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"The River" by Garth Brooks Lyrics

Loch Vale Collies

When Rick and I married in 1987, we brought together a canister set of four dogs:

Goliath (aka Puppy), a Malamute mix
Cu Sidh, we believe a Collie/Australian Cattle Dog cross (the name is Gaelic and translates roughly to Faerie Dog, pronounced coo shee)
Pepper, a Cocker Spaniel
Sunny, a West Highland White Terror (no typo - you would have had to know her)

CuSidhGoliath was 13, so I only got to know him a short time. The other three were nearly the same age, and we started considering their successor. Cu’s temperament was close to what we both wanted, so our research led us to the Collie. We made contact with the local clubs and attended their fall ’89 specialty shows. While there we met a lady who just happened to have 11 week old puppies, one of which needed a special family to keep up with her. That was Sandy Schwedler of Sassy Collies. As she described this puppy who had been first born, first out of the whelping box and first to climb the gate out of the puppy room, we knew she was meant to be our first. A few days later, we met Skye and fell in love. As we were getting ready to leave, Sandy commented, somewhat offhandedly, that she was show quality, and we might consider showing her…

Over a decade later we’ve made the move to the country, and are on our third minivan. We used Cu Sidh as our initial kennel name, but realized quickly that no one could spell or pronounce it. We wanted a Scottish name, and struggled to find something relatively short, but distinctive. A visit to a lovely high country lake in Rocky Mountain National Park gave us the inspiration for Loch Vale.


The Loch Vale Collies (in the order they arrived):
Or go directly to their Stories

Cu Sidh Sassy Velvet Skye
Ch. Nationview Powerline x Ch. Sassy’s Velvet Slippers
Bred by Sandy Schwedler & Sherry Schwedler
9 points, 1 major
July 11, 1989 – April 12, 1996

Random Acres Cu Sidh Comedy
Ch. Countryview Screenplay x Random Acres Just Fer Grins
Bred by Phyllis & Dennis Autrey
1 point, not counting the two on top of her head
November 11, 1990 – February 4, 1998

Random Acres Just Fer Grins
Ch. Ambassador G Wiz Random Acres x Random Acres Riddle
Bred by Phyllis Autrey
December 14, 1988 – May 28, 1998
An early family photo. L-R Cu, Sunny, Pepper, Pepsi, Lucy and Skye

Ch. Loch Vale Shamrock
Tartanside The Protégé x Random Acres Just Fer Grins
March 17, 1993 – March 5, 1999
Memorial Page

Windcrest Catch Th’ Moon
Ch. Sealore’s Grand Applause x Windcrest Moonlighting
Bred by Larry G. Willeford & Pat Marshall
June 11, 1991 - February 7, 2005

Loch Vale Four Leaf Clover
Tartanside The Protégé x Random Acres Just Fer Grins
May 19, 1994 - October 27, 2006

Loch Vale Shannon’s Spun Gold
Tartanside The Protégé x Random Acres Just Fer Grins
May 19, 1994 - August 22, 2002
Quaid’s Canine Epilepsy Page

Shenstone Loch Vale Gossip
Ch. Shenstone’s Bit Of Intrigue x Ch. Barksdale Busybody
Bred by Joyce Dowling & Nancy McDonald
3 points, 1 major
January 17, 1997 - July 10, 2007
Gossip's first big win

Apache Moon Over Loch Vale
Ch. Twin City The Great Divide x WestRiver PleasantAcre Starlite
Bred by Marylee Renard
December 30, 1996 - July 10, 2007

Tapestry Loch Vale Addition
Ch. Shenstones Intriguing Too x Tapestry Shenstone Chapeau
Bred by Joyce Dowling & Lisa Finken
8 points
August 1, 2000 - February 14, 2006
Daniel's page

Windcrest Loch Vale Nighthawk HIC
Ch. Countryview Tonite's Th' Night x Avalar Windcrest Winsome
Bred by Judy Gorham and Larry Willeford
6 points
January 24, 2003
Pilot's page

The Stories

Skye – First Points, First Major

Ribbon“Show prospect” – what magic words to a dog show novice. We took young Skye everywhere – matches, handling classes, then her first shows. What a beginning for all of us, 7 huge specialties over 17 days. Skye was not competitive as a puppy, but we couldn’t see that. She was the most beautiful dog in the world – so what if she had no coat? We competed in the puppy classes, and Skye taught me how to handle. Every novice should be lucky enough to start out with such a natural.

SkyeThis was in the days before a 12 – 18 month class was offered, so after her birthday we had to make the big step up to Open class. The Collie exhibitors were scurrying around the grooming area making sure all the entries were there. Sure enough, it was a major. We understood the point system, but the idea of actually winning a major was as remote to us as Best In Show. I don’t remember the large Open Sable class, except for standing at the marker to take her blue ribbon. Back in for Winners – but this time at the front of the line with the big dogs. Skye moved like a dream as the judge went over the class. Then, wonder of wonders, the judge came back and asked us to move again. I whispered in Skye’s ear “This could matter” and she floated down the mat again. The judge motioned us to the front and said “Take them around” – our first points and first major! (This photo was taken at a later show, under the same judge.)

Pepsi – The Forest Creature

Pepsi was a very dignified lady who enjoyed her life of leisure after retirement. Early one spring, we had a full week of warm still days, during which our many oaks exploded into bloom. On such days, Pepsi liked to find a quiet spot in the yard for a nap, away from the bustle of the other dogs. While she was enjoying her snooze, the wind picked up. The catkins (the green, caterpillar-like oak flowers) sailed off the trees in a bright green blizzard. Where ever Pepsi was laying, she must have drifted completely over. She awoke, and, being a dignified lady, considered a full shake beneath her. So she calmly strolled in through the dog door. Imagine our surprise when we were joined in the living room by a large green creature! I'm afraid we truly insulted her dignity at that point, when we unceremoniously hauled her back outside for some much-needed brushing.

Skye – Obedience Dog

SkyeI could have finished Skye had I put her out with a handler in her youth. Would it have mattered? Not to me. It was time to give up on her show career, though, but I couldn’t bear to leave her home every time I set off with another dog. So, we enrolled in an obedience class. She did great in class, but (of course) there were no matches at that time. Never ones to do things the easy way, our first attempt in a real obedience ring was at the big Oklahoma City cluster. Her warm up went well, and we entered the ring confidently. The judge gave the first stop command. Skye looked at the mats, the crowd, and the judge, and walked around in front of me and set herself up in a perfect four point show stack. On the Forward command, I took off along her shoulder, and she swung back into perfect heel position. On the next Stop, you could almost see the cartoon bubble over her head - "You want me to do that sit thing ... here? ... at a dog show?" She s..l..o..w..l..y settled into a sit, as if to say "I'll mess my skirts." We NQ'd on points that day, but I'll carry her proud picture to my grave.

Lucy’s “Litter”

Lucy Lucy was our first intentionally acquired show dog, and she was meant to be the foundation of our line. After careful planning, we sent her to one of the top studs in the country for a nice linebreeding. We couldn't tell if she was pregnant. Our mentor thought probably so, but a small litter. As her due date approached, I slept with her in the whelping room. Sure enough, one night she started panting and scratching the heck out of the newspapers in the whelping box. “YAHOOO, here we go,” I thought. I let her out to potty and started the coffee pot. She made a slow tour of the yard, checking every possible concealed spot. I stood at the window watching carefully, sipping my coffee. She spent almost an hour checking out the yard, while I was poised to race out and intervene if she began to deliver. Lucy finally popped back in through the dog door. She trotted into the living room, hopped up on the couch, and promptly fell asleep. It was 3:00 in the morning, and I had just drunk half a pot of coffee, so I just sat and watched her sleep. An x-ray the next day showed no puppies - JUST KIDDING!

Lucy never did produce a puppy. Since she was a half-sister to the epileptics, it may be true that things happen for a reason.

Patrick – The Snow Monster

Snow is rare here in Texas, but we get the occasional flurry. One workday morning, it was actually snowing fairly heavily. The dogs waited until I finished breakfast to give them their cookies, then headed outside as usual to do their business, while I went in to prepare for work. Just as I took off my robe to dress, in trotted what appeared to be a massive Samoyed. Patrick, with his huge coat, was not aware that he was fully covered with snow. Not aware, that is, until he reached the bathroom … and proceeded to shake. Needless to say, I was wide awake for my morning commute.

Patrick’s Bunny

One Mothers' Day I was sitting at the computer when Patrick came blowing in through the dog door, with several others trailing him. I just smiled at him as he went by and didn't pay much attention, until I heard "EEEEE.....EEEEE" from the living room. I raced in just in time to see him give that "I've got something" head flip. I held my hands out and ordered GIVE (not necessarily the brightest thing I've ever done). That's not a command I train, but he very carefully deposited an adolescent bunny in my palm! He was totally unhurt, just a little soggy. He was old enough to forage on his own, so we took him to the back of the property and released him. For most dogs, that would have been a snack, but Patrick protected that precious little life. There is a reason we have Collies, after all...

Pepsi – The Deal

PepsiPepsi didn’t like dog shows. It was not a temperament problem, just a matter of priorities. She would have been perfectly happy to lay on the couch to eat boiled liver, and did not see the point of getting all dressed up and having people stare at her. We made a deal with her – give us something pretty, and you can retire from the ring. Her first litter was only two puppies, but it became obvious very quickly that she had held up her end of the deal. One puppy was truly special – Patrick (on the right in this photo). We repeated the breeding, but didn’t get anything like his quality. As beautiful as Pepsi was, and as much as I wanted to show her as a Veteran, we kept our promise to her.

Mia - The Girlfriend

MiaMia came to live with us shortly after we moved to our current house, our first blue merle. It was love at first sight for Patrick, and he doted over her constantly. His fixation extended even to other blues. Any time he saw another blue merle, he had to check and see if it was his best girl. It didn't matter what it was - male, Australian Shepherd, Sheltie - it just might be Mia. Any time any of the girls came in season, she was the one he had to check. Alas, it was unrequited love. Because of his epilepsy, Patrick could never be bred.

Cu, Skye & Patrick - Triple Alpha

For a while, we had an interesting pack hierarchy. When old Goliath died, Cu naturally became alpha over the smaller dogs. Skye became Cu's protege as she grew up. As Cu got older, she visibly "handed off" certain tasks to Skye, such as racing all the way to the back fence to bark at something. (They wrote the job description.) Once Patrick was born, both girls deferred to him as the alpha male, but still retained their self-imposed responsibilities.

Pepsi – Mama’s Law

It can’t be all bad if it comes with food.

Gossip – The Arrival

After we hit the problem with epilepsy in our original family, we had to start over. I studied the various lines and decided which ones might have potential for a new beginning. I inquired about a couple of breedings, but was never high enough on the list to get a show prospect. Two years passed, just watching and waiting. Finally I saw a brief note buried in a big magazine ad that said one of my favorite bitches, Ch. Barksdale Busybody, was going to be leased to Joyce Dowling to be bred to Ch. Shenstone’s Bit Of Intrigue. The moment I saw the names together, I knew their puppy just had to be named Gossip. Since Joyce didn’t know who I was, I wrote a letter expressing my interest.

Time passed, and I didn’t hear anything. That’s not unusual when an unknown inquires about buying a show puppy. Frequently there are not enough show quality bitches for everyone who might want one, particularly from a breeding between two fairly well known dogs. We heard about another nice breeding, and I made arrangements to drive to Arkansas the next week to see the bitch that was available. That very Friday night, the phone rang. It was Joyce. There were two bitch puppies. Nancy McDonald was taking one, and did I want the other? I was so startled I couldn’t even speak coherently. I called back Saturday morning and made the arrangements for Gossip to come to Texas.

GossipI was a nervous wreck by the time I finally went to the airport to claim our new baby. This was to be our new foundation, and I hadn’t even seen a picture of her. FINALLY a baggage handler appeared with a crate. He set it on the ground and started asking me to sign the paperwork. All I could see was a glimpse of black and white. Papers signed, I could finally open the door, fully expecting a messy puppy. She was clean, and waited patiently while I attached a lead to her collar. That 11 week old puppy then stepped calmly from the crate, set herself in a perfect stance, and surveyed her surroundings as if to say “Nice airport. I’ll take it.”

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© 1999 Loch Vale Collies

"The River" by Garth Brooks

You know a dream is like a river
Ever changing as it flows.
And the dreamer's just a vessel
That must follow where it goes.
Trying to learn from what's behind you,
Never knowing what's in store
Makes each day a constant battle
Just to stay between the shores.

(chorus) I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry.
Like a bird upon the wind
These waters are my sky.
I'll never reach my destination
If I never try,
So I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry.

Too many times we stand aside
And let the waters slip away
Until what we put off 'til tomorrow
Has now become today.
So don't you sit upon the shore line
And say you're satisfied.
Choose to chance the rapids
And dare to dance the tide.


There's bound to be rough waters,
And I know I'll take some falls,
But with the good Lord as my Captain
I can make it through them all.

So I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry.
Like a bird upon the wind
These waters are my sky.
I'll never reach my destination
If I never try,
So I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry.

Yes I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry.

..........'Til the river runs dry.