I was surprised by the notice I was a finalist for the Collie Club of America Smooth Breeder of the Year award and even more surprised to actually win it. I was just happy to have qualified! I never saw myself producing and supporting the number of dogs it would have taken to win under the previous ‘Champions Only’ counting method. I know I would not have qualified for this award without the changes supported by the membership and by the Collie Club of America Breeder of the Year committee. This award now gives a more ‘well rounded’ evaluation of our work as breeders by including Champions produced, health testing performed on title winners, and recognizing a selection of performance/herding titles in addition to considering the number of puppies produced in a given time frame. These changes move the award away from just a straight numbers game of Champions which is often not attainable by smaller breeding programs among the membership.
Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to share kudos! The cliché ‘it takes a village’ applies here – this award also belongs to Alexzandra Erb as she would have been the smooth co-breeder this year except for that small point of actually applying to become a CC of A member(!). She has made amends and has turned in her application so we will see what 2016 brings with 3 more Champions already in the books. Alex showed the majority of all of our winners last year to their championships and without her this award would not have been possible. Corinne Gaalema Boon shared her girl Marcie (Ch. Encore’s Radiant Starr) with us resulting in multiple Champions co-bred with Corinne with more in the ring working on their titles. Corinne, also without you, this would not have been possible. Marcie’s kids were sired by Ch. Aurealis Zandria’s Winning Colors who was bred by Deborah Falk and who is co-owned with Alex and Deb. Theresa Marquardt stepped in to help with handling herding instinct titles on two more kids out of our NE girl Honeytree Important Message bred by Debra J Amszi and Shawn Amszi (‘Eli’ Tercan ‘N Zandria’s Game Changer sired by Ch. Aurealis Zandria’s Winning Colors, and ‘Twist’ Tercan ‘N Zandria’s Plot Twist sired by Tamaron’s Cirean O’Tercan –Cyr was bred by Trudy Taphorn and is co-owned with Joey Peschong ). A rally title on ‘Comet’ CH Encore's Zandria 'N Tercan's Magic 'N The Sky RN (Ch. Bravo Zandria’s Party N’A’Box RN x Ch. Encore’s Bronze Illusion co bred with Alex and Corinne) by his owner Cassie Pfannenstiel added more to the pot. All of the above title holders had multiple health tests supporting a group of winners scoring in conformation, performance, and health.
Science is continuing to offer us more insights into genetics and buyers are becoming more educated about what to ask about (and expect). Yes, testing can be expensive, difficult to interpret, difficult to predict, and difficult to live with…but we already know breeding is not easy. It also gets a LOT more complicated when factoring in health results. LOTS! My ‘must haves’ have grown to almost double what they used to be. I have had to reconfigure what I am valuing both now and in the future.
We should take advantage of each other and our Collie Health Foundation (with rebates!) to learn and grow about how testing impacts our breed today and twenty years from today. We need to research and (try) to keep up with science not only in Collies but in other breeds to understand our canine ‘universal truths’ and ‘universal exceptions’. We can do more to start the conversation by doing even small things – start listing health tests on ads, on websites, in brags. Add performance wins and brags! Show the public and ourselves that we are more than a ‘pretty dog’! We should not be silent about how we can improve the breed and keep a pretty, happy, and healthy Collie in our future for many years to come.