Dog stories like the Lochranza Story on this page, by Ron Hevener the famous artist, kennel owner and well known author of The Blue Ribbon.
Lochranza Story
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  As the years went by, I married and moved away. I had daughters of my own and lost touch with Jackie. One day, on an impulse, I thought I must go to a dog show again. It was Mother’s Day and I remember seeing a familiar woman walking across the field. Beside her was a Sable Collie with a huge coat; obviously her treasure. “Jackie! Jackie!”
She stopped, turned around, and smiled so big I could feel it all the way through me. I introduced my young daughter and we talked about Collies. She told me she hadn’t bred any litters for several years and I asked why. She had no answer for me, but I knew: Jackie was losing interest in life.
Well, that wasn’t going to happen. Not if I had anything to do with it. If there’s one thing I know, it’s how dreams keep us alive. It didn’t matter to me that the big Victorian house in Manheim was now crumbling; that the flowers shared their beds with weeds; that the classy sign in front of the property had long since fallen down. These things could be fixed up. And over the next ten or fifteen years, Jackie and I planned a new life for Lochranza Kennels.
By this time, Jackie was retired and could spend all her time on the Kennel. She did, in fact, become an heiress at this point and delighted in carrying $20,000 certificates of deposit in her purse, knowing she could buy anything she really wanted to. What she wanted was the best Collies in the Breed and she knew she would have to create them. Collies were losing type, she decided. They didn’t move like they used to. Their muzzles were becoming too pointed; necks were short. There were a few scattered around the country that still pleased her. And there was one in particular. If we could only send our best females to him for breeding, Lochranza would have the kind of puppies she wanted. But, Jackie didn’t trust sending her dogs away to be bred.
News that she had bought one of most valuable show dogs in the Breed at the height of his career made headlines in the international Collie community. The arrival of Ch. Amberlyn’s Bright Tribute (A noble Mahogany Sable known simply as “Kane”) from Alaska sent shivers through her competing kennels in the Eastern United States. She didn’t stop there. Driven by a bigger picture, she searched the whole country and bought mates for Kane as well. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she was selecting the dogs for me, and they were the final foundation stock on which to build the Lochranza breeding program.
One afternoon, I received a call from the “Glamorous sister.” Could I hurry to Jackie’s house and see if she was all right? She had been taken ill the day before and refused to stay at the hospital. “The dogs need me.” The ambulance crew drove her home, sat her in her favorite chair, and left. I found Jackie in that same chair the next afternoon, still alive, and begged her to let me call the ambulance again. Only when I promised I would take care of the Collies did she allow me to make that call. She never returned home again.
Before she died, Jackie left the kennel to me and told me how to manage the breeding program. It isn’t often that a kennel lives on into a second generation in this way, but the American Kennel Club worked with me to transfer ownership and continue Jackie’s labor of love. I took Kane to her funeral and his image is carved on her grave stone. The marker says, “Famed Collie Breeder.”
Today, all the Lochranza Collies are related to Kane. Some trace to him as many as ten and twelve times within a six or seven generation pedigree. What are we finding? First of all, you must realize that all of our original breeding stock was tested for health before we started the line breeding program. So, the health of the Lochranza Collies has been maintained. Yet, I can say that our pups today are better in some respects than the original stock.
This past weekend, we showed two littermates that are ten times Kane. They are among the heaviest-boned Collies you will ever see. And huge coats! They move free and easy. The judge, a woman in her sixties, said she hasn’t seen Collies like this in many years.
“Did you hear that, Jackie?” I want to ask. The chills running up and down my arms tell me she did.

Ron Hevener
Lochranza Kennels
1338 Mountain Road
Manheim, Pennsylvania 17545

Phone: 717.664.5089
Fax: 717.665.4651
Email: [email protected]

Mr. Hevener is the author of “The Blue Ribbon” (Pennywood Press) which can be ordered through Barnes & Noble bookstores everywhere.

  These stories may not necessarily reflect the opinions of this website or it's employees.
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