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My History with the Old English Sheepdog

 I grew up in a “two flat” on the Northwest side of Chicago.  My grandparents lived downstairs.  We didn’t have a dog.  My parents wouldn’t let us have one.  I’d often stand at the back of our property and look up and down the alley in hopes one of the neighborhood dogs would come around to play with me. 

 I spent lots of time in the school library looking at my favorite book.  It was a book about the many different breeds of dogs and I studied them all but my favorite was the Old English Sheepdog.  I vowed back then that one day I would own an Old English Sheepdog.

 When I purchased my first home in Hoffman Estates Illinois in 1972, I was 24 years old, and decided it was now time for me to have the dog I’d always wanted.

 I went to the Chicago International Dog Show downtown and met with breeders of Old English Sheepdogs where I learned that a lady named Sue Purdom had puppies for sale. I called her that day and discovered she had a 9 month old female Old English Sheepdog for sale.  Without hesitation I bought the pup.   Though the breeder had just shaved her, it was love at first sight.  I bought her and  named her Brandy.  She was my first Sheep Dog  

 I couldn’t wait to get her home so she could get used to the new surroundings.  She became my everything.  I don’t know who loved the other more...  me or her.  She loved to run and play in the big back yard.  After about a year, I got a brilliant idea and decide to breed her.  Puppy’s!  Wow!  That that sounds like fun!.  So I did it. Sixty three days later, Brandy delivered 13 puppies.  Oh boy 13 puppies!  What am I going to do with 13 puppies?  I didn’t realize at the time the breed popularity was declining.

They took a lot of work and care.  I finally found homes for all of the puppies.  I didn’t even keep one for myself.  It was just Brandy and me again.  A few years later Brandy got very sick and died at 5 ˝ years old.  To this day, that was one of the biggest losses in my life. I decided not to get another dog as none could ever come close to Brandy.

After 3 years of not having a dog I decided to get another OES.  I found someone in Wisconsin who had a litter of puppies.  I went and picked a male this time.  I called him Alfie, another popular name of that era.  He wasn’t a Brandy for sure but he had personality and I loved him for 5 years until he died of kidney failure. I thought I was having bad luck with dogs. 

Several years later I purchased another OES and named her Molly.  Then I had another bright idea.  I was going to show the dog and make it a Champion.  After being put at the back of the line at 5 shows, I quickly figured  that making any OES dog a champion was a lot harder than I thought.  I decided to join the local OES club where I could get help.

One fateful Friday night, my OES ventures changed.  I was told that the club meets at the Denny’s in Hoffman Estates every 3rd Friday night of the month.   That was only 2 miles from the house!  So I went but nobody else showed up.  I asked hostess if the OES club meets here.  She said no but there was another Denny’s in Hoffman Estates. 

I went over to the other Denny’s, and found the club.  The only place for me to sit was next to a lady wearing a beautiful fur coat.  I thought to myself “well here’s a real animal lover”.  After the meeting, I introduced myself and she told me her name was Jere Marder.

 Later I found out she was a respected breeder and owned some of the top OES in the country.  She took me under her wing and mentored me.  Jere helped with grooming Molly who I purchased as a pet and had hopes of a wonderful show career.  I went to many shows only to face lots of disappointment.  Jere never discouraged me and finally told me that I should think about a real show quality OES. 

Jere said that if I was willing to wait, she would sell me one.  After 3 years of waiting, in the summer of 1990, again my OES life would change.  Jere told me she had a little girl show puppy for me.  She picked her out and I named her Nikki,  Lambluv’s Show Girl. 

She was beautiful and I loved her. When she was 6 months old I took Nikki to her to Minnesota for her first dog show.  She won the first time out.  I thought this so easy.  It was almost 2 years later when she won her next show.  Nikki was a big girl which is the way the OES was meant to be.  But everyone was down sizing then and small was the in thing.

Nikki became a Champion about 6 months later and had only one puppy.  Fate struck again!  Another show puppy from the Winningest OES in the history of breed became available.  Jere asked if I wanted her.  I immediately said yes. I named her Aspen.  What a character!  She loved the shows, and finished her Championship so fast I couldn’t believe it.

We bred her and she had 12 puppies.  I kept 3 pups soon had 8 dogs.  My friend Kathy McBride has 2 OES and now 10 dogs live together.

I've had 4 litters and several puppies have earned their championships.  Click the banner below to see Spirit's litter born 03/25/10.

Ron Szekeres

ron@artofbarter.com

                    

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