About Us

Our History

For forty 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. Our first dog was little Flossie, a crossbreed from a rescue pound who, unbeknown 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.)

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).

Having trained with and for several large KC Agility clubs and grown weary of the politics, in 2000 she set up the independent Agility training club Millennium Agility Dogs. 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, '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.
As an Agility competitor she worked two dogs (father and daughter) to KC G7/Champ, and three more to KC G6 before their retirement.

Since stepping back from competitive Agility at the end of the 2018 season, Heather has become an Accredited Trainer with Canine Hoopers UK (2018), Scentwork UK (2019), and Mantrailing Global (2023). She has also taken up the challenge of breed showing, attending Crufts 2023 with Chihuahua Kodi, having obtained his Stud Book Number and qualified for Crufts for life at the bicentennial Scottish Kennel Club Championship show in 2022.
She is currently active in both Scentwork and Mantrailing with her younger dogs.

Border Collies (Working Sheepdogs) and Miniature American Shepherds

Collies - with a special soft-spot for 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 the UK for a more compact breed that delivered as much working 'punch' as the collies, the answer came in 2005 at an agility trial whilst visiting family 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.

Returning home 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 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 2015 mini Aussies gained formal AKC recognition as a separate breed under the new name of Miniature American Shepherd Dogs. Our mini Aussies subsequently 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 raw-based diet, as free from artificial additives as possible. They recieve a single course of conventional vaccines commencing at 12 weeks old and thereafter disease immunity is boosted as required by homeopathic nosodes.
We acknowledge fully that conventional science also 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, not a life-style.

Above all, our dogs are cherished as individuals and valued as family members; they are pets first and foremost. They are not rehomed in their old age, for the years of love and devotion they have given us, they deserve to draw a pension. The opt-out of dogs who prefer not to share our passion for canine sports, is respected. They stay here and become sofa-warmers and stove-hogs.
All our dogs live in the house, they are not kennelled. They enrich our lives - every day of it. They are our friends, our companions, our guardians and our joy.
The Chihuahuas are also very efficient doorbells.

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 twenty years. The house was one of three built in 1923 backing onto an old brick works to accommodate 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.
Some years after we registered the Affix we discovered that Kilnhurst is also the name of a town in South Yorkshire and a village in Kent, although we have no connection to either.

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

Our first dog to be KC registered (Boz) became 'Rufus Rex', meaning Ginger King. 'Rex' was another family dog, a little ginger cross-breed looking much like Boz himself, who belonged to Heather's Great Aunt and Uncle in London during WW2. On several occasions on his nightly walks during the blackouts Rex insisted on altering their usual route; daylight revealed he had guided his owner safely away from fresh bomb craters. Eighty years on we still have Rex's 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 by a second name starting with 'R'.