A little history lesson on me :)
Its always a good idea to reassess what made you fall in love with the breed. About 6 years ago I started researching herding breeds of dogs. I wanted something ultimately for herding our cattle and we had had German Shepherds, mutts, Rough Collies, Australian Cattle Dogs, Border Collies and English Shepherds in the 100 years before I had dogs of my own on this farm. I remember only the last three, but there are many stories of the ones before hand that did such great work. Heck there was even an Airedale in the mix that did decently at herding cattle.
I had been looking at all of the herding breeds on the AKC website and did not want a breed with long hair. Our farm dogs had to be shaved every summer from the mats they got. Before purebred dogs (show dogs) I believed what every farmer believed. Dogs had a purpose, a job. They slept outside in a dog house, or in the dairy barn. They protected us at night from intruders (four legged or two) and were always at our side wherever on the farm we went. They didn't go in to town for shots, the large animal vet came and gave the shots on site.
Getting my own unique breed of dog was a huge undertaking. I had decided early on it would sleep in the kitchen of the house, but be outside like a real farm dog most of the time. I would of course take it in to town to get shots and it would like to ride in the cars unlike most of our farm dogs. I studied on breeds I liked. I really liked the Beauceron but was having a hard time finding any that were reasonably priced (under 1,000 dollars).
I went to our local rodeo and while I was watching bull riding, a couple of kids walked through the area with some Pembroke pups. I was immediately at their side asking questions. I went home and spent the next few days researching the breed and trying to find local breeders that I could go and visit. I was on the phone with several of them for many hours and thought this was the breed for me.
A short legged dog that couldn't destroy a house (at least not the top 3/4 of it) that had a short coat requiring little grooming (ahem) and was still ultimately a cattle dog and didn't act like a little yippee squirt.
Upon reading about them on the AKC website I found a cousin called the Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Immediately I was drawn to their look. And their uniqueness. Having vehicles, pigeons and other hobbies that were uncommon and unique I was really fascinated in this breed. I went to the CWCCA website and read everything I could. Google was my new best friend. I searched for breeders on the CWCCA website that I could visit or contact. At the time there were none in WI, ND, SD listed and only one in MN. I contacted her. She had told me she had just had a litter.
I really had wanted something originally to herd the cattle and as my interest keeping getting higher I thought 'heck I show pigeons, how hard can dog showing be?' and asked if she had any show potential pups available. Sadie came home with me a couple months later!
I learned quickly at the Fargo-Moorhead Kennel Club training classes all the errs of my ways in teaching dogs things. It was a complete 180 degrees on what I thought should happen with dogs. And my training excelled with the new direction with the help of Mary Morris, a great friend and mentor. Sadie also wormed her way into my heart and eventually the entire house was hers to claim. yes even the bed. Its amazing how different 'real' dog people think versus your average farmer or average person in the world. I digress...
I then was so excited about the herding prospect that I went and purchased ducks for her. Sadie was a natural. I started looking at small breeds of sheep as the one time Sadie DID herd the cattle, I was terrified as Sadie looked so tiny out there but she knew exactly what she was doing. That is how I got my Shetland Sheep. We all know that story, and if you don't, well I have about 85 of those sheep now :)
My very first B match show was in Mason City, Iowa. Dawn Fisher and Sadie's littermate Magic came down to play too. I was entering a world I had never really thought about, or seen. Especially not first hand. It was overwhelming. It was exciting.
Fast forward a few years. I've now done agility, rally , obedience, herding, CGC. I've gone to two nationals, and one Western Reserve, which we all know is the world's largest regional specialty. I've gleaned websites for information on the breed, always learning, always asking. I've scoured and researched pedigrees, asked for photos, asked for answers, begged to see dogs move.
While doing all of this research and question and answer time, I was always drawn to a certain 'look'. Its no secret that Cardigans, although an uncommon breed in the US, has MANY styles and looks. I collected as many old handbooks and bulletins that I could find. I read them over and over and over and over. There are not a ton of dogs that really float my boat. Before anything else I always have looked at what I feel is breed type and style. Outline. Silhouette. I was always getting drawn to the older Joseter, Kennebec, Pluperfect, Chandler lines. However this photo sealed the deal for me:
This is Pluperfect Pennyroyal aka "Clover". She is a linebreeding (mother/son) and her outline and construction here was just enough to take my breath away. This is my inspiration. I never was able to see her move, and I always feel that i got into the breed 'too late' as I wasn't able to see any of the 'greats' alive and in the fur.
Upon further research (I do a lot of it on the breed) I found this photo of Clover in the 1996 CWCCA handbook. Still breathtaking and still exactly what I think a Cardigan should look like.
Then this cardiped.net comes along and I find this STUNNING photo of Pluperfect Pennywise aka Labsheeda. Its one I hadn't seen before and wow another photo that took my breath away.
I could gush about him, but I'll let the photo speak for itself. He has so many merits I would run out of room or you would bore yourself reading it. Truly a remarkable dog.
Just over three years ago (or is it 4?) I contacted Barb Hoffman about a show potential female from one of their upcoming litters. I was really wanting a sable, but in the end, realized that construction is more important than color. I was offered Ell, and I took the opportunity. One to say I'm so glad I did! I am so thankful for that opportunity to own such a typey, lovely bitch that goes back to these two a fore mentioned red dogs.
Barb is always the one I go to for answers first, and she is a great mentor and role model and also a great friend. She's always making me look at things in a new light. When Ell's grandmother "Hannah" was awarded Best Veteran two days at the Western Reserve and one day awarded BOS under breeder judge Nancy Cunliffe, I could not be happier or more proud for such a great and wonderful breeder and friend. Her and Jon have done some wonderful breedings together and I think I'm more excited for their litters than they are, just so I can see what they have and watch them grow.
I really think watching pups grow and mature is key to understanding the breed and how they develop. Looking at old bulletins and handbooks when the now veterans were pups is really an eye opening experience.
I've got so much to learn yet, and many more questions to ask (just beware!) and I'm really excited about the breed. I hope that I can have a lasting affect on the improvement of the breed overall, even though I'm just getting started now.
Along the way I've met many other great wealth of knowledge people besides Barb and Jon. JoAnne Beashau is another mentor and one who tells me like it is. Sometimes it was an eye opener, other times it was exactly what I needed to hear and I knew it, but didn't want to accept it. Carolyn Cannon has been a great person to go to, to ask questions and pester :) Kim Shira, Denise Waiting, Paul Chen, Sarah Keth are also some of the folk not so lucky to get away from the question asking. But I think they enjoy it, or they wouldn't answer my emails and phone calls :)
Its all about learning and asking questions. I think when you stop asking, you stop learning. So in that case my questions will never cease! >:)
Thank you to ALL of you who have helped make this such a fun, exciting, friendly journey of growth for me. It really is appreciated!