tales of tokalon

Hosted by Collie of New England
February 9, 2008

Clockwise from upper left: Royal Rock's Les Canavan, Elisabeth Browning, CH ToKalon Storm Cloud, Moderator John Buddie of Tartanside and Guest Speaker Nicholas Brown.

"The fall colors of the trees in the Catskills are brilliant and they were at their peak on this first visit. Driving into the gates of this stately old home, I realized that the beautiful colors of the red, gold, bronze, and rust colored leaves were being repeated in living creatures where you looked. I never saw so many beautiful shades of sable coloring in collies. And the silver blue colors of the merles seemed to pick up the color of the sky. There wasn't a sound as our car approached. Collies were standing quietly watching. And they were everywhere. But the exciting thing about the visit was that here were perhaps a hundred or more collies and they were all of a type. Beautiful standout and hanging coats- a difficult combination, real backsulls on most of them, not just the exception. Lovely balanced dogs with elegant type and tremendous overall quality" . . . these words, written by Glen Twiford, led 88 participants down the path to take a time journey back to visit the extraordinary life of Elisabeth Browning and the Tokalon Collies.

Attendees were privy to the personal insights of Sally Futh, Nicholas Brown, Leslie Canavan and Judie Evans who all shared personal and loving stories of their relationship with Mrs. Browning and their admiration and respect for the magnificent beauty of her Tokalon Collies.

Led by John Buddie, this group of speakers re-created the atmosphere so that everyone in the room could become engaged in learning about the creation of a family of dogs that would have enormous impact on the Collie, as we know it today. Using a power point presentation, Sally Futh used photos of some of the Tokalon greats that were sent to her by Glen Twiford. Storm Cloud, The Kings Choice, The Crown Prince, and the majestic Golden Ruler, helped to illustrate Mrs. Browning's astute “eye” in weaving the blood of these dogs into the tapestry we know as Tokalon. “The most beautiful, the best” -- is the Greek translation of the word “Tokalon” itself, but Mrs. Browning's motto was simply “The purest water is at the well.”

Fortunate were those who came, to participate in the passing of the torch as these “bridges to the past” (Sally, Les, Nick and Judie) helped to bridge the gap from past to present.

Nicholas Brown, who had a lifetime friendship with Mrs. Browning, and who was with her the night before she passed away, brought some wonderful Tokalon memorabilia, as well as some wonderful anecdotes to share with the group. A wonderful artist in her own right, Nick brought along paintings of Ch. Tokalon Sir Lochreigh, Ch. Tokalon Storm Cloud and Ch. Tokalon Harvest Weather, which were done by Mrs. Browning. He also brought along some of the trophies, which the Tokalon dogs had won at some major events.

Leslie Canavan had a long-lasting friendship with Mrs. Browning also, buying one of her first Collies from her. Les captivated the audience with memories of bygone days and lessons learned.

Judie Evans, who also made one of her first purchases from Mrs. Browning, demonstrated how one's admiration and fascination with a line of dogs can easily lend itself to creating a new strain of Collies based on many of the same qualities.

It was a wonderful night, a magical night, and though the 88 attendees were tired from two days of dog shows, they were revived by a wonderful Italian style buffet, and enlightened and inspired by the presentation. Fortunate were those who came, to participate in the passing of the torch as these “bridges to the past” (Sally, Les, Nick and Judie) helped to bridge the gap from past to present.

The Collie presents an impressive, proud picture of true balance, each part being in harmonious proportion to every other part and to the whole.

– from the AKC Collie Breed Standard

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