From the earliest I can remember, I have adored dogs, and all animals. Living in London as a child, I was never allowed a dog, then at the age of 14, after relentless nagging, my parents bought our first family dog, a Beagle called Barney. On marrying Peter and moving to a cottage in the countryside of Warwickshire, I "retired" from work and bought a beautiful Golden Retriever called Gemma. Peter agreed to a canine so long as he could have a cat. We still haven't got a cat all these years later!
Peter being half French, and working for a French company, meant we had many trips over to France, which is where I saw my first Briard, at one of our favourite hotels. "George", a beautiful fawn boy and I fell in love, and that was it - I was hooked! After 2 years careful consideration and patience, I bought my first Briard in 1983, a bitch, from the late Ruth Bumstead of the famous Baldslow kennels. She was a fawn called Baldslow Leidy of Beaugency, who I eventually made into a Champion. She was the foundation of the Beaugency Briards and proved a wonderful pet, show dog and brood bitch. With the growth of my attachment to the breed came the need for more knowledge. I successfully completed a course on Dog Breeding, which apart from the obvious topics of mating, whelping and weaning, covered genetics, anatomy and movement, observation and perception, amongst other things.
I attended my first French Briard Rassemblement in 1985, and have visited many shows on the European Continent on several occasions, both as an exhibitor and spectator. These have included World Shows, UEBB shows and of course many French Club Nationals. We had the opportunity of living in France for about 7 years and moved there in 1997. This enabled me to be much more closely involved with briardists from other parts of Europe. We loved our time there, and so did the dogs.
I was invited to join the committee of the Briard Association in 1987 and only resigned from this position when we moved abroad 10 years later. I also first judged Briards in 1987 and have judged other Pastoral breeds at Open show level. I was passed by the KC to award Challenge Certificates for the breed in 1995. It was whilst living in France that I represented the Briard Association on the UEBB (European Briard Club) Judges Commission.
Over the years we have not bred extensively, usually about every 18 months, but have achieved great success with many Champions with awards for Top Breeder, Top Briard, Top Bitch, Top Dog, Top Stud Dog, Top Brood Bitch and Top Puppy. We have also bred and owned 2 Crufts BOB winners and other overseas Champions. My aim has always been to breed a balanced, sound briard, typical of the breed, with an emphasis on temperament. It has always been the aim to achieve quality over quantity, as I only breed a litter when I wish to keep a puppy myself. The demand for a show dog can be limited, but whether for show or a valued family pet, each puppy has to be able to fit happily into its environment. We try to breed a good family dog, true to the breed, and wish only the best, loving homes for each and every one.
My hobby has been showing and breeding, but at the end of the day all the briards that have been our "family", have been very much pets in our home. They have all had their individual characters and traits, and left paw prints in our lives in some way or another. We are lucky to live in an old Georgian farmhouse in the beautiful county of Buckinghamshire, and were interested to find out that the house must have always been used to dogs on the premises, as these photographs taken in the 1920's show. Long may it continue.