- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
At 50 he suddenly decided he was losing his long drive and, as quickly as that, gave up golf. He was and still is chronically unable to compete at anything at which he can't beat the best. That year, upset and despondent, he bought a collie for companionship. The dog pleased him, and he went to the library in Van Nuys, Calif., then his home, to read about collies. He realized that dog breeding and exhibiting is also a sport. He bought more collies and sailed into shows.
His Van Nuys neighbors greeted the new collie breeder in their midst with about the same enthusiasm they might have felt for a night school for blacksmiths. In time Kattell was hauled before a judge, who told him the collies had to go. Kattell decided instead to shake the neighbors, and led his little pack to the Vasquez Rocks cabin, where the view was unlimited and the neighbor problem minimal. Kattell's nearest neighbor to one side raises bears, and the nearest on another is the proprietor of a prop fortress and adjoining battlefield used for making the Beau Geste type of movie, and both the bear raiser and the movie-set landlord are at such a distance that when all Kattell's dogs howl at once neither can hear a sound.
Kattell started his kennel with a handsome youngster named Black Douglas of Alstead, whom he bought from an eastern breeder. The collie was all black except for a touch of sable about the muzzle and a majestic white ruff, which he wore like a dress shirt. He also bought four quality brood matrons, and they and Black Douglas quickly formed a collie dynasty at Borco.
For years Borco dogs were a force in show rings across the nation and were especially powerful in the West. The master not only showed his dogs but traveled incessantly to judge other people's collies and to lecture to collie owners. A book he wrote on collies is still widely circulated and highly regarded.
The dogs which frisk about Vasquez Rocks today are in direct line from the great champion, darkly colored, with perfectly tipped ears and lithe, floating movement. Sometimes a youngster, taking a pose on a ledge, will remind visitors of Black Douglas, and Kattell still gets letters and visits from people with fond memories of the old champion.
After the Borco kennel had battled its way to the top, Kattell's next steps were somewhat like a manager who leads his team to a World Series title and then sets out to make some corrections in the baseball commissioner's office.
As Kattell puts it, "I was shocked when I found out how the collie game was run. What it amounted to was hometown officiating." As both a victim and recipient of home-town officiating in his baseball and basketball days, Kattell felt he knew whereof he spoke.
"He raised more hell and more hackles than any other breeder who ever lived," one friend says in reasoned assessment. Kattell has a commanding voice, and a manner of expressing opinions that, in the words of Kendrick Martin, publisher of a magazine called Collie Cues, "scared the old fogies half to death."
As Kattell saw it, a few important breeders in each community controlled the local collie club and decided which judges would be brought in for the next show. "One breeder would have a dog with a good head, and so everyone would decide it's Mabel's turn to win, and they'd bring in Judge So-and-So, who's a head hunter, and sure enough, Mabel's mutt would take the show."