The Two-Tens : Recap
When I started this website in September 2008, it was quite easy to outline the important facts for each of the five decades of the Brambledale history. As the Brambledale story continues into its sixth decade, however, I have the problem of trying to write history as it happens - without knowing which events are likely to be significant in the long term.
Perhaps I should start by trying to assess the success of the project that dominated the noughties, clarify the current situation and outline my plans for the future.
The nineties had ended with the realisation that if I was to continue to breed healthy Beardies of the type and character I had always loved, I would have to look beyond the confines of the Kennel Club’s closed-register system.
After extensive research into the world of Working Beardies, I met Butler’s Don, a real ‘Owd Bob’ Beardie, working sheep and cattle in the Snowdonia area of North Wales. Brambledale Brighde’s litter, sired by Don, became the foundation of my new project and a daughter, Brambledale Brianna, went on to produce two lovely litters, both sired by another Working Beardie, Elan Jim, who worked sheep and cattle in the hills of Mid Wales.
Throughout this period I had been in regular correspondence with Dr Jeff Sampson of the Kennel Club, keeping him informed of each step of my project, of which he was entirely supportive. I had also kept the Bearded Collie Clubs provided with a stream of illustrated articles explaining the purpose and progress of the project and these were published in the club magazines.
My original plan had been to use Working sires on my bitches for two generations and then to go back to using KC registered dogs, hoping that the Kennel Club would eventually accept my outcross lines for registration on the Breed Register. I thus hoped to be able to offer the registered breed a desperately needed infusion of new blood which could help to enlarge the dangerously restricted gene pool.
By 2005 the Kennel Club, acting on Dr Sampson’s advice, agreed to consider accepting outcross dogs such as mine, provided that the Breed Clubs agreed. Accordingly, the KC held a consultation on the matter, whereupon the committee of the Bearded Collie Club launched a campaign against the proposal with such vigour and hostility that a startled Kennel Club let the matter drop. (Details of the correspondence can be read on this site under the ‘project and politics’ heading.) From my point of view, one of the most shocking aspects of the BCC committee’s outburst was that the objections they raised made clear that they had not bothered to read the comprehensive reports of my project that had regularly appeared in the club’s own publications. And to this day it remains the case that not one member of the committee has taken up my open invitation to visit me and meet for themselves the Beardies they had condemned so forcefully.
I had hoped that my hard work, research and long experience could benefit the KC Beardies by providing other breeders with a source of carefully researched and selected new blood. The hostility of the Bearded Collie Club meant that other breeders would be denied this option, unless - like me - they were prepared to forgo full KC registration.
This was disappointing but it did nothing to shake my enthusiasm for my project and the Working-bred Beardies it was producing. I was so delighted with them that I abandoned my original plan to breed back to KC lines after two generations of outcrossing. So in January 2008 our third working-bred generation was born to Brambledale Breeze ( daughter of Brianna and Jim and granddaughter of Don) whose litter was sired by Lester, a Working Beardie from Llangollen. Again I kept two bitches, Blodyn and Breezanna, now two years old and of a quality that has strengthened my resolve never to go back to KC lines.
Freedom from Kennel Club restrictions has brought enormous benefits. I have re-established the type and character of the Beardies I first knew and loved fifty years ago and today's Brambledales are completely free from the over-sensitivity to noise that makes life miserable for so many KC Beardies and their owners. Their steady, intelligent, reliable behaviour makes it possible for us all to live a happy, active life, without need for any physical restraints - no collars or leads, no cages or car crates, no kennels or 'dog rooms' - just freedom, fun and delight, both at home and on our travels. ( See my article on 'Learning' .) I had hoped to get back the character of my original Beardies : in fact my working-bred project has done more than that and my present dogs have the best temperaments that I have ever known.
Since temperament is my main concern, the character of the working-bred Brambledales would be enough to justify all the effort that has gone into breeding them. But the physical improvements are also remarkable and have increased with each working-bred generation. The most obvious is coat, which has been greatly reduced in both length and density and is also of a much coarser texture. Grooming takes about ten minutes per dog once a fortnight - I can give all nine a thorough grooming in the space of an hour and a half and my dogs can enjoy the freedom of the forest, fields and mountains without getting tangled in brambles or gorse. They also enjoy swimming every day in our local streams and lakes and are dry again in minutes.
Health-screening has been an important part of my programme and the results speak for themselves. See our Health Screening page.
The KC : Freedom from KC restrictions has brought nothing but benefit. To go back to KC registration would be to risk losing all that I have gained. Need I say more?
The future: The most exciting event of 2009 was the arrival of Briery Glen to join the family. (See Glen’s page for details.) I am very much looking forward to his first puppies in 2010. Nell, Breeze, Blodyn and Hanner are all on the short list for motherhood in the next few years and announcements will be posted on our news page in due course.
Brambledales abroad : Although I am no longer interested in KC acceptance, Working-bred Brambledales in Europe have been accepted by the Kennel Clubs of Germany and France and are attracting a lot of interest. Brambledale Black Bob (owned by Pierre and Martine Gsell and better known as Wolfie) has sired several litters for breeders who appreciate his type and temperament and the opportunity to widen the gene pool. His litter sister, Brambledale Black Enya, owned by the Grosser family in Germany, is enjoying a successful career in agility, partnered by Laura Grosser and the family hope to have a litter from her soon. Carolin Kupper's Brambledale Bubbles has also been accepted by the German KC and Carolin is now searching for a suitable stud dog for her.
December 2010 : Glen (centre) with the four puppies retained here from his first two litters from Breeze and Blodyn.
Below: Hanner leads Glen and his children in a snowy race.