15 minutes of Fame and a good show weekend

This weekend was one to remember. I showed Nicky in Bred-by-Exhibitor (dog), Glory in Bred-by-Exhibitor (bitch) and Dove in Open Sable (bitch). On Friday at the Lackawanna Kennel Club all three of them won their classes. Nicky was then awarded Winners Dog, and Dove was awarded Winners Bitch. Days like that don't happen very often. Saturday was not as good as Nicky went Reserve Winners dog and neither of the girls won their class. Sunday Nicky was again Winners dog, Glory was 2nd in her class and Dove won her class. The judge really considered Dove, but then awarded Winners to the winner of Glory's class. Glory had to come back in for reserve, but because the judge had really considered Dove for Winners, she was Reserve.

Saturday night I was on TV. I didn't get to see it yet (I hope they show re-runs)- but the Harrisburg Kennel Club dog show was televised on Animal Planet. If you remember from earlier posts (back in April), this was the show where I was in charge of the herding demonstration (click on it). They interviewed me and yesterday it was aired.

(The order of the pictures: Nicky, Dove, Glory)


Article published in the Summer issue of Sheltie International

Analysis of the Standard:

Part 1: A look at Words NOT in the sheltie Standard
By Cadie Pruss, Acadia shelties

While at a show one weekend, a tri bitch came into the ring that I felt was very feminine and symmetrical. I exclaimed, “oh, she is CUTE!” and was promptly told by a professional handler and fellow breeder, “CUTE is not in the standard!” True. Our standard omits many adjectives that convey attractiveness. Since that exchange at the show, I have opened my ears to listen to other words people are using and I am finding all sorts of ways we discuss our dogs.

The words we chose to use as our own short cut reflects our vision of the Shetland Sheepdog. It is ok if we chose our own short cut words. In listening to which words fellow breeders and judges use, we can better understand how they view this breed. Since none of these words are in the standard, we should not criticize which word another breeder uses. Rather, we should inquire if that breeder understands the implications these words have and we should choose our words with caution.

For those who are sticklers for words only found in the standard, there are about 200 adjectives and descriptive phrases in the standard. Most of those adjectives reference some specific part rather than talking about the whole dog. The words chosen to describe the overall sheltie are found in the preamble. It states, “The Shetland Sheepdog is a small, alert, rough-coated, longhaired working dog. He must be sound, agile and sturdy….” Rough-coated, longhaired, working, sound, agile and sturdy describes the sheltie, but does not depict overall appeal- and yet, many of us want a word we can use as a shortcut to mean, “I like that animal. It is my visual interpretation of the Standard” Careful examination of the definitions of “cute” along with a few oft used words, makes it clear that they were left out of the standard intentionally as they a) leave too much room for personal interpretation, b)demonstrate that as words get used a lot, the true definition often gets forgotten, and c) often these words conflict with the standard.

Upon reviewing the written critiques the judges at the national submit to the ASSA Bulletin Board, I found that “pretty”, “lovely”, and “beautiful” were the most common adjectives used to describe attributes of the class winners. These words help us acknowledge attributes and animals that are “pleasing to the eye”- also not in the standard but used by judges in their critiques along with “fills the eye” or “statuesque”. Judges used the word “pretty” many times, but our standard calls for a “sturdy” dog. According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, 2nd College Edition, pretty is defined as, “1. pleasing or attractive in a dainty, delicate, or graceful way rather than through striking beauty, elegance, grandeur, or stateliness.” Since one can not simultaneously be both “sturdy” and dainty or delicate, - “pretty” to describe the overall dog may actually be implying that the dog is not “sturdy”. While most people’s use of the word “pretty” stops at the “pleasing or attractive” portion of the definition, there is more to the definition than that and when read as written in the dictionary, dainty, delicate, or graceful can not be omitted.

The choice of the word “Lovely” evokes emotion in the user. The definition given in Webster’s is “having those qualities that inspire love, affection, or admiration a) beautiful; exquisite c) highly enjoyable.” While talking to fellow breeders about the short cut words they use, it seems than many feel that viewing a correct sheltie should evoke an emotional response- so this word seems to be a good one that offers no conflict with the picture the standard creates.

Of the three words most often used by the Judges of the National Specialty, “Beautiful” jumps to the top of my list as a good short cut word. Webster’s defines this adjective as meaning, “having beauty; very pleasing to the eye, ear, mind, etc. “ The dictionary further states, “beautiful is applied to that which gives the highest degree of pleasure to the senses or to the mind and suggests that the object of delight approximates one’s conception of an ideal;” It seems that this one word sums up the three word expression “pleasing to the eye” and “suggests that the object…. approximates one’s concept of an ideal;” This word says it all and is the word I will use from now on, regardless of referring to male or female.

Elegant” is turning up more and more in descriptions. Webster’s defines “elegant” as, “1. characterized by dignified richness and grace, as of design, dress style; luxurious or opulent in a restrained , tasteful manner; 2. characterized by a sense of propriety or refinement; impressively fastidious in manners and taste.” Since this word is becoming so popular I found myself thinking about it quite a bit. The only word in this definition that applies to the sheltie is “refined” and in our standard, “refined” only refers to the head, not the overall dog. The body should be “sound, agile and sturdy” and the dog should be a “working dog”.

Shelties don’t have to live on a farm to be “working dogs”, but they just must possess the characteristics that working dogs possess. To be “sound” no part can be exaggerated. I believe that the authors of our standard were referring to the body when they used the word “sound”. However, a working dog also needs to be sound of mind, and can not afford to be fastidious in manners; that sort of dog might refuse to work in the rain. As it happens, I do own a farm.. As I was shoveling the winter’s worth of manure out of the barn all I could wonder was, “is it possible to be “working” and “elegant” at the same time?” Here I was, wiping the sweat from my brow onto my shirt, and I thought, “no, the term working implies some sort of grit- so, I looked it up. The word Work took up one half of a page in the dictionary, but “Working” was defined as 1. to exert oneself in order to do or make something; do work; labor; toil”. Well toil was close enough to grit for me.

Stylish” was another word I heard around the show grounds. Webster’s defines “stylish” as “Conforming to current style in dress, decoration, behavior, etc.; smart; fashionable”. Conforming to current style promotes the current fads in a breed rather than promoting the written standard. I began to wonder if the people using that word did indeed mean that the dog was just conforming to a current fad occurring within the breed.

What about the first word I had used as my shortcut word- “cute”. I still did not find “Cute” as offensive as others do. I have read opinions from other breeders suggesting that the word “cute” never be used when describing a sheltie, but I disagree. Wester’s defines “cute” as 1. cleaver; sharp; shrewd 2. pretty or attractive, esp. in a lively, wholesome or dainty way. 3. straining for effect; artificial. I think it is definition number 3. most people think of when they hear the word “cute” and find it offensive. True, shelties should never be a caricature of the breed. Definition 2. brings us back to “pretty”, which in turn refers back to “dainty”. I stand by the thought that shelties are not “dainty” they are “sturdy”, but if one argues that “pretty” is acceptable, then “cute” should be as well. I also find shelties to often be “lively” or “wholesome”, so again, I was not offended by this word.

I think that our current standard is very well written. The “word smiths” of this document must have agonized over which words would help guide a breeder or judge and which words would only confuse. We were left with a void of “short cut words”. This examination of these words demonstrates that multiple definitions of a single word can lead the written standard astray and therefore were deliberately left out of the written document. To me, that would suggest that these words should not be bred for, or judged to, but that does not mean they can not be used by breeders or judges to reflect a preference. No single word will ever describe the whole sheltie, otherwise we wouldn’t need a written standard, but it is nice to have summary words to expedite communication. While we may be left with a void of “short cut words” it is ok if we chose our own. Listening to fellow breeders and judges can help us understand how they view the breed (or maybe just an individual animal). An understanding of the full definition of words will allow us to engage in spirited conversations about the standard, which usually result in a fuller and broader mental picture- and if we want to get closer to the standard, isn’t that what we all really need anyway?

© Cadie Pruss
This article may be referenced:

Pruss, Cadie, Summer 2008 Sheltie International , A look at Words NOT in the sheltie Standard



When I was a child I wanted a German Shepherd. I just loved them, but unfortunately they were getting bad press in those days as “dangerous dogs” and it didn’t help that my parents were not receptive to my desire to have (any) dog. My father rode the city bus to work and I would go meet him at the bus stop and tell him I was his “faithful puppy”. One year for Christmas I got dog dishes and a collar and leash- but no dog to go with them. I begged for a dog for 6 years before the answer was “yes”.

My father decided that if we were going to get a dog, a small poodle might be ok, but I wanted a German Shepherd. My sister wanted a collie. One day while my father and I were ice skating on the pond in the park across the street from where we lived, a sheltie came out onto the ice and followed me around while I skated (and fell). This dog stayed with me, and while I was enjoying the company of the dog I didn’t have, my father was realizing that this “collie in miniature” might be the answer to the family dog.

That is how shelties came into my life- and have stayed. But I still wanted a German Shepherd.

When I got married and had a place of my own, I decided it was time for my shepherd, but having just gotten out of school, I didn’t have any money. I couldn’t afford a well-bred shepherd, and although I looked at “back yard” bred dogs, I could never bring myself to buying a dog I knew was not bred with health in mind.

One February day, around the time of Mike’s birthday, I was looking at the classified when I saw an ad for “well bred mutts”. What!?! (this was before “designer dogs” were the “in-thing”). It turned out that a kennel that bred German Shepherds and Rottweilers had an Opps litter resulting in 13 little oppses. I went to look. I think that if the mother had been the Rottweiler, I would not have fallen for them because all of the puppies were marked just like Rottweilers and they tails were docked, but the mother was the shepherd- and a lovely one at that. So I took one home……… as my husband’s birthday present of course!.................

Naco is the perfect 50/50. His head is not short as a Rottweiler’s, but not as long as shepherd’s, his ears don’t stand up like a shepherds, but are up more than a Rottweiler’s. His body is longer than a Rottweiler’s, but heavier than a shepherd’s. I have dubbed him a German Drover. I just Love Naco. . His birthday is the same day as my sister’s, January 8 and in 2009 he turned 14.


Can. Ch. Grandgables Acadia Accolade

Allie relaxing at home. She says if I could get rid of the nats it would be even more relaxing


Dogs as Angles & a poem by Cadie

A friend sent me this email:

Adam and Eve said, 'Lord, when we were in the garden, you walked with us every day. Now we do not see you any more. We are lonesome here, and it is difficult for us to remember how much you love us..' And God said, I will create a companion for you that will be with you and who will be a reflection of my love for you, so that you will love me even when you cannot see me. Regardless of how selfish or childish or unlovable you may be, this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, in spite of yourselves.' And God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam and Eve. And it was a good animal And God was pleased. And the new animal was pleased to be with Adam and Eve and he wagged his tail And Adam said, 'Lord, I have already named all the animals in the Kingdom and I cannot think of a name for this new animal.' And God said, 'I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you, his name will be a reflection of my own name, and you will call him DOG.'

I have long felt this way about dogs and a number of years ago I wrote the following poem:

God’s Living Presence
By Cadie Pruss

I believe in God.
I believe that God is love.
It makes no difference what race you are, what religion, how rich or poor, or sick or healthy; we are all loveable.
This I know because of doG.
I have seen doGs gaze devotedly at the homeless, wealthy, Hispanic, Jew, and invalid- The invalid is doG’s specialty.
My friend has a therapy doG. She takes him to hospitals to visit the ill. Just pet a doG and you will know- doGs have powers of healing.

I believe in God.
I believe that God is our confidant.
I believe that God does not alter the course of our lives, but walks with us as we live.
Our joys are exalted. Our sorrows, mourned.
I know this because of doG.
My doG walks with me everywhere, listening to every word. Listening is doG’s specialty.
He points out the small miracles on our walks that I was too busy to see. He leaps, and barks, and wags his tail when I am happy, and when life is too much to bear, he sits quietly, lending his support as only doG can. Just talk to a doG and you will know- doG’s are sympathetic listeners.

I believe in God.
I believe that God forgives our sins.
I know this is true because of doG.
DoGs never hold a grudge. When I get mad, storm through the house, send the doG out into the yard, and swear she will never sleep on the bed again, she waits until my storm has passed, and accepts my apology without inflicting guilt. Just denounce your dog and you will know, forgiveness is doG’s specialty.

I believe in God.
I have heard those who don’t believe say “prove it”. How cleaver for God to have put doG here for us, and named him so, that we may only have to look in the mirror to see. My doG is all the proof I need.


Acadia Cierra Like A Rock, AXJ, NA, NF, RN, HT wins Best of Breed !

"Nicky" has come to Acadia and I am SO EXCITED to be showing him! We showed this weekend and he was Winners Dog, Best of Winners, and Best of Breed over a special at his first show with me. The next day he was Reserve Winners Dog- Not too shabby for our first weekend together as a team. The judge that awarded him Best of Breed is breeder/judge Dr. Albert Bianchi. Thank you Dr. Bianchi for this very nice win, and a great start for me and Nicky. (photo from my yard)


Archives: 4th of July Safety Tips

Last year at this time I posted what to do over the 4th of July holiday to ensure the safety of your beloved pet. Here we are again- and it still applies. To read this post click on 4th of July safety tips

Have a happy, and SAFE, holiday.