CH Highcroft Lode-Ark’s Legend, ROM & Four-time AOM Recipient

Whelped February 14, l998      Finished November 21, 1998

Sire:  CH. Marnus Golden Ruler ROM

Dam: CH. Overland Tattletale ROM

Breeders:  Chip & Pat Atkins

Owners:  Don and Leslie Jeszewski

Don & Leslie Jeszewski & Pat Atkins

Don & Leslie Jeszewski & Ron Carter

 

     When Helga wrote to us, a while back, kindly requesting our participation in the CCA Bulletin for September with “Legend,”  I immediately said, “Of course,” not really realizing how many old memories would be resurrected from the past.  To properly prepare for writing the article, I went to our “archives,” and dug out several three-ring binders of Legend’s dog show photos containing Specialty Bests of Breed wins, All-Breed Bests of Variety/Breed wins, Groups wins, his many BEST IN SHOW wins, and of course, photos from his honored BOB at Westminster--- and CCA BOB 2004, under the illustrious Mr.  Theodore (Ted) Paul.   Wow.  What a journey back in time!

     Our journey with Legend began with a conversation we had with George Horn when he and his lovely wife Phyllis were visiting us.  I had told George how much I missed having those pretty sable faces to look at, as at the time, we had only tricolors and blue merles.  Our recent attempts to breed for a litter containing sables failed, so we were ready to “cut to the chase,” and attempt to purchase a good quality sable bitch.  George had suggested we contact Marcia and Ron Keller (Marnus Collies), but unfortunately they had nothing available at the time.  I then contacted Chip & Pat Atkins (Lode-Ark Collies) in hopes I might be able to lease their Ch. Overland Tattletale for a litter.  When that was not an option, Chip offered us first “pick puppy” from “Janine’s” next litter. 

Chip’s “first pick” turned out to be a tri-factored sable and white puppy dog.  Chip and Pat had arranged to fly up to Indiana, where Debbie Holland (Fantasy Collies) was boarding their collies, to evaluate Janine’s latest litter.  I remember Chip told me, “Leslie, there’s this male puppy in the litter that is something special.  When I had Debbie gait him for me, this puppy’s movement was like watching the perfect synchronization of pistons in an extraordinary racing machine.  I loved his head, expression, and overall body balance …I think you and Don would be really happy with him.”  That was the beginning of what would not only be an exceptional show dog, but turn out to be lifelong friendships with Chip and Pat Atkins, and Marcia and Ron Keller who bred and owned CH. Marnus Golden Ruler  ROM, Legend’s sire.

     Legend and his litter sister, who later turned out to be CH. Highcroft Lode-Ark’s Valentine (the puppies were born on Valentine’s Day) were shipped to the Twin Cities on June 16, 1998.  They were already 4 months old, so Don and I missed out on getting eight-week-old collie baby pictures of them.  When Legend and Val (Val, whom we additionally purchased to keep Legend “company” as a kennelmate) arrived to our home, they had already begun that collie not-so-pretty age of teething, wearing their “summer jammies,” and well, you get the picture.  Despite their awkward age, off we went to weekly conformation training classes, so they would be ring ready when they had matured enough to be shown.

    It was September, and Legend and Val had turned seven –months- old.   Anxious to get back into the show ring after a long summer off, away we went with them to their first shows.  The first day, the late Mrs. Judith Goodin gave Val:   Winners Bitch, Best of Winners, & Best of Breed.    Legend went Best of Opposite Sex to his sister.  The next day, the also late Annie Rodgers Clark gave Legend Reserve Winners, but in handing me his ribbon said, “You bring this young dog back to me when he’s matured.”  That was my order. 

    A month later, Legend took back-to back WD, BOW & Bests of Breed from the classes over Specials, under Mr. Glen Fancy and Mr. William Hixon, respectively, and was awarded the first of what would historically be a career of 68 GROUP 1’s.  Legend was only 8 months old.

     Legend flew to his championship title at barely nine months of age.  He was already making a legend for himself with four majors, including ones from CCA Specialty Judges George Horn and Dorothy Welsh, as well as a Group 1 and a Group 4 from Bill Hixon and Joe Gregory.

     At 10 months of age, Legend sired his first litter of 7 healthy babies out of a bitch, Ch. Highcroft Caliente’, who had failed to become pregnant on two other previous attempts --with two different stud dogs!  Legend went on to produce many champions for his ROM.

 

     Although we missed out on Legend’s true “babyhood,” he developed into quite the character, having his own idiosyncrasies.   With the large waterway on our property, we had many waterfowl visitors:  Canadian Geese,  occasional Trumpeter Swans, Blue Herons, and White Egrets.  Even with them flying overhead our exercise pastures, Legend would do his best to “herd” them in flight!  It was always quite a humorous sight.  He also loved to carry around Tide detergent bottles, rattling the pebbles inside to tease the other dogs into play.  Legend never had an aggressive bone in his body.  Even with bitches in season, he and the other adult males would romp and run together without ever a growl or show of teeth.  When it came to breeding a bitch, Legend was a smart stud dog.  If she was ready, he’d gladly and quickly breed her, but if she wasn’t, he’d walk to the back of the breeding room and lay down, as if to say, “Not today folks.”  He did have one behavior that drove me nuts, though.  He just hated having his feet chalked.  He was fine with nail-grinding and having his paws trimmed, but when it came to having his feet chalked it was a real power struggle.  Once he was done and allowed to go to his crate, Legend was fine the second time to be tabled for a final brush out.  Go figure (???)  Coincidentally, at the 2004 CCA Specialty, while chalking Legend’s feet in preparation, I whispered into his ear, “I promise you if you give me everything like you always do one more time around the ring I will never chalk your feet again.” He made me keep that promise.

     Legend had an impressive show career, especially since he was strictly “owner- handled” by my husband Don or me, rather than heavily campaigned by well-known, professional handlers. I’d guess you say were a pair of rare “Do-It-Yourselfers.”  At 14 months of age, Legend took his first CCA Award of Merit with Don under the famous Billy Aschenbrenner.  Three more CCA Awards of Merit were to follow in subsequent years under Al Forthal, Joan Graber, and Marcia Keller.  Two weeks after Legend’s first AOM, Don put the first of many Bests in Show on Legend, under Mr. Ronald Pemberton, who told Don during pictures, “I’m a Sporting Dog man, but I just couldn’t deny your collie.  I have never seen a collie move like yours.”

     As the years went by, Legend continued to make a name for himself at Specialty shows, as well as All-breeds.  He was a familiar participant in the Group and Best in show ring, being the all-time, top winning, owner handled collie in the history of the breed, in Group and Bests in Show wins. Legend’s official AKC Award Record documents 18 Specialty Bests of Breeds, 262 All-Breed Bests of Variety/Breed,  68 Group 1’s and 10 All- Breed BESTS IN SHOW.

     After the untimely passing of the revered Chip Atkins, we wanted to honor Chip by adding his wife and our dear friend, Pat, as third owner on Legend.  Pat was Legend’s greatest fan.  Always a gracious--- and very demure lady, Pat gave exception to her usual restrictive nature at CCA  1999.  Chip sort of gave Pat what was a gentle “disciplinary nudge” for cheering Legend on

with, “Go boy, go!!!” being gaited again by Don, for Billy Aschenbrenner, when Legend took his first AOM.

-************.

     After winning Best of Breed at the 2004 Collie Club of America National Specialty, under Ted Paul, as well as having gone Best of Breed at Westminster over 13 specials, we felt Legend was entitled to retire from the show ring.  We wanted him to live a life of leisure as our house companion, but he would have been a very lonely house companion during the day, as Don still had his insurance business and I was still teaching full time.  How could we provide a happy life of indoor leisure, with human companionship, when the two of us worked full time?  Then the thought occurred to me.  Our longtime friends Ron and Nancy Carter, who had retired two other champion show collies from us, were outstanding companion candidates for Legend, and he them, as both Ron and Nancy were retired from their past careers in Education.  Legend flew to Todd, NC, overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, to play with Ron and Nancy Carter, and be a true “VIP” couch potato.  Ron Carter was added to Legend’s ownership, and became his trusted friend and retirement guardian.

     As all things great and small pass, Legend too passed.  He had an untimely death due to a lung embolism.  We and the Carters shed many tears.  Ron shipped Legend’s ashes back to us, and now they have been put to rest in the “Legend Memorial Garden” next to his favorite running pasture.

     Our collies look up to us their entire lives… then watch over us ‘til we’re back side-by-side.

 

Leslie Viken Jeszewski

www.highcroftcollies.com

 

 

 

 

 

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