Saturday, December 26, 2009

First Disappointment

I took Claire to our favorite vet for her ultrasound to see if she's pregnant.  She's  been showing many pregancy symptoms, unfortunately starting right after she was bred--not a good sign.  Past history has meant she was having a false pregnancy and the ultrasound confirmed it.  Claire's now retired from the breeding program and will have to be content to be just a pampered pet.  I think that will suit her just fine!
  Jewel only had one breeding before she and Henry lost interest.  Hopefully, only one breeding was needed but we're not going to expect too much.  We'll know more in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Kirkhaven Girls in the Big Snow

We survived the "snow of the century" but Claire and Phoebe are not quite the fans of snow that the other dogs are.  Claire quickly does her business and is back at the door to come in.  Phoebe got stuck in this snowbank and just waited patiently for me to help her out!  Dixie, however, loves to play with the rest of the gang in the deepest parts of the play yard.  She looks like a deer jumping from spot to spot!  See our Facebook page for more pictures!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Breeding Plans

Romance is in the air! All the girls are taking turns coming into season. Phoebe started things, but she has been retired from our breeding program. Next up was Claire. We have bred her to Gibson, but since past breedings for her have not resulted in successful pregnancies, we won't say anymore on her status unless there are puppies in the whelping box! Jewel has also come into season and while we wanted to breed her back to her grandfather, CH Westwood Aladdin (Reggie), schedules and weather made us change plans. Jewel is now being bred to Reggie's brother, CH Westwood Oh Henry. Lauren and Sadie, are you next???

A Snow Day!

Unfortunately, I don't have pictures to go with this post, although later in the week I'll have some video. We got our first snowfall of the season yesterday. The dogs have not had a play day for a week and the snow made them as antsy as little kids! I let them all out for a full day of running, chasing and play--such happy collies! It's Dixie's first snow and she wasn't as enthusiastic as Lauren, Gibson and Sadie--but who could be? Even if I had had the camera with me, those three would have been nothing but blurs as they raced through the snow. By late afternoon, everyone was filthy, tired and ready for dinner. They are definitely cold weather dogs!


Last Sunday, I was walking into the family room, nursing that second cup of coffee, when I saw what I thought was a late season fawn streaking across the field. On closer look, I realized it was Dixie!!! I tore downstairs, struggled to get my shoes on, then just gave up and stepped outside in my socks, trying to call Dixie without sounding in a state of panic (although I was, of course), which could make her keep running. Thankfully, she ran right to me, quite happy with her newfound ability to escape from the kennel. She had pushed her outside gate open which is held with a chain, but it wasn't quite tight enough. Dixie then wiggled under the main gate to begin her adventure. David said she must be a limbo artist! I was so thankful that she ran towards the field instead of the road, that it was Sunday when no hunters were about and most of all, that I happened to come into the room at that exact moment. I carried Dixie into the house, then called to David to see what I had found--"a puppy! And, she looks show quality! Can I keep her????"

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Winning Continues!

Dixie is racking up the points! She was Winners Bitch and Best of Opposite Sex at the National Capital Kennel Club and the Northeastern Maryland Kennel Club! Plus, at Thursday's show, she won Best Puppy and got her first group competion experience--Dixie won Puppy Group 3! Today's judge commented to Ellen, "she just makes you smile, doesn't she"? She does indeed!

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Dixie was Winners Bitch and Best Opposite Sex today for 2 points! Her first points towards her championship! Her daddy was Best of Variety! I'm anxious to get more details and hope there will be a repeat tomorrow!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Leesburg Halloween Parade

The theme for the library's entry in this year's Halloween Parade was "Reading's a Hoot." Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate and we had a couple showers while waiting to march, which didn't help our various owl costumes! We were joined by Mekhri, an exchange student who is enjoying her time with the Division Manager of Branch Operations. Lauren did parade duty again this year and was great--despite not having any practice since last year! She remembered what to do though and immediately got into the swing of things. Smart girl that she is, Lauren watched the bus in front of us on the parade route, and when it stopped, she stopped, when it started up, she did, too. I didn't have to tell her to "stop" or "pull!" She was not in costume this year, but her wagon had an owl for a passenger. Of course we had the many "hey Lassie, is Timmy in the well?" comments, lots of comments about how smart and beautiful she is, one person thought she was pulling a coffin, one person thought she was a border collie, and we had the wonderful---"hey, there's the library dog!!!"

Mekhri and Lauren:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Should Have Gotten a Collie, Mr. President!

I know there are allergy issues with the girls, but obviously the president has fallen under the spell of a collie! Here President Obama is meeting Reveille at Texas A&M.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Leesburg Dog Days

On our way home from New Jersey last Sunday, we stopped in Leesburg for an early dinner and to walk Dixie through the first Leesburg Dog Days. We were hoping to get some ideas for our collie club, but it was late in the afternoon and most of the vendors had been scared off by the rain earlier in the day. Dixie enjoyed herself as always and got some attention but not as much as she'd have liked. She didn't know what to make of dogs in costumes! As usual when we have one of the smooths out, we got to educate people as they tried to guess what mix of breeds Dixie might be--most people thought she had collie but then was crossed with greyhound or some other short haired breed. I heard one person say she was "definitely" part Norwegian Elkhound!
We entered Dixie in the photo contest, which was a fundraiser for the animal shelter. She stood very nicely for her picture and the photographers thought there should be a new category next year--"best behaved"--now that's not something we hear about Dixie very often! After Dixie was entered in the contest we decided it was time to head to the Oktoberfest at Doener Bistro, completely forgetting to go back to the voting booth to support Dixie--what bad collie parents we are!!

Dixie tried to avoid dogs in costume and displays of dog outfits. She only wanted to visit booths with treats!

She did enjoy meeting these two guys, though!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Quick Update

Life has been rather quiet here at Hillcroft. Dixie made her first show debuts (pictures will be posted shortly) at Millwood VA in September and this week-end in NJ. She had two weeks of show training with Ellen with positive results. I showed her the week-end in VA and she had fun! Reports from this week-end sounds like she behaved fairly well, had loads of fun and still acted like a princess. It's rained all week-end, which Dixie did not like, and she stopped every couple of feet during the down and back to shake off the rain drops! Her first specialty yesterday earned her her first trophy--a leaf shaped plate.
Gibson also went to the Millwood shows but is still not comfortable in the ring. We're now taking handling classes which seem to be helping a bit. I've seen a couple glimmers of enjoyment in his eyes but then he starts to remember that he needs to worrry about being in a ring. The goal for October and November is to see the enjoyment almost constantly with maybe just a glimmer of concern.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hard Rock Cafe

This week is our "staycation" vacation. We're taking day trips--today was D.C. with lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe! Of course, I had to get some pictures of the logo and bore our wonderful server, Morgan, with the story of Hillcroft Hard Rock, whom we call Gibson. I asked if there was a Gibson guitar pin available and she was off like a shot to check. She came back with a great deal--I could have a collectible Gibson guitar pin if I bought three more! Hard Rock Cafe is doing some charity drives, so this was an easy choice. I bought pins supporting breast cancer and leukemia research and one with the Hard Rock logo for Gibson to wear on his leash. The collectible pin I will wear for his show in Millwood at the end of the month--hopefully it will bring him luck!

Gibson's pin
Gibson's collectible pin

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Brilliant Gibson

Gibson has been off all summer and we've been working on getting him over his ring jitters and general phobia about new situations. It's been a two step forward, one step back process. At the Dog Days in August this past Saturday, one of the vendors was a "dog communicator." While I'm not desperate about Gibson's fears, I would like to get him past this stage and thought it couldn't hurt to have him visit her and maybe I could learn something. I know these things generally have a disclaimer--"for entertainment purposes"--but while this person is great at observing people and dogs and picking up clues from a conversation, she certainly doesn't know animals!
Gibson had been calm all morning, even while we put up the tent and banged things around--stuff that usually makes him roll his eyes and pace. He was laying in his crate, just watching and seemed interested in all the activity. He wanted to meet other dogs, was very interested in the HIC testing (wish we had had time to have him tested), got up on the grooming table when I wanted him to and didn't even shy away from a little guy who unexpectedly lunged at him and hugged his head. When I took him to the communicator, he tensed up for the first time that day and wanted to get out from under her tent. It was supposed to be a 10 minute reading but we barely got five. In that time, she told me Gibson is a nervous dog, would always be a nervous dog, I shouldn't breed him as he will pass this trait along, and, if I insist on showing him, I should pick a ring far away from people (like I can choose my ring!). She also said that Gibson loves living with us, much better than his first home--not that he was mistreated there but our home is better. When I told her he never lived anywhere else, that we had bred him, she didn't have a ready answer--perhaps someone in my household has treated him roughly? She then quickly changed the subject and said he was telling her he has a beautiful sister (could she have seen us walking Gibson and Jewel together?) to which I replied he has two--perhaps he doesn't think they are both beautiful! The communicator told me that Gibson misses his favorite toy, that it had disappeared and he doesn't know why, perhaps it was his tennis ball? I said he doesn't seem to like tennis balls, that the only toys that have disappeared are the ones he and Twister rip up. She told me he like to work his jaws (what insight--he's a dog!) and that's why he wants this one toy back, he would chew it and it would squeak. She put her hand on his back one more time and said he loves his food--well, he glows with health so that should be obvious!
Just for the heck of it, I asked if she could communicate a message from me to Gibson, that I had heard it was possible for some communicators. She practically jumped out of her chair and said no, if someone tells me that, they are just taking my money! (I wanted to ask what she was doing) Dogs can't think (really???) so even if she could communicate back to Gibson, it would do no good, he wouldn't understand. It would be like telling a 2 year old not to be afraid of spiders so she couldn't tell Gibson not to be worried about new situations. I thanked her for her time, gave her ten bucks and took Gibson back to the club tent.
I really started watching him after that, my "nervous" , "non-thinking" boy. He was watching Jewel intently, then started doing everything she was doing. When she got up on the grooming table, he did. When she stuck her legs in the ice water, he did, too. When she confidently walked across the field past moving cars, well, Gibson didn't have a problem with it either. I think I finally discovered the key to Gibson that I had been looking for all summer! Sure, I can't show him that new experiences aren't to be feared, but his sister can! Since Saturday, he's been a different dog--tail wagging constantly, shiny eyes, eager to do anything with me. I'm going to do a solo trip with him this Saturday and see how well the lesson stays with him. His next shows will be the end of the month and Dixie will be making her debut. If another dog really calms him and helps him learn the new situations, then I'm the one who hasn't been thinking! He's been hinting at every instance where there was another dog--the Farmer's Market, the vet, the dog park--that he's more comfortable and takes his cues from that dog. Dogs don't think, indeed--I think Gibson is brilliant!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dog Days

Gibson and Jewel went with us to the Dog Days in August in Berryville this past Saturday. They enjoyed themselves, we got to educate some people about smooth collies and met up with some friends. We were tired and sunburned by the end of the day, but we didn't get the thunderstorms that were called for and it was a great day!

Gibson chillin'

David holding court with Jewel and Gibson

Jewel made a new friend!

Waiting for the event to start

She's Really Ours!

I stopped procrastinating last night and finished Dixie's AKC registration. I've been saying her name is Hillcroft Heartsong but what if her name wasn't available? It was, her registration is now complete and she's officially a Hillcroft collie!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Oh, the Terror!!!

Saturday evening, during a nice, heavy rain, we could hear Dixie screaming, followed by some very ferocious barking. David went out to check on her but couldn't find anything. We didn't know what caused her to scream but assumed she was barking at deer hanging out in the woods near her yard. Sunday morning, we discovered the probable cause in the yard next to Dixie (see picture below)

This isn't a very big branch, but in Dixie's defense, it is loaded with black walnuts and there were more in her yard. Those walnuts make a horrible sound falling through the trees and she was probably pelted with a couple which is likely the cause of her screaming. But, being "Da Bad Baby" and ferocious to boot, she gave the intruder a piece of her mind!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Showing Her Colors

Jewel will make a great mom when the time comes! She spent today in the "girls yard", playing with Dixie. Jewel showed great patience and tolerance with the Bad Baby, unlike Sadie who had no tolerance for Dixie's puppy ways. Jewel let Dixie pull on her ears, grab her throat and generally punch her around. Phoebe was glad that Dixie has a new chew toy and enjoyed some peace and quiet!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dinner Out

Tonight we had dinner at Lowry's Crab Shack and took Gibson along. He was great! It was quite hot, there was a huge fan and lots of people so lots of hustle and bustle. Gibson let people approach him and pet him, he wanted to play with another dog who was also dining al fresco and was the most relaxed I've seen him in situations like this. I ordered him a side of hush puppies and he wolfed them down! I enlisted a family waiting for a table to feed him some "cookies" and he took them without hesitation. Ellen, you might have to start frying up these treats for the show ring!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Our Smooth Girls

Jewel "became smooth" over the week-end! She was obstinate, hard headed, had her own agenda! After ignoring commands to eat her breakfast, come here, and the exasperated "Jewel!! You're trying my patience!!!" she stayed by my side, watching me with her sweet face. Of course, I melted, and she took advantage of getting back into my good graces by racing into the play yard where I usually have Dixie, her mom and aunt spend the day. I figured today was as good as any for my smooth girls to bond and they did! Both Jewel and Dixie enjoy the same game--hide in a dog house--and they tumbled about inside so hard that the entire thing almost fell over! Their play looks very fierce but they actually got along quite well. I experimented with a different camera setting which caught every change in movement. Dixie does need her ears glued back over, but they are not actually prick as it looks in some of the pictures and Jewel can hold her ears better than it seems during this wild play session.

Ferocious Dixie
Jewel says "bring it on, little girl"

Turn-a-bout's fair play!
Dixie doesn't like not having the upper hand!
Aunt Claire's not sure she wants to join in this game!
New best friends off for a snooze!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Dog Days in August

Join us in Berryville on Aug 29 for Dog Days in August! This fun day is hosted by our new collie club, Northern Virginia Collie Club, and will have dog games, raffles, demos, seminars and more. We'll also have other dog clubs represented, rescues and vendors of great doggy stuff. Click here for more info:

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hmmm, I Wonder What I Should Do With These??

Gibson met some sheep at Frying Pan Park in Herndon:

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Gibson at the Dog Park

Another good morning out for Gibson. A quick trip through the Farmer's Market, where he was perfectly relaxed and wanted to have children approach and hang off of him, then a hard romp at the dog park. We had to drag him away from his new buddies when it was time to go home!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Break Through?

Could Gibson already have started his turn-around after Saturday's day out? He was very calm and relaxed when we had our sisters' afternoon at Casanel, wasn't afraid of the little bridge that he usually refuses to cross, laid at my feet part of the time, didn't pull or try to bolt on the walk up and back to the winery. Perhaps having Gustof as company helped and they got along very well. After we got home, we let the two boys rough-house on the deck. They made the deck rattle with their tumbling and running!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Gibson Therapy

Gibson is not enjoying himself at shows at all and we're scratching our heads as to why. Last week, the judge told me to "work with him!" and that was why he went reserve. The previous week the judge said he was shy and to get him out more. If only these judges knew how much I am trying to get him out and over his phobias! He spends too much time thinking and reacting to new situations, once he's experienced something, he relaxes and is the gorgeous Gibson. Unfortunately, the shows aren't in the same ring every week with the same judge!
Yesterday, I took Gibson with me for errands. I went to work at the library for a little bit, leaving Gibson in the car. As staff came in, they asked me to bring Gibson in so they could meet him--now that would be a good experience, right? Gibson's never been in a library, probably won't be again but still our newly re-modeled and re-opened building has lots of new experiences and smells. It must have been too much for my poor boy, he started shaking then pooped not once but twice on the new carpet!
After making that good first impression and cleaning the carpet, we headed to the Farmer's Market. Gibson got lots of attention and petting. He was interested in sneaking some cheese samples and nosed at a couple of vegetable displays. It seemed like he was relaxed and that this was good for him. But, then we came to a vendor selling flute-like instruments. The man had been playing one, I thought it was nice and Gibson didn't seem concerned about it when we were a couple of stalls away. Once we got in front of the vendor, Gibson decided it was horrible and started barking at the vendor, then stood in front of people trying to walk by and blocking their path! It seemed he was trying to drive away business! I had to drag him away and couldn't shop in that area.
Our final stop was the dog park. Gibson enjoyed playing with the basset hounds but didn't understand why they kept barking at him. Most of the dogs at the park were finishing up their play time and we didn't stay long. Gibson was relaxed on the way home--or maybe he was just exhausted.
Today is sister time at Casanel and Gibson will go, too. Then I'll know if yesterday's efforts were productive or not!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Why Do I Put Myself Through These Things???

Today was vet day for Phoebe and Dixie. All went well until we actually got to the office (meaning, the drive to Leesburg was uneventful). I got the two girls out of the car and spent a minute or two talking to a bicyclist who was especially admiring of Phoebe, even though she's so naked she looks mangy. Our latest efforts to glue Dixie's ears in place left spots of glue in places other than her ears and the bicyclist said she looked "like she's got snot all over her head". After that compliment, I headed into the office. I thought Dixie was remarkably well behaved, not pulling on the leash at all and told her so. She didn't hear me as she had slipped her head out of her collar and was running towards another admirer! Dr. Pease had also just arrived so he scooped up the escapee for me. Once inside, I fixed Dixie's collar and thought all would be fine. Phoebe started barking at the other patients, and Dixie tried running back outside, bouncing off the glass door (she really is smarter than that, honest!)
Dr. Conway had the pleasure of the exam. Phoebe was great, is in good weight and health. Dixie weighs 26 pounds now--or maybe 32, or maybe 24. She wouldn't hold still on the scale! "She's very active" Dr. Conway observed and also said she has lots of personality. Dixie was good for her exam and shots, although she did have to jump up to see what was on the surface of the corner cabinet and there was an unfortunate moment when she snapped at her mother over a treat. Phoebe was such a model patient that the clinic staff think Dixie's bad ways must come from her father! I let them know Phoebe is no saint and that Danny is known as "the good dog". While I was paying the bill, Dixie went around the desk, angling for more treats and jumping up to see what Sue was doing.
After that, I did a couple of errands. By the time I got to Home Depot, I thought it was getting too hot to leave the dogs in the car and there is no shade in the store's parking lot. Against my better judgment, I took both the girls in the store with me. I plunked Dixie down into a cart but even that made shopping hard. Phoebe was very determined to go down certain aisles while Dixie was as determined to get out of the cart. But then, the other shoppers started to notice I had a puppy in my cart and started coming over to pet her. Phoebe wasn't getting any attention! Of course, that didn't go over well at all with her and she started getting stubborn about finishing our shopping and walking to the checkout.
We finally got back to the car and Dixie had had enough, too. When I opened the back of the Sequoia, Dixie jumped from the cart into her crate! Phoebe was too irked to even consider hopping up and I had to lift her into the back.
From the show front, Gibson is driving Ellen crazy! Last week-end, he stressed over being on the grooming table and kept backing away from the judge. Ellen kept him out of a couple of the shows as he was just too tense. Today went better, Gibson took reserve and even wagged his tail a few times while in the ring. I may handle him the next two days, to see if that helps his ring jitters. The "fun" of dogs, indeed!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Beer Hunter

We had a party last week-end to celebrate Father's Day and my parents' 62nd wedding anniversary. Even with three family members and their subsequent spouses and offspring missing, we had a pretty fully house with people on the porch, the deck and downstairs. Someone must have lost track of their beverage while watching the ball game--Dixie found an unopened bottle of beer by a chair! She knocked it over--fortunately, it didn't break on the tile floor--then stepped back and looked at me. She looked like one of the hunting breeds pointing out the prey! Could she have another career besides show dog and brood bitch?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Maryland Blue Crab Cluster Shows

After a pretty long break, Gibson is back in the show ring this week-end in Bel Alton, MD. I really hope he does well and is ready for his first majors next week-end at Howard County. He could be our first home bred champion! It would be so special if it happened the same week-end my renovated library opens.
Gibson has matured in many ways, but is still uncomfortable on the grooming table, absolutely hates the dryer and having his nails done. Ellen said this week-end would also be therapy work to get over those issues!
Taking Gibson to Ellen was a long, slow process. I had been warned that traffic on 495 North was horrible on Thursdays and indeed it was! Gibson laid up against the side of the wire crate for the full two hour and 15 minute trip. When he got out, he had "stripes" against his one side--he looked like a tiger!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Changes Coming

Since our kennel has a Facebook page, I'm going to simplify our blogs instead of doing away with them completely. Soon, I'll change the name of this blog to and try to merge Phoebe's puppy blog into this one. If that doesn't work, I'll just leave Phoebe's blog inactive and put Dixie's updates on this blog--just all the past posts won't be in one spot.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Jewel's Day Out

Last week, we took Jewel out for a day by herself. She had been acting rather mopey, maybe because Sadie was gone or maybe she just knows how to get extra attention!
First stop was the new Leesburg Dog Park. We had never been to a dog park before and didn't know what to expect. We did expect Jewel to interact with the other dogs, to run and play like she does at home--wrong!! She acted as if the other dogs were beneath her so they quickly decided she wouldn't play. Jewel would only walk along the fence, then just stand and look desolate. She'd go up to any person who was still, leaning against them and staring into their face as if to say "I've been dumped here, would you like to take me home"? Once, she actually got out of the main play area when someone was leaving. I ran behind her, calling her name, but she just ignored me and acted like she had never seen me before! She did enjoy being with some children, trying out every dog's water bowl and actually acted like she would play with one dog but as she had not made a good first impression, the other dog wasn't interested.
We decided to go for lunch and took Jewel to Doner Bistro. She didn't want the bone I had brought along for her, although she would eat some of our french fries. She crawled under the table so she didn't get much attention from other diners.
Our last stop was Home Depot to buy a new grill. By now, Jewel had had it with getting in and out of the truck and walking in the heat. Every time I stopped, she'd lay down and refused to move. The other grill shopper was good tempered about it, stepping over her and saying he wasn't interested in the grill she was blocking, anyway. At the checkout, which took longer than it should have, she flopped down and stretched out on her side, refusing to make eye contact with anyone! For some reason, the other shoppers and store personnel took this as a sign of her good temperament instead of her sudden transformation into a stubborn mule--which I thought she was as we tried to get her to get up so we could take our new purchase home!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Are You a Fan?

Hillcroft Collies now has a Facebook page! If you are on Facebook, look us up and become a fan. The puppy blogs will eventually end but the Facebook page will have pictures and news of all the dogs for one stop updates.

Monday, May 25, 2009

What Kind of Dog Are You?

My sisters and I spent Sunday afternoon at Casanel Winery. Jo brought her 3 month old German Shepherd puppy, Gustof. Although Gustof lives with 5 Golden Retrievers, his exposure to other dogs has been minimal. He didn't know what to make of our collies at first! Twister was most fascinated with the visitor, thoroughly checking him out and wondering how to get Gustof into the yard to play. Jewel wasn't exactly sure she wanted to have company. Lauren greeted Gustof happily--another playmate!--but when he didn't join in the fun in the yard, she ran off to continue her games. Gustof decided our guys were o.k. even sticking his head through the fence to their delight.