Tegan died during Thursday night at 1am on 27 May 2016 in our bedroom with her family around her.
The average lifespan of a Toller is 12 years, but Tegan was healthy and there seemed to be no prospect of losing her when she celebrated her 12th birthday only a week before.
Many people, as they grow older, can look back on their lives and identify some event that has started a completely new direction and led them to where they are today. We have two - the first was Nikki our black Labrador (sadly, lost in an accident at a young age) who in 1980 brought us to the Northwood Dog Training Club and we are still running it today. The second was Tegan. Through Tegan, we have made so many wonderful friends and had so many new experiences, most of which we could never have dreamed of doing.
I well recall, in 2003, visiting Discover Dogs at Earls Court and talking to Babs Harding about Tollers - Janet had already fallen in love with the breed. At that time we would never for a moment have believed that, a few years later, we would be the "knowledgeable breed experts" sitting in the booth with Tegan and her daughters. A few months later, Janet spoke to Babs on the 'phone, looking for a puppy. At first, Janet was told there was an eighteen month waiting list, but after hearing about our experience training and breeding dogs and our interest in gundog training, by the end of a long call we were put in touch with Sally Sanford, who had a litter of puppies. Coincidentally, Sally lived near Christchurch, close to where we regularly holiday in the New Forest. And the litter shared Janet's birthday - clearly Tegan was destined to be hers and so, after a few visits, she came home with us.
We had never breed showed before - our interest had been in obedience competitions, not conformation. We were encouraged to enter a young Tegan in a Championship show; an AV Gundog Class - there were no Toller classes then. She took first place and qualified for Crufts at her first show - Janet was in tears. Tegan went on to qualify most years and won several places at Crufts, the pinnacle coming in 2012 when she won first place in both Veteran and Good Citizen classes. We showed for fun. Tegan was never a top winning dog, but we have a wall full of her prize cards and she made us proud of her. She even qualified and went to Crufts 2016 at the age of 11.
We had done some gundog training with our Labradors and continued this with Tegan. Janet and Tegan's abilities soon led to us becoming members of the NSDTR Gundog Display Team, entertaining the public at game and country fairs held at stately homes around the country. The camaraderie of these team events led to and cemented many friendships. The team also gave displays at Discover Dogs and in 2008 Tegan appeared on television.
Tegan had two litters of puppies in her lifetime. We breed primarily for intelligence, trainability and temperament and in this they excelled. All are well-loved by their owners and include an International Show Champion, and a PAT dog among others. Many of her pups achieved show awards and Crufts places and her second litter took 1st, 2nd & 3rd in the Junior class at Crufts. Sadly, two of her pups developed SRMA, a disease prevalent in the breed of unknown cause and for which there are no tests available.
As well as the dog training club we occasionally offer private training or behaviour sessions. For many years Tegan was used as a demo dog and 'stooge' dog, who could be relied upon to remain to remain calm and unflappable in any situation. Much of this was due to her early puppy socialisation by Sally, a qualified behaviourist. It was with Tegan that Janet learned and developed her clicker training skills - Tegan just loved to work, although I'm sure the treats played a part!
Above all else, Tegan has been the most fantastic loving companion and pet. She leaves a great hole in our lives will be greatly missed.
Many of Tegan's attributes survive in her daughter Maple, who has her mother's intelligence coupled with boundless energy.
With the loss of Ginty in 2015, we have now lost two, much loved, dogs within the space of 14 months and the house seems rather empty.
In due course, when the time is right, we will get another Toller puppy to fill the void, but Tegan can never be replaced.
In 2017,we decided to breed a litter from Tegan’s daughter Maple and we now have her grand-daughter River.