About Us & Our Philosophy
If you have come to this page because the Collie is THE DOG for you, Welcome! This site has a lot of info that I have collected over the years that I hope will be of help for anyone looking for a Collie to add to their family. My own journey with this breed started over 30 years ago and I continue to look forward to each year with my dogs and continuing to produce the next generation that embodies everything that made me fall in love with this breed all those years ago.
I didn’t grow up watching Lassie nor did I find out about Terhune and the Collies of Sunnybank until much later. I saw my first Collie in a local community parade in Anaconda, Montana back when I was in Jr High School. It was fascination at first sight. I was immediately taken with the huge sable brown coat in shades of gold and mahogany with a head so long it was unlike anything I had ever seen. A dog that stood out from the crowd. He (or she) seemed to my kid self to survey the parade in such a regal air. I never got close to that Collie as the owner wandered into the crowd and was gone but the image stuck with me and I thought if I ever have a dog of my own, THAT is the dog I want. I went to the library (yes, before the internet!) but no Collie breed book was to be found in our small town branch. I remember waiting weeks for those first books loaner books to arrive from other branches. I devoured everything I could about the breed.
I wasn’t ‘dog poor’ by any means. I grew up with dogs and I can’t remember a time when we didn’t have a dog of some sort either as a house dog or an outside working dog. The house dogs were usually my Mom’s ‘heart breed’ Pembroke Welsh Corgis which she occasionally showed in AKC competition. Great dogs with big hearts but I still wanted that elegance and size I saw in the Collie. Growing up on working cattle ranches we also had ranch dogs which were very much utilitarian and of a heritage only Mother Nature knew…the priority wasn’t how they looked but how they worked. I was also involved in horse shows and raising and showing my own French Angora and Devon Rex rabbits as a kid as well as the occasional cat show. My Mom had pretty much quit showing her Corgi’s by the time I was walking but I joke that my dog show habit is all her fault…she was pregnant with me when she was still showing. Those early days growing up on the ranches taught me about the tough rules of survival of the fittest and the virtues of a naturally healthy, hardy, and breed-able animal (canine, equine, bovine, and leporine). Those working dogs also taught me about the need for correct structure, a temperament necessary for the job and the flexibility to take on the many roles that a dog is expected to fill. My involvement with horse and rabbit shows cemented my love of competition (and ribbons!). It was inevitable that I would eventually get my Collies and want to compete with them as well.
When I had the chance and the little bit of money a College student could put together the purchase of my first dog was never in doubt – only a purebred AKC (American Kennel Club) registered Collie would do. Back then AKC was pretty much the only ‘game’ in town and even today it is the largest and most respected registry dating back to 1884. I wanted to be able to eventually show my dog in AKC conformation and obedience so I looked for a ‘good’ breeder. Back then there was no internet and personal computers were just starting to take hold. The local classifieds and a couple tattered copies of Dog News became my ‘Google’ and I watched and waited. I eventually found my first collie I named Roller. He was a rough sable and white male about 5 months old. AKC registered yes….show quality no (as I later learned) but I needed to start somewhere. I registered his name with the AKC based on the ‘horse style’ naming convention I grew up with by picking a prefix from a dog in his pedigree that I liked and then matched it with his call name…he became Tartanside’s High Roller. I later learned this was not how naming was done in dogs and he was definitely NOT a dog bred by John Buddie of Tartanside fame. The pedigree study I had done to decide on his name did start me on my way by sparking an interest in finding out more about his parentage besides the sire and dam. I knew the ‘family tree’ was important as I had looked at horse and cow pedigrees more than once and had tracked my show rabbits with their own pedigrees. I also realized that any dog was the product of generations of influence and not just Mom and Dad. More books followed (still pre-internet and pre-Amazon!) and I found out about the Collie Club of America. Eventually I was able to find breed specific Collie magazines like the Cassette and The Collie Review (a magazine devoted to JUST Collies?! WOW! I was in heaven!). I spent my time going through those books and magazines looking up the dogs in the pedigree and painstakingly hand writing them in my ‘pedigree book’ and then researching their parents, and their parents, and their parents until I made it back to the beginning of the recorded history on the breed. I still have that binder although it has been thru a few revisions (typed up on my very first personal computer!). Now of course everything is on line just a few clicks away but my interest in knowing ‘whosheby’ has not dimmed.
Those early years of searching for a show Collie were a challenge and I learned that AKC registration did not automatically mean ‘show dog’. Roller did not develop into show ring material and I eventually found him a family but while he was with me, he did show me the wonderful traits of this breed. Another show prospect was found while I was living in Montana from someone who seemed to know more than Roller’s breeders. She had a Champion only 2 generations back instead of 5 but alas, she also did not develop as hoped. I was learning more during this process but finding show quality is tricky when you have only ever seen it in books.
My third Collie came from a show breeder with decades of experience in the ring. She was champion sired and looked good in the pictures and she was very similar to a sister who the breeder was keeping so she flew her way to me. Her quality was definitely better than my first two Collies but I realized when I went to my first Collie Club of America National Show and saw her litter sister that even my ‘eye in training’ knew she was not the caliber of her litter mate. My search would continue.
That first National show was pretty overwhelming. All of the years I have been trying to find a good Collie and here were hundreds and hundreds of them all in one place! It was a 9 hour drive each way from my house and I was on a shoestring budget (still in College) but I was determined to go. Having only enough money for gas and food, I spent the day ringside watching hundreds of Collies and slept in the canopy bed of my truck at night in the parking lot of the host hotel. Best National Ever. I still remember seeing a Lochlaren bred bitch go round the ring and blow everyone away with her movement. I remember the impressive image of Ch. Aurealis Silverscreen taking the breed win that year. I hardly left the bleachers just watching from morning till evening for 3 days. I had never even set foot in the dog show ring yet but I was hooked. It has been over 30 years since that first National and I am still hooked.
Not everyone who has met a Collie falls for them…but for those of us that do find a breed that fulfills what we want in a dog. We want to do our best to help keep the breed in good shape for future generations and
we generally go all in. The job I choose, the house and car I buy, and how I spend my free time are all dictated by and dedicated to the dogs. After decades with this breed I am still excited to see what the next generation brings. If you are interested in being part of the journey, contact me and we can talk about your Collie future.
My Philosophy on Breeding
I feel that the goal of breeding dogs should be to improve the physical and mental characteristics of the breed through knowledgeable selection while incorporating breed specific health clearances and testing. There are dozens of tests that can be run for the Collie or any other breed and not all of the disorders impact quality of life. Some tests focus on problems that have very low incidence while others should be considered for all breeding stock. Not all breeders share the same ideas when it comes to health clearances so it will be up to you to decide what criteria are most important when adding a Collie to your family. For a recap of health clearances performed on Tercan Collies please visit here.
Breeding for the good of the breed is important to me. I also feel that checks and balances in the breeding make sure the phenotype is advancing as well as the genotype. I feel that showing dogs in conformation is part of that check and balance process to make sure we do not become kennel blind to faults. As good stewards of the breed, we need to understand the importance of keeping type. It can’t be just a Collie….it has to be a GOOD collie and a HEALTHY collie. You can get health tested collies from many breeders across the country but the LOOK of the Collie is not being correctly maintained in many of those dogs. Understanding the finer points of breed type is very important so that we can make sure we are not just churning out long headed hairy dogs that look ‘close enough’ to a Collie. I work to ensure that my dogs have experience in the Conformation, Herding, or Performance rings to establish checks and balances in type and temperament. While health testing is not directly rewarded in any of those arenas, I believe health testing is the foundation that makes everything else possible.
I do not have puppies very often and breed only for myself to continue the family of Collies I believe will improve the future of the breed. Collies that may not meet all of my criteria are placed with the best family matches possible for loving and permanent homes. I would love to place Collies with all the qualified families that contact me but raising puppies is a lot of work when done conscientiously.
After over 30 years with this wonderful breed I don't see a life without at least one Collie by my side.