Owning and living
with the Shetland Sheepdog is one of my greatest loves in life and I live
with my small family of Shelties in the West Yorkshire village of Shelley,
Nr. Huddersfield. I am a member of the English, Yorkshire, Mid Western,
North Wales and Northern Counties Shetland Sheepdog Clubs. I try to attend as
many seminars, lectures or events organised by these clubs as possible, as
well as adhering to their codes of practice. Most of my spare time is
spent with my dogs, but I also enjoy reading, crosswords,
playing the guitar in the church folk group, cycling and working on my
computer. I have also been known to do a little DIY when the need arises.
Although I was born
in Huddersfield, my father was Irish, having travelled to England during the war
where he met and married my mother. As my father became homesick for the
land of his birth, we eventually returned to Brosna, Co. Kerry, in Southern Ireland when I was five years old and this is where I
spent my childhood. My affix (pronounced Tock-na-modra) translates
into 'House of the Dog' or 'Doghouse' in Gaelic, because of my Irish roots,
although I must confess to now wishing I had chosen something which rolled off
the tongue a little more easily.
My father earned
his living from his smallholding and I was introduced to a variety of animals
while still quite young. I have vague recollections of puppies coming to
live with us but they rarely lived for more than a few months before succumbing
to the killer diseases which thankfully have almost been eradicated today.
My brother still vividly remembers the heartache he endured as he nursed his
seriously ill, pet dog 'Sailor'. He recalls how he sat wiping the mucus
from his dog's eyes and nose in an attempt to make him feel better as he lay
dying from distemper. This was when my parents called a halt and said 'NO MORE
DOGS!!! a decision they stuck to.
Ireland was very difficult to find when I left school, so with some forward
planning and the help of my parents, I returned to Huddersfield with my sister
at the age of sixteen, where I married and had a family. Keeping a pet at
this time had never entered my head until I was introduced to a cross-breed,
stray dog called 'Prince', who was so special to me that I feel he deserves a
page of his own to tell his story ('Site Dedication').
My love affair
with shelties began after the death of my beloved 'Prince' and I will always
remember being introduced to my first sheltie puppy. We attended the
local dog training classes and before very long I found myself searching for a
social life where dogs were made welcome. I started attending the summer
exemption shows and in 1994 became interested in exhibiting and breeding.
I only breed one or two litters a year as I have limited space and do not wish
to spoil the good relationship I have with my very tolerant neighbours.
Choosing suitable homes for any puppies I breed is my first priority and one of
my greatest pleasures is seeing the joy an eight week old puppy can bring to the
faces of his new owners. All puppy sales are followed up by a phone call
to ensure there are no problems and the puppy is progressing well, and the
majority of new owners honour their promise to keep in touch, often returning to
show me their 'babies' as adults. I am very grateful to these owners and
value their friendship and dedication to their Shelties.
have now grown up and left home, but I have the
help of "Rollin",
a very special, retired gentleman who lives in the village and looks after my
Shelties while I work and attend dog shows. He loves them as his own and is a very
valued member of 'the team'. Continuing with my hobby would prove almost
impossible without his help. All of my Shelties live in the house as pets.
Breeding, exhibiting and living with these adorable little dogs has brought me
some of my greatest joys and deepest sorrows, but as I watch them chasing each
other across the fields near my home, coats blowing in the wind, I know exactly
why I do it.