Note: This is just my opinion on the following topics. Frequently, there is more than one way to do anything and this is just the one I go with. If you want the background on why I think the way I do, feel free to read the History section.
Supplements: I am not a big believer in arbitrary supplements. Many vitamins and minerals are dangerous if not given in the correct amounts and with the correct vitamin/mineral groups. I began giving the dogs Human Grade Nature Made Fish Oil and have been floored by the results. Clearly these things are hard to make available to dogs systems when they are added in packaged, dry food formulas. I too am taking Fish Oil judiciously and have seen real improvement in my own health as well.
Vaccines: I believe firmly in minimal use of vaccines and using titers to prove the effectiveness of the vaccines used. After my bout with Parvo, I tend to believe that maternal antibodies stick around longer than we used to think and giving vaccines to puppies before 22 wks is probably a huge waste of time and just a drain on the puppy’s auto-immune system. Also, many vaccines can provide protection for the life of the dog if given at the right time. I cannot and will not advocate yearly vaccines. It is not safe nor is it necessary.
Heartworm preventative: There is no “entirely safe for every dog” heartworm preventative. HW preventative is a pesticide and should be treated as one. Interceptor brand is known to cause the fewest side effects and the daily HW preventative is also known to be mostly side effect free. Without knowing the MDR1 status of a collie, it would be unwise to choose a formulation that uses Ivermectin such as Heartguard brand.
Flea and Tick preventative: We do not have ticks where I live. We do have fleas. Frontline is my choice. I do not believe in using any other pesticides and utilize diatomaceous earth and boric acid. I typically only use Frontline once a season but the last few years the fleas have returned which means I have had to use it again. Using no pesticides except Frontline since 1992 has brought about a resurgence of tarantulas in my yard and neighborhood. Although they are pretty scary, they also eat anything that moves and are not of a lethal variety.
Crates: I am so into crates! I am so into them that if you don’t like crates, I would rather you didn’t buy a dog from me. Of course, crates have to be used correctly and dogs shouldn’t live in them but they are a wonderful training tool and also can be used to keep a dog safe.
Obedience training: I think obedience training is a great way to work with collies. Whether it is just to make life at home better for all or a competitive activity, obedience is a wonderful tool for bonding and control. Obedience training can also train humans to be alpha which will solve most problems. Collies want to please but they also get bored easily so find a trainer that “gets” collies and won’t waste time with stupid, uneducated comments about collies having their brains bred out of them because they have a long nose.
Debarking: I have had to debark one dog and that is Boo. Boo was a very happy, extreme barker. She barked at trash blowing down the alley and birds that flew in her yard. She had been known to bark for over an hour straight with other dogs out with her that were laying around and not barking. Debarking saved me from court and having to give Boo away. I do not believe in debarking every dog as a convenience but with a happy extreme barker, it is a very good compromise. Boo still barked but it was a harsh coughing noise and not the high pitched screeching she made. She never seemed to know she was debarked as she continued to bark until her death, even when she could barely walk.
Temperament: I believe that it is temperament that makes a collie a collie and not the long nose or color or tipped ears. I do not know any other breed of domestic dog that has the “collie temperament”. I have known collies that did not have the true type collie temperament and I will not perpetuate that in my breeding program regardless of the quality of the dog. I don’t do aggression and I don’t do overly assertive. I have found that tentativeness is the other side of aggression and appears in the same litters.
Health: It is my goal to utilize all the available DNA tests to clear my future breeding stock. Obviously, some things are way more important than others so while I have no problem using a MDR1 mutant/mutant under the right circumstances I would not be willing to use a dog that was a carrier for cyclic neutropenia. I am also not willing to work with bloodlines that have dogs that have or produced bloat in the pedigree, dogs that have or produced seizures, or dogs that have or produced skin problems no matter what type. In Texas having a dog that is allergic to grass or fleas is almost as bad as having a dog that seizures. And I have known many collies that were bought and brought to Texas from other parts of the country and they were allergic to everything here. Texas has a long growing season and many allergens. I personally don’t want dogs with skin problems and will not breed dogs with skin problems.
Price: Buying a purebred dog is different than adopting a dog from a shelter. If you don’t care about pedigree or papers, than don’t buy a dog from me. Petfinder.com is FULL of dogs needing homes so I am sure you will find something with no papers that will suit you. There are currently puppy mills in Texas that are breeding collies and charging over $500+ for a puppy. They offer nothing but a dog that looks like a collie. Some are not even AKC registered. My puppies are the culmination of years of research into the breed and firm decisions to only produce collies that will benefit the breed even if they live out their life as a treasured pet. I have also poured thousands of dollars and years of my life into this. If that doesn’t matter to you, than don’t buy a dog from me. I am looking for people to buy a collie puppy from me that are willing to make a long term commitment and want a special collie to share their life.
Rescue: From 1992-1996 I was the founder and chairman of Dallas/Fort Worth Collie Rescue. I have been involved in more rescues than I thought possible and some of the worst situations imaginable. I have seen collies that bite without provocation, collies that were so far from the standard it was scary and yet they had AKC papers, collies with a championship pedigree a mile long, scabies, Parvo, distemper, reaction to Heartworm treatment, a collie poisoned by Ivermectin when a vet tried to treat scabies, severe health problems of all kinds and I have seen collies that did not need to be rehomed. It is a scary, disposable society out there. After my divorce, I could no longer be responsible for other people’s collies. At that time no one else stepped forward to continue rescue so it was abandoned. In the last few years, some members of the North Texas Collie Club have started up a rescue again and that is good. I am not in a position to be actively involved but I do put aside money every year to be donated to whatever rescue of collies I deem to be needy. Sometimes they have been in the Dallas area and sometimes outside of Texas.