The Stuart Ng Books logo, with art drawn by Stuart, is a tribute to our collie Ripley. She ruled our home for 12 years.
But she was not our first dog. That distinction belonged to Danny, our rescue collie.Yep, the dog in the photo below had been picked up as a stray near San Diego. A contact at the animal shelter alerted the local collie rescue, where Danny stayed for a year before we adopted him. Other families overlooked him because he was an older dog (and not as fluffy as the photo here, after about a year with us). Stuart picked him out, telling me "This one seems nice...." I had been sponsoring rescue collies for many years. I spent my youth enjoying the hobby of training show dogs. I thought I would know the right dog for us. Stuart, finder of all things inspiring, saw the golden boy in Danny.
Ripley, the mercurial silvery one, came to us as puppy. We found her catchphrase in a children's book about a self-centered collie pup who would rather run in the fields than look after sheep: "Surely you can't mean me? I'm just a wee little beast!" Like the story-book pup, she grew into her noble heritage. She just had to find her place. We started with the basics. Many collies score well on herding instinct tests. Ripley...not so much....
The picture below is not the most flattering shot of Danny, but it captures Ripley's idea of their relationship. Ripley was the self-proclaimed silvery princess of the universe. Danny was deservedly dubious. He had not only schooled her about indoor dog etiquette (leading by impeccable example) -- he even housebroke her!
It was hard to believe Danny had been abandoned on the streets...lived outside for a year...had scars. Ripley had her own sliding scale of suffering. Like that awful time, one day, when her favorite stuffed animal toy, "Red Mousie," kept poking her. Poking! Right through her double-thick pet bed.
Ripley expressed her many slights and opinions with an operatic range of whimpers, whines, sighs, yips and yodels. In addition to barking. Lots of barking. She was what collie owners call "a talker." Danny was mostly silent. He had a hoarse, deep bark that sounded like he was saying the name of his favorite food: "Ham." Or perhaps it was his assessment of his roommate.
Like most modern collies, her pedigree traced back to the Sunnybank kennel show dogs from the 1920s. The Sunnybank collies lived on the east coast, at the pastoral estate of journalist, fiction writer, and collie breeder Albert Payson Terhune (1872-1942).
Terhune's short stories, and articles on sports and travel, filled leading magazines of the 20s and 30s. His writings crafted his public image. He was the stern but benevolent "Master" of Sunnybank in print and in person. Terhune promoted the virtues he most admired: loyalty; honesty; courage. His dog books (loosely based on his own collies' adventures) launched him to world-wide fame. "Lad: A Dog" was a best seller for decades. It was translated into several languages and sold over a million copies.
Photo-journalist Margaret Bourke-White took pictures of Terhune's home and grounds for his 1934 "Book of Sunnybank."
This 1926 1st edition Terhune title was illustrated by highly collected dog artist Marguerite Kirmse (1885-1954) http://dogpainting.com/info_detail.cfm?type=artist&arts_id=MK
Ripley's Terhune-bred ancestor was the blue merle dog named Sunnybank Gray Dawn...
In dogs, a breed standard is a goal to aspire to. It's just one way to measure how we've adapted dogs to help us. There are water dogs, desert dogs, sled dogs, farm and field dogs, dogs in war, assistance dogs and everyday companions. Judging dogs began with our dependence on them. We needed dogs that could do certain jobs, and a way to keep those traits for future generations. Modern dog shows continue to evolve. They showcase the character and temperament portions of breed standards with events like rally, agility, obedience, team fly-ball, and breed-specific instinct trials. Some of these performance events are open to mixed-breed dogs.
It was Ripley's quirkiness that put her in a class of her own. She carried herself with confidence. She knew she was clever. She contributed to her family's blue ribbon reputation with titles and awards in dog obedience. Like her breed-ring relatives, her wins at AKC licensed trials became part of the permanent record of dog shows.
Her specialty was competing in the "non-regular" classes.
Ripley EXCELLED at being non-regular.
At one show, she proved it for the record books --- winning best non-regular dog at the entire event.
Ripley was rock solid when it came to the long stay. Her confidence was her superpower in the ring. She knew I would come back for her. She was the queen.
As for sitting for long periods of time.... with a ringside crowd of subjects admiring her silvery splendor glittering in the sunlight.... oh yes, Ripley could do that.
Silliness aside, there are benefits beyond ribbons that come with having a well-trained dog. The group of us in training class together were resources for each other's dog issues. We enjoyed cheering or commiserating with each other at shows. Our vets, groomers, pet sitters, etc appreciated giving great care to such cooperative dogs.
Training our dogs also asked them to take a leap of faith with us. They might be confused or uncertain at first, but with effort and trust came understanding and rewards. Looking back, I realize there were lessons on both sides. When we left them behind for the long stay, we were totally confident we would be reunited. It was their turn to be patient. Even when they couldn't see us..... Now the roles are reversed.
Ripley also participated at the Companion Collie Parade, a fund-raiser I helped start with the local collie club. It is still held every summer and is open to all pet, show and rescue collies...
Ripley and I bonded over years of training classes, shows and public service events. I've trained other dogs besides Ripley but, in the ring and out, she delivered like no others.
Logos are supposed to clearly communicate something about the company. Ours is a bit like French Comics. It starts with the art, but you have to know codes and cultures to really translate it. Bienvenue a SNB :)