Mchill’s Border Terriers | Peter Holson

Peter Holson posing with his dogs at a dog show.


Interview with Peter Holson of Mchill’s Border Terriers, by Allan Reznik

Where did you grow up?

Peter Holson: I grew up in Lake Forest, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, about 30 miles north of the city.


Do you come from a doggy family? And if not, how did the interest in breeding and showing purebred dogs begin?

Peter Holson: We were a doggy family but not a dog show family. My father insisted on having well-bred, purebred dogs. Growing up, we had a German Shepherd Dog, Miniature Schnauzer, Airedale Terrier, Alaskan Malamute, Golden Retriever, Standard Schnauzer, and maybe others.

In the mid-1970s my sister, Hillary Zimmerman, got her start in Doberman Pinschers. She had a bitch that she was planning on breeding. In the search for a sire, she took me to my first dog show (I was probably 12 at the time) which was the International Kennel Club, when it was at the International Amphitheater, south of the city. We watched Dobermans literally all day long. Interestingly, when the revamped IKC was announced, someone posted the IKC catalog from that year on Facebook and I saw the sire that my sister ended up breeding to, listed in the catalog… Ch. Marks-Tey Blue Velvet. Anyway, I was there to help whelp that litter and I remember vividly the first puppy born was a big red male which she ended up keeping.

Peter Holson
Peter Holson – Mchill’s Border Terriers

After college I was living in Chicago and decided I wanted a dog of my own. I ended up getting a Standard Schnauzer from Ron and Pat Lombardi of Bardwood Standard Schnauzers. Max was sold as a “companion” but they told me that if I was interested, he was nice enough to show. After weeks of preparation (I would sit for hours and watch Pat strip/groom my dog) we went to a Standard Schnauzer specialty in Cincinnati, Ohio. At the first show we were RWD, and at the Specialty, we were Best in Sweeps and WD. Needless to say, I was hooked.

At this time, I met a neighbor who had Pugs that he showed. Steve Rush (he has recently started showing again with his Frenchies and Borzoi) and I became fast friends, started going to conformation classes together and travelled around the Midwest showing our dogs. It was then that I met a Border Terrier for the first time. I was charmed by their scruffy, understated looks and loving personality.

Years later, my sister Hillary called me and said, “Guess what I just brought home?” She had just purchased a Border from Janelle Larson in California. His name was Jen-Lar’s Top Secret. “Topper” was a great little Border who finished his championship very quickly with multiple Breed wins from the classes. He had a lot of Joyce Standish’s great dogs behind him as well as some other very influential Borders. Hillary then purchased a bitch from Joyce (Standish’s I’m a Princess). Topper and “Busy” were the foundation of our McHill’s Borders. Since then, Hillary and I have been breeding together. Hillary usually whelps and raises the puppies while I focus on training, grooming, and finishing their championships.

Peter Holson
Santa Barbara Breeder’s Showcase Group 1 under the incomparable Bergit Coady Kabel; “Gizmo” and his son McHill’s Hat Trick, “Duncan”

Who were your mentors in the sport? Please elabora