My first introduction to Bedlingtons, in 1984, was to buy four dogs to rescue them from not very nice living conditions when I had gone to buy a Jack Russell Terrier!! Two of the four were called Honey and Misty – hence my affix.
Honey relaxing on her favourite chair
Misty at Crufts in 1987
Though I loved all of them Honey will always be special, she was such a character she even got get
well cards from customers during her final illness. It is now several years since she died, and I
still miss her. Misty was special too, but was more independent as blues tend to be. I always
have a soft spot for livers as I think they are more mischievous and fun loving
Having never seen this breed before I fell in love with them and more and more joined the family until we now have about twenty at any given time!!
I was brought up on the edge of the English Lake District, but though many Bedlingtons used to be found in Cumbria I never saw a Bedlington until I met them in 1984! After school I obtained a BSc at the university of Durham (Honours in Botany believe it or not!) and even though with Dave Bellamy as my academic tutor we did a lot of field work in north east England still I am not aware of ever seeing a Bedlington! As a child at home we had cats then Shelties, so at Uni I missed having animals about. After we were married and my husband completed his PhD we moved to Scotland supposedly for him to complete a two year contract. When he was taken on as a lecturer I gained promotion to Head of the Biology Department in a large new comprehensive school and we moved to our first proper house..and immediatly bought two crossbreeds..or mongrels! Many years later the now Professor Davies and I moved to Ayrshire, and that is when I met my first Bedlingtons. I had been an FE lecturer, reached Head of Dept. and had become thoroughly fed up of teaching. After I got my first 4 Bedlingtons it became more or less impossible to go out to work so I re-invented myself as a Boarding Kennel owner and converted part of the old farm we had bought into kennels, and I started dog showing…they say life begins at 40….well, I was at about that age!!!!. very quickly my kennels became very popular and we moved to a bigger kennels, which also brought with them a huge house and a large area of ground. Much hard work followed. My Mum died just before we moved to Struthers and a few months later Dad came to live here.
Our first Champion, Honeymist Blue-Trane, shown winning Veteran Stakes at 10 years
Until 1992 I could not get to many Championship shows but we had won a lot of firsts, best terrier puppies, groups, RBIS’s and BIS’s at Open shows where Judges kept voicing their surprise that we didn’t have any CC’s. After my Dad came to live with us we started attending more Championship shows and had our share of success. Ch.Honeymist Blue-Trane was our first homebred champion, who apart from being an absolute joy to live with was a very intelligent dog. He was only shown at a few championship shows until he was almost four then he went on to win 8C.C’s., many BOB’s with and without CC’s including the coveted BOB at Crufts, 7 Res C.C’s, Terrier Group and RBIS’s, at Birmingham National in 1994, Joint Top Dog for 1994, twice qualified for the Veteran Stakes Final. (the first time he was 5th, the second time, a few weeks before his tenth birthday, he was short-listed), and also gained many BIS’s., RBIS’s and BOB’s, at Open shows, including RBIS from Veteran at the Terrier Club of Scotland, Top Sire, Top Stud dog and so on. Trane is behind many champions.
Trane, Elmo, Bunny, Fanta & Solo on a leisurely stroll.
Since our first Champion we have never looked back and we have had a number of UK champions and have Champions in five other ccountries. Not only have my dogs brought success to the Kennel but each and everyone is, or was, a joy to own and love. There have been great heartaches too, with the loss of Honey (aged 10 ), Misty ( almost 16 when she died ), Jody ( Tranes Mum who was almost 17 when she died ) and more recently Bunny, Trane and Chick being particularly painful separations. I suppose the more you love them the more it hurts when you lose them, but I could not live without Bedlingtons on the best chairs, on the bed, in the car, chasing rabbits through the flowerbeds….without tending to the Golden Oldies, the smell of tiny puppies and the sight of graceful, beautiful dogs chasing about our huge garden and grounds… and they all seem to respect the flower and shrub beds and run round them not across them unless chasing a rabbit!!
WE HAVE FUN HELPING OTHER DOGS TOO
We have lots of “posh” or fun dog coats which we have used to do an occasional dog fashion show to help raise money for dog charities, and for human charities too. For example we helped raise almost enough to buy a PCR machine for DNA work in Bedlingtons and gave a generous donation to the Marie Curie Charity from ONE shows we did!
Trane is wearing a coat, “hunting pink”, which a newspaper reporter bought in Manhattan and gifted to Trane after my dogs posed for a photoshoot for the Sunday Mail. Chicks smart denim jacket is from Selfridges in London, Solo’s sequins coat came from a stall at a dog show. We have coats, collars and leads from Harrods too and many coats I made including smart grey wedding “tail coats” complete with a fancy shirt front and grey silk ties and bride and bridesmaid coats…a proper fashion show finale!
We often held a “Beddy Picnic” at the kennels, in what started out as a caravan storage field (now a garden complete with large pond). Gradually we got rid of the stored caravans..people used to turn up at all times of day and night to collect them or bring them back, we started keeping the grass mown so we could exercise both our own dogs and the boarders but now there are also flower and shrub beds, rockeries and so on as well as a huge expanse of grass.
Below are some photographs taken at one of our fancy dress picnics:
“HMS Chick” above. Centre Chick the sailor with an eye for the ladies and Charlie (right) competing for “best hat”, he will be 13 in 2007. Another broken heart when Chick left us for doggy heaven this year, you can just see how special he was from the photos
After I had my first litter in the mid 1980s I discovered that the breed could have something called Copper Toxicosis from someone who bought a puppy as her dog had just died of CT, she has become a good friend and fellow fund raiser for CT research. Pat was invalided out of the RAF where she had reached the rank of Squadron leader, pictured below after dinner at Christmas time.
I set about finding out as much as I could. At the same time I was studying for a number of qualifications from the Canine Studies Institute. I had a degree in Botany and a Diploma of Education..but these hardly equipped one to run a boarding kennel, nor to breed and show dogs! For the Breeders Diploma I chose as my special study “Copper Toxicosis in Bedlingtons”. I got carried away because I was so interested and did far more than was remotely necessary to gain the Diploma. I surveyed the literature which was available and then managed to get hold of a large number of hand written pedigrees for most of the affected dogs known at the time. Ken Bounden was able to let me have some info on the missing pedigrees and the Kennel Club library constructed some pedigrees (all hand written!) Now it has to be said that there were spelling mistakes and other errors in these pedigrees, so I noted their origin in my special study!!! It did not really matter because none of the minor mistakes made it impossible to use the pedigrees to demonstrate that I understood how to use them plus biopsy information to compile lists of carriers, probable carriers, non-carriers and affecteds. I also used the pedigrees to trace back to the common ancestor of all those affected dogs ……. I believe the most likely source dog for CT is Ch Knowlton Peter Pan, born 1929.
While I was doing all this more and more questions occured to me about the disease, some of what was written just did not make sense, it did not add up! Eventually I organised to meet with a geneticist /microbiologist at the University of Strathclyde. Before my visit he read the papers and breed handouts I sent him, his suggestion was that I enrol as a research student. I ended up doing research in the Dept. of Bioscience and Biotechnology looking for an alternative method to biopsy for diagnosing “CT” in dogs which were not ill..ie were asymptomatic. By the time I was working on visualising a protein which might well have led to a viable test my time was almost up for my Masters. I had also gained the help of a computer programmer to develop a pedigree program which, among many functions, automatically tagged as carriers the offspring and parents of affecteds. I have now extended the number of dogs in my pedigree program to over 27,000 going back to the start of KC registration records. I still have a number of years to put in, but once complete the program will allow a modern UK bedlington to be traced back to its earliest KC registered ancestors..in many cases back to the 1890s!!! If I ever get it completely finished that is….
Pictures at my Master of Philosophy “Congregation”, my BSc hood/cape is fancier, it is purple with white ermine!!! You can see my Dad and Husband were proud of me! My Head of Dept. was too..said he got Brownie points for “mature students” like me (age about 50!)!!!
Originally I was to have continued on to a Doctorate, but running a business, looking after house, husband, dad, dogs, going to dog shows AND doing research was taking its toll..I realised I could not go on! Towards the end of my Masters the Vetgen people announced the “DNA LINKED MARKER” test. They granted us at Strathclyde permission to use the test. We began looking at it and after I finished my Masters I was appointed Visiting Scientist so I could oversee the projects being done by a number of students. I was a Visiting Scientist for a couple of years, but then the lecturer interested in the project moved and sadly the research ground to a halt. However, during the time at Strathclyde I built up a lot of good academic contacts many of whom I am still working with to try to finally get to the bottom of liver copper problems in Bedlingtons. It helps stop the brain rusting!!
Since 1999 I have been Top Breeder in the Terrier Group twice and Top Breeder for Bedlingtons five times.
In the last three years we have not gone to as many shows as we used to, the stalls are always more or less the same thus now fairly boring. The 700-1000miles plus round trips in about 30 to 36 hours have begun to pale and there are some judges I have no wish, nor need, to show under, This has the benefit of giving me back three days in the week which would have been spent in preparation, traveling and showing. My fish, my own dogs and my garden appreciate the extra time spent on them, as does my husband!!! These days I miss seeing some of the top breeders and real characters that were around until a few years ago, and I miss mingling with the high quality dogs we used to have at every Champ.show. Even 12 years ago if you did not have a really good dog and did not present your dog to the best of your ability..and that needed to be pretty good, you might as well have stayed at home. Before a forthcoming show the older breeder would warn things like “she’s a stickler for ears, make sure your dogs’ ears are immaculate inside..and the teeth clean”.. or even good dogs would be down the line from more or less equally good dogs which had clean ears! Trimming and presentation had to be good. One can argue that this should not be so, but when almost all the exhibits were generally of high quality it was the extra effort which could then pay off. Sadly, in recent years I have heard comments from the ringside audience at Crufts such as “some of these dogs look as if they have been dragged in off the street”, and “a lot of these dogs should never have qualified for Crufts”. I will say no more on the subject of lack of quality/ deviation from the breed standard etc., oh, and some dodgy temperaments……..
Olive and Stan Stones near the end of their showing Me/Ch."Bunny" with Olive in the ring Chick "killing" a fallen pear!
We now have a West Highland White Terrier we show which was bred from dogs given to me by Brian Plummer when he knew he was soon to die. Brian, amongst many other talents, was a well known author of various terrier, lurcher and other similar books, maker of the Plummer Terrier a “new breed” and owner of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels which he taught to work! We have enjoyed the Westies, they are all good tempered and fun, though they could never rival a Bedlington in my affections! Recently I bought a very nice, promising little dog puppy which has Jenny Griffiths’ top winning dogs behind it. Jenny is a busy lady, among other things she is Secretary of the National terrier Club, but she still finds time for novices and has been a tremendous help to us!! We have found the Westie people very friendly and nice. Lorraine can be very persuasive..so we also have a few very nice Chihuahuas which are occasionally shown.