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I Remember the Very First Beardie

by Muriel Ratner

Bracky of Bothkennar (Slippers)

Since I feel a little bit as if I were a grandmother of the Bearded Collie Club, I want to express my pleasure and pride on what has happened to Beardies in the last twenty-five years and to congratulate the people who have made it happen.

In the early 1960's I had Shetland Sheepdogs and loved them very much, but wanted to add a larger breed to my family. A friend of mine, Gill Shields, also a Sheltie lover, returned from a visit to England, singing the praises of a "Bearded Collie", of which I knew nothing, but wanted to learn. Some correspondence with Mrs. Willison of Bothkennar Kennels resulted, and a little later a ten-week old bundle of black and white fluff arrived.

I put her in quite a large home-made play pen which had a good deal of chicken-wire on the sides. As I turned my back she put her paws in the wire and was behind me on the floor. I knew at once I was dealing with a different breed, but getting other people to know it wasn't so easy.

I took "Slippers" to a veterinarian who was highly recommended as being very up to the minute. He found her very healthy and personable but said he hoped I hadn't "been taken" as she looked like a puppy you could get at the S.P.C.A. for five dollars, and besides, he had never heard of a Bearded Collie. I assured him he would before very long. Well, I wish I could meet up with him now. Needless to say, I returned to my regular veterinarian.

For the next five or six years I made inquiries, wrote letters, and talked with people, but I did not hear news of any other Beardies in Canada, until, by quite an indirect route, Carol Gold and I became acquainted - she in Toronto and I in Montreal. Most by Carols' interest and efforts other people became interested and we soon had seven people who had Beardies to register. The CKC recognized the breed in 1970.

We had a very dedicated group working together and everyone did their bit to help. We made a few mistakes and had an occasional argument but look at our club to-day. You can't argue with success.

I am sure everyone who has been owned by or exposed to a Beardie, has some funny little stories to tell of them. What comes to my mind is the time I was driving from Montreal to Vermont with two Shelties and one Beardie in the car. When I reached Customs I gave the dogs' vaccination certificates to the officer who looked at the dogs and said, "I think you have made a mistake. I see papers for two Sheepdogs and one Collie. You have one Sheepdog and two small Collies." A short and friendly discussion settled the matter.

In my limited experience I have found Bearded Collies very intelligent, very beautiful, and sometimes very exasperating - they have minds of their own and feel they know how things should be done. A sense of humour helps here, and they can usually be persuaded to co-operate. There are no dull moments in life when dealing with these loyal friends and they are a real "fun" dog.

Best wishes to the Bearded Collie club for the next twenty-five years.

Copyright © 1995 [Muriel Ratner]
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Last revised: November 11, 2010