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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
you hear that, Jackie?” I want to ask. The chills
running up and down my arms tell me she did.
1338 Mountain Road
Manheim, Pennsylvania 17545
Email: [email protected]
Hevener is the author of “The Blue Ribbon”
(Pennywood Press) which can be ordered through Barnes
& Noble bookstores everywhere.