Holmhaven

Meet Lil Sayre

Dog lover Lil Sayre breeds and trains Collies in South Florida. Her barn, where both puppies and Arabian horses are raised, is called Holmhaven. Lil has been breeding her Collies for 46 years, making her an expert at the practice. One of her goals is to breed intelligent dogs. Unlike some other kennels, she isn't so much interested in conformation as she is in obedience. Holmhaven Collies have received a total of 135 obedience titles, including seventeen Utility Degrees. Two of the collies received Dog World Awards for their accomplishments in recognition of outstanding achievement. Elected Duke of Holmhaven, UD earned membership in Morris Animal Foundation's Mark 500. Lil registers her dogs with the American Kennel Club and has been a member of the Collie Club of America for over 25 years. Lil's commitment to Collies is admirable. Her knowledge of the breed and dog training should be shared. I have one of Lil's precious Collies and can really appreciate her work. For a better understanding of what it's like to own a Holmhaven's puppies, visit Essex and Sherman.

How did you start breeding Collies?
From the time I was a child I wanted to raise dogs. I fell in love with Collies after reading books by Albert Payson Terhune, an author who wrote lots of books on collies and who had lived not far from where we lived at the time in NJ.

How did you get involved with obedience?
We always trained all our dogs. When we got the Collies we went to the dog shows and noticed the obedience competition. We heard talk that "they've bred the brains out of the collies." We knew that our Collies were smart and liked to work, so we decided to emphasize that in our dogs as well as good quality and health, so people would realize that collies were smart and good workers.

Can any dog participate in obedience trials?
Yes, just recently the American Kennel Club changed the rules so that mixed-breed dogs could also compete.

Have you had experience with other breeds? What are the biggest differences from Collies?
Most of my experience is with Collies, but I've trained many different breeds and am a trainer with our local dog obedience club. Collies are very easy to train. Some breeds need a firmer hand, some are stubborn and others are very independent. Each kind needs training methods directed to the special needs.

What kind of training methods do you use?
We use positive reinforcement coupled with corrections once the dog has learned what's wanted.

What makes Collies so good at herding?
Herding instinct is the most important trait for a good herding dog. It's in the genes and then developed with proper training and exposure to livestock.