Back in 1999 I found a copy Dog World magazine with a dog breed on the cover that I had never seen or heard of before, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. I was intrigued, a breed that had retriever and herding dog behind them, considering we had a Lab and a Border Collie at the time. Shortly after the article was published there was an American Rare Breed Dog Show on the Washington Mall in DC. Off I went to go meet this “new” breed. Wow, right as we walked up the Tollers were being shown.
I will never forget seeing Driftwood’s Coastal Clipper (with a bunch of titles) aka Clipper in the ring and winning Best of Breed. I was sold on the breed right there and then – but even more so once I hung out with all the owners and breeders after the show. I started talking to breeders and I found a breeder with a short puppy list. Fast forward to June 1999, and I am officially a Toller owner of Kayla – Blue Sac’s Falls River Kelpie.
Kayla was an amazing dog. Sadly she had a host of health issues. At 15 weeks she was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease. We worked on treating the disease throughout her puppyhood. Addison’s never slowed her down! She was doing her first therapy dog visits at 4.5 months and passed her Canine Good Citizen test at 5 months. As she grew her body just did not seem to fair well with the treatment for Addison’s disease. We decided to put her down when she was 19 months old. Kayla taught me a lot about how to treat puppy buyers, and to love the life you have, while you have it! She will always have a piece of my heart.
Dara (SR Foxgrove’s Daragan at Redberry CDX RAE JH NW1 WC CGC TDI) was my second Toller and what a ride it has been. Dara was born in 2001, and became my first completely positively trained dog. Also Dara was my first field training dog. My most cherished memory with Dara is passing our first field test and earning a Toller club Basic Retrieving and Tolling (BRT) certificate. Dara and I went on to be the first Toller team in the country to earn a Rally Advanced (RA), Rally Excellent (RE) and Rally Advanced Excellent (RAE) titles. She did so in straight trials, never NQing! Dara was a great competition obedience dog, but life got in my way of showing her. She ended her career with one leg towards her Utility title and one leg towards her Versatility title before her hearing loss became a problem. As Dara has aged she has become completely deaf and now has Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD). She is still a willing worker and tennis ball retriever and always will be!
I have also shared my house with a number of other Tollers. Some I have owned and re-homed due to health issues and some I have co-owned and some came to me for training. I have been very lucky to have so many willing training partners! Nelia (Seastar’s Serandipity 4 Duckpin) came when my son was one years old (bad choice even for a professional). She now lives the princess life with one of her loves, Kait Ryan in Milwaukee. Kait was waiting to get a puppy from Nelia when I got the news at 22 months old she already had hip dysplasia bad enough to cause joint damage. So instead of a puppy Kait got Nelia which was a win-win for everyone involved. Nelia did not like being a show dog, living in a multi-dog house and Kait was in a better position to take an older dog then a puppy.
I co-own Pogo (GCh Edlyn’s Hope Springs 4 Duckpin CD NA) with a local friend. I have show Pogo over the years and she lives with me from time to time. Pogo loves to show in conformation and is a delight to show. I was planning on breeding her but sadly one hip came back rated poorly through PennHip. We continued to show her since she and I liked it show much. She is my first Grand Champion! Pogo’s other owner continues to show her in obedience and some agility areas. Pogo is very quirky and has never gotten over her fear of the teeter for agility, which limits her showing.