2019 Best in Show Winner “Sham” Interview

Ashlee Houlden and Jarrod Tyler are the owners and breeders of the 2019 BIS Winner “Sham”. Ashlee has bred Border Collies for many years and Jarrod has become part of the kennel since they have been partners.

Both started in the dog world as children, with their families being involved. Jarrod’s family bred and showed German Shepherds and Ashlee’s family has Border Collies. The Houldens purchased their first Border Collie when Ashlee was 2 years old, and they have had the breed ever since. One of Ashlee’s fondest childhood memories is going to shows with her mother. Her love of the sport and breeding developed, and Ashlee has been hooked ever since. She helped her mum with every aspect of the dogs from the husbandry at home to the handling at shows. Ashlee helped deliver her first litter unassisted at around 10 years of age. Border Collies have become her life passion.

The first Border Collies came from Schumindy Kennels. This litter was bred from two stalwarts of the breed both here in Australia and worldwide - Minimbah and Clan-Abby. These famous prefixes can be found behind most Border Collies in the world today. Their dogs were of such great quality and laid the best possible foundation for the Houldens. This first puppy went on to be Ch Schumindy, “Kirra”, and was Ashlee’s mother’s faithful and much-loved companion and the first dog she showed to an Australian Championship title. For her first and only litter, Ashlee’s mum was guided by “Kirra’s” breeders to consider using a very well known and successful stud dog of the time Ch Crystalledge Star Trek. The wonderful “Skip” produced many, many extremely successful and typey progeny including multiple Best in Show winners.

“Kirra” was tragically lost at only 4 years of age due to a paralysis tick. She lives on in all Pukawidgee dogs today including her great granddaughter Sup Ch Pukawidgee Light Oth Moon who is also known as “Kirra”.

Sup Ch Pukawidgee Name Of The Wind, “Sham”, is a fifth generation Pukawidgee. His father is Aust Ch, Chinese Gr Ch & International Ch Pukawidgee Black Mountain and his mother is Ch Pukawidgee Black Pearl. “Sham’s” sire “Buddy” was a maiden stud dog and Ashlee remembers a little trouble getting the first mating. Luckily, “Sham’s” mother “Pearl” was very forward, an ideal bitch to breed really, and did everything possible to assist her less knowledgeable partner!

“Sham” was born on a cold winter’s night in August 2012, the second born in a litter of 7, and from the moment Ashlee saw him, she knew he was special. Ashlee gave him the nickname “Perfect Boy” and there was never any doubt he was the pick of the litter. He always stood out to her and although there were bigger male puppies with the “traditional” marking of a full white collar and thick blaze, which can be alluring, she preferred the charismatic darker boy, with the flowing movement. He was Baby in Group at his first show out and never looked back! “Sham” was very successful as a youngster, winning numerous classes in Show. The first time Jarrod saw him, Ashlee remembers him telling her that this dog was going to be something special. How right he was. In Ashlee’s wildest dreams she never could have imagined the future Sham would have.

Pukawidgee has bred selectively to particular lines. The kennel has always endeavoured to keep their lines tight to their original foundation and all current stock goes back to their original dogs. When choosing a stud dog, Ashlee has always picked dogs that either go back to similar lines or complement them and are phenotypically what we are aiming to produce.

Ashlee and Jarrod always keep a clear idea in their mind of what they want to breed and achieve with their breeding program. Movement is so important in this breed - it is a hallmark. It is always top of the list. So many dogs they see these days look so pretty when they are free standing, but the movement is not on par. They are a working breed and their movement is such an intrinsic part of this breed - dictated by their working style and is unlike any other breed.

Obviously good husbandry and nutrition are central to the raising of Pukawidgee pups. Ashlee thinks that Border Collie pups are relatively easy to grade at 7/8 weeks. It is usually pretty clear by that age who makes that early grade and who doesn’t. Being very familiar with their lines and how they develop does help. Of course, even the most promising show prospect doesn’t always turn out and this is a part of the breeding process.

Ashlee and Jarrod believe the Royal Melbourne Show Best in Show win was easily the best and most prestigious win they have had. They have enjoyed some great success with their dogs here and internationally. It was a bucket list show - something they have always dreamed of winning. To do so with a dog like “Sham”, who means so much to both of them and is owner, bred and handled, was extra rewarding. Anyone can buy a nice dog and credit to them, still put in a lot of hard work and win the big shows. But when you do it with your own dog, that you have bred, conditioned and trained every step of the way it is fulfilling in a much deeper sense.

“Sham” himself has won some incredible accolades including being Australia’s No 1 amongst All Breeds 2017, QLD’s Dog of the Year 2017, the Top Dog Grand Final 2016 and BIS and RUBIS at some of Australia’s biggest shows including Winter International, Spring Fair, North of the Harbour, Western Classic, not to mention his BIS 2nd at the 2016 Melbourne Royal Show. But Sham winning Best in Show at the 2019 Royal Melbourne Show under such an incredibly well-respected judge as Mr Espen Engh tops it all.

Ashlee’s goal has been to produce a Best in Show winning Grand Champion (Supreme Ch was not a title yet). Kirra “blew that goal out of the water” and then Sham took it to another level.

Ashlee and Jarrod think this proves that with hard work and determination, and of course some quality stock (special thanks to Ashlee’s mum) anything is possible.