ShowSight Presents The Bearded Collie

tail in glee, and risking an NQ. Mostly, judges are smiling tolerantly because “after all, it’s a Beardie!” Th ey are adept herders, bred to use their voice, conscientious and plucky, and sometimes too enthusiastic. A Beardie may assert his own instinctual, embedded knowledge regardless of the trial course. Successful competition with a Beardie has to be built by mutual coopera- tion and respect, not forced. A Bearded Collie can be very obsti- nate when forced, but completely ame- nable when he’s trained gently with praise and appreciation. Th ere is one event in the poignant his- tory of the Bearded Collie that underscores the precarious gamble that brought him through an undistinguished heritage from trailing nomads in Central Asia to con- quering the rugged hills of the Highlands gathering sheep, to conquering the show ring. Although the Bearded Collie was brie fl y glimpsed in dog book annals before the Great War, they were subsequently lost, disappearing back to working farms mostly in Scotland and Wales, unnoticed by dog fanciers. After the Second World War, because one woman became pas- sionately attracted to the breed and deter- mined to fi nd them, the Bearded Collie reappeared, this time successfully brought to the fancy. Mrs. G. O. Willison rescued the Bearded Collie from obscurity in 1944 when a Bearded Collie pup arrived instead of the Sheltie she was expecting. It was fi ve years before she was fi nally able to acquire a male and from these two, Jeanie of

CH Bendale Special Lady; Owners: Michele Ritter & Chet Jezierski.

Bothkennar and Bailie of Bothkennar, all pedigreed Beardies are descended according to Mrs. Williston. Interestingly, Jeannie was brown and Bailie was black. Because of this genetic diversity, Beadies come in four col- ors: black, brown, fawn and blue. Pigment is to match coat, as is eye color. A Bearded Collie must have an e ff ort- less, ground covering movement, bal- anced and beautiful to watch. Because he demands exercise, he is a lean well muscled dog. While the breed standard calls for him to be naturally presented, show ring competitors have begun to soft- en his harsh coat and trim him into an unnatural silhouette. Such dogs should be

considered unfavorably with respect for his heritage and his archetypal breed stan- dard. Th e Bearded Collie is an aristocrat among dogs exactly as he is and has been for over a century. I was very fortunate to have gotten my fi rst show Beardie in 1993 from Britannia kennel, the preeminent kennel in the US. BIS CH Britannia Good Day Sonshine willingly allowed me to succeed in con- formation, agility, obedience, and herd- ing, teaching me what I was to do, while he fi gured it all out with his remarkable intelligence. I made a thousand mistakes, he made none. He is a legend in the breed and irreplaceable in my heart.

“OWD BOB” By Alfred Ollivant (c. 1898) “Should you, while wandering in the wild sheep land, happen on moor or in market upon a very gentle knight, clothed in dark grey habit, splashed here and there with rays of moon; free by right divine of the guild of gentlemen, strenuous as a prince, lithe as a rowan, graceful as a girl, with high carriage, motions and manners of a fairy queen, should he have a noble breadth of brow, an air of still strength born of right confidence, all unassuming; last and most unfailing test of all, should you look into two snow-clad eyes, calm, wistful, inscrutable, their soft depths clothed on with eternal sadness— yearning, as is said, for the soul that is not theirs—

know then, that you look upon one of the line of the most illustrious sheepdogs of the North.”

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