I know, I know….a lot of dog owners think their dog is just as good, if not better, than the dogs that win at the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which is being televised again tonight. Our dogs are special to us, members of the family, and they’re both champions as far as we're concerned.
The picture at the top of the post is our girl Shadow’s daddy. His name is Dylan - ok, his AKC name is CH Ka-Zes Tangled Up In Blue, and the CH means he’s a champion. Many times a champion. He’s also the daddy to our “little girl”, Sunny.
Here’s a picture of Shadow’s mom, Hope. CH Ka-Zes Hope Key To My Heart is her AKC name, so you know she’s won more than her fair share of dog shows, just like Dylan, and is also officially a champion.
Here’s a picture taken a couple years ago of Dylan and Hope’s child, our "big girl", Shadow –AKC name Ka-Zes Shadow Tangled Up Heart – the Collie who came to live with us in 2006. She won’t be a champion because we’re never going to put her on the show circuit. And, the only reason we were able to buy Shadow when she was a 6-month-old puppy is that her neck is too short for “conformity” – which is a term breeders use when they’re talking about whether or not a particular dog has the physical characteristics of past champions of the breed.
Here’s the first picture of our girl Shadow, still with all her fuzzy puppy fur, up on a stand getting a close look from her breeders, Kathy and Jerry Zehtner (Kathy Zehtner = the “Ka-Zes” part of the AKC name) at their kennel, Ka-Zes Collies, in Franklin, WI. Kathy and Jerry breed champion Collies, and when one like Shadow doesn’t meet conformity, they know they can’t show her, so – they find a good home for her. We had to jump through a lot of hoops with Kathy and Jerry before they would let us take Shadow home. They asked us a million questions about our history with dogs, what our property was like, was it fenced, and how much running room there was. Collies have to run; they’re not apartment dogs. They were bred to run all day, herding sheep in the hills of Scotland. Years ago, Collies were common on farms in Wisconsin as working dogs. Kathy even had a conversation with our veterinarian, Dr. John Gustafson, to make sure we were responsible dog-owners.
As far as we’re concerned, Shadow – the classic sable Collie, like Lassie – is just as much a champion as that sable Collie who was competing in the Herding Dog class at Westminster last night.
Above is a picture of our “little girl”, Sunny (AKC Ka-Zes Rivendell's Uptown Girl), who actually won a whole bunch of Blue Ribbon awards at shows sponsored by the Collie Club of America and the Collie Club of Wisconsin. Sunny is a blue merle Collie, with the distinctive markings of that kind of Collie.
Here’s a shot of Sunny, back when she was called Christie. The “Uptown Girl” in her AKC name is from Billy Joel’s song about Christie Brinkley. In this photo, she’s just barely out of her puppy fur and already charming the judges with her good looks.
Sunny (my wife named her as a counterpoint to Shadow) came to live with us because although she has perfect conformity and won lots of Blue Ribbons at an early age, she turned out not to have “the Ka-Zes look”, as Kathy and Jerry said. When Kathy and Jerry wanted to expand their breed line, they mated Dylan with another champion Collie from a different breeder (Judy Roller's Rivendells Collies in Mazomanie), and Sunny was the only female in a litter of nine, and she went to live with Kathy and Jerry as a show dog. But her "face" was too different from the "Ka-Zes look".
When we decided we wanted a companion for Shadow two years ago, we called Kathy and Jerry, and, long story short, they said “let’s put Shadow together with Christie and see if they get along”. They did, because Shadow is the most mellow dog that ever lived, and loves everything and everyone. So we loaded Sunny and Christie into my SUV and brought them home. Within hours they became best friends, inseparable buddies, and they spend their time patrolling our grounds, racing back and forth across our “back 40”, and lavishing love and attention on their owners.