Posted by: jility | August 13, 2014

Playing with FIRE!

It all started about two years ago. Xoom was diagnosed with a deformed C-1 vertebra and became paralyzed at four months. Long story located in many earlier blogs so I won’t go into detail. It was not hereditary, just a crazy “spontaneous mutation” as the specialists called it. Angie Johnson, her husband Guy and their children Clay and Katie, of Double J Border Collies in John Day, Oregon, were heartbroken, as were we. As Xoom’s breeder, they wanted to give us a replacement puppy. The Johnson’s are one of the nicest families on the planet and I adore them more than words can express.

Sir Cussalot will be 77 years old in February and said he thought he had one more agility Border Collie in him. I hope he has about 10 more but I want him to live forever . When we bought Crush, she was on a spay/neuter contract, but the breeder said when the time came, we could talk about reversing it. Unfortunately, when the time came, Crush’s breeder would not communicate with me. I tried emails, phone calls, friends, etc. but she would not respond to anything I tried. I was heartbroken. It seemed like a shame to eliminate such a great dog from the breeding pool. I HATE spay/neuter contracts! SO many great dogs and their genes are lost forever. I feel it is terribly short sighted, but that is for another blog!

I thought about breeding Crush anyway. I toyed with the idea of breeding her to a miniature Poodle. I also thought about breeding her to a Border Collie and just not registering them. Then ethics got the better of me and I very sadly abandoned both ideas.

I was on several puppy lists for Double J puppies but there were no red females. Right or wrong, I love the redheads and only want female dogs (an oxymoron I think). Things were not looking good for us in the red puppy department.

When Neta Jones contacted me about breeding Crush’s sister, Trendi, I got very excited. Trendi was the Border Collie featured in Susan Garrett’s 2×2 Weave Training video. Since Sir C and I filmed that video for Susan and Sir C did all the graphics, music and editing on it, we were very familiar with Trendi. She is a great dog! She is rangier than Crush and about an inch or so taller. Oh, and she is RED!

Neta asked me about stud dogs for Trendi. I suggested a Double J dog. So last year she tried to breed her to Jef Blake’s Klepto using shipped semen, but it didn’t take. I LOVE Klepto. He is a great dog himself and a full brother to Stacy Winkler’s Groove, Justine Davenport’s Summit, Jessica Patterson’s Trix and so many other amazing agility dogs. Jef’s other great agility dog, Hob Nob I O Ewe (Voucher) was the best agility dog I have ever seen. I always felt AKC really missed the boat big time by not taking him on the World Team; their loss really. Voucher has the perfect structure for agility and he proved that many times over. I used his photos in my books on structure as the ideal for agility.

When Jef was ready for another dog, Jan DeMello of Hob Nob Border Collies told him to check out an ad for a BC puppy in John Day, Oregon. He was the last puppy left in the litter but his mother and Voucher’s mother shared the same mother. Most importantly of all, he was red.

Jef bought the puppy sight unseen and Angie’s mother transported him from John Day to Portland, Oregon. Jef and his wife Rossie, drove down from Federal Way to Portland to pick up their new puppy. On their way home, they came by our place to show him to us. I loved him. Klepto, as Jef and Rossie named him, turned into an awesome agility dog too.

So back to Neta’s Trendi.

Trendi was not getting any younger so we felt that the next time Neta tried to breed her, it needed to be by live cover. On a whim, I asked Angie if they would be willing to ship their dog Howdy, a full brother to Klepto, to Florida at our expense, to breed Trendi. We were afraid the stress of flying might cause Trendi to not settle. The Johnson family agreed to let us fly Howdy to Trendi. It was a once in a lifetime thing and I will be forever grateful to them for their amazing generosity! I truly love that family!

Howdy arrived in Florida without a scratch and walked out of his crate like he had done this all his life. He is not only a beautiful and extremely athletic dog, but also an incredibly stable dog mentally. He walked into Neta’s house and Trendi immediately fell in love with him. It was definitely love at first sight! Howdy obliged Trendi’s wishes and they had much fun over the next week.

Howdy returned home JUST in time to breed the Johnson’s bitch Lucky (another list I was on). The results of Howdy’s travels were four beautiful red puppies but only one female. Lucky also delivered four puppies and also only had one female but all her puppies were black and white. I really lucked out with Trendi having the one girl!

Trendi and her beautiful Howdy babies

Trendi and her beautiful Howdy babies

Little FIRE! was the last puppy born and was quite a bit smaller than the boys. She had very little white on her face but lovely white legs. She was stunning and I fell in love with her.

Neta did a super job raising the puppies. She sent frequent photo and video updates as they grew.

It was so much fun watching them grow and explore their new world.

On one hand it seemed like an eternity waiting for the time to bring our little Fireball home, but, on the other hand, it seemed like a nanosecond when the time arrived. Funny, the older I get, the faster time flies!

A pile of puppies on pink

A pile of puppies on pink

Neta and I found GREAT homes for all the boys. Two went to Canada and one to my friend Ken Kennedy who also trains with Stacy Winkler.

This past Friday, I boarded a plane for Atlanta. The plan was to visit my friends Bob and Carol there for the weekend (they have two Double J dogs, a couple of Poodles and a blazing fast Papamajack). We had a great visit and did a lot of dog training. It was much fun! I so love training dogs and watching people train dogs.

On Monday I flew to West Palm Beach, Florida to get my first real life glimpse of FIRE! It was love at first sight! The entire litter was uniform i and I loved their structure and temperaments. I felt blessed and honored to be getting a puppy from such an amazing litter! The combination of bloodlines and conformation was a dream for me!

We spent the evening playing with puppies. Ken fell in love with Rain (now known at Jake – registered name Bo-Tyne What Are You Wearing? If you have seen that State Farm ad on TV you will get it.). Jake ran right up to Ken, jumped on him and wouldn’t leave his side. It was the perfect match.

We got up early the next day and tired out the puppies best we could.

Neta stuffed marrow bones with their raw food and froze it for them to eat on the plane (brilliant idea!). We left for the airport around 11 AM Eastern Time (8 AM West Coast time) and that was the last time FIRE! got to potty for the next 12 hours! I tried several times to get her to go but she wouldn’t.

The flight attendants were incredible! They wanted to see FIRE! so they told me to bring her back to the galley. I carried her back the length of the plane, set the bag down on the galley floor and opened the end just a wee bit to let her stick out her head. They both said in unison, “TAKE HER OUT! We want to hold her!” I obliged. They took turns holding her and FIRE! fooled them both by being sweet and cuddly. She hugged them and kissed their faces. We stayed back there for a very long time. Finally they said they actually needed to go back to work. They told me to put a pee pad Neta had given me on the floor of the bathroom and see if she would potty. I tried, she wouldn’t.

FIRE! in the hold!

FIRE! in the hold!

She was so quiet and good for most of the flight. Near the end, she whimpered and cried just a little but really not much at all. Nobody heard her except the 14 month old baby across the aisle and down one row, who kept saying “DOGGIE! DOGGIE!” I could hear her mum telling her there was no dog on the plane and I smiled to myself. That baby knew! When we were getting ready to land, I showed the baby a photo of FIRE! in the bag and pointed down to where FIRE! was. I thought it might help to take her mind off the landing. She was getting fussy and I didn’t want to listen to her bawling then entire landing. The baby smiled widely and her mother looked shocked. “WOW! There IS a dog on board!” she said in disbelief. “She has been telling me that the entire flight and I couldn’t figure out why she was so insistent!” I smiled. Babies know so much more than adults think they know. I know that because I remember so much from when I was two!

Once on the ground, I collected my luggage from baggage claim, made one last failed attempt to get FIRE! to potty and left the terminal. Sir Cussalot met us on the curb, loaded up our stuff and off we went in search of a cleanish potty spot. FIRE! has only had one set of shots so we need to be careful where she walks. We found a closed office building with some pristine grass and took her out there. She squatted and peed for an eternity! Then a loud motorcycle went roaring by and she spooked. I managed to grab her right before she disappeared into the bushes.

Sir C brought Charisse Poodle with him to keep the puppy company. She is great with all dogs, but especially babies.

On the hour and a half trip home I brought Sir C up to speed on my trip. The ride went by quickly (well, for me anyway. Sir Cussalot may have been tired of listening to me squawk). We walked in the gate and the dogs told me they were happy to see me but they hoped we could get our money back on that little red thing we brought home with us!

Barque was the exception. She fell in love and claimed FIRE! as her own. She kissed her and wagged her tail. Barque is so sweet and kind. Pankies growled and told that little pipsqueak to stay away from HER Gramma! Eventually, Pankies will tolerate her and down the road she will actually play with her, but for now I will have to keep her away from FIRE!

MY puppy!

Barque says, “MY puppy!”

Crush ran for the bedroom in disgust and Xoom went to her cave under the driver’s seat. All was right in the Global Warmer.

It was pouring rain and late. We didn’t want to put the puppy down and have her run under the GW and then one of us with the initials Sir Cussalot, would have to climb under there in the pitch black to get her. So he put up an x-pen under the awning to keep her dry. He placed her in the pen but she wouldn’t go. She just sat there or tried to eat rocks. I got the bright idea to try a pee pad in there. I got one, put it down on the gravel and she immediately pooped.

She got her dinner, some chew toys and we went to bed.

I was out like a light. It was a long and tiring trip carrying the puppy and another bag through the airports. I nearly missed my connection in Atlanta because our plane was 45 minutes late leaving due to thunderstorms in WPB. Ken did miss his connection to San Diego and had to take a later flight home. I rushed through the Atlanta airport, puppy and carryon crap in tow (one on each shoulder). I grabbed the first train and off we went. Escalators were not fun but I managed. FIRE! was a dream traveler too.

Sir Cussalot said he took FIRE! out to potty a couple of times in the night. I never heard a thing. I slept like a log.

The Granddollars came up in the morning to greet the new addition. They too fell in love with her! She is so sweet and cuddly (for now anyway).

Puppy love!

Puppy love!

It is so much fun getting a new puppy. Dreams are rich and exciting; SO much to look forward to. It is going to be a wonderful journey with little FIRE! She is already living up to her name! I plan to sign up for Stacy Winkler’s Foundation 1 class in a few weeks. It will be opening soon for the next session. Ken is also going to take it with Jake so that should be a lot of fun!

Fire’s first day home!

I have so many people to thank for making this puppy possible for us. FIRE! was definitely a group effort. It took a long time but the wait was well worth it!

Bo-Tyne This Girl is on FIRE!

Bo-Tyne This Girl is on FIRE!


Helen Grinnell King 


  1. She’s a real cutie!

  2. Congratulations, Helen & Mel! Xoxoxox

  3. so cute. What a major ordeal to have it happen,
    Please post your training videos as you work with her. carla

    • Carla I think I will make a video of the whole process.

  4. What a little Doll, 🙂 Congratulations so happy for you all. 🙂

  5. So happy for you all. She is darling, and may all your dreams come true with her. Well on the way it seems.
    The grand daughters are beautiful.

  6. Awwwww…so cute!

  7. Fire is finally home. Enjoy this journey 🙂

  8. Thanks for update, and background. Have fun. You wait and see, the other pups will love her. Next week.

  9. Lovely to read the story Helen, congrats! I hope all goes well with little Fire, she is gorgeous 🙂 Please keep us updated with how all her training etc is going!

  10. I have been waiting for this story! I am very happy for you.

    Sent from my iPad


  11. Helen and Mel Super congratulations on the new addition to the pack. Hope I get to see her before you head south. Mel gives me encouragement to plan ahead! XOXO

  12. Love that white poodle, the puppy frolics like a baby goat.

    • Barque is a real love! She adores that baby.

  13. Congrats, Fire is beautiful. Wonderful medicine for all

    • Thank you Sandy. She is a lot of fun.

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