About Us


For over thirty years the 'Kilnhurst Clan' has spanned a variety of dogs both crossbreed and pedigree. Keith grew up with family dogs and we have had our own since 1982. We live in the beautiful Scottish Borders, where the dogs have plenty of fresh air and acres of freedom in which to run and play - when they're not snoozing on the sofas in front of the stove.

Our first dog was little Flossie, a crossbreed from a rescue pound and unknown to anyone, arrived pregnant. She soon gave us a surprise litter of six pups, from which we kept one of the boys (Boz) and Keith's parents kept another (Billy.)

Flossie, Bess (unrelated) Boz & Billy

Heather started agility with Boz in February 1989, being introduced to the idea by a friend as a way to get back in shape after both of them having children! In 1994 she became an Agility Club Accredited Instructor and in 1997 an Agility Club Accredited Judge (Honours).

In 2000 she set up the agility training club Millennium Agility Dogs and in 2002 with Dexter she won the Eukanuba Mini/Maxi Pairs Challenge at Crufts with her pairs partner Clive Foden and his small poodle Fly, the late 'Carolrose Steady Eddie'. This partnership qualified for Crufts for three successive years.

In 2004 Heather consolidated her agility judging criteria by becoming a Kennel Club Accredited Judge and in 2005 was awarded Championship Judge status by the Kennel Club. She designed, developed and ran the popular national team agility event 'The Team Dash' between 2002 and 2010. She became a Kennel Club Good Citizen Examiner in 2013.

Since stepping back from the competitive agility at the end of the 2018 season, Heather has become an Accredited Trainer with Canine Hoopers UK and Scentwork UK. She is currently active in both Scentwork and Trailing with her younger dogs.

Collies (Working SheepDogs) and Miniature American Shepherds

Collies - especially reds - have been a lifetime passion of Heather's, since watching one at work on a Cornish dairy farm, as a toddler. Once involved in agility, she realised that at long last she had an outlet for the brains and energy of a collie, that would allow her to have one (or two, or three ...)
With a view to retirement and after a decade of searching for a more compact breed that delivered as much working 'punch' as the collies, the answer came in 2005 at an agility trial in Michegan USA. A small, furry, agility-missile shot past in the ring and for Heather the mini Aussies, much as with the collies half a century earlier, were love at first sight.
On returning to the UK it was disappointing to discover that there were no mini Aussies in the country let alone a breeder, so the decision was made to import one from the USA. After almost three years of researching, waiting and planning, in January 2008 our first small Aussie arrived. Thereafter as the saying goes, 'Mini Aussies are like potato chips, you can't have just one!'

In 2012, mini Aussies gained formal AKC recognition as a separate breed under the new name of Miniature American Shepherd Dogs. Our younger mini Aussies are now registered as Mini Americans with the parent club MASCUSA and the AKC in the United States.

Holistic Care

We take an holistic view to canine care, feeding and management.
Our dogs are fed a largely raw diet, as free from artificial additives as possible. They recieve a single course of conventional vaccines commencing at 10 - 12 weeks old and thereafter disease immunity is boosted by annual homeopathic nosodes. The dogs are treated homeopathically and holistically wherever possible.
We acknowledge fully that from time to time conventional science plays a crucial part in the welfare of our dogs. They receive prompt medical attention the very instant they need it, from an open-minded Vet whom we hold in the highest regard. But modern medicine is viewed as a base-line reference point, not a bench mark or a life-style.

Above all, our dogs are cherished as individuals and valued as members of our family. They are pets first and foremost. They are not shipped out or rehomed in their old age; for the years of love and devotion they have given us, they deserve the 'pension' of our love and care in return. The opt-out of dogs who prefer not to share a passion for agility, is respected. They stay here and become sofa-warmers and biscuit-munchers.

All our dogs live in the house with us, they are not kennelled or shut away for hours on end. They engage and enrich our lives; every day of it. They are our friends, our companions, our guardians and our joy.

The Kilnhurst Affix

Our Kennel Name was granted by the KC in August 1999. The name comes from the history of our house in Berkshire, where we lived for almost twenty years. The house was one of three built in 1923 backing onto an old brick works. They were built of the bricks made on site and accommodated the owners of the kiln, the foreman and their families. The kiln itself was closed in the 1940's and the site built over.
The '-hurst' part of the name, meaning a forest glade, comes from the wooded hollow in which the old brick works stood.
Kilnhurst is also the name of a village in South Yorkshire, although we have no links with anybody there.

'Rufus' is a recurring theme in our collie's registered names. It was the name of the Wire-haired Fox Terrier Heather's parents owned in the 1950s. Even though Rufus himself was mostly white, the name means 'ginger' in Latin, which was the colour of our first three dogs. The name 'Rufus' was adopted for both sentimental and practical reasons.

Rufus (upper left) and Rex (above)
Rex's dog tag (lower left)

Our first dog to be KC registered (Boz) became 'Rufus Rex' which means 'ginger king.' The 'Rex' part of his name came from another family dog; a beloved little ginger cross-breed looking much like Boz himself, belonging to Heather's great aunt and uncle. Rex lived in London during the 1940's war years. On several occasions during his night-time walks through the blackouts Rex mysteriously insisted on altering their familiar route; daylight would reveal that he had guided his owner to safety away from deep, dark bomb craters. Seventy years on, we still have Rex's original ID tag here as nobody in the family could ever bear to part with it.
In memory of these two dogs, all our collies have had 'Rufus' in the registered name, followed if possible by a second name starting with 'R'.

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