Interview by Kathy Rhoades, Laurelen Shelties



      CH Whiteoak's Dealer's Choice II

I had the privilege of meeting Tom and Myra Flynn about fourteen years ago. Someone gave me their name when we were looking for a quality Sheltie. I called them and they did have a very nice breeding planned. The breeding took and we went out to pick our first girl.  The rest is history with Laurelen and Whiteoak.  We have become close friends and sister kennels in the subsequent years.

Tom and Myra had been breeding and showing for several years before they took us under their wings, and helped us to get a start. The Flynns have been a huge help to many others who are trying to get started, or who just need encouragement and support. They have a way of making people feel successful and not so 'lost', as many began to feel after a few times at the show ring! 

Even though they have been friends with many well known breeders, they never look down on anyone who is trying to make their way in this difficult sport. They have had many successes and bred and finished more than a few Champions. They are always ready to give a smile and a helping hand to anyone who needs it.  The Flynns have so much experience and have bred so many nice dogs that they are a wealth of information and interesting facts.

I think they will be remembered, by many, as successful in breeding quality dogs and also successful in the very important part of the hobby, called sportsmanship.

I hope you enjoy our chat with Myra about their years in Shelties and their hopes for the future.

Kathy Rhoades




Kathy: 1. How many years now?

Myra: We began with our first pet Sheltie in 1985, so it has been 24 -25 years now.

2.  Why did you choose to get your first Sheltie? What about the breed attracted you? what color was your first?

I saw a copy of Dog World Magazine on the newsstand and it had a picture of a Sheltie on the front.  I loved the picture, so purchased the magazine and read the wonderful article about Shelties.  I fell in love with the breed from that article which glowingly (and correctly) described their high level of intelligence, beauty and sensitivity.  I immediately began the search to find one of my own.  I was like most people new to the breed and LOVED the sables, so that is the color I wanted and began with.

3. How did you happen to decide to show dogs and to start breeding?

After we had our first Sheltie for a while, we thought she might like a companion while we were at work, so we began a search for a second Sheltie.  We purchased our second - also a sable - from a show breeder in the Cincinnati area who invited us to go to the Miami Valley Sheltie Club meetings with her.  We joined the club, began going to matches and really caught the show bug. 

Once you get into showing, I think it is probably every persons' dream to breed your own home bred champion so we began looking for our foundation bitch so we could produce our own home bred Champion..

Which dogs were your first Champions? When did they finished?

We purchased our first American champion from Jan Bellaire of Michigan.  We had admired CH Willow Layne's Makin' Out and wanted to try to purchase a son to show.  Sharon Schutte (Randy's owner) helped us find Sandy, a sable male.  He completed his American Championship in the summer of 1993 and became CH Cornerstone's Makin' Images  In 1994, we took a nice 10 day trip to Canada and finished Sandy's Canadian championship.


Myra and Sandy - First Champion
Am/Can Ch Cornerstone's Makin' Images

Am/Can Ch Willow Layne's Makin' Out ROM ROMC
Can Ch Cornerstone's Classic Image

Our first home bred Champion finished in Spring of the next year.  Her name was Ch Whiteoak's Easter Bonnet. 

Bonnie was a bi blue daughter of Ch Starhaven's Ralph Lauren and our foundation bitch, Cedarhope Whiteoak Starfall.



Tom and Sandy in Canada
Am/Can Ch Cornerstone's Makin' Images


Ch Whiteoak's Easter Bonnet... Bonnie

Myra's first homebred Champion.
Handled by Amy Langhorst



Do you remember the excitement of that first champion? Is it still as thrilling as it was the first time?

Oh yes, I remember the call from Julie Desy telling us that Sandy had finished.  It seemed to take FOREVER, though he was only three and had not really been campaigned that much.  I remember much more vividly the weekend that Bonnie finished.  She was on the road with Carl Langhorst.  Tom answered the phone, said a few words, and came back into the room and said 'well, Bonnie took a major today' so calmly I didn't believe him.  Then, the next day Carl called to tell us that Bonnie had won Winner's Bitch AGAIN - and had completed her championship.  Bonnie finished very quickly in about 5 or 6 shows. 

Any win is still very thrilling to me, but especially if there are points involved or a completion of a championship!

7. I know you are not color blind, but....did you have a preference for a particular color in your early breeding program? did that change over the years at all?

OH YES!  We began with the AOAC's in our breeding program - our first champion was a bi blue.  However, I have always had a soft sport in my heart for the sables - maybe because that was the color of our first pet.  They are all gorgeous, any color, but I am partial to the sables.  I believe that Tom - my husband - might lean more toward the blues.  Ever since his Bonnie was born, he has always loved the little blue girls.


The BIG picture!!
 First place Stud Dog class
2009 ASSA National Specialty

CH Whiteoak's Dealers' Choice II   "Brett"
with Solange Significant and Solange Surround Sound (11 points three majors)
Judge Dorothy Christiansen, Jessica Starbuck, Joel McCarty and Marni Sharoff
Photo by
Dean VonPusch

8. What is most exciting to you in your breeding program right now? do you have a master plan?

Well...I can not even begin to tell you how thrilled I was at our Ch Brett's win in the Stud Dog class at the 2009 ASSA National Specialty. There were some VERY impressive dogs and their offspring in that class.  Prior to the National, Bret had been 'recognized' by some breeders who were willing to ship their bitches in to us.  I am especially grateful to Jennifer Tuttle (Fairway Shelties) and Linda Nicholas (Solange) for noticing Brett at a couple of prior Nationals and seeing in him qualities that they were looking for in a stud dog for their beautiful girls.    I can never thank them enough for sending their beautiful bitches all the way from North Carolina to be bred to a little 'nobody' dog in Ohio..  Their offspring are proving that the combination worked , two of them had acquired their majors before the age of 1 year.  -- Linda's puppies were the two gorgeous offspring shown with Brett in the stud dog class at the National and I believe a HUGE reason that he won that quality packed class.  I am very excited at what the future may bring from the very nice bitches who we have been so fortunate to host since the National win.  We have a few 'aces up our sleeve' in the whelping box too, don't we Kathy?


9. Do you think the overall look of Shelties has changed much in all these years? do you think that certain traits come and go through the years? have you seen them change and then become something different?

When we first began showing Shelties, I remember them being much more compact and rather short bodied and 'stubby'.  I remember a VERY popular male Champion who it seems that everyone wanted to breed to.  The dog had a beautiful face and expression, but moved very poorly.  After his popularity, you would see many dogs in the ring who were very poor moving, but had beautiful faces, so he did reproduce himself well. Recently, it seems to me that more breeders are seeking out nice bodies along with pretty faces and heads.  A very well known breeder told me years ago 'if you have good bodies, don't breed away from that'.  Her words of advice were 'a nice head is only a generation away, but if you lose the body, you may never get it back'.

10. Are you pretty happy with the direction you are going with your program? What would you like to change?

I am EXTREMELY happy with our breeding program right now and -I hope she will leave this in --- Kathy Rhoades has been a huge part of our success.   I really appreciate her ideas, encouragement and little nudges in the right direction.  The only thing I would change would be to turn back the clock about 10 years.  I wish we had been at this point at an earlier age to give us more time to enjoy the 'ride' before we have to hang up the leash.  


Ch Whiteoak's Dealer's Choice II    "Brett" Championship picture



Ch Whiteoak's Dealers' Choice II  


Handled by Jessica Starbuck

What takes your breath away when you see a dog in the ring?

BEAUTIFUL MOVEMENT!  I like to think - and believe I am right - that our Brett has beautiful movement.  The one moment that stands in my memory   is the entrance that Jessica (Starbuck) made with him at the National at St. Louis.  Brett was the 'lead dog' of the 2nd or 3rd group coming into the ring.  Being the consummate handler she is,  Jessica timed the moment perfectly, burst into the ring  with him and it was QUITE an entrance.  They floated around the ring, well ahead of the other dogs - I think Jessica took them by surprise by taking off so quickly.  It did quite literally take my breath away and still does when I think about it.


12. Which are some of the dogs that have really impressed you from years ago??? and now? is there something special that attracts you to them?

Like most of the breed fanciers, I have long admired Jade Mist Beyond Tradition and the Jade Mist dogs for their gorgeous expression and faces.  I probably tend to like a kennel look more so than a particular dog.  There are some kennels that just are 'known' for their beautiful dogs -- Shellhaven of Canada, of course Jade Mist, Laureate - also of Canada.  There are many others, I shouldn't have begun naming names.  One of my 'things' that I have held fast to over the years is a good rear on a dog.  I am attracted to dogs that look great going away from me!  I have finally learned what a good front looks like and that is poetry in motion!  Of course, a pretty face is a HUGE plus, too.

13. Is there any dog from your years in Shelties that you would like to see in your kennel? what was special about that dog?

There was always something 'special' about CH Hannalore Tiger Rag that stole my heart every time I saw him.  He was just such a beautiful dog with such an outgoing, friendly temperament.  Of course, I DO realize that he was a BLUE dog, but I like to think it was the sable influence behind him that I was drawn to.


Ch Whiteoak's Queen of Diamonds - "Lucy"

Litter sister to Carrie, Brett's mom



Ch Jubilee of Whiteoak Laurelen

Ch Belmar Joker's Wild  x  Whiteoak's Card Party


Whiteoak Laurelen Incorrigible
Owned by Dr Rebecca Golatski

14. Is there anything about our hobby/sport that you would change is you could? Is there anything about it that still, ABSOLUTELY get a thrill out of doing?

The one thing that I would change is the back biting and jealousy over another person's dogs.  I have been involved with both types of people - those that are truly happy for you when you have a winner and those that can only find fault with your dog (s) when they are winning.  It's human nature and a very competitive sport, so I know that you can't always have true supporters, but there is nothing like the feeling of genuine support from your peers.

I still get a terrific thrill out of a new litter - either our own or someone else's.  A relative newcomer from the Cleveland area has shared the whole experience with me, from the breeding to Brett, the anxiety and hope of a healthy delivery with little or no complications, through that experience and on to their daily development.  I am truly enjoying the daily updates and LOVE to hear about puppies from our dogs that live elsewhere.  Again, it's so nice to be able to share the successes --- and it even helps to share the disappointments with good friends.



Whiteoak's Card Party ( Brett's Dam) - "Carrie"

15. What faults would you say you can not tolerate?

Rusty Cromer always says, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.“  I always keep this in mind when faced with certain minor faults that are pet peeves .  But if I had to pick one thing that I would eliminate a really nice dog from my breeding program for and couldn’t tolerate, it would have to be Bad Temperaments.

16. What is your usual routine for whelping and raising your litters? Do you enjoy the whelping part...or dread it, like I do.. <smile>

After a bitch is bred, she becomes a total housedog  if she isn't already (others go outside most of the day).  I try to get the whelping box all scrubbed and ready about 2 weeks before her delivery date to allow her to sleep in it if she chooses.  The whelping box is in our bedroom where I can keep a close eye on her during this time.  I LOVE having puppies, although I am a bit anxious until that first one is out and doing well. 

17. About how many litters do you have a year??

We usually have at least one litter a year, sometimes two.  It is usually determined by which bitches are due to be bred. 

18. At what age to you usually wean your puppies, and what do you feed them?

I usually allow the mother to determine exactly when the puppies are fully weaned.  Some of our bitches will begin trying to wean them as early as 3 weeks of age.  I don't like to completely take them away from their mom until around 7 or 8 weeks.  We begin feeding them a gruel mixture at around 3 weeks of age, when their eyes are open and they can stand on their own pretty well.

19. At what age do puppies from your lines stop growing.. or slow way down?

Our sable line seems to slow way down around 6 months of age.  Then they take a one or two week growth spurt and quit completely.  A few of them have been 'over the chart' from 8 weeks until around 5 months, but then slow way down and end up around 15 or 15 1/2 inches tall.  




AOC in the future, too!

Whiteoak Laurelen Winning Colors

"Marcia Brady"

Several reserves, not yet two years old...

Lauren Boston, handler and co breeder/owner.





20. When do they fall apart..and do they often come back together? Do you usually have bloomy puppy fliers??

It's interesting to me....some of the puppies get very unappealing in looks around 4 or 5 months, others just seem to grow, holding the same look,  just becoming larger images of themselves.

21. Are there certain lines that you think work best with your dogs?

I do think that line breeding works best, bitches with same or similar dogs in their background seem to work very well.  There is one lady in Pa. who saw one of our ads and bred to Brett because of 'Phenotype', and her dogs DO look very much like ours, though the pedigrees differ quite a bit.  She now has a beautiful 5 month old male who does look like both sides of the family.

22. What tests do you require for bitches coming to be bred? Do you do your own AI's? What do you use to collect?

I require a Brucellosis test.  It is also nice if the bitch has had her hips OFA'd, though if her 'family' are free from dysplasia, I don't necessarily require the OFA to be done before breeding her.  I do my own AI's, though we work with a wonderful vet in Kentucky (Dr. Becky Golatski)  who  is VERY well versed in the breed.  I have learned a LOT from her about how to deal with a busy stud dog and keep him healthy.  Dr Becky is well known in our area for her expertise and she actually has a dog from one of our breedings.

23. How many times do you usually breed a bitch that visits?

I like to breed a visitor at least three times, and after that it depends on where she is in her season. If she is a very receptive bitch and we began breeding her 'early', I have done up to 6 breedings.  When we get nice bitches to breed to our boy, I really want them to go home pregnant!

BISS Solange
Surround Sound
Ch Whiteoak's Dealer's Choice II  x  Solange Body Language

2009 ASSA National:

1st in 9-12 month Futurity class under Barbara Aulbach

3rd in 9-12 month puppy class under Dorothy Christianson


From a quality packed litter bred by Linda Nicholas


24. Did you have any initial problems when you started your breeding program or your first times in the breed ring? If you did you work that out or compensate?

I don't remember any problems other than my own inability to groom.  It was - and I think still is - very difficult to find someone willing to take the time and effort to teach new comers.  Since we began, the Sheltie clubs have begun to sponsor grooming workshops and seminars which are very helpful.

I can not think of any specific problems we've had in our breeding program.


Ch Whiteoak's Dealers' Choice II (right)

 and kids: BISS Solange Surround Sound (Dolby) 3 majors, Fairway High Maintenance, (Barbie) two majors
Solange Significant (Signi)

Photo by Jennifer Tuttle

25. What do you think you have achieved with each of your Champions? Any thoughts?

With our first Champion, I believe we proved ourselves to the handlers and breeders who live locally.   It proved that we could purchase a nice dog and had the dedication to follow through to take him to his championship.  Our second CH was home bred, that one, I think, proved to those people that we had learned enough about the breed to breed our own CH.  

26. What is your criteria when choosing a stud dog other than structure and movement? 

I look at the offspring that stud dog has produced, and then go backward to see what dogs are in his background, what they looked like and produced.

27. When all is said and done...and that sun goes down for the last time over your kennel, is there anything that you hope will be remembered about you and and your dogs?

Yes, I do hope that our breeding program is remembered as producing good, sound, healthy dogs.   As for myself, I hope to be remembered as being supportive of others in the sport and a good loser - or winner.

28. Do you have any thoughts you would like to add?

Only that I really appreciate all of the support, encouragement, advice and help given from others who have shared their knowledge with me.  I also greatly appreciate your help Kathy, nudges in the right direction and learning along with you as a co-breeder.  I have been very fortunate and have met many wonderful people along the way.

Visit Myra at Whiteoak Shelties on the web
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