The Shadowmont Story Previously published in the 2003 Collies Online Specialty Year In Review

On Friday, November 2, 2018, at the East Tennessee Collie Club, Anne Cross will be judging her last Collie assignment as she has announced that she is retiring from judging. Her judging career has spanned close to five decades. The first assignment was on March 29, 1970 at Collie Club of Western New York with an entry of 56. Her Best of Breed winner that day was CH Marnus Evening Breeze. We thought it would be appropriate to bring back an article previously published in the book: Collies Online 2003 Specialty Year In Review.

The name Shadowmont refers to the farm situated in the shadow of Signal Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the family of Collies that began there. When my husband, Barry, and I returned to Tennessee after residing and working in Jacksonville, Florida for a short time, we came to the farm that had once been my grandfather’s. It was a true working farm at that time, with all sorts of animals, including a farm-type Collie named “Lady,” who helped herd the cattle.

As a child, I was one of the few humans allowed near her much-sought-after puppies. Lady was a herder, par excellence. That she trusted me was the hook that engendered the desire for a Collie of my own. That, and the Terhune books I read later.

My father’s career as an engineer took us to Venezuela, South America, where I had my first dog—not a Collie, but a dog, at last—of my own. When we brought him home from South America, somewhere along the way he contracted what was then called “dumb” rabies, the kind that freezes the jaw and was sometimes called “lockjaw.” His death left a huge, empty place in my heart. Even then, however, I believed that the greatest tribute I could pay him was to give another dog my love. Nevertheless, it was a long time before I got another dog.

Barry met Lee Collins, and through Lee, we obtained a Collie—at last! He introduced us to Guz Sigritz of Cherrivale Collies fame and in 1961 convinced Gus that we would “do right” by a good show prospect puppy.

And so, a three-month-old tri-color bitch named Cherrivale Scaasi came into my life. Her dam’s name was Cherrivale Basic Black, and Scaasi, pronounced Ska-zi, was named for the Canadian fashion designer Arnold Isaacs, who reversed his last name to achieve an Italian flair when he opened his Manhattan design studio in the 50s. Scaasi designed and influenced high fashion for First Ladies, socialites, and entertainers for more than four decades. If you knew Gus, it was a name that you might expect, for he was, himself, a commercial artist—and an artist in so many other ways as well.

CH Cherrivale Scaasi

Gus had an analytical eye—could see the “forest” AND “the trees.” He had a strong view about breeding, and how to get to the “look” that was desired. He also liked Golden Retrievers, was a talented writer and speaker with a strong belief in his artistic “sense” and knowledge of scientific principles. His home was adorned with sterling trophies attesting to the authenticity of his breeding artistry.

Cherrivale Scaasi came with instructions. These included when to show, what judges would appreciate her qualities, and how to show her. The result? She finished very quickly. Not only was she exquisite as a Collie, She had excellent structure! Others said that you could put a glass of water on her hips and when she moved, not a drop would spill. She also possessed absolutely correct “tulip” ears. They were such that they could be the “model” for the breed.

(L-R) Shadowmont Sunlighter and Shadowmont Highlighter.

Gus also knew to which dog she should be bred—Ch. Parader’s Country Squire. That choice resulted in Ch. Shadowmont Sovereign, “Flash,” a tri dog who finished from the Bred-by class with a Best In Show. He was an elegant dog with a typical Parader body and that Cherrivale presence that turned heads. Flash was in an ex-pen outside before going in the group that day and handler Ed Bracey skidded to a stop as he was passing by and asked if he could feel his head. As he did so he gave a low whistle and said, “You don’t find skull like that in Collies very often.” The judge went home after the show and called Gus to tell him about this tri Collie he put BIS only to learn that Gus had recommended the breeding.

There was a point early in our breeding career when Barry and I planned to visit some kennels. Gus advised against it. Don’t, he said. You don’t have a “mental picture” of what you want in a Collie yet. You will be confused, and if you begin breeding without this knowledge, you may derail your success.

He was right. We followed his advice. He directed us to Theresa Doud of Willmary Collies, from whom we bought a beautiful little sable bitch, Shadowmont Sunday’s Child. Remember the “Days of the Week” poem? She was “fair of face” and “full of grace.”

Gus admired the Vi Lee Collies. Along the way, the beautiful Ch. Vi Lee’s Myster Mac sired puppies for Shadowmont. From those breedings came several champions. Twin Creeks, primarily a Parader-Vi Lee blend, was responsible for several more champions sired by Ch. Twin Creeks True Grit. Ch. Hanover’s Follow The Sun was another Parader dog that contributed to the beautiful “look” of Shadowmont.

A puppy typical of the Shadowmont "look."

Not being a genetics expert, my breeding has been basically type to type. I learned to look for those stud dogs that are “prepotent.” Myster Mac was such a dog. He was prepotent for producing a certain eye and muzzle and helped set those qualities in the Shadowmont Collies.

Gus once told me that you could take a refined bitch to a “doggy” male and come up with an excellent dog that would be the best of both. He did such a breeding and produced the famous Best In Show winning (phenomenal for that time), Ch. Cherrivale Darn Minute. He also made the point that there are many “types” of beauty—you can have an Elizabeth Taylor, a Marilyn Monroe, or an Audrey Hepburn—all beautiful in their own ways, and all can be close to a “standard” of beauty yet divergent in “type.”

It was often said of my Collies, “They all look alike.” That “alike” is the exquisite expression for which Gus taught me to breed. The Shadowmont “Dream” series began when Ralph, June and Libby Zink bred their gorgeous bitch, Ch. Shenmoor’s Dreamer’s Choice, to my Ch. Shadowmont Cheyenne. From this breeding I purchased a sable bitch, Shadowmont DreamLight, who was the beginning of a series of consistently beautiful, intelligent and sound Shadowmont Collies. The last of the “Dreams” is Shadowmont The Dream Goes On, daughter of Ch. Shadowmont Dream On, who was bred to Ch. Tartanside Cinnamon Elijah to produce a Canadian champion and Shadowmont Chances Are, who is the sire of a sable bitch and dog currently in the midst of their show careers.

There have been many highlights along the way, including the 1968 Collie Club of America National Specialty when my blue bitch, Shadowmont Silverfire won Winners Bitch, from the 9-12 AOC class, under former CCA President and breeder, Ralph Morrison. “Maggi” was sired by Smokeywood Standard Bearer, who was a son of Ch. Brandwyne The Grey Ghost. Her dam was Ch. Shadowmont Cherri d’ Sarena, who was Steve Field’s Winners Bitch at a show in Alabama. That win meant a great deal to me.

A comment that really meant a lot to me was from John Honig, who was judging at a specialty in Alabama. I had “Chevy,” Shadowmont Chevere Corozon (Spanish for “great heart”), and when John gave her Winners Bitch, he said, “You knew just what to bring me—an old-fashioned Collie.” What a compliment! I felt that Chevy could have been the model for the Lorraine Still drawings of the ideal Collie bitch.

Throughout my breeding career, every litter that brought genetically healthy, strong, beautiful puppies into my life was definitely a major highlight. Even those puppies that were sold as companions, that made someone else’s life happy, were a highlight.

Based on my experience, my advice to new breeders can be divided into three parts:

1. Follow the advice of your mentor; 2. Stay with a “type” until you know what you are doing (or until a problem necessitates a change); 3. Study genetics and use that knowledge. As Gus said, it’s the “art AND science” of breeding. And, no matter how long you’ve been involved in the breed and no matter how competitive you are, never, never forget that feeling that captured your heart in the beginning and why you were drawn to the Collie. Even if they only adorn your sofa and never enter the show ring, they are worth it!

Besides Gus, some of the people who influenced my breeding philosophy and breeding program would include Dot Gerth, Nita Morse, and Laverne Walker. I have learned from them as well as some who are still breeding and I cherish the sharing of knowledge and the lessons learned.

Somewhere along the way, there were colleagues who thought that Gus had taught me well enough that I had developed a pretty good “eye”—or maybe, as Gus believed, the inherent instinct to see that idealized image of the Collie. I was approved to judge in 1969 after going through an “apprentice” program, which allowed you to be in the ring under the tutelage of that day’s judge. By that time, I had bred the requisite number of litters and finished the requisite number of champions, nearly all from the bred-by class—but I still had lots to learn. You never, never stop learning!

I had several dogs that helped define the virtues I look for when I judge. The beautiful Ch. Shadowmont Edizione d’ Oro, a Ch. Vi Lee’s Myster Mac son, had a smooth, clean muzzle and exquisitely correct expression. Ch. Shadowmont The Dazzler had a lean head, beautiful tri-cornered eye and a sound, coaty, correctly “low slung chassis.” A dog which never finished but was a champion to me, was Shadowmont The Brother, who was balanced and sound and had a beautiful expression. The sister he was “the brother” to was Shadowmont Light My Fire, whose soft sweetness was the essence of Collie. She preferred to be by my side.

Shadowmont Sunlighter, “Sunni,” was sired by the beautiful, Ch. Hanover Follow The Sun. She was exquisite—one of the “Dream” series. You could not look at her without wanting to take her home. Her son, Shadowmont Highlighter, was sired by a Ch. Twin Creeks True Grit son, Ch. Shadowmont Hot Grits, out of Ch. Shadowmont The Dazzler. “Handsome,” named by Dot, epitomized what an excellent Collie male should be. He had a splendid head and superbly sweet expression. These were the type of dogs that made you look, and look, and look—such was their beauty. I can still recall the Handsome’s sweetness and imagine the feeling of his head—silky smoothness.

My first blue champion, Ch. Shadowmont Cherri d’Sarena, was also a “model” for what I look for when judging. “Cherri” was, like her CCA-winning daughter—Silverfire—the incarnation of the Lorraine Still full body drawing of the ideal Collie bitch.

Silverfire was the daughter of Ch. Brandwyne’s The Grey Ghost, owned by Bobby Wood of Knoxville, Tennessee. When she won the CCA in 1968, Silverfire seemed to spark the beginning of what I call the “blue wave,” a surging interest in blue merles. That was never really attributed to her, but I noticed that blues seemed to be more sought after following that National. Her coloration was incredibly silvery blue—clear shiny black and sparklingly white. Before her, I had not seen many pretty blues. Many had dull color and markings and were just not attractive. Silverfire was stunning! The building exploded with applause when she won Winners Bitch at the CCA. It seemed that most of the people there agreed with Judge Ralph Morrison on that day.

All the Collies mentioned had length of head and backskull, along with smoothness, correct eye placement, correct length and height of body, in the correct proportions and good coat. In most cases, the ears were well set and three-quarter breaking. The bitches had coats that were “fitted” and furnishings that were ideal.

CH Shadowmont The Carpenter, finished in 1981. Oil painting by Dahlis Diess Roy

I love to judge. It is difficult. So often there are more good dogs than there are awards. Everyone likes elegance—me too! Everyone likes a Collie that looks sturdy, structurally sound and has a great attitude. Everyone likes a Collie that impresses in the Group Ring, holding its own with the other medium and large breeds. Everyone likes a Collie that infuses you with the love and loyalty for which the breed is noted—the Collie that gives you direct eye contact, the smiling face, the lolling tongue. We all love to see them standing naturally at attention, their necks arched, head tilted down, and that “light” in their eyes that is the expression of interest and delight in their world.

To describe my judging philosophy, I would have to include the act of judging itself. Like most dedicated judges, I believe every entry is worthy of consideration and every exhibitor deserves your respectful treatment. I believe that if judging isn’t fun, you should not do it. Also, it is very important to refresh your knowledge before each assignment by reviewing The Standard and Lorraine Still’s drawings.

As for the dogs that are judged, there is beauty in every Collie. You must look for that beauty and for the merit and remember both the written and visual standard as you look at each Collie. Judge on merits! If a Collie looks “right,” then no part can be flawed enough to warrant placing it according to that flaw.

One of the greatest compliments I ever received was from Laverne at an all-breed show. She drew an overload and I was asked to judge her Collies. She told me later that as she watched me judge, she would have done exactly what I did! Wow! Just thinking about that statement, even now, after all these years, brings tears to my eyes.

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Lead image drawing by Mike Cheatham :: Story previously published in Collies Online 2003 Specialty Year In Review

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