It is difficult to believe that our involvement with Shelties started more than 50 years ago. It seems just like last week. I was serving my second tour of duty as a Navigator with a Vulcan Bomber Squadron in Lincolnshire when we decided that the children should have a pet. We thought about a variety of dogs that met our fairly strict criteria, namely, reasonably small, good with little children, intelligent and easy to train and finally, looked good. Obviously we chose the Sheltie.
Even then as now Shelties were very popular and not many were available. In August, 1967 we were very fortunate to acquire, from a well known Midlands breeder and exhibitor Mrs Andrea Potter, a sable and white bitch Perrietown Golden Silence (Sheba). Sheba was a daughter of Silence is Golden at Shelert and a grand daughter of English Champion Midas of Shelert. The children adored their puppy.
In January, 1968 we had our first show. Can you imagine, middle of winter, cold and wet and two or three hundred dogs, of all varieties and ages, crammed into a small Church Hall. This was a Limited Show, no Championship Certificates on offer but a very enthusiastic bunch of exhibitors.
At the end of 1969 we arranged for Sheba to be mated to Strikin Midnight of Shelert. At that time I was instructing at the Royal Air Force College, Cranwell and we travelled from Lincoln to Hill Top House, Spoforth in Yorkshire. There we had the privilege of meeting with the Misses Herbert. The Herbert's, their lovely Shelert Dogs and the views, from their home, of the Yorkshire Dales are things we will always fondly remember.
Sheba produced three Puppies which were registered by the Kennel Club under my Ardenglen prefix. Two of the three puppies went off to America with visiting United States Air Force Officers and the third went to Ireland.
In December 1971, I was posted on Exchange Duties as Chief Navigation Instructor at the School of Air Navigation at East Sale, Victoria, Australia. We were very sad to leave Sheba but it would not have been fair on her to have her in Quarantine in Australia for six months and a similar time in Quarantine in England over a two year period. She stayed with our friends whilst we were away and on our return she was so well settled that we could not take her back.
We returned to England in February 1974 and in June of that year we bought a son of Sumburgh Sirrius from Colonel and Mrs Morewood (Shep). Shep was a lovely puppy and we were once again involved with the Show Scene. It was our intention to acquire a suitable bitch and continue our breeding program under the Ardenglen Prefix. Unfortunately, we didn't get that bitch. December 1977 saw me retire from the Royal Air Force and the whole family, including the kitchen sink, return to Sydney, Australia.
For the next five years we were bereft of Shelties. The kids were involved with all of those active outdoor activities, Little Athletics, Mini Motor Bike Club and of course swimming. We also took up sailing. Although we didn't have any Shelties we did have a dog. We were given a lovely Golden Retriever (Jason) and I trained him up to U.D. Level and had great success in the Obedience Ring. Unfortunately, Jason didn't like loud noises and after a particularly loud thunder clap climbed our six foot fence and was never seen again.
With the kids and the Motor Bike grown up, Jason gone, a family conference decided that we should look around for a Sheltie and get back into the Show World.
In Australia Shelties were just as popular as in England but there are significantly fewer breeders. We contacted most of the breeders in New South Wales asking for a show quality bitch puppy. All of the people were polite in their responses, but most implied that there was little prospect of show quality stock going to anyone who wasn't currently involved. It seemed like the old syndrome "If you haven't been before you can't go again."
We continued going to Shows as spectators, asking the same questions. After a few months Ann Gordon of Tooneybank Kennels in Canberra took pity on us and let us have a lovely eight week old puppy bitch Tooneybank Te Rakanui (Shona), sired by her magnificent mahogony sable Australian Champion Tooneybank Te Hianga (Raj).
We had a lot of fun with Shona in both Show and Obedience Rings. In the Obedience she was trained and shown by our daughter Jackie. Shona was the queen of our Kennels until she died in 1997 at twelve years of age.
With Shona's help we served our apprenticeship on the Australian Scene. As a puppy she did a lot of winning and people began to take notice. Two of the people who did notice and who have gone on to be very close friends are Betty and the late Brian Johnson of Almaroy fame. Betty has forgotten more about Shelties than most of us will ever know and I will be forever grateful for all of the knowledge and expertise she has passed on to me. Betty has a very wry sense of humour and sometimes speaks in a code that I am still learning. The Almaroy Kennel has had an immense influence on Shelties in Australia.
When we started back into Shelties in Australia we tried to register our English Prefix. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to have it and eventually we have adopted the Ronashill Prefix. Ronas Hill is the highest point on the Shetland Isles hence our catch phrase "Top of the Shetlands".
The years continue to fly by. Here we are at the start of 2018, several Australian Champions later, still enjoying the company of our beautiful Breed. Long may it continue.