While the Queen Elizabeth II elevated the breed’s status, Ellen Childs has bred and showed Pembroke Welsh Corgis for over 50 years. She took dozens of dogs through their championship (this requires 4-8 show wins including at least 2 majors, meaning there are lots of dogs competing.) She has also bred “lots and lots…probably hundreds” of champion stock. In the 1980s and 90s, when puppy mills began churning out specialty breeds, Ellen became involved in Corgi rescue – placing unwanted dogs in loving homes. Eventually she rose to become the President of the National Corgi Rescue Committee. Recently, we met with Ellen to hear her story.
Rovercoat: “When did you get your first Corgi?”
Ellen: “When we were first married, in 1961. It definitely was not show quality.”
Rovercoat: “What do you like so much about Corgis?”
Ellen: “I got to know them from the aunties, and I just fell in love with them. We were living in an apartment, so we needed a small dog. We’ve had Corgis as pets ever since.”
Rovercoat: “You’ve had dozens of dogs. Do you have any favorites?”
Ellen: Oh yes, so many were special: Eli, Sonja, Shady, Lion, Ike… and others I’m not thinking of right now. They weren’t all Corgis. We often had a bigger dog too, like a hound, a black Lab, a Belgian Tervuren….but the special ones were all Corgis.”
Rovercoat: You have a lot of experience finding homes for Corgis, both your puppies and the rescue dogs. Can you tell us about both experiences?
Ellen: The biggest difference was in the dogs themselves. My puppies were bred from Champion stock selected to reproduce the best traits from both parents. Usually, they were all spoken for before they were born. The rescue dogs were only “Corgis” by the widest stretch of the imagination. When they were actual Corgis, it was easy to place them through the national network. But usually, they were bred in puppy mills and sold in pet stores. People are told they were buying a Corgi, but what they got was anything but. So that part of it was hard – trying to find homes for unwanted dogs. I wanted to support the breed but sometimes it felt like I was supporting the puppy mills instead.
Rovercoat: “How do you feel about tail docking?” (Removing the dog’s tail when they are puppies so that they are “show quality”)
Ellen: “I think it’s stupid and unnecessary. They don’t do it in England anymore (where the breed originated). Why do they still do it here? I think the US is the only place where it still happens. I wish they’d stop it.”
Ellen lives in New Hartford, CT with her 2 Corgis: XIII Maples Starbright and her son, XIII Maples Starlight, affectionately known as Bridie and Bingo. While not the Queen of England, she is effectively the “Queen of the Corgis”.