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Shetland Sheepdogs

The origin of the kennel name is that it combines my husband's second name and our surname. My husbands second name is Ernest so it is the first two letters of that and the first three letters of our surname - ERJON. I had tried many other combinations but this one the only one the Kennel Club would accept.....I always wanted a Collie, ever since I saw one in a book. My Father was in the Army and we travelled a lot. Consequently, we had everyone's pet that they left behind, so I had an Afghan, a Labrador and several mongrels. When I finally came to England and was working, I started to go tot a Church where I met my future husband. Guess what - he had, a Rough Collie....She was the largest Collie I had ever seen but she was lovely, although she liked to bark. Eventually Bess, as she was called, had puppies and I got one called Gypsy. Unfortunately she was no good for showing, so I did obedience with her. She did not like picking up the dumb-bell so we were quite a failure at this sport!! She died at three years old with a heart attack but the damage had been done then - I wanted a show dog and I was hooked.

I started breeding in 1961, which is a long time ago! I bought a Collie bitch in from a local breeder but she had a bad mouth which I did not even know about at that time, so, unfortunately I had to let her go. Then I went to Margaret Franklin of Pattingham and bought a bitch called Pattingham Packet. She did very well for me around the local shows. I then decided to mate her and used a Pattingham dog. In those days you sent a bitch by train as there were no motorways. I was very excited about the litter and as my husband was a farmer, had no qualms about him being able to help me. This is so right up until the present day - he is absolutely wonderful with sick or whelping bitches and can do it better than me. The puppies were born but unfortunately they did not all survive as they had Fading Puppy Syndrome. However, the next litter I sent Pattingham Packet to Lyn Westby's dog Lowerpark Black Buccaneer and the puppies all survived and I was on my way.I breed in all three colours but my favourite is the blue merle. The most successful dog I have bred is Champion Erjon Endeavour who got made up in three shows and was the youngest male Champion for many years at 12 months. The most influential Collie I have bred was Erjon Eyecatcher. He was a tri-colour who hated the show ring and masculine dogs. Most of all he had the most glorious expression which he passed on. None of his stock was ever temperamental.

Having changed lines from Pattingham I went on to Rokeby and then to Brettonpark. I had Champion Arranbrook Polly Peachum who was sister to "Mr Chips" and all my stock now comes down through this line. I aim to find a really masculine dog and a truly feminine bitch both with those wonderful expressions that melt you. I must have the correct eye, I cannot stand those full or badly placed eyes, I like refined heads, not those awful heads with strong back skulls, good movement, although I am not fanatical about that, and I do not like gay tails. I do eye tests, but again I do not make a fetish out of this and do it really to suit me.

My favourite Collies of the past are Ch Arranbrook Polly Peachum, who was sister to Mr Chips and who loved people but hated dogs, Erjon Eyecatcher who hated shows but loved me totally and whose descendant Erjon Eager to Please has shown the same devotion to me, and loves shows. I feel, at the moment, that people do not exercise their dogs enough. We are also getting these shorter heads, which is not in the Standard, and thick back skulls, and I believe breeders are going to have to watch these points very carefully, otherwise we are going to loose that elegant Collie. Bad tail carriage is also a major fault at the moment and I cannot see bitches carrying their tails high.

When I plan a litter I obviously look at the bitch's faults and then look for a dog to correct this. I must have a good head and eye, nice shape and I do not like long hocks. When the puppies are born I really don't bother to look at them properly until they are running about. After that I study them hard and finally pick the one that appeals to me most.

I have changed my way of training puppies and start earlier than I used to. I usually put a puppy collar on at about 8 weeks of age and let them get used to it. Then I start with lead training for about 5 minutes each day, and I start getting them to show their ears by showing them meat or some tit-bit and saying "show puppy". I take them to training classes occasionally to get them used to other dogs, or walk them round the local town market.

My Collies live outdoors in brick kennels with beds and shavings. They have a large concrete run, a grass paddock and lots of fields to gallop in. They are fed mainly on tripe from a slaughterhouse and a complete meal is on hand in case I get snowed up in the winter.

I have been lucky and have given C.C,s in this country several times. I have also been abroad and visited Countries that I would not have gone to. I enjoy judging, but it is not of prime importance to me. I remember showing under Mrs Wendy Bobbett [I think Blackpool], with a puppy who had quite a successful career. He won his first class and went into the next class at the top of the line, and next to me was a lady who I had never seen before [and who I have never seen again]. The Steward explained to Mrs Bobbett that I had won the first class but had not met this other lady who was in second place, whereupon this lady turned to me, grabbed my hand and said "How do you do, how lovely it is to meet you".

I would like to see the people who are coming into the breed really reading about the breed, asking questions and studying showing etc before entering into the game. I feel that new exhibitors do not have the knowledge or, are interested to learn about the breed before they want to stand in the middle of the ring and judge others. They are also kennel blind and will not be honest to themselves in stating when they have problems. Exercise and freedom are things of the past. These people seem to think that there is power in judging and they forget all the hard work that the established breeders have put in to get where they are today.

I have been to some wonderful countries, seen some beautiful dogs and been moderately successful.
Over the years I have made up 9 Champions. My biggest honour was of course Judging Crufts in 2004 and I have judged many times abroad in different countries. I hope that the people who are following enjoy themselves as much as I have....

Duna Jones 07990682400
Hill View, Darlington Back Lane, Whinney Hill, Stockton on Tees, TS21 1BG
Mr Josh A Blackburn