent homes for than the Smooth puppies. I have a long waiting list for Rough puppies, but very few names on my list for Smooth puppies. Rough puppies are pretty irresistible fluff balls as babies so I think pet homes find that very appealing. What they fail to think about is that the hair just keeps growing as the dog grows and they have to work a lot harder to maintain that pretty coat than the people who take the Smooth puppies. Who were my mentors? I have been so blessed to have amazing people help me get started in dogs. Before I ever got my first Collie I traveled to shows with Robert Robinson who, at the time, had Cresteds and Dalmatians. He really was instrumental in teaching me structure and a lot about grooming. Diane Steele was the first Collie person to take me under her wing at a show. I helped her at a few shows and she returned the favor by teaching me about what she was doing, and why she was doing it, every step of the way. She was really kind and helpful to me as I was trying to find my way in dogs. Micki Elliot of Ceilidh Collies not only was the one to introduce me to Smooth Collies, but she also took me into her home when I was having my first litter and she taught me how to whelp. We whelped my litter and two of her litters together and the experience was one of the most valuable experiences I had as a new breeder. I spent two years traveling on and off to shows with Dona Williams. She was really the person that taught me what it meant to “work” a show. Caring for dogs at the show, getting them ready for the ring, managing the preparation of a bunch of dogs, even loading and unloading the van. She also took me to work for her at my first Collie national. That was really an experience I will always cher- ish. Mike Cheatham of Southland Collies and Crystal Stoner of Accolade Collies contributed the most to the formation of my ideal Collie. My vision would be worlds away from what it is now without their mentorship, and even just seeing their dogs. Robin Reed of Creekwood Collies took me under her wing and shared with me my first stud dog and first campaigned special. To this day, she remains a treasured friend and invaluable mentor. My most prolific mentors now are David and Jennifer Harper. Living with and working for them in Texas has been the most educational experience of my life. Both have brilliant minds and just being able to surround myself with them and absorb every ounce of knowledge that I can has been truly life changing. They have become like a second set of parents to me and now I can’t imagine having not made the decision to move here and work for them. Hailey Stoner of Avondale Collies taught me one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned, and that was that it was okay for me to think differently. Honestly, this changed everything. It was okay that other breeder’s, whose opinions I great- ly respected, were not entirely my ideal. This would be the piece of advice that I would share foremost. It is okay to think on your own and make your own decisions. I was persuaded into breeding to a certain dog or not keeping a certain puppy because of the opinion of someone I respected. Though that stud dog fit their ideal, or the puppy I wanted to keep did not, a few of those decisions turned out to be mistakes for me. Take what all of your mentors teach you and >
idence is in Anderson, South Carolina, I currently live just outside of Houston, Texas, while I work for handlers David and Jennifer Harper. My breed is Collies—though I will say I am far partial to and focus on Smooth Col- lies. Apart from dogs, I love to
cook, fish and, as a former music major, I am a huge patron of the arts. I love the symphony and the opera and would spend every extra moment there if I could! How many years have I been involved in dogs and as a breeder? I started in dogs six years ago. My first litter was in 2017. Do I compete in conformation, companion or performance events? Though I have bred dogs that perform in a wide variety of arenas from dock diving, to obedience, to herding, my personal focus is conformation. Is my breed still capable of performing its original function? I believe Collies are still very functional as a whole. Our breed has done very well to maintain a high level of intelligence and superb temperaments. Collies are willing to work, and have the brains to do almost anything you want them to do. I do believe there are areas of our structure that are lacking and, thus, we have lost some endurance and stamina to work livestock all day. However, there are many Collies that still excel in herding. Can I define the key essentials of “type” in my breed? By far the most “defining” trait of the Collie to me is the dreamy expression. Our AKC breed standard specifies that the Collie cannot be judged until first its expression has been evaluated. In my humble opin- ion, the Collie without those melting, dark, almond eyes obliquely set as they flow into a plush, smooth muzzle, just lacks that clas- sical Collie type. The head, of course, is of extreme importance according to the Collie standard and to most Collie breeders. The parallel planes, well placed stop, flat backskull, lack of depth from brow to jaw, a tight lipline and beautiful finish of underjaw are keys to the correct Collie profile that has become a quintessential ele- ment of Collie type. Lastly, I will include the curvaceous outline as an important part of Collie type. When you see a Collie standing there, you want to see beautiful curves. The crest of neck, the sloped croup, the bend of stifles—all so beautiful when seen in harmony on a sound, balanced Collie body. Am I pleased with my breed’s current overall quality and popu- larity? I believe we have made great strides in our breed to produce beautiful heads and lovely expression. Don’t get me wrong there is still much work to do, as there always is, but you can find these beautiful heads and pretty faces. The area I think our breed is lack- ing are the bodies. Our breed is plagued by bad fronts specifically. I think we have the most work to do in this department, but I see many breeders talking about the fronts and striving to do better. Recently there has been a lot of great conversation amongst our breed about structure and how we as a breed can do better to strive for good structure. I am optimistic of the future and that we will only continue to improve our breed as time passes.
SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, JULY 2020 | 159
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