Helen Davenport Willis asks the questions
When did you first form your partnership and what year was your affix registered with The Kennel Club?
We began our partnership in 1972 when we registered a first litter of Afghan Hounds, this was when we registered the affix Mariquita.
Did you grow up in a doggy environment?
Peter no’ Allan’s grandfather had Springer Spaniels which he worked with and they were also family pets.
When did you first become aware of dogs?
From a very early age, Allan always missed going home from school to visit his grandfather’s dogs due to not being able to have dogs at home because his father had asimer.
What are the origins of your affix?
We did subject 6 names to the Kennel Club, and the one which the Kennel Club choose was our last choice of name, we found this name in a old French painting book, it refers to a gay colourful bird translated into Spanish, it means gay. Which needless to say we have never sold a dog to Spain.
When did you first encounter Skye Terriers?
Having had Afghans & Borzois, and being addicted to grooming we looked round the breeds carefully and decided to have at all the Terriers, sometime at Manchester Ch. Show in 1972 Peter came home having spoken to Marian Cook which informed him she had some promising young Skye Terriers for sale we were hocked from that moment on.
How did you establish your lines?
We have always tried to retain a strong British bloodlines which we have from Rhosingre, Bhuidh, Tarskavaig, Kirkleyditch, which all had very strong Merrymount line, we then pursed an open eye on the dogs of Finland USA and Germany for bloodlines we belief could improve temperaments and out-line.
Did success come along early?
Yes success came very early, with our first Skye Terrier dog bought from Marian Crook, we entered him at the very first Border Union Champ Show and entered him in two classes which he won and the Res CC and from that day to now we have had 42 Champions cross the threshold not all of them shown & breed by us. We have bred 4 American Ch. 1, Can. Ch. 18, Int 2, Fin Ch. 1, Ch. & 1 Aust Ch.
What do you look for in a stud dog?
A kind temperament, a good out-line and a dog which could do the job this breed was bred for. There is no such thing as a bad coloured Skye as long as it is not brown.
Equally when you are picking a puppy to run on what are you looking for?
Healthy out-going puppy, friendly with people and must be pleasing to the eye, although we have seen ugly ducks which have turned into swans, and never overlook the shy puppy in the corner.
Are there any problems in the breed at the present time which need re-dressing?
Unfortunately the Skye Terrier is no longer 10 inches at the shoulder, the size of the dogs today needs to be brough down, as we do not have the length to accommodate the balance the breed standard requires. People need to trace in their pedigrees some of the lower to ground dogs of yesteryear and hopefully restore the balance. Glad to say temperaments in this breed has improved greatly.
Do you think we can learn from our fellow breeders abroad?
Yes we most certainly do, there total attention to detail in handling and presentation, kennel maintenances and there open mindness to breeding outcross and line breedings, both are encouraged to improve the welfare of the breed.
Have you imported any new blood from overseas into your lines? If so what were the results?
We have imported Skyes from USA, Finland, Germany & France and all this new blood line to our kennel have been very successful for us and many other breeder in this counter.
Have you any pet hates?
When did you first begin judging?
Afghan at Sheffield Open Show 1973 (Peter)
Afghans at Pontefract Open Show 1974 (Allan)
Which breeds do you award CCs in?
Skye Terrier & Dandie Dinmonts (Peter), Skye Terrier, Dandie Dinmonts Terrier & Sealyham Terriers.
How often do you judge abroad?
Peter once in Finland. Allan a few times, once in America, once in Finland, once in Denmark, once in Belgium and I have just come back from Italy.
Have you any unfulfilled ambitions?
Yes, winning Best in Show at Crufts or any general Ch. Show.
What has been the highlight of your career so far in the breed?
Winning Best in Show on the Isle of Skye when it was the very first time we held our first championship show in 1985, to be repeated in 1996. Also winning the Terrier group at Crufts 1992.
On the other end of the scale what upset you?
Loosing our garden oldies Skyes which is a heartbreak for any breeder.
Away from the world of pedigree dogs what other hobbies/interests do you have?
Catering, entertaining and travel.
How do you see the future progress of the breed?
It would be nice to believe that the breed was in no worst state than when we arrived, we look round and see the benefits so many Skyes have had.
How would you like to be remembered?
22) With flowers.