Our Beardies


An outstanding period in our family was the time when we had two bearded collies.

The beardie is a great family dog, a breed registered after World War II, a relative of the border collie. Both breeds are from Scotland, the border with short hair from the lower Highlands, and the beardie with long hair from the upper Highlands.

We got Blaze when she was six weeks old. Our girls were 14, 12 and 10. We decided to put Blaze through obedience school and show her. Ten points would make her a champion.

Dog shows became our recreation for several years. Midway we got Shadow.

Actually, our youngest daughter Rebecca and an owner of several beardies agreed to split the cost of buying a puppy from a breeder near Minneapolis. They threw in $250 each.

We named her Shadow because everything she did was an echo of what Blaze did. Shadow would not go to the bathroom until Blaze did. Then she would sniff the ground where Blaze had peed and go herself.

We taught Blaze tricks.

“Play the piano!“ was one command. She would jump onto the piano bench and strike the keys with her paws.

“Bang!” was another one. Blaze would roll over dead and stay that way until we said okay.

“Amen!” She would cross her paws and lay her head down on them.

Shadow did things too but she always turned her head to see what Blaze was doing.

The end of our showing career came when Blaze had eight points. Two more would make her a champion.

We were at a dog show in Portage la Prairie. Only two beardies were registered for competition, Blaze and a dog owned by Linda Smith, the vivacious president of the Bearded Collie Club of Manitoba.

Her dog was a champion already.

Linda had an idea. She would keep her dog from going to the bathroom until it was time to go into the ring. Peeing while on show was an automatic disqualification. In the ring she would give her dog a signal to pee, and her dog would be disqualified, and Blaze would get a point.

That’s how it happened. However, just before the end Blaze peed as well, so there was no winner. Blaze never got to be a champion.

A tragedy happened in the club. We were at a supposed club meeting, but really there to surprise Linda on her 21st birthday.

It was raining. Linda was coming to the meeting on her Harley. Her motorcycle collided with a big truck on the slippery highway and Linda was killed instantly.

“Birthday party turns into a wake,” the headline said next day.

Linda‘s passing spelled the end of most club activities because she had been the life of the party and now she was gone.

We enjoyed many parties and show times with members of the club who became good friends and loved our three pretty blond daughters.

Blaze and Shadow went to doggie heaven, but Rebecca still has Shadow’s ashes in an urn..

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