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All officers and board members are unpaid volunteers.
If you would like to find out more about our board, click on their names and you can see a brief bio.
Many times good things happen after something bad. On the other hand, it may take a while. That is the case with Westies and me. Let me start at the beginning! Growing up I was surrounded by my dogs, horses, cats, rabbits, a squirrel, and parakeets. I adored all animals. In fact, I wanted to become a veterinarian and raise horses.
Speed forward in time! In the eighty’s, our first Westie named Rowdy came to live with my husband Randy and me. We adored him. We are avid sailors, so he went everywhere with us on our boat. Our sons and other relatives loved him as well. When he was almost 11-years old, we lost him to what I now know was Pulmonary Fibrosis, a horrible, terminal disease of the lungs. It was a year before we could even think about getting another dog—but both Randy and I knew the dog had to be a Westie.
Now the good things start to happen! I was determined to buy from a breeder, someone who breeds to the standard and for the best health and disposition. After much searching, I found Ashscot Westies. I started going to shows and grooming Westies with Kay McGuire, DVM and Linda Wible. Soon I joined with them as Ashscot Westies. We practice health clearances, focusing our breeding program on health, disposition and to the standard. We are best friends—like family.
In 2005, Randy and I became members of the West Highland Terrier Club of America, currently serving on the health and breeder education committees and as chair/developer, litter listing committee. I am also very active in our local Westie club, serving in many capacities including president, vice-president, etc.
All that time I was pondering, “How can I make a difference to improve Westie health on a larger scale so that someone else will not go through what we had with our beloved Rowdy?” I learned about the Westie Foundation of America, Inc. (WFA) and its work in the health research and education arena. In 2008, I was privileged to be elected to the board, serving as vice-president of fundraising until my election as president in 2010. I am currently honored to continue serving in that capacity.
Through the WFA, I learned that not only had my Westie died from Pulmonary Fibrosis, but that my mother had died from the very same disease. Now with the WFA, I am working with an organization that can not only help the little, white dogs we all love, but could pave the way to discover treatments and/or cures for humans with similar diseases.
So, what did I do in my other life? I graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and was named to the Dean’s List numerous times. My latest work experience was 21 years in governmental education with responsibilities, such as: design/management of non-profit and for-profit, develop proposals for grants resulting in $1.5 million funding, negotiate and develop contracts and interlocal agreements, contributor to numerous publications for the US Department of Education and Federal Emergency Management Agency, liaison with Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Secret Service, oversee various boards and committees, and administer multiple projects, including federal and state grant programs.
Teresa Barnes is Vice President of Patient Outreach & Advocacy for the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis (CPF), an organization she helped found in 2001. She served as the Secretary of the CPF’s Board of Directors until accepting the VP position. Barnes leads patient support and education services for the CPF as well as the organization’s media relations and advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill.
Barnes serves as Chair of the American Thoracic Society’s (ATS) Public Advisory Roundtable (the patient voice of the physician organization), the ATS Board of Directors and serves on the ATS Board of Trustees. Prior to her work with the CPF, Barnes served on the board of directors for the University of Colorado Pulmonary & Critical Care Division.
Previously, Barnes was Director of Corporate Communications, Business Development and Clinical Programs for Microlife USA and iCare Health Monitoring, both medical device companies. Barnes was a founding member of a medical device company, HealtheTech, from April 2000 until May 2003 and led all public relations and media relations efforts for the company. She participated in the company’s road show for its IPO in 2002. PR Newswire, the world’s largest news distribution company, hired Barnes in 1997 to open its Tennessee/Kentucky bureau and to manage multiple public and investor relations accounts including Fortune 500 accounts such as HCA Corporation and Humana. An experienced TV and print reporter, Barnes holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
I got my first Westie 25 years ago; she was a great pet. Ever since then I always had a Westie in my life.
My husband and I now live with 2 Westies, our 11-year old little female and we added a boy last year, after we lost our 14 year old male to Lymphoma. He was my soulmate, and I learned a lot from him during his 2-year battle and hope to use this to help other Westie owners. I am also involved in earthdog, agility, and lately in conformation with our new boy.
Professionally, I am the owner of Terriertoys, a business which caters to terrier owners at dog shows around the country. I hope to use my sales experience from my business to help fundraising for the Foundation and for the love of Westies.
I volunteer for the Westie Foundation because the work of the Foundation benefits the health and quality of life of Westies everywhere.
DVM, VP Health
I am a practicing veterinarian in my hometown of Houston, Texas. I have a BS in Wildlife and Fisheries, a MS in Veterinary Epidemiology, and DVM from Texas A&M University.
My interest in dogs began with a pet Irish Setter and the many AKC obedience titles I earned over the next 33 years. I bred Champion Gordon Setters under the kennel name Wildwind for over 30 years and acquired my first Westie in 1985. In 1986, I became a member of the West Highland White Terrier Club of America (WHWTCA) and have bred and owner-exhibited approximately 40 Westie Champions under the Ashscot prefix.
As a veterinarian that has had a personal interest in breeding quality animals, my goal is to produce the healthiest dog possible. I treat dogs daily with the problems we all try to avoid in dogs we produce. About three years ago, I encouraged the WHWTCA to recommend health clearances of hips, patellas and eyes in our Westie breeding animals to attain a CHIC number. The goal of the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) is to provide a database of dogs with health clearances so that breeders can gather more health information on prospective breedings. I currently serve as chair of the Health Committee and director on the board and have served as 2nd Vice-President.
Elected to the Board of Directors of the Westie Foundation of America in 2006, I serve as the Vice-President of Health and have held this office for four years. My responsibilities include promotion of health education, committee chair of health grant funding, and liaison to the general Westie owning public. The research community is advancing huge leaps in recent times with improved technology. We MUST prioritize health research as our number one goal along with health education to the pet-owning public to help the dogs we love so much. Not only will this benefit the health of our Westies but it will enhance human health research as well.
FL & VA
I have shown and bred Westies for over 45 years under the prefix of Kiloran Lea. Over the years, one of my hobbies has been extensive travel. The name Kiloran comes from a bay in Scotland and Lea from the land surrounding the bay. My foundation bitch was named after the town of Mallaig in Scotland which I have visited. It is a small fishing village on the west side of Scotland. Over the years, I have visited with many Westie breeders and owners who all have emphasized the importance of Westie health. I am pictured with one of my senior girls, who enjoys a healthy retirement from motherhood and the shows.
I initially worked with the West Highland White Terrier Club of America as a board member and the chairperson of the health committee. When the Westie Foundation of America was founded, I became a board member and also served as secretary for a number of years.
Taking a break for a few years while planning for my professional retirement, I served on the Advisory Council for the Foundation. Professionally, I am a retired child psychologist and have had the opportunity to utilize some of my professional skills on some rambunctious puppies over the years.
Since inception, the Foundation has made some wonderful gains in Westie health and has supported many research grants. I look forward to our continued progress in providing the best health support for Westies through the Foundation.
I have had a lifelong love of all dogs but fell in love with the Westie Highland White Terrier in 1995. My partner and I acquired our first Westie, Princess O'Peter Pan, from Tom and Barbara Barrie in 1995 and have, shown bred, loved, and pampered many, many Westies over the years.
We purchased what was to become our true foundation bitch from Steve and Denise Jennings in 2004 (Misty). Her progeny has gifted us with much love and happiness which has been passed on to many people who have received one of her descendants.
My love for the breed, coupled with a desire to help ensure that future generations live longer, healthier lives, led me to say "Yes" in 2010 when asked if I would serve as the Donor Manager of the Westie Foundation. In 2011, I was elected Treasurer and am happy to continue to serve in that capacity today.
Throughout my tenure, the Foundation has grown in resources and expanded our ability to support research from small contributions to sponsoring major studies. Our donor base is exceptionally supportive, and our investments are well managed, ensuring the financial stability of the organization.
In addition to working as the Foundation Treasurer, I am a member of the WHWTCA, I find time to read, travel and am an AKC judge of eighteen terrier breeds, including the Westie, of course.
We got our first Westie in 1993 when my wife & I had decided to “downsize” from Labrador Retrievers. My sister had a Westie at the time and when we met her, it was love at first sight. Our first Westie was from a “backyard” breeder, not knowing any better at the time, who ended up having some health challenges. By virtue of 14 years with “Sam”, we learned a great deal about Westie health.
After searching for about a year, we bought our first “potential” show dog and put a championship on “Mike.” We also searched for our first brood bitch. We finished “Viva” and we have never looked back. In 2000 we were blessed with a litter of pups, one of which was our beloved MerryMac’s String of Pearls, “Pearl”. From Pearl, “Bonnie” and “Rose” were born in 2005 and we were fortunate to receive an inquiry from eventual co-owners and friends, the Higginbotham’s, to whom one of the puppies, “Rose” was delivered to in early 2006. Three years and her championship later, we bred “Rose” who delivered a puppy, “Bode.” “Bode” ended up being the #1 Westie in the country in 2011, and in 2012 Bode showed at Westminster to the delight of his owners and co-owners. Ours has truly been a rags to riches story and I am truly blessed to have been owned by Westies, for the past 23 years.
I am currently training & trialing one of our Westies, “Quinn,” in K9 Nose Work. We recently achieved our NW1 and NW2 titles. And we are currently preparing for our NW3 trial later this year. I have also started training our “Bonnie” in K9 Nose Work and look forward to continuing the fun with her as well!
Professionally, I have been in the food business all of my life. I am currently the Director of National Sales for US Foods, a predominant National foodservice distributor. Being in the sales and service industry, I hope to be able to utilize my skills and experiences to successfully continue to serve the Foundation as I have done since 1997.
I am grateful for the opportunity to work with the Westie Foundation of America as we continue in our efforts to better the health and the quality of life for our Westies.
Tom Barrie became a director of the Westie Foundation of America in 2005. He and his wife, Barbara have bred Westies using the O’ Peter Pan affix for over 45 years, competing in conformation, obedience and Earthdog.
Tom has been active in the West Highland White Terrier Club of America, having served on the Board of Directors, as Vice-President and as President. He is currently the Club’s Delegate to the American Kennel Club. He has been a member and officer of several regional Westie Clubs.
After serving ten years as an Air Force officer, Tom spent his professional career as an aerospace engineer, working on programs such as Minuteman ICBM, Apollo Space program and B-2 Stealth bomber development. After retirement, he and Barbara built and operated a boarding kennel near Dallas, Texas for several years.
He is licensed by AKC to judge eight terrier breeds. He is also licensed as an Earthdog judge.
My journey with Westies began in 1996 when I found a little white dog, in very poor condition, wandering a mall parking lot. With no success in finding his owners, “Toto” became part of our family. There my Westie journey begins. Like potato chips, you cannot have just one. A few years later we purchased our first show dog from Nancy Schoch of Windsong Westies.
It was at Montgomery in 1999 that I was introduced to Sue Thomson of Ashgate Kennel in England. The following spring, my late husband, Carl, and I traveled to Sue’s home and purchased my first Ashgate girl. Since that time Sue and I have developed a strong friendship and are fortunate to see each other several times a year. I have come to depend on her wealth of knowledge and common-sense approach to breeding. I am a member of the West Highland White Terrier Club of England and stay in contact with several members. I was fortunate to travel with Sue to their Special Celebration Centenary Championship Show in June of 2006 in Dumfries, Scotland. Sue honored me by asking that I take her affix as mine: Ashgate U.S. It is with great pride that I use Ashgate U.S. as my kennel name and I strive to breed for health and temperament. Along with being on the Board of the Westie Foundation, I am also a member of the WHWTCA and the WHWTC of New England.
I work full time for the Bristol County District Attorney where I am assigned to the Massachusetts State Police Detective Unit, investigating homicides and cold cases.
For me, breeding Westies is so rewarding. Everyone enjoys different aspects of this sport, and my passion is breeding. To produce a healthy, well-constructed Westie with good temperament is something that I take very seriously. We are the caretakers of our breed and with this is a tremendous responsibility; from the decision on which dogs to mate, the whelping of the litter, the rearing of healthy puppies, to their evaluation and finally, a difficult task for me the placement of my precious little ones.
The Westie Foundation offers a wealth of information on health issues and the well-being of our Westies. We need to look carefully at what we are producing and test the health of our breeding stock. The Foundation is always willing to go the extra mile to help.
My Westie experience began a full year before I became a Westie owner. My wife and I went to countless dog shows where we felt like fish at a dog show because we had no experience at such things. But we wanted to learn who the quality breeders were so we immersed ourselves in the Westie community. Tom Barrie, fellow board member, was one of the first people we met, and he proved invaluable in advising us. Said Tom, “Get two. You will be glad you did.” Well, finding one was proving difficult enough, but Tom introduced us to the breeders in Houston raising Ashscot Westies. Dr. Kay McGuire, also a board member, was part of the ownership group. In March 2000, a litter was born and sometime later we were offered our heart’s desire – a brother and sister, Rocky and Rosie. They remained a big part of our life until we lost Rocky around the age of sixteen and Rosie followed him about a year later. A phone call to Dr. Kay informing her of their passing led to my volunteer work to help the Westie Foundation of America in whatever way I could.
I studied broadcast journalism at Louisiana State University but devoted my career to running retail companies. I was fortunate to become a CEO when I was twenty-five. I stepped away from the C-suite a few years ago to start a leadership training and coaching company serving mostly small business owners, CEOs, executives, and leaders. Since the advent of the Internet, I have also been heavily involved in new media: blogging, social media, and podcasting. I am devoted to helping the Westie Foundation of America because the promotion of Westie health is paramount to Westie owners and lovers worldwide. My wife and I live in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and look forward to having Westies at our feet again.
I became a veterinarian in 1978 and decided to specialize in veterinary dermatology. Little did I know at the time that my specialty would give me the opportunity to work with and live with one of my favorite breeds, the West Highland White Terrier (Westie).
During my residency at the University of Florida, a tiny Westie puppy was donated by her breeder to the school because of a cleft palate. I adopted her and named her Bobby Sue. When she turned about 2 or 3, she developed signs of atopic dermatitis. We performed intradermal skin testing and used an allergy vaccine to control her disease and she did quite well. Bobby Sue was followed by Kandy, also an atopic, and eventually little Miss Tessie Belle, a Westie given up to rescue for her severe skin and ear diseases. Each of my Westies has had allergy testing and immunotherapy which proved successful for control of their disease. My Westies have taught me a lot about canine skin disease, but more importantly about what great little dogs these are.
Skin diseases, while rarely life-threatening, are a significant cause of discomfort for Westies as well as other breeds. Since atopic dermatitis is a lifelong inflammatory disease, it is important for those of us in the veterinary profession to try to understand it and devise ways to help these dogs and their devoted owners. By living with atopic dogs, I understand their needs more completely and I try to translate this understanding to the management of my patients.
My hobbies include photography, hiking, birdwatching, dog and parrot rescue, gardening, bonsai, orchids, and most recently, beer-making! Our family currently has two dogs adopted from rescue organizations, a Golden retriever cross amazingly without skin disease, and a deaf atopic and food allergic French bulldog. Still waiting for that next Westie to come along! We also have six parrots, including an orange winged Amazon, a one-legged feather-picking Congo African Grey, a Quaker, a sun conure, and two budgerigars.
In 1995 a West Highland White terrier named Billy came into my life. When the breeder mentioned that Billy had show potential, my interest was piqued. Soon I was on a quest to learn everything I could about Westies and dog shows. Only too soon did I realize the steep learning curve involved in acquiring the skills involved in training, grooming, and showing a Westie. This interest soon became a major part of my life.
I was fortunate to have mentors that were willing to share their knowledge and experience with me. With their guidance I was able to establish Holly Hill Westies and exhibit my dogs as breeder/owner/handler. Showing my dogs locally as well as around the country has enriched my life. Meeting other Westie owners and breeders and getting to know the families that provided loving homes for my pups has been very rewarding. I became active in the William Penn WHWTC serving terms as an officer and board member. I also served a three-year term on the board of the WHWTCA.
My educational background, which includes a Master of Science degree in biology, led to a fulfilling career teaching biology at Central Bucks High School West, a large suburban school district in Bucks County, PA. My teaching position focused mainly on teaching Advanced Placement Biology and Human Anatomy and Physiology. My background in biology led to an interest in canine structure and function, and canine health and wellness.
Working with very talented and motivated board members of the Westie Foundation has made me realize the importance of the mission of the WFA to educate Westie owners about health issues that affect our breed and to find solutions for those health problems by supporting breed specific research. For the future health of the breed, I am an advocate of the health screening tests recommended by the WHWTCA. I also encourage participation in the WFA Biobank which stores Westie DNA for use in research projects. I support other breeders and owners with the goal of producing and raising healthy, hardy, Westies that are excellent representations of the breed.
My love of Westies started when I was just a child. I would play with the Westie glass figurines in my grandmother’s house every summer (They got quite a workout). My first real Westie was born in 1987. It was to be a pet, however she had something else in mind; she wanted to be a Showgirl. 34 years later, I had many bred-by Champions, and I am still going. Her breeder was retiring so I had to create my own kennel name. I chose “Novel Westies” as my kennel name, each litter tells a story of its own.
I have been a Manager of Anesthesia at a Veterinary Surgical Referral Practice for over 20 years. I Passed the Pennsylvania State Veterinary Technician Boards in the year 2000. I served on the Westie Foundation Advisory board for several years. The future for Westies to achieve a good quality of life depends upon if we all work together. In promoting Westie health through the Foundation, I want to be part of the solution.
My journey with Westies started one evening in 1986 while conducting a clinic at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY. A professor’s wife brought in a West Highland that her daughter had adopted from the Highland Falls Pound. I made the statement that I had always loved the breed. A couple weeks later the phone rang and I was asked if I would like him. Thus, our journey down the Westie road started. Clancy, like all our boys, migrated to my wife, Catherine; he became her companion. He was atopic, hypothyroid, cryptocorcid and had a collapsed trachea which probably led to chronic kidney disease. But what a dog!
We lost him while stationed in Germany in 1990. This took us on a Westie Quest to England. There we met Andrew and Sue Thomson as well as other UK breeders. Sue Hawes sold us a girl puppy and we moved with Kiltie in 1991 to California. I joined the Southern California Club and became a member of the national club.
From California I was posted to Fort Lee, VA in 1994. There we went to our first National Specialty. I thought I had gone to Westie Heaven seeing two hundred plus Westies in one place. While in California we met Sandy Campbell and Anne and Sil Sanders. With Anne’s guidance I became a Westie Foundation of America founder and board member.
One evening in 2005 Sandy Campbell called and asked if I would like to co-own a girl puppy that she thought was nice. Thus, the journey continued with the Bebe Queen and her offspring. One of my highlights was saluting the National Anthem at the start of Westminster Dog Show in 2008.
In 2012, I was elected to the WHWTCA Board. Being on the board expanded my world of Westies because I had a chance to get to know many that I didn’t know – like Cathy Latz, Angie Jennings, Dawn Martin, Lee Trudeau, Jody Brinkley, Kathy Farrell, and others.
Oh yes – I retired from the US Army in 1994 and went to work with the initial veterinary hospitals that were opening in the PetSmart stores. This led to different positions with PetSmart Veterinary Service and then with the Banfield Pet Hospitals. With my eyesight failing, I retired in 2012.
When Rhonda and I married in 1979, we moved to Anchorage, Alaska with two dogs, Monique, a Poodle, and Jake, a Cairn, and three Siamese cats.
When Monique passed away at 18, Rhonda gave me Jenny as a Father’s Day gift, our first Westie. Jenny had one puppy, Benjamin. When Jenny passed of old age, we acquired Megan. Then came Marni and Mr. B. Our household has had two Westies since 1990.
I am a retired CPA, having spent thirty-five years as an audit partner with Ernst & Young and Deloitte. After attendance at Westminster in 2014, Crufts in 2015, and Montgomery shows for several years, and developing close relationships with members of the Westie community, I was asked to serve on the Finance Committee and finally the Board. I am pleased to be a director and proud to serve.
My wife, Rhonda Roberts, has significant involvement as an owner, assisting with breeding and grooming activities, and participating with our dogs in barn hunt, earth dog and tracking, with scent work and rally on the horizon.
Allison Platt has owned, bred, and shown Westies for more than thirty-five years. Her Westies have competed successfully in conformation, agility, tracking, obedience, and earthdog. She has been a member of the West Highland White Terrier Club of America for over thirty years, and was the president of the club in 2009 when they celebrated the 100th anniversary of Westies in the United States. Her dog Spenser (BIS BISS Ch. McAlpin Claim to Fame at Kirkton, TD) was the #1 Westie in the US in 2003, and won the breed at Westminster in 2002 and 2003. Her bitch Sprite (Ch CT Kirkton Quicksilver Girl, AX, OAJ, ME, RN) was the first terrier to earn an AKC VST (Urban Tracking) and CT (Champion Tracker) title in 1999.
She has judged numerous national specialty sweepstakes and has bred numerous Champion Westies with multiple performance titles, but tracking is her favorite activity with her dogs, and she has been an AKC tracking judge for 25 years.
In “real” life, Allison is a landscape architect and urban designer based in Goldsboro, North Carolina. She has a BA in English Composition from Northwestern and an MLA from Cornell. Her original company, Allison Platt & Associates, was founded in 1993, and specialized in revitalization plans and open space design and construction documents for small to medium size cities in the Mid-Atlantic region. Her new company, Regeneatrion by Design, was founded in 2020.
My life with Westies began about 20 years ago when I began looking for a smaller companion dog. My husband did not grow up with animals so I had to convince him that a small dog would be perfect for our home. The Westie intrigued me as a dog that would be happy, curious and both affectionate and independent. So, for my 40th birthday I brought home my first Westie, Samantha. Knowing that all dogs need a companion as well, I convinced my husband that we needed a second terrier at which time I brought home a Scottie, Mackenzie. Since that time we have had both terrier breeds in our home as our kids.
Some years later, I had the opportunity to meet Naomi Brown and learned that Naomi bred beautifully structured dogs with good health and temperament and was always looking for the perfect home for her litters. I am proud to say both my girls (Annabelle and Hannah) are Ashgate US dogs from Naomi. Not only do I compete with my girls from conformation to agility I’m proud to say they have d some beautiful litters, thanks to Naomi.
I am both a Certified Public Accountant and an Attorney in the state of Massachusetts and work/own a local accounting practice. I am a member of the West Highland White Terrier Club of England, the West Highland White Terrier Club of America, and the West Highland White Terrier Club of New England. I am very proud and honored to be elected to the Board of Directors of the Westie Foundation.
I guess I was destined to have Westies because before my husband, Sil, asked me to marry him, I had to pass muster with his Westie and Scottie. His favorite was Mac, the Westie, because he could play soccer with him and had a more outgoing personality. When we decided to get a puppy in 1973, we attended the Golden Gate Bench Show and walked the benches looking at all of the dogs. We narrowed it down to a Westie or Cairn. Since the Westie people were friendlier, KarRic’s Rimy Ryvoan entered our lives.
Rimy was our pet and we had no thoughts of showing him, but his breeder convinced us that he was a nice dog and so the adventure began. Then, one Sunday afternoon we had nothing better to do, so we attended the first gathering of what would become the San Francisco Bay WHWTC. We were drawn into a circle of Westie lovers and became part of the organizational effort to get the club sanctioned and licensed to hold AKC events. We were hooked and never looked back.
Sil and I started showing in conformation and bred one to two litters a year. My local mentors encouraged me to attend seminars on breeding, training, and health and the knowledge gained at seminars and reading extensively has helped immeasurably in our success. Almost all our champions are breeder-owner-handled. As Sil & I became more involved in other aspects of the dogs (obedience, working terrier, tracking) we enjoyed the friendship and camaraderie of people with a wide variety of breeds.
When we had our first CMO affected puppy in 1987 we began to look into the causes and what we could do about it. That led to a collaboration with Dr. George Padgett at MSU who helped many breeders and breeds develop plans to reduce the incidence of genetic disease. At this time DNA research was in its infancy so test-mating was the only option to seek out carriers and identify clear stock. It only took 25 years to find the gene(s) responsible and develop a DNA test! That is how it goes with research. Results do not usually come quickly, but if you never start, you never find the answer.
Meanwhile, at one of the Hospitality gatherings during Montgomery weekend, I was talking with Jim Diemer and Wayne Kompare. Somehow we shared how we had a lot of Westie art and memorabilia and no one to leave it to when we passed. That is where the idea of a charitable foundation to raise funds to sponsor medical and genetic research first bubbled to the surface. In 1997, the Westie Foundation was launched, and I took on the job of Secretary-Treasurer. I have been involved with WFA ever since, either as an officer, board member, or member of the advisory council. It has been a privilege to be part of the growth of one of the most successful breed health foundations in the world. That such a small group of dedicated individuals and so many generous financial supporters could do so much in relatively little time is a testament to Westie lovers everywhere. Westie people are not only friendly; they are dedicated to protecting and cherishing their beloved breed.
The first Westie I ever saw lay quietly in the front seat of the owner’s car at the restaurant where I had met my parents for lunch. After a well-deserved post-harvest break, my parents met me mid- state on a cool, pleasant fall afternoon. When I spotted the dog, he sat up and cocked his head to one side, like they so often do. Then he quietly circled back onto his bed, and I was changed forever.
Without doing any research whatsoever, I began my search. I found a puppy for sale from the classifieds, and when I saw the deplorable conditions he was in, I had to save this puppy. Duffy came from what I found out later was one of the most notorious puppy mills in our area. And I endured ten years of heartache and misery that comes from these ruthless breeders. I must take responsibility for my part, because I did neither research ahead of time nor much after.
Duffy was such a cute puppy that I did not see all the signs and symptoms until years later. Just a few: The breeder was willing to sell the puppy at barely 5 weeks. Both pups were terribly shy, afraid almost. They smelled horrible, and all I remember about the mother was that she was filthy and very thin. The female’s face was misshapen, probably a very bad bite. But I was determined to get a puppy! Later on, temperament and health problems taught me way more than I ever wanted to know! I loved that dog, but I would not wish my experience on anyone.
After his death at age ten, I realized that I still wanted a Westie, but this time I vowed to take my time and do my research. The West Highland White Terrier Club of America “Westie Profiler” shocked me! (I flunked). The health survey results at that time named Temperament as the biggest health problem in the breed, and boy could I relate! I found that both genetics and the way pups are raised contribute to their personalities and overall health. Getting acquainted with legitimate breeders was daunting. Armed with information, I visited every litter possible, some in lovely backyard breeders’ homes, some in the same horrible conditions Duffy came from, and with much insistence some legitimate Westie breeders’ homes. Always, I vowed to wait for the right puppy, and after visiting my first dog shows, I decided that I wanted a healthy pet from a reliable breeder.
Then came the FBI background check! The interrogations! “Who are you?” “What’s your history?” “What are your intentions?” “Fill out this multiple page form!” “And don’t hold your breath!” I laugh about it now, and I understand the whole thing completely. I would be buying a member of the family! I eventually got a fabulous pet, JJ, who is now a healthy, thriving fourteen-year-old patriarch and the love of my life. The contacts I made led to my first show dog and the rest is history. From mentors I learned all about the dog show world, but also that Westies were bred to do a job, and my other three kids are having a blast with Tracking & Earthdog.
I was blessed to have eight healthy, happy puppies the first time, whelping my foundation bitch, (with help from lots of mentors!), and that is when I learned the importance of good health in our Westies. The Westie Foundation of America (WFA) was a fabulous source during that time. Raising puppies taught me the importance of good nutrition, careful genetic study, proper socialization, and the piercing pain of parting with one. There is heartache too when we find out one of our beloved dogs has Craniomandibular Osteopathy (CMO) or Atopic Dermatitis or has produced some genetic defect, but as long as we are armed with information, we can try to reduce or eliminate these in the future.
The journey has seen stumbles, tragedies, and triumphs. I wish I could talk to everyone who is considering a Westie from anyone other than a reputable breeder. I am still researching and learning. I have witnessed great progress in improving Westie health though there is much left to do. I was honored when asked to serve on the WFA’s board of directors, and it is amazing to see all the others who dedicate so much time and effort to this terrific organization. It is heartening to see all the breakthroughs recently in health issues for our canine kids. I have been blessed to meet wonderful people who have been mentors, new pup owners and very dear friends, and of course, lots of gorgeous, fun canine friends. So, I must thank that quiet, curious, and beautiful first Westie that I met as he waited patiently for his loved ones.
My husband, John, and I bought our first Westie, Casey, in 1990. I had not had a dog since I was in elementary school, but we did quite a bit of research and believed the Westie would be perfect in size, personality and temperament. Fortunately, we were right! Casey was everything we had hoped for in a pet. He loved us dearly, but he was lonely for a four-legged companion, so, the following year, we added Abby to our family. Casey and Abby provided us with years of love and affection and, as they grew older, we decided to add a puppy to the mix.
In 1999, Duncan entered our lives and introduced us to the world of showing dogs. At the time, we knew nothing about the dog show world, but we knew we wanted a healthy pup from a good breeder. When we bought him, we agreed that we would give the show world a try. If Duncan liked it and was good at it, we would show him to his championship, but if he did not take to the show ring for any reason, he would be our newest pet. To make a long story short, during his first weekend in the show ring, Duncan won the 6-9 month puppy class at Montgomery County. He went to his next show in Texas about a month later, at the age of 8 months, and won Terrier Group Two the first day and Terrier Group One the following day! We were astounded, and, needless to say, we were hooked.
We continue to show and breed our Westies on a limited basis and currently have two Westies living with us.
I have been a member of the WHWTCA since 2003. I served as chair of the WHWTCA Nation-al Rescue Committee from 2009 through 2011 and am still a member of the Committee. I was honored to join the Board of the WFA in the Fall of 2011. I am also a member of the WHWTC of Southeast Texas and the Trinity Valley WHWTC.
A native Texan, I graduated from Waco High School, then received an A.A. degree from Sullins College in Bristol, Virginia, and a B.B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin. After undergraduate school, I taught high school math and coached varsity tennis. I returned to the University of Texas Law School in 1975 and received my J.D. in 1978. I have been a practicing attorney since then, focusing first on litigation and now on mediation, with offices in both Austin and Georgetown. I am a past president of the Association of Attorney-Mediators and have served several terms on their Board. I am a member of the State Bar of Texas, the Austin Bar Association, and the Williamson County Bar Association.
In addition to my work with Westies and the legal community, I am a member of Grace Episcopal Church in Georgetown where I serve on the Vestry, and I belong to our local Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce.