Our first KfT registered Westie, Percy, was bought in 1989 simply as a pet. A first attempt to get a westie from a “breeder” who advertised his dogs in a newspaper found a shattering end. A visit at the vets two days after we had collected the dog resulted in the diagnosis faulty bite and a gastro-intestinal disease. Fortunately we were strong enough to return the dog to the vendor. We came without an appointment and could take a look behind the scenes of a dog dealer – moments that took an influence on all our efforts according to breed and to keep Westies in the future.
After this disappointment we started again, knowing that there is a kennel club and a breed union (KfT) who provided us with the address of a trustworthy breeder. We found a young lady who bred her first litter and who offered us the last remaining puppy. We had to visit her twice a week until we collected “our” dog, Percy. He was a strong and healthy puppy and should need a vet only to get the annual vaccination later.
We stumbled into the dog adventure when “our” breeder asked us to enter Percy to a show together with the other puppies of the litter. Percy became second in his class and we continued showing him, finishing mostly between the 4th and 2nd place. We had no experience in showing a dog, and so was the breeder who was anxious to help us but also absolutely inexperienced. So the one-eyed took the blind by the hand.
Later, when we received a request to use Percy for mating, he did not manage to do this job. He simply has never learned how to do it, being a well looked-after family pet who was never allowed to meet a bitch in her season.
In early 1994 we moved to our current address and got the space to realize our dream. We became breeders of West Highland White Terriers. In 1995, after an examination in all necessary knowledge, hold by the breed warden, our kennel was registered with the German Terrier Club. We chose the name of the oldest and best known highland regiment of the royal army, the 1st Batallion “The Black Watch”. My first contact to this unit was during my active service with the army in the early 80th, when the Regiment was based at Werl/Germany. Since then, for me the name and the tartan became synonyms for the Scottish character - self confidence, pride, loyalty, courage and a certain amount of obstinacy, characteristics that we also wanted to keep alive with our dogs. The tartan is identical with that of the clan Campbell, who raised the “Black Watch” in the year 1729 and is important also in the history of the breed because a Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan, was one of the first Westie breeders and one of the founders of the first West Highland White Terrier Club in 1905. Our love for Scotland should come to a certain self-reliance later.
When we bought our first bitch, Lady, in 1995 we still made some mistakes in the selection of the best line. We still were absolute beginners and unfortunately we did not recognize at that time who was willing to help us. Then, on December 6th, 1996 our first litter, two girls, came. Breeding was not so difficult, but seemed very difficult for us to find the best people for our puppies.
On advice from our breed warden, we mated Lady again in her next season. On July 2nd, 1997 – on that day the Black Watch Regiment left HongKong as the last British unit- the second litter arrived. We decided to keep 2 of this 5 puppies, a male and a bitch. We gained for quick success as breeders. Today we know that our breed warden accepted this, but she was not amused about it. And we were too convinced about our decision to understand.
At the age of 16 weeks Britannia and Willi – our new dogs – proved to be real hooligans that barked on every dog that approached. We looked for help and found the dog school of Sabine Knollenborg, a lady who is very experienced in this area. Our puppies came to school rather late with their 16 weeks, but the success was overwhelming. From then on, we decided, no puppy will leave us to its new family without visiting an imprinting and socialising course at the dog school. We also learned lots of new and interesting things about dog behaviour and every litter that visits the school brings new findings for us. Dog behaviour and especially the latest knowledge in imprinting of puppies now is as important for our breeding as genetics.
Britannia’s first litter in 1999 brought a dramatic turning point to our kennel. When the 6 puppies opened their eyes, we found a peculiar alteration of the pupils. Examinations during the following weeks proved that 5 puppies out of 6 had a hereditary eye disease that in all probability came with the line of Lady. To decide to the 5 puppies was the most difficult step in our career. We asked ourselves if breeding can still make fun.
The fact that you can read this text is the answer. We are convinced that even the worst heavy blow should be a step to a better time. We gave both bitches, Lady and Britannia, to friends who would never use them for breeding and started again to do a lot of homework. Willi, Britannia’s brother, was never used for mating because he bears the same genetic risk than his sister even if he is a very nice male. Then we applied for a puppy from the English Ashgate kennel. We knew that it could be a risk to take a dog from an English line to breed with in Germany, due to the fact that a loss of more than 4 premulars eliminates the dog for breeding here.
A few days before Christmas 1999 we got an offer that was like winning a jackpot. Sue Thompson, the breeder of the Ashgate kennel, offered us a 3 years old pregnant bitch, Tammy. We immediately checked all our savings and started to England in January 2000 to collect our new bitch. With this dog we got a basis for our future breeding that led us the way to what we have today. Willi became Tammy’s favourite dog for leading her pack and we started again to build our own stock.
In April 2002 we reached the break-even point of our activities. Prinzie, Black Watch Ladykiller, was born. He went to Thailand and today he is the most successful Westie over there. A dog from the kennel Black Watch will therefore be the foundation-stone for this breed in this country. Another successful decision was to mate Tammy in 2003 with one of the best stud dogs in France, Paul Hochons du Moulage de MacGregor.
The traditions of the Black Watch Regiment as a “global player” are kept alive also with our kennel. This was at least valued by the 1st Batallion "The Black Watch" on October 20th, 2003 when we were appointed to wear their honourable name and tartan.