In the late 1970's I was living in rural Stearns County, Minnesota with an ancient Irish Setter and two little children. One winter we headed for Arizona to warm up for a couple of weeks and returned to a house which had been ransacked and burglarized. "Never again!" I declared. I had grown up on farms with German Shepherds and Collies and mixes of the two who were all-around farm dogs. We wanted a dog who was guardy enough to provide us with protection in our rural setting yet was tolerant of children, required minimal grooming and was hardy and intelligent.   I had grown up in a time when dogs were expected to bark at strangers coming to the farm and even to bite them if they felt it was necessary. The Bouvier seemed to fit the bill and later in the year Helga came to live with us and change my life!    

Since that time, I have come to view Bouviers as my constant companions, a hobby and passion which has spanned almost 30 years! Over that time I have learned that there are good and bad Bouviers, smart and dumb Bouviers, active and lethargic Bouviers, good obedience dogs, lazy dogs, affectionate Bouviers and independent Bouviers. They are a varied bunch! I have enjoyed showing them in conformation, obedience, tracking, and ringsports and have titled many under the "Briarlea" kennel banner.

Here is my son Miles and Bica in 1981.  Miles is now in law enforcement with the Routt County Sheriff's Department in Colorado and still has a Bouvier in his life over 20 years later!

Some of the things I've enjoyed participating in have been:

  • writing for Dog World Magazine
  • contributing to the Dirty Beards Quarterly, the official publication of the American Bouvier des Flandres Club
  • attending the Bouvier Education seminar at Westminster Kennel Club in 1980's
  • serving as Agility Trial Secretary for the 1999 Bouvier National Specialty
  • acting as 1998 Judges Education Coordinator for the American Bouvier des Flandres Club
  • acting as Director of Training for Granite City Kennel Club in St.Cloud, MN
  • teaching Community Education dog training classes
  • organizing and teaching Puppy Kindergarden classes
  • organizing and becoming a Charter Member of the Great River Stockdog Club of Minnesota
  • training dogs to herding titles and to work on the farm
  • planning breedings and whelping many litters of Bouviers with puppies in almost all 50 states of the U.S.
  • using fresh-extended semen in one of Minnesota's first breedings using this new technology in the 1980's
  • organizing Lyme disease testing clinics
  • organizing and hosting herding clinics
  • training and titling one of the youngest American Bouviers to multiple titles:Ch. Briarlea Norstar Rose O'Luke TD,CD had all 3 titles by the time he was 14 months old
  • long-time member/delegate of the Minnesota Purebred Dog Breeders Association
  • have had 4 generations of top-producing dams
  • in 1999 we had top-ranking dogs in conformation, obedience and "top producers"
  • Co-Presented breed study group on the Bouvier with Nancy Eilks -sponsored by the Minnesota Dog Judges Association in 1998
  • In 2001 we began importing Bouviers from the Netherlands and Belgium
  • Successful fresh-extended breeding results in puppies!
  • First grandchild born!
  • 2002 ~ a visit to Amsterdam and the World Dog Show
  • Many new titles in 2002
  • Second grandchild born!

  • August 2003 I become an official AKC "Canine Good Citizen" evaluator.

  • Attend Pat Hasting's "Tricks of the Trade" seminar for experienced and professional breeders.

  • Many new titles in 2003!

  • New kennel building goes up!  

  • Antara surprises us with top obedience scores and ends up #5 obedience  Bouvier in the U.S.!

  • We start working with new bloodlines...KNPV, SchH and IPO  and  begin training with Midwest Ringsport Club in an attempt to discover whether the Bouviers we are using in our breeding program have what it takes to compete in this elite dog sport.

  • We continue writing for the Dirty Beard magazine, profiling people in the Bouvier fancy.

  • 2004 we experiment with a "multiple-sire" breeding using the AKC's DNA technology to identify the sires.  The result?  11 puppies sired by Riptide's Karlson, 1 puppy by Crestwood's Toby!

  • attended Dr. Patricia McConnell Seminar on dog-dog aggression and advanced canine behavior.

  • Designed websites for Pawsitive Dog Training and Croix Valley Tracking Club.

  • audited Michael Ellis working seminar

  • imported Alta de la Saulaie Maraiche

  • Lots of new titles in 2004

  • participated in Michael Ellis seminars in New Mexico and Minnesota

  • continue working with decoy Mark Keating and Real Dog Sport Club to learn French Ringsport

  • Chairperson 2005 Herding Trial at the American Bouvier National Specialty ... September/October...Rochester, MN

  • Helped coordinate AKC Working Dog Sport program demo at ABdFC Nationals

  • Continue to contribute articles to the Dirty Beards Quarterly, the Bouvier magazine for the ABdFC

  • More new titles in 2005 along with a trip to France for the French Bouvier Club National Show

  • Attended Celeste Meade obedience workshop

  • 2005 ended for us with Lark as #1 Obedience Bouvier in the U.S. in average scores and Una in the Top 10.  This is also the year that we were awarded the 'brevet' in French Ringsport with Una at the NAWBA Working Bouvier Championships.  We learned a huge amount about dog training with Una and this first ring experience.

  • 2006 arrives and with it a litter from Lark which includes our Stella.  A fantastic puppy, we hope to see good things from her in the future!

  • I step up to the plate to assist Charlie Price in editing and contributing to the Bulletin, NAWBA's publication and set up an ecommerce website for the organization to help support ongoing activities directly effecting the working bouvier.

  • Stella earns her Tracking Dog title at 7 months and I am nominated to serve as Vice President of the North American Working Bouvier Association.

  • We import Schwartzi from Europe; the first adult male we've ever brought to our kennel, he is trained in French Ringsport.  A handsome, equable dog, we are glad he's joined our family.

  • 2007: We are working with our dogs of course, but are also beginning a new business.  We have purchased a commercial building in Glenwood City where Jim will open a cafe.

  • Stella goes to live with Lynn Beihl and Nina, Una's daughter leaves us to live with Reg Cobb.  Lynn and Reg are longtime elite competitors and we're proud they have chosen Briarlea Bouviers for their competition dogs!

  • In 2007 Una and I successfully trial for our French Ringsport 1; Una's the first female Bouvier in North America to be awarded this title. 

  • Not to be outdone, Lark is awarded the ASCA WTCH (Working Trial Champion) title under the hand of our friend Marie Murphy.  Lark is one of only three Bouviers to ever be awarded this title and the only female Bouvier.

  • November 2007 we pull out our checkbook and have Una inseminated with frozen semen from V-2 and Ch. Banjo vom Schwarzen Baeren IPO3, SchH3.  The semen is 20 years old and Banjo long gone. The result is one male puppy who we have named Solo.

  • This year we added dairy goats to our farm; Faith, Hope and the Red Tiger, all Nubians, are our foundation stock.   The summer found me experimenting with chevre from Faith - we'll see where this goes!

  • Ruby, Una and I continue to work with Mark Keating who is awarded the 2007  'The Golden Baton' by the North American Ringsport Association...and is NARA's Decoy of the Year - we're proud of him!  We also work with Fernando Dosta in 2007, adding to our experience and knowledge.  Una performs chein blanc for FR2 at the CZ Selectifs and is complimented by the gallery for her heart and good work.  We're proud of her also!

  • 2008 is a full year for us.  In dogs Solo earns the AKC Tracking Dog title and we travel to Florida for the NAWBA Championships where Una earns the first leg of her French Ring 2.  Many of our extended family with Bouviers have fun training and trialing.  On a sadder note, our old friend Rocket is battling cancer, Mr. Norbu passes away and Charlie Price's dog Toby leaves us to travel over the rainbow bridge.  In 'other life' Jim opens a little Cafe in town and I manage the farm this summer, learning to make chevre and other cheeses from our growing Nubian herd, grow a huge garden and generally run ragged until winter descends upon us.

  • 2009 ~ I chair the 2009 NAWBA Championships in Glenwood City, Solo earns his BH and a number of our other young dogs start or continue their trial careers.  We also add an Australian Working Kelpie to our family to help with stockwork and so that I can continue to learn to train dogs in yet a different way.  Lark goes on to her retirement home, leaving our life a bit less full but Trouble, Alta's young daughter, fills up that space in our hearts.  Solo continues to train with Joanne Plumb - we miss him and will be happy when he returns home sometime in the next year.

  • 2010 ~ By in a blur ~ Solo comes home to us after winning the SchH2 level at the DVG Nationals and sires 2 litters in early 2011 - from Birdie and Trouble.  His 2010 litter to Impetuous Nyra v Caya's Home lands on the ground and we'll watch those pups develop in the next couple of years.

  • 2011 - A Banner Year for us! 

    Congratulations to Trouble on going High in Trial at the ABdFC National Specialty Herding Trial on October 1 at Purina Farms! 

    ~ to Carol Walker and Briarlea Spice of High Rolls on their Schutzhund 1   and their A.D.! 

     ~ to Maggie Bennett and Briarlea Breeze on their MACH!  ~

    ~ to  Reg Cobb and litter sister Briarlea Nina on attaining their U.D.~

    ~ to Betsy Hadac and Briarlea Stryker on their MX MXJ~

    ~ to Lee Murrer and Briarlea Sam on their AKC Started trial leg with a score of 93/100 and RHiT on April 9!  And finishing their title on October 6~

    ~ to Team Windog ~ Terry and Nancy Culley on Briarlea Bennie's NA, NAJ,  NF & OF and Briarlea North Star Dixie on her NJP, OJP and AXP!

     ~ to Sam's sister Trouble on her AKC Started Duck title on June 24 and the first leg of her AHBA cattle title in August, followed in September by finishing her AKC Started Sheep and Intermediate Duck titles and in October finishing her AHBA Started Cattle title!  October 22-23 she finishes her ASCA Started Sheep and Started Cattle titles! 

     High in Trial Briarlea Alta Bella (Trouble) for ends 2011 as #1 Herding Bouvier (dogs defeated) with the ABdFC!

    ~to Pam Harder and Briarlea Smurf Cutter CGC TDI CD RN PT on his TDIAOV - commemorating his 200th TDI visit!

    .. to Solo for his obedience debut... 197/200!

    ~ to Lynn and Ziva for their first Standard Q in AKC agility!

    2012

    ABdFC Top 20 Performance Invitations to: Trouble, Nina, Breeze and Stryker!

    Congratulations to Maggie and Breeze on their MACH 2!!  and for being the first Bouvier to get the Lure Coursing Test title!  ** Congratulations to Reg Cobb and Nina on their OM1 and UDX2!

    Congratulations to Susan and Noche' on their  AKC BN! ~ and the Junior Herding Dog title trained and handled by Phyllis Clark!  More Congratulations on their HT and PT! ~ and followed by a first place in ASCA Started Sheep :)   More Congratulations to Solo's daughter Briarlea Reina de la Noche and Phyllis Clark for their High in Trial out of the Started Sheep Class with a 94 on September 22 at the GSDC All Breed Herding Trial and finishing her Started title with a 4th place on Oct 14!

    Congratulations to Terry and Riker on another agility Q!

    Congratuations to Janet and Briarlea Rey de la Luz PT RN on their new Rally Novice title and now their AHBA sheep title!

    Congratulations to Solo on his 192.0, 195.5, 194.0 in obedience to finish his AKC Novice title and then on to his CDX with an average score of 191!!

    To Briarlea Nightingale of Rustic Road (Gael) on her HT and PT!

    Trouble: HiT Briarlea Alta Bella:  First place in ASCA Started sheep to finish her title, Third place in Advanced Ducks to finish that title and a Q in Open Sheep!  Trouble finishes her AKC Advanced Duck Title with one placement and her Open sheep with a second place win.  In October she earned her first leg in ASCA Started Cattle with a second place.

    2013-2014

    We are proud of Solo's UD, PT and his puppies who are now beginning to mature.  We brought in some new youngsters to improve structure in our dogs but for the most part they have not been successful.  We continue to enjoy training and planning the successful implementation of our breeding goals.

    2015

    We ended the year with Trouble in #4 place as a top producer with all performance offspring :)  Mina, Rainy and Justine all titled in AKC events and we were delighted to have a number of new CGCs on board.  2016 looks like a promising year for our youngsters!

          2016

          As this year comes to a close, we find Trouble as #1 top producer thanks to her performance offspring.  Mina, Justine, Devi, Rainy, and Ram are all       littermates who helped make this possible.  Our own Justine went from a BN to a CDX, TD, STDs, CA, and RATN all before she turned 2 years old.  One can hardly wait for her to grow up!  In sad news, we lost our little sprite of a companion, Zelda and our gentle soul of a llama, Khaki.  We miss them both every day.

    Over the years some of the dogs we've selected to add to our breeding program have been chosen based on their ability to excel in herding, tracking, obedience and now ringsport...and we've certainly been happy with those selections.   However we've always kept in mind the most important trait for a companion dog, and that is temperament.  We believe that the heritage of the Bouvier includes a willingness to think independently; and to act prudently.  We expect our dogs to be willing to cooperate with us and to have an element of suspicion in their character.


Here I am in 1969.  I was visiting my sister in New York City, I recall that this was in the courtyard of the Cloisters and was a defining event in my life as we can now see.  The Irish Setter was our girl Eureka, a wonderful companion for us and the other dog is, of course, a Bouvier.

We thank our fellow breeder-friends and fanciers who have enriched our lives over the past many years, we thank the many people who have made space in their hearts and homes for a Briarlea puppy and we thank the Bouvier breeders of the past for taking the initiative and maintaining the vision to create this great breed of dog.

Outside of my dog life, I have worked many careers ~ as a dog groomer and private trainer, as a writer, as Executive Staff for a new Chamber of Commerce, as advertising sales manager for tourism publications and, always, as a part-time farmer and handweaver.   Here I am in New Mexico "making do" with a warping board..warping for a series of rugs.  Besides maintaining our kennel, I have participated "hands-on" in rebuilding and rehabbing old houses and you will always find dirt under my fingernails as I can't stay out of the garden!

.sunnywarping.jpg (11175 bytes)   Look HERE for some pictures of our farm in Wisconsin.