Nancy McDonald 2004, kennel Barksdale USA
Text Nancy McDonald

As a child, watching the Lassie show on TV was Nancy’s Sunday night ritual. She also read mostly dog and horse books in school and the Collie stories were always her favorites. When Nancy’s non-dog loving parents finally relented to let her have a dog, it just had to be a Collie. Her name was Cherry VI and was purchased from a pet shop, but she had true Collie temperament and hooked Nancy forever.

Nancy, what does it mean to you to be an honorary member in ACT?
I don't know what to even say! I'm delighted to be a member of your new
club and hope it leads to a new route of communication between your country
and America about great Collies and great Collie breeders!!!

How did you get interested in collies in the first place?
As a child, watching the Lassie show on TV was a Sunday night ritual! I
also read mostly dog and horse books in school and the Collie stories were
always my favorites. When my non-dog loving parents finally relented to let
me have a dog, it just had to be a Collie. Her name was Cherry VI and was
purchased from a pet shop, but she had true Collie temperament and hooked me

How did you start as a breeder and how did you choose your kennel name?
Lila Bates, who had some of the last Bellhaven Collies was my first mentor.
She was also still importing a few from England, namely the Crufts winner,
Ch. Bririch Gold Emblem, who did have a bit of influence here in America. I
bought a dog and a bitch by Clickam Silver Snowking. I'd never had a blue
and I fell in LOVE!! They did not have successful show careers, but they
taught me many things and gave me a jump-start when I was able to get a
better one later on. My first winner was a blue bitch, Ch. Hi Vu Winover
Glitter, CD. She was a great Collie - a multiple group winner and terrific
show dog. Every show with her was a party - she loved to show and she
taught me good handling skills and how to compete in all-breed competition
and the groups. She only had one litter and unfortunately nothing of
consequence resulted from it, but the lessons prepared me further for the
next steps. By then, there was no turning back and in 1979, I quit my job
and moved to Virginia to begin a career as a professional handler. The Roos
family (Wickmere) had invited to me live here where I totally immersed
myself in Collies and dog shows and also began to learn about shelties.That association led me to my first homebred champion, 1981 CCA BOS Ch. Barksdale Early Light.

My kennel name just came out of the blue - there was a character in a movie named "Barksdale" and I just thought it would be a neat kennel name.

How many litters have you raised altogether?
Almost 30, averaging maybe 3 litters every two years.

Which one of your collies do you find most remarkable?
It's hard to choose just one - as time goes by and their influence evolves in my breeding program, my answer would continue to change! At one time, I would have said Ch. Barksdale Blush, ROM for her quality and records she
established. She has produced at least 8 champions and has been influential in several quality breeding programs for other breeders. But now, I can make a case for Ch. Barksdale Busybody who had a nice show career, but only
produced 2 American champions. But, she has proven much more dominant for her type and the individuals she has produced continue to more closely approach my interpretation of the standard. They are more consistent within litters and while dominant, it seems it is easier to fine-tune the virtues in subsequent generations without losing the progress I've already achieved. She is the dam of Ch. Barksdale Murphy of McLean (sire of 4 champions) and
Ch. Barksdale Shenstone Sympatico (dam of 2 CCA Winners Dogs, 1 CCA Merit Award winner and the #1 Obedience Dog in Open work for 2004). She is also the dam of Finn Ch. Barksdale Stormsong who has become a dominant sire at
Snowpaw, and granddam of BIS Finn Ch. HawkEire's Spirit O'Barksdale. In a few years, my answer probably will be Ch. Barksdale Beneficiary. Answering this question is a good exercise and what it reveals to me is that our
breeding programs are the product of many individuals who contribute to making them what they are and that just one dog can't get the credit (or blame!) for the current state of a breeding program.

By now, what collies have you had at home yourself?
There are 12 adults here, 11 year old Blush and Busybody, 8 year old Ch. Tartanside Barksdale Mirage, 7 year old Sympatico and Blush's son and daughter Chs. Embellish and Brandish. Active in the breeding program are bitches Chs. Barksdale The Mistress, Ch. Barksdale Argent Admiration, Ch. Barksdale Besherit, Ch. Barksdale Luminary, Conewago Rosslane Th' Good Wych and the dog Ch. Barksdale Beneficiary. I'm now showing a son of Beneficiary and Luminary, Skyview Barksdale Trust. Right now, I have pups here from three litters, all by Beneficiary x The Mistress, Admiration and Mirage.

Which one of your bitch lines has been the best in your opinion?
Going back to the answer to #5, I would have to say the descendants of Ch. Barksdale Busybody. Her dam is a full sister to the dam of Mirage and I have been delighted with the results when I blend the offspring from these two bitches. The results of the combinations have been greater than the sum of the two parts.

What things have been important to you when planning a new Barksdale litter?
Obviously, finding the next step on the path to breeding the "perfect" Collie is the ultimate goal. Keeping that in mind, it's important to maintain virtues such as proper Collie temperament, good genetic health, longevity, balanced bodies, and the details of head quality demanded by the standard. Hopefully each generation builds on the one before it - with the progress preserved and additions that fine tune and improve on the individuals that have gone before. It's just as important to not back-step as it is to go forward - and that is often unavoidable, but building a family of individuals that produce predictably, based on a pedigree full of ancestors that are similar phenotypically and genotypically is a slow process. There is always an element of experimentation involved, because no matter how familiar you are with the products of your Collie family, you will still get surprises! Hopefully you get as many on the positive side that are advancements as you do the other kind!

What is your ideal collie like?
It's the most beautiful creature in the world! It has a long, light, smooth and elegant head, balanced foreface to backskull with absolutely NO DEPTH. Its head is built as if it were molded from one piece with a face soft and sweet with dark eyes chiseled properly into the junction between the backskull and foreface with small ears tipped lightly on top. Its eyes twinkle with joy and intelligence. It has a beautifully arched neck that blends smoothly into the shoulders to the back and ribs and then to the well-rounded croup. It has front legs set well under the body and deep, well-rounded angles of stifle and hock. It does not exhibit extremes in any proportion or abundance of coat and moves easily and freely with its head held proudly as if it could do it all day.

What kind of directions do you give to a person who buys your puppy and do you stay in contact with him?
Every puppy that leaves here goes with a microchip, instruction sheet for care, a video for ear taping and policies for neutering or show conditioning. Health is guaranteed against genetic defects until the first birthday. Every puppy is sold for the same price, but show prospects are priced with a two-level bonus structure, one paid to me upon the dog's first major win, the second paid to the Collie Health Foundation to celebrate its championship. Rebates are paid by me to the owners of pets when a receipt
for neutering is supplied. It's been a good system - if the pup doesn't make the grade, the buyer has paid a pet price, if it does, then the bonus provides me a way to get my show price; and cash in the owner's hand is the best incentive to ensure neutering is accomplished. There are no guarantees as to show quality. In America, we say "Show dogs are made, not born," and while it's hard to accept, dogs cannot be expected to be winners without proper raising, training and care. The other element is picking the right judges and right shows to compete to achieve success. I'm happy to assist in strategizing a show campaign, whether it is picking judges, negotiating with professional handlers or helping develop a conditioning or training program. Even in another's kennel, they are always Barksdale Collies and its my responsibility to support them so they represent me proudly.

In your opinion, what are the things that are important in taking care of a collie and his wellbeing?
High quality food, regular coat care, hard free exercise and parasite control are the top four. My experience with supplements has not proven they are worth the money if I am feeding a good quality kibble from which the dog is getting optimum absorption of nutrients. The old folks do get a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement, but it's hard to tell if it makes a difference.

As far as exercise goes, for optimum show ring performance, the ideal is 15-30 minutes of road work at a show speed gait 4-5 times a week. I'm amazed that a very fit dog that runs all day in its run will be huffing and puffing with its tongue hanging out after a KM beside a bicycle! But their free exercise doesn't involve the same muscles and cadence that a ring gait demands, and it really pays to develop the muscles that produce a free rhythmic trot - the judges WILL notice and reward your efforts!

The most neglected seem to be teeth and nails, and while that gets neglected here from time to time, it amazes me to have a dog brought to me to breed or show with cruddy teeth and hooks on their toes! Neglect of teeth causes more problems than people realize - excess overgrowth of that kind of bacteria is swallowed into the digestive tract and spreads it as the dog licks itself - and can cause disaster in a new litter as a brood bitch always has oral contact with her babies!

In our climate, heat is a much bigger issue than the cold. It rarely gets too cold that a Collie can't sleep outside if it is dry and out of the wind, but our summers are brutal and humid and the old folks and heavy coated ones especially need the relief of air conditioning.

What have collies given you during the past decades?
In addition to the great companionship and challenges to excel as a breeder, it's been a great form of artistic expression! I hope I can explain this so that it is understandable - it's like Barksdale is something that I have ownership of - and I mean that in a sort of spiritual way - and pride in. It's the result of my own ideas and the choices I make and only I am accountable for the outcome. That is both intimidating and exhilarating. It's not exactly what I "am," but it's part of that. I don't have children, but this must be the next best thing - each Collie is an individual and I hope that I can celebrate and embrace their individuality!

The other gift that being in Collies has given me has been contacts with extraordinary people. So many stimulating and brilliant people share a common love for this breed, when they have nothing in common otherwise. They have enriched my life by introducing me to theirs and participating in our passions together.

Collie Expressions has been another benefit of my involvement in Collies. In 1992 I felt that the Collie fancy was not being as well served by a communication device and launched Expressions as a new magazine to hopefully fill that need. It has been continuously published 10 times a year since then and has survived several competitors over the years. It has introduced me to so many great Collie people and has also provided a way for me to give back what I've taken from this sport. In its pages, breeders document the history of the breed as it occurs and it has been my pleasure to share their highest highs and lowest lows - and hopefully through articles written by our writers, offer them solutions to some of their problems. And I am able to live vicariously through many of them and imagine I am creating ads for their beautiful dogs as if they were my own!

At the end, what would you like to say to young and new collie owners?
To immerse yourself into your passion with all your heart! Do not be afraid to make mistakes! And get your education from the dogs and successful breeders by personal and intimate contact. Push yourself away from the computer and websites - time spent creating and reading websites and posting to mail lists is time taken away from real interaction with dogs and real breeders. Successful breeders are too busy with kennel chores and proper animal maintenance and husbandry to spend time mentoring people over the internet. Take advantage of their busyness and offer to relieve their burden for a chance to pick their brains - offer to travel to shows and help exercise or groom - offer to help pre-show preparation for a chance to learn how to trim or assist with a litter. They might enjoy having company for a long ride and have lots of great stories to share! Keep an open mind and look at your dogs and the dogs of other people objectively, and continually evaluate them and compare them to the best. Control the things that are in your control and the things that aren't will not matter to you.