Brackenbrae is a registered dog kennel located in the city of Thunder Bay Ontario, Canada which¬†specializes¬†in rough and smooth collies. ¬†First established in 1963 with the acquisition of ¬†Ch.O.T.Ch. Ravenslgen Lovely, UD, who happens to be the first Collie to be both a bench champion and earn a UD in Canada, she was “Pixie” of the Lady Park.

The kennel has since focused on maintaining the original quality of the dogs, and growing the line to produce well tempered, well rounded conformation dogs under the watchful eye of breeder Beth Redfern.

The Story of BrackenBrae Collies

By Beth Redfern

Brackenbrae Collies is a family of Collies established in 1963 with the arrival of a puppy which I had saved up to buy as a young teenager.  Her background had been carefully researched and she was of the famed Ladypark line, her sire the English Import Longfellow of Ladypark (by Int.Ch. Lochinvar of Ladypark ex Vicki Vixen of Ladypark) and out of Ravensglen Rosalind, a sister of Ravensglen Portia who was bitch CC Crufts in  (by Ch.Libretto of Ladypark ex Lunar Lyra of Ladypark).  This puppy became my Pixie, Ch.O.T.Ch. Ravenslgen Lovely, UD, the first Collie to be both a bench champion and earn a UD in Canada.

Pixie and I did so much.  We were like one but dogs live so much shorter lives and I happened on a thought by Konrad Lorenz  in which he expressed the idea that humans cannot be true to one dog, but to a family of dogs since we live our longer life spans and they their shorter ones.  Down by the lake that summer, as a  high school student, I decided to keep the bond alive that way if I could.  And so the journey began.

There have been many dogs that have contributed to this quest and I made educational and career choices to make it possible.  It is not enough just to keep the line going but to maintain the original quality of the dogs and to improve it.

In 1978, ¬†the present country place was purchased and along with my husband and our family, we have lived here, with dogs and other animals . The country place, is a 10 acre Finnish pioneer farm carved out of the Boreal Forest on the face of the Canadian Shield. ¬†It too represented the dreams of several families over the last 100 years or so. ¬†The original log structure is still standing inside the present house and although its log walls are covered, it makes up the kitchen area of the house and is witness to all the family coming-togethers as it has for other families for a century. ¬†When we bought it, it had fallen on hard times and we had to decide whether to pull it down or renovate and add on. ¬†We went through the memorabilia in the attic, the tax notices, the bills in arrears during the ‚Äúdirty thirties‚ÄĚ and the school books, all the evidence of struggle in a new land. ¬†We chose to accept its history, add to it, and then hand the place on when the time comes.

The first picture is of the house a year after we bought it in 1978 and the other is what it looks like now.  The original structure can be seen where the two windows are, set back from the front of the house.  The house is placed due solar south as was the original and we planned windows to the south just as the pioneers had done.  We moved the very old lilacs due south and they have prospered and we have planted many of their babies and added various named varieties as well.  The old currant bushes are still here as is the monkshood, the false spirea (unfortunately), day lilies, a kind of pink mallow (like miniature hollyhocks), hops by the truckload, and a couple of very old roses (one probably Scotch Briar Rose and the other a rugosa rather like Hansa.

Those before us had raised cattle, chicken and mink here.  We of course, went wild with chickens at first, had pheasants, rabbits and added dairy goats when the children were born.  Later sheep came to keep the pastures clear but we stopped breeding them because full time employment and lambing in this climate are not compatible.  However, the shetland sheep arrived and there are new babies, wonderful fleece and ongoing life in the flock again.   The chickens, sheep (lawn mowing and herding)and now ducks (for herding) are still here.  Soon, on retirement, a couple of dairy does, guinea fowl and rabbits will be added.  All my husband’s choices!

The Collies are woven into life. ¬†Many are direct descendants of Pixie, others are relatives. ¬†We show them, herd with them, depend on them to protect the other creatures here, to help us with the sheep-and they do! ¬†We have the acres around the ‚Äúhome area‚ÄĚ fenced with 5 foot welded wire and for many years have not had a predator hit except arial attacks by ravens on the ducks, but only when the dogs were not out. ¬†The Collies share our house, our yards, are born in our bedroom and are buried when they die, in sacred places here in the orchard, the edges of lawns, and one beside the sheep barn where she was sentry for so long. ¬†Their unseen footfalls still pad behind me as dogs present and past have joined fortunate humans, throughout history.

What a rich and fulfilling option Conrad Lorenz offered all those many years ago.  I’m so fortunate to have been able to have chosen it.

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