The castle does, however, deplict the principles and some of the meaning behind my kennel name, LegendHold.
This kennel name is the combination of the words:
"Legend"; which according to the American Heritage Dictionary (2nd College Edition-1982) means:
"1. a.) An unverified popular story handed down from earlier times.
b.)A body or collection of such stories.
c.) A romanticized or popularized myth of moden times."
"Hold"; as in Stronghold; which accordingly means:
"1. A fortress.
2. An area dominated or occupied by a special group."
Together this kennel name, LegendHold, embodies the spirt, the myth, the wild fancy and the true essece of the collie. For perhaps no other breed has been romanticized in today's popular culture as the collie, as it is so well deplicted by the beloved, "Lassie".
Yet, with the popular myth comes the great need of reputable and responsible breeders to act as the breed's caretakers. Dedicated breeders and enthusiasts are necessary to keep the breed strong and healthy; true to its history, temperament, and intellegence; and capable of performing those feats that make it the collie the living legend that it has become.
LegendHold Collies is my effort to do just that.
I am a member of the Collie Club of America and I support the Code of Ethics. Every one of my collie's breedings is carefully planned, often several years in advance, with the intent to keep one or more puppies myself to continue the development of this special line of collies. I do not breed for profit, nor do I breed merely to "sell" puppies.
Those pups that I feel do not meet my criteria for continuing the LegendHold line are then offered already spayed or neutered to carefully screen homes as pet/companions or working dogs for a very resasonable price. In the twelve years I have trained, shown, and bred collies, I have never made a profit, nor do I particularily wish to. This is not a business to me, it is a passion. I am happy to break even if I can (which I rarely do) and share my efforts with others who can truely appreciate a well bred collie.
On occasions, I do offer a show quality collie or puppy to a show/breeding home. Sometimes these homes are beginners or novices wishing to start a kennel of their own. My critera is strict and I expect these breeders to be able to live up to my self-imposed standards of responsible breeding. Responsible breeding means preventing pet overpopulation, breeding only from those collies tested for inherited conditions such as CEA, Hip dyslasia, and thryoid problems, and upholding the essance of the collie by researching the breed, the bloodlines, and competing in several "rings" to undediably prove each individual collie's strengths and worthiness.
Yes, just as in the knights of the "Middle Ages", the breeding of the COLLIE is a "Quest" for perfection. If you should decide to get one of my collies as a show/breeding prospect, I must insist you follow in this "Quest", and you should expect no less.
Are a minimum of 2 years old before whelping a litter.
Are OFA'd with a minimum passing score of fair.
Are CERF'd normal eyed or a maximum of Cordial Hypoplasia, Retina Change(or one of it's various names)generally considered CEA-G2. No collies with colobomas are kept at LegendHold.
Are screened for Thyriod Deficiencies.
Have no disqualifing conformation faults.
Have completed a CGC or TT title.
Have shown a strong basic herding instinct (by obtaining a CC of A - HIC, ABHA-BHI, or by independent work with herding/stockdog clubs in the absence of CC of A-HIC tests).
Have received at least one 1st place in a conformation class over competition and one leg towards an obedience title, or have finished a Conformation Championship, Obedience, Herding, Agility, Tracking or other recognized title either US or Foreign.
Have received at least one 1st place in a conformation class over competition AND have completed a title, either Conformation Championship or Obedience, Herding, Agility or other working title either US or Foreign.
These are just the minimum requirements. I like to try to breed my bitches the first time between 2 and 3 so the upper titles are difficult to have finished on this first breeding. The males should have easily finished a few titles and or certificates as they have no "down-time" dues to "season's".
You will find that my collies continue to compete in various events thoughout their lives here at LegendHold. My collies are my companions and pets first, and show dogs second. My older dogs remain here at LegendHold thoughout their lives. This means my older dogs take up a lot of space that other breeders would open up by placing retired show dogs in pet homes for the years new set of pups. So my space is limited to the very best breedings, as I do not have the room nor desire to produce a lot of pups. The theme here is QUALITY, not quantity.
At LegendHold, I start training at a very early age of about 5 weeks old. I expect my dogs to be able to perform simple tasks like "sit", "down" and "come" by the time they are 7 - 10 weeks old. All pups should walk nicely on a lead by the time they are 8 - 12 weeks old. Formal training really starts at about 16 weeks.
As I start training with puppies very early, my training techniques involve a lot of positive reinforcement. You will often find me training my pups without any leads or collars. I have read over 150 books and magazine on training for various rings and have complied a combination of training methods based on my real life experiences of training over 3000 dog and handler teams in four different states. I've seen everything from a tiny smooth grey chihuahua named "Hercules" to a huge merle Great Dane named "Angel", from a silly clown of a Pit Bull named "Max" to a truely dangerous Shar-pei named "Wrinkles".
To make it all work I've used more methods than most trainers would think of. Most of these methods involve very little in the way of physical corrections. No dog trains the same and no training method will fit any one dog. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something. I am always willing and ready to assist people in finding a local obedience trainer or training club.
By about 5 months my collies are progressing into fetching, stays, stands, and automatic sits. At 6 months old all the basic requirements for a CD title have been introduced. Sometimes I show my dogs for their first legs at 7-8 months, but sometimes I wait if I have a potentally high scoring dog to polish the exercises. Older dogs are typically more polished and score higher.
At this point, I determine which dogs I'm going to take up into the higher levels and start practicing for the CDX's and possibly the UD titles.
Of course we toss in some herding titles and a few attemps at agility here and there as time permits.
As my dogs are active in many aspects of the various dog sports, I sometimes run short on time and funds to finish titles. Unfortunatly, I do still have to work a 40-60 hr work week to pay the bills and feed the zoo here. Still, I find the time to handle all the training and showing of my dogs for performance titles MYSELF!. I have recently had to use some professional handlers to show my already trained dogs, in the conformation rings, mainly because I just physically can not get to both rings at the same time. Typically I will only do a "ring side pick-up" on my dogs, so if you see one of my dogs at a show, more than likely, I am there somewhere, just in another ring.
I often have two or three dogs showing at the same show and getting caught between rings on long sits and downs is just getting too hectic. I do however like to selectively show my finished dogs as Specials, and you will find me from time to time running from ring to ring. If you see me at a show and I heading between rings, please excuse me if I'm a bit short with you...the pressure is on and I'm probably running on half a brain and a serious caffine fix. Wait until I'm finished in the ring, follow me back to the crate area and talk with me after my ring time. I'm always happy to help where I can.
The collies here at LegendHold have far surpased the minimums I have set for my breeding criteria and each litter is an improvement on the previous generation. In any breed, striving for this is the mark of a strong breeding plan and a dedicated breeder.
But why doesn't your criteria limit you to only breeding from finished Champions?
While having a finished Champion is indeed a great honor, not all Champions should ever be bred. It takes a very special dog to complete this title AND have all the other qualities that make a dog worth the time and effort to bred it. It also takes a lot of time and money to get to shows even when you personally handle your own dogs. Handler's fees can run into the thousands of dollars and the collie ring is competitive enough that handlers are sometimes necessary, even for the "long-time" breeders, just to finish a dog.
While prestegious, this title is just "the tip of the iceberg" when it comes down to producing a quality line of collies. Many unfinished collies, which have true working backgrounds, have some faults that will prevent them from easily finishing a championship. These faults are minimal, such as naturally "pricked" ears, slightly large eyes, or a "fitted" coat. While these traits are not desirable, they do not hinder the collies ability as a working/herding dog, which is true foundation of the breed. Other traits such as normal eyes, good or excellent hips, normal thyroids, strong herding/obedience drives are traits highly desired in the collie as a breed. Sometimes these qualties are just not present in a conformation prospect.
I also do not believe in puppy "flyers" and I do not compaign my young dogs heavily. All too often, I have seen dogs finish young, before they are 11 months old, to never be seen again in the breed ring. Most of the great dogs of the past, like CH Cul Mor's Conspriator, CH Tartanside the Gladiator, and CH Two Jays Hanover Enterprise were beyond a year old when they finished. Most of the "old- time breeders" will tell you to put your collie in the back yard and not look at it until it is 2 years old. Patience is a vertue in the world of show dogs. While some dogs will finish young and retain their quality, many will not. Why put so much effort into a dog so earily when you aren't able to get the hip's OFA'd until 2 years old? Even if I were to have a dog finished by 18 months, I would have that dog out again at 3 or 4 to show the collie fancy that the quality was still there.
There has never been a dog without a fault. The degree of fault you can live with is what will set your breeding program. There is a saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water." and so this should apply to those collie which have several desirable and outstanding traits, but that one flaw that prevents it from easily finishing that coveted Championship title. A "breeding quality" dog must be able to produce puppies better than itself when bred a mate that is able to correct minor faults. All too often dogs that are just average are bred purely because they have been campaigned to the title of Champion and not because they themselves posses any outstanding traits. The absence of fault is not necessarily a virtue. Striving always to fit the breed standard, maintain breed type and perserve the health, temperament and functonality is the pinnacle of true quality breeding.
I believe in seeing the true dog for breeding purposes, so when you see my dog's with pricked ears, you know that is their weak point (as with several collies that are Champions today). While I will tape a puppy's ears through the teething stages, I do not tape my adults ears. I do not use artifical means to enhance my dogs for the show rings. I do not keep my dogs on any type of special medication to promote coat growth or delay my bitch's seasons to keep them "in-coat". I do not debark my dogs and I refrain from breeding to debarked dogs as. While I am not aganist anyone de-barking a dog so that it can keep it's home, I personnally don't like to have to do this. I have found the need to de-bark in itself, does denote a form of temperament defect that results in excessively vocal collies.
What you see in the ring is what my dogs are. What they produce in a breeding is what traits they carry. No more, no less.
The skill that a breeder has in eliminating the faults but retaining the desired traits is what makes a strong, consistant line of collies. Breeding only Champions to Champions for name sake, without the understanding of the basic principles needed to establish a strong foundation, will not withhold the test of time.
Indeed, I am not knocking the conformation ring at all, as I too aspire to a long line of collies that display the regal qualities that come FROM breeding to be competitive in the conformation ring. However, I also value the working aspect of the collie and strive to maintain those traits as well. This makes for a very difficult road as each breeding results in some trade-offs. While many people feel that you must be a supporter of the conformation ring or the working ring, I prefer to think that the wisest choice is to stand with a foot in either ring. LegendHold Collies is here to stay for a very long time. Although I may never have a CC of A "Registry of Merit" Sire or Dam and I many never be "Breeder of the Year", which here in the US is based solely on the number of Champions produced in a year or a dog's life time, I will always have a strong line of collies that can be competitive in multiple rings and uphold the reputation and "Legend" that the breed so well deserves.
And that is why I don't ONLY breed from the conformation Champions.
For more information on my breeding "ideals" check out the following doccuments supplied to every LegendHold puppy owner.
The LegendHold Promise
The LegendHold BOUNTY!
The LegendHold Companion/Pet Agreement
The LegendHold Show/Co-ownership Agreement