Signet Collies

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Pete's Puppies        The Mom of Signet Collies

Updated 12-13-09



Joe, Michelle and I want to thank everyone for their cards, e-mails and letters concerning the death of the "Mom" of Signet Collies, my wife, Tess who passed away on December 29, 2006

She fought a courageous battle with cancer these past couple of years.  Through it all, she retained her grace, style, and love of life, her dogs, and her family, us.

As a mother she was fiercely devoted to her family. She loved her dogs, loved to compete in the ring and loved to help others.

She coined the phrase “A Family Tradition” for Signet Collies over 20 years ago to describe her family and her dogs. She wanted to be known as someone who has made a difference. Here is how other people saw her:

“To be reminded of Tess's legacy, I only need to look in my back yard – at the pretty faces, sound bodies, and solid temperaments on my dogs…Her contributions to her family, friends, and the collie world were so great that it really emphasizes what a hole is left by her loss.”

“Tess was one of the most dedicated, unselfish people I knew in dogs… Every time I saw her at a show, with the kids, I knew we were going to have a run for the money and win or loose.. She would always congratulate us on a job well done and sometimes a job not so well done too! You had to groom harder, get more wired up, keep the dog on its toes, and you always had to keep an eye on Tess!  She had amazing ring presence and she was a fierce competitor. Her dogs always looked perfect in the ring. Everything about her screamed class and style. Every comment she ever made to me was always something positive, something constructive and something honest….a true advocate & role model for the breed…”

“The few times I showed against her, I knew you really had to have your "game face" on. She did not let her guard down for one second from the time she stepped into that ring until the time they handed out those ribbons! But I could also tell she was having fun, too, and isn't that what it's really all about? For the collies and us to just go in there and have a great time working as a team. She was the consummate "show-woman" from start to finish.”

“Tess always exemplified the qualities of a "Grand Lady", both in and outside the show ring. She showed us her heart through her infectious smile and her willingness to help and to share her love of the collie… Perhaps there are puppies to train and dogs to love in Heaven; and God knew just who He needed who could help, Tess!”

The Collie Club of Connecticut dedicated their 2007 show to Tess. Their memorial was so true to so many.....

"Tess Esch holds a special place in the hearts of many. The members of the CCCT feel particularly blessed to have had Tess and her family as active members. Together, they rejuvenated the club and left a lasting legacy.

Tess once said that she wanted to feel that she had made a difference, and she hoped people would remember her that way. There is no question that we will remember Tess as someone who made a difference.

Together Tess and Mike created Signet Collies, a dominant smooth collie kennel in the United States and they were later joined by their children Joe and Michelle. By the end of 2006, Signet Collies had produced 87 Champions, including major National show winners, as well as Collies that excelled in performance events both in the US and Canada and as Dogs for the Blind - and as much loved family members.

Anyone who knew Tess was acutely aware that she was a whirlwind of activity. She worked tirelessly for the Collie, through the Collie Club of America, the Collie Health Foundation and local clubs as an AKC judge and breeder. She produced the CCA yearbook, on time - twice! She started a juniors camp, teaching, training and mentoring many young fanciers, making both the juniors and their parents feel welcome. As a member of CCCT she exemplified sportsmanship and camaraderie. Tess served several terms as President and was always ready to help where ever needed. She welcomed us into her home, put together educational programs, and rolled up plastic and cleaned rugs at our specialty, and she also worked tirelessly at our 1999 and 2004 CCA National Specialties.

At Tess's memorial service, many shared memories of how she had touched their lives; even greater than her passion for the collie was her commitment to, and love for, her family and friends. Tess, though we grieve your passing, you will remain with us always. We will see you daily in the soft reflection of collie eyes and in the gentle wags of their tails, while "All things bright and beautiful" will remind us of life as you lived it. Our love to you, dear Tess."

We miss and love you, Tessie.