Interview with Carol Howell
From the April/May 2003  Sheltie Pacesetter

Page 1.

Q:  When did you first become interested in breeding and showing dogs?   Why did you choose Shelties?

My late husband, Keith, and I are both California natives.  He was starting his third year of Veterinary School at UC Davis, and I was an Underclassman there when we met.  We lived in the same off-campus apartment building.  Love of animals "introduced us."  I had a Chipmunk as a "smuggled in" pet, since I could not stand being without something live and furry, and pets were not allowed in the building. She had stopped eating, and knowing Keith was "almost" a Veterinarian, I sought his expertise! We started dating, and married when Keith was in his last semester of school.  We lived in married student housing, and added another "smuggled in" Chipmunk, so were a family of four.  We knew without a doubt that we wanted a dog as soon as he graduated.  We easily chose a Sheltie, since we had both been attracted to the breed prior to meeting.  Conveniently, a classmate of Keith's raised Shelties for "book-money," and had a litter every semester.  We had no real concept of how to go about getting a quality, well-bred Sheltie, and this seemed just perfect.  A litter was ready the week after he graduated, and we got our first Sheltie, "Robbie," the only male in a litter of 7.


 Q: How did you establish your kennel?

Robbie was, of course, the most beautiful red, full-collared specimen of the breed ever born.  When we'd had him a week, we went to watch a puppy match we saw advertised in the paper. What won was, naturally, nowhere as beautiful as our Sheltie.  So, a few weeks later we entered our puppy in a match, and got BEST OF BREED!  Of course, we didn't care that he was the only Sheltie entered, we got the bug.  Many matches later, we realized that we had a wonderful pet, and not a show dog.  He excelled in obedience, however, and taught me a lot.  He went from his 1st C.D. leg to his 3rd U.D. leg in 8 months.  It would have been faster, except we had a winter month or so of few Trials.  He got High Score in Match at his first match after 2 weeks of classes, and tied for HIT at his first Trial before he even finished his beginner's class:  a true whiz-kid, and the pride of our lives.  We lost him at 3 years of age, due to inherited problems.

After this devastating loss, we studied more about the breed, and went about hunting for a well-bred real show Sheltie. We started attending more shows, and watched and watched, and waited and waited.  We, like almost all beginners, had a difficult time getting what we knew what we wanted. We bought several puppies offered to us by small, virtually unknown, breeders, but nothing turned out the quality we wanted for show.  I trained these dogs for the Obedience ring, but quickly got discouraged after a C.D.X. or two, because none could come close to the drive of my first.  I also showed them in Conformation matches, and even won a BIM or two. In the meantime, as we attended every show we could, and continued on our search, we were befriended by one of the top California handlers of the breed, Don Doltz. He saw us at so many shows watching, that he soon offered to help us in our search.  Many of the dogs he was showing and finishing were bred by Valerie Daniels, Dan-Dee Shelties; who was at that time the top breeder in the State.  He convinced Valerie that we were sincere novices, and persuaded her to sell us a puppy bitch by Ch.Elf Dale Golden Legacy, out of a daughter of Ch.Pixie Dell Bright Vision. We named her Dan-Dee Study In Scarlet ("Susie.") Before the puppy was many months older, we got a call from Valerie. She offered us Susie's dam, Dan-Dee Petite Regards, who needed two points to finish. It was a tough decision, because we had just opened a Veterinary Hospital in Carmel Valley, and money was tight.  Her asking price was very steep, but she let us pay her off monthly, so we made the move.  In 1967, I finished Petite at her first show with us, and she became Champion # 1. We were thrilled.

While Petite was raising a litter, and growing a coat to compete for her final points, I started showing Susie. She was a cute little bitch, but had her definite faults. Nevertheless, I showed her to some wonderful wins, including some major reserves, and a 5 point major. She never finished, but earned 12 points, 1 major, and she was a great learning experience. Although she was a lovely bitch for that time, Petite unfortunately never produced anything to keep and show in the three litters she had for us


 Q: What were you looking for in your foundation stock?

Temperament was very important, since our first pet was so superior in that department. We liked good movement, having watched the top-winning Ch. Elf Dale Viking float around the ring so many times. We also liked pretty, and that Sheltie-wise look of intelligence. We loved balance and showmanship. Moderation is a good word for what appealed most: nothing rangy or extreme in any way. Color was never important, and although I have mostly sables now, we have finished Champions in all three basic colors.  What I want now, has changed just a little, and I'll go into that later.


Q: How long did it take you to breed your first Champion?

While Petite was not a producer for us, her daughter Susie was, and essentially became our foundation. She's behind pretty much all I have at this time. Susie was moderate, had nice balance, decent movement, and a super temperament. In planning her first (and only) litter, we didn't want to lose what she had, but wanted more neck, more elegant bodylines, and a stronger rear. Elaine Samuels had sent her Ch. Apache Of Karelane (a tri-color) to California to stand at stud. We bred Susie to him, and she had a nice litter of 4. We kept a tri-factored bitch from this litter (Ch. Jade Mist Twilight Song---"Cricket,") that was to become our first "homebred” champion, although she finished at 9 ˝ years of age. But, by then, we had finished many Champions before her! So, first homebred, first with our kennel name, but definitely not the first to finish.


Q: How was your kennel name conceived?

Not many years after we were married, we moved to the beautiful Monterey Peninsula in California, and opened a Veterinary Hospital in Carmel.  I still feel that the whole general area is the most breath taking in the world.  It’s very green year-round, and the weather was never very hot, nor cold.  We had summer fog often blow in from the Pacific Ocean, which was not far from the valley where we lived. So, GREEN AND FOGGY= Jade Mist!  It just seemed fitting at the time. There was an automobile dealer in nearby Monterey called Arnold Green's Dodge.  Keith used to tease me by calling our kennel  Carol's Green Shelties!


Q: Did your husband share your interest in the dogs?

Absolutely!  Before we opened our own business, we'd be at a show, match or trial every weekend. He always watched, but never groomed or handled.  He was a great puppy socializer, spending hours on the floor while the puppies” mauled" him.  He chose a song for every litter, and whistled that song to the pups while they all went nuts!  They loved it, and many pet owners told us that their dog recognized that song years later.  I can't whistle, so that tradition has ended!

(Keith playing "Whistle Time" with the puppies)

Q: Did you have any problems with the issue of your spouse's involvement?

While many of my friends were complaining that their husbands "wouldn't let” them add any more dogs, my major argument with Keith was that he never wanted to sell a single one.  He wanted them all around him.  Now, 11 years after his death, I can't even picture him without seeing a Sheltie (or two, or three) in his lap!  After we built and moved into our new (and my present) home, Keith got his long dreamed-about "herd" (of three) Horned Hereford show cows. That kept him home, but he always encouraged me to go to shows as often as I could.


Q: What has been the biggest problem to overcome in your breeding program?

Early on, I was very satisfied with what I had, and how they looked. The more I read, and the more I exhibited, I knew that I wanted a typier dog with a prettier, smaller eye. I also wanted to keep the soundness we had, and keep improving on rears. I wanted shorter hocks, and that nice letdown little rear, which stacks naturally. I wanted to get a nice neck more routinely, and those beautiful flowing bodylines, I so admire. Dorothy Kerwood of Dorlane Shelties in California sold us the small littermate of her top producing Ch. Dorlane's King's Ransome, just before we left California and headed East to Maryland, twenty-some years ago. We finished his title, and he became Ch.Dorlane's Scalawag. He was definitely a turning point in our breeding program. He barely hit 14" but was very typey with a pretty eye. But, his shoulder was just adequate, and his rear was not his fortune. Nevertheless, we got our beautiful Ch. Jade Mist Wood Chimes, HC ("Windy") by breeding him to our very sound Ch.Twilight Song. We were lucky. Windy got her Mom's beautiful shoulder and nice rear, and her Dad's pretty eye, type and coat. Knowing that the faults we were trying to eliminate were close behind in our pedigrees, we were careful not to breed to larger eyes, or weak rears just to get the neck and body-lines we still yearned for. Linda More (Severn Shelties) was standing Ch. Barwood's Weather Report at stud in CT., and we bred our Windy to him. She had already produced two Champions by Ch. Wayanet's Dallas Cowboy, so we knew what we still needed to improve upon. From the breeding to Weather Report, we got the rear and eye we wanted in Windy's son, Ch.Jade Mist Suntide; and the neck, eye and bodylines in her daughter, Ch.Jade Mist Windspell. Years later we bred Windspell to a Suntide son, Ch. Jade Mist a Case In Point. That breeding gave us the dam of our "once-in-a-lifetime" producer, my beloved Ch.Jade Mist Beyond Tradition, ROM/ROMC.

Type, and the qualities I have worked so hard for, can be lost in one generation. It is so frustrating to plan the ideal genotype, or phenotype, breeding and then end up with nothing at all worth keeping. Sometimes entire litters go as pets, which is always a "downer" after the dreaming and the planning. Then, sometimes I keep the best in a litter, which is the closest to what I had hoped for; but there are often some other faults I had not expected. So, it's try, try again. You keep the best, and breed to the best, with your IDEAL in mind. In this breed, perfection is seldom, if ever, achieved. So, it's always a compromise. You keep the pups with the faults you can live with. And you breed again with improvement of those faults in mind. It's an endless circle.



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