A love for collies

Hanover author, historian shares
her enthusiasm for famous collie

Indianapolis event to
showcase stars from ‘Lassie’ TV show

By Lela Jane Bradshaw
Contributing Writer

(July 2008) – When Karen Pfeiffer of Colliehaven Ventures LLC placed the winning bid for a rare Lassie collectible, she knew she was adding a unique item to her already impressive collection of Lassie and collie memorabilia.

Karen Pfeiffer

Photo by Lela Bradshaw

Karen Pfeiffer has turned her
devotion to collies into a business.

What she didn’t know was that the auction would lead her to a friendship with two of the people most responsible for the beloved television series.
After winning the auction for a book stand used in stores to advertise a book on the history of Lassie, Pfeiffer learned that the sellers were Jon Provost – the actor famous for playing Timmy from 1957-1964 – and his wife. This chance encounter was especially fortunate since Pfeiffer was working on a book on Lassie collectibles and had until then been unable to contact Provost to get him involved with the project.
“I had wanted to write the book, and I wanted Jon Provost to write the foreword. We started e-mailing and he said he would love to do it,” Pfeiffer said.
Through Provost, she was introduced to dog trainer Bob Weatherwax, who assisted on 360 episodes of the “Lassie” television series and who bred and trained the two most recent dogs to portray the beloved character.
Pfeiffer, 52, of Hanover, Ind., is in the early stages of setting up a 2009 event that will bring the famous stars to Indianapolis. Working in association with an area collie club, the event will feature trainer Weatherwax, actor Provost, and the current Lassie. Lassie fans and dog lovers will have the opportunity to hear more about the classic television series and learn about dog training techniques used for the movies.
Colliehaven Ventures LLC began in 1996 as Colliehaven Kennels, but Pfeiffer’s love of collies and Lassie stretches back to her childhood. “Growing up, most of my dogs were collies and collie mixes. Lassie was my main incentive,” she fondly recalls.
Colliehaven initially served as a collie breeding and rescue operation, but now Pfeiffer is focusing her efforts on writing and Lassie history. Pfeiffer has shared her knowledge of the famous collie by serving as a consultant to “Animal Planet” specials and the Maryland ASPCA Annual Awards Program. She works with Provost and Weatherwax setting up appearances for the Hollywood stars, giving old and new fans a chance to meet those who knew Lassie best.
Pfeiffer also helps those interested in connecting to the magic of Lassie through her books. “I was collecting Lassie, but there was no book to go back to,” says Pfeiffer.
In order to fill in the blanks for fellow collectors, she worked for six years compiling the research and photographs for “The Legacy of Lassie.” Pfeiffer’s personal collection of approximately 1,200 Lassie and collie pieces, including the wall phone used as part of the set from the Lassie series, provided the basis for the collector’s guide. The 343-page book includes pictures and market values for items ranging from Lassie related books and toys to star autographs and movie memorabilia.
A new edition with color photographs and information on other collectors is currently in the works. Pfeiffer encourages those interested in Lassie to get involved in collecting saying, “The research and hunt is fun. It’s amazing how many collectors are out there.”
Pfeiffer is presently completing her latest book, “The Romance of the Collie,” and expects it to be available next year. She describes the upcoming collection of stories as “a nonfiction work that I think people will enjoy even if they don’t have collies, dog lovers can enjoy it.”
The book showcases a variety of dogs that exemplify the collie breed traits of love and loyalty toward family. One of the stories tells of an elderly couple from Anderson, Indiana whose collie, appropriately named Lassie, saved them from a house fire. The book features a forward by Weatherwax and includes information on the dogs who have played Lassie on television and in the movies.
As new generations continue to discover Lassie, Colliehaven Ventures LLC is sure to help these new fans appreciate the history of this special dog. At one home in Hanover, the magic of Lassie is alive and well.

• For more information on collie dogs and Lassie memorabilia, visit www.colliehaven.net.

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