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Diana A

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Everything posted by Diana A

  1. I was looking at time on the video, not frames, so maybe that's where our disconnect is. I re-watchted the video you attached to your reply and the turn to the weaves is indeed at 0:34 seconds of the video. Anyway, for time 0:23 you say: "Dog is in the outer white bar instead of the inner white bar, and dog does realize this and hence he used his border brains to lean wayyy and dangerously inward Evel Knieval motorcycle lean into the next jump, so he not only recovered the full time but also outsped a normal champion border collie by taking the next hurdle with the razor sharp directness. Also if you freeze frame, he did not lose 3’, he only lost half of his small body length." I'm basing my critique off of the statement that this dog is a 'one in a million' and an example of a dog who needs to be bred. So the fact that he made an obvious error and had to take a dangerous manuever to make up for it, and moreover that what he is doing is 'brilliant' because he's making up for an inadequate body size and legs that are too short - well that to me just doesn't scream 'breed' even if I agreed with breeding border collies for agility. For the distance he lost - a dog who collected a bit more and hugged the inside standard would actually land right at the jump standard closest to the next obstacle (the one on the right in this video). Now that looks like a 5 foot bar and it has five color stripes on it (alternating dark and light) and the dog clearly was positioned at the fourth stripe (so 4 ft from the right standard) as he went over. So that's where I'm seeing minimum 2-3 feet to make up even if he somehow managed to close some of that distance on the way to the ground. Later you said "If it had turned its head and shoulders mid-jump it would have shortened and flattened the jump and a bar would have been knocked over for this tiny dog. A small dog needs to jump straight on and only after it has safely landed can it then turn its shoulder and gaze. Remember the dog is very short and turning the shoulders at such a great height (26”) and momentum causes flattening which can cause a knocked pole. " This is where training comes into it. I have seen quite small dogs be able to wrap a 26" jump right around the standard. It's about adding more collection and jumping off the power from the rear to get maximum 'up' thrust vs 'outward' thrust. A dog with good body control, strength, and proper training can pull off that type of turn over a 26" jump without hitting the bar. So again, I'm not see 'one in a million must breed' - I'm seeing a dog taking a less than ideal path to make up for deficiencies in body type. You also have to remember that size is not necessarily an advantage. It's an advantage in effor to jump to be bigger, but in effort to turn the smaller shorter-bodied dog will get a better time than the larger longer-strided dog, so on a course with a lot of turns (and a typical UK course has way more and tighter turns than even a typical US course) the smaller dog has an advantage. This is why so many people get upset when people enter a higher height than they're required to, because the smaller dog in the height class with the bigger dogs who have a harder time turning, will have the advantage. So this dog's smaller size is possibly giving him some advantage to make up for some degree of efficiency lost with how he has to handle the jumps. You wrote: "Folks, Diana has a perfectly legitimate, good eye. I just have the eye of someone who does ballet. That's the only "expertise" I have. So whoever looks at the video can see how someone like me might be so impressed and drawn to Rolfe's dog and why I might say one-in-a-million border collie." I've had quite a bit of experience in agility and teach it, so I'd take my eye over a ballerina eye any day . . . you really can't compare the two areas. I can easily see how this dog would impress someone with less knowledge. At a typical trial the flashy dogs who overruns his jumps and skids around turns as a result gets oohs and aahs from the crowd on how good he is, while the truly skilled dog who measured ever stride perfectly and makes it look smooth and 'no big deal' hardly draws attention. I would say a large percentage of border collies would look amazing if properly trained and handled. Agility is more about handling/training than it is about the dog, once you get a dog with a certain basic package of skills. Which is why I see no reason to breed for agility. Stockwork on the other hand (and breeding for stockwork) is all about creating a better dog with regard to incredibly complex 'mental wiring' and absolutely something that must be bred for.
  2. I looked up Scream's pedigree but did not have time to look up the rest. Both parents are AKC titled dogs although their web site says they maintain ABCA registration as well. The whole bottom half of the pedigree (mom's side) is ABCA registered. The top side has A- and N- numbers and I'm not sure what those are, but they aren't formatted like AKC numbers (possibly AIBC or the North American registry). So this dog is only one generation away from working lines. I think one generation is too close to judge how much can change due to breeding for agility. I suspect if you put this dog on stock you might see some deficiencies depending how the skills of the parents combined (I have no way of knowing for sure of course) but it would take several generations of breeding for only agility to dilute out the other good working traits enough to notice them in an agility context. One generation is also not enough to say the dog is good BECAUSE it was bred for agility. It's more likely it's good because the raw material from the working genes are contributing to that. I keep my sheep at a friend's place, and the property owner is very much into agility which brings in a high traffic of agility handlers to see me work the sheep, so I've had opportunity to work a number of agility dogs on sheep. Couple of flyball line dogs - hopeless. Either no interest or they do really odd things, and not enough focus on the sheep to shape into anything. I've worked a handful of times with a dog from Jan DeMello (HobNob) breeding and he is a NICE dog, so obviously very close to working lines. I'd have to ask again who his exact parents were, but Scheme, Harley, etc is ringing some bells. He has natural distance and a way of moving which puts my sheep at ease, and with pretty much no training would naturally make a choice to kick out from escaping sheep and get around the whole group to bring them back instead of turning it into a chase scene, enough that I was able to trust him working my sheep (my work areas are a big unfenced field and a medium sized arena with bad fencing that is really too large for a beginner dog who might be tempted to chase). He has a fair amount of eye and we were able to get bits of a drive going (including a nice pace) after only a couple of times on sheep. Note: I did not do a lot of that with him because he seemed to have quite a bit of eye and I didn't want to encourage him to get too sticky right away, but I have no doubt this dog would take to driving very easily. I really want to work with this dog some more and see if I can trial him in USBCHA. I have not been this excited about any other of the agility dogs I've worked with. Of course he just turned a year and is starting full-tilt on his agility training and his owners trials most weekends, so I doubt I'll get my hands on him very much again until next spring when we get more daylight on weekdays. My very talented dog that I wrote about several posts back - I think today her talent would not even be recognized. Her talent lie in the fact that even though my handling knowledge and training of various skills was sub-par, she ON HER OWN figured out how to 'read' me perfectly and anticipate what I really wanted vs what my body may have been saying by accident. She ON HER OWN decided she wanted to get around as fast as possible and if she could anticipate the path she would do what she needed to do with her body to get the most efficient (and therefore fastest) line with no help from me. Now these days, the collection, turning, etc skills are built right into the foundation work and jump training, and handling is so good that the handler is always telling the dog 'collect before this turn' or else they have drilled it over and over again so the dog has a high degree of confidence in what is wanted. A dog like my little genius girl would have disappeared in that mix. Her genius was in making up for lacks in the handler and reading between the lines to figure out the 'job' and get it done (she did not see agility as a game, she was deadly serious about it), but these days the top handlers are on the ball and the top class dogs don't need to be so good at deciphering the somewhat incoherent body language 'babbling' they might get from their handler. I already today see dogs who can turn so tight that if they went any tighter they'd be hitting the jump uprights when they wrap them. What is there to breed for when what we have out there already is brilliant and pushing the limits of what's even physically possible? And if all that brilliance is coming from working lines or only a generation or two removed from working lines, where is the value in breeding a separate agility line?
  3. I went back and looked at Will Rolfe's video (back on page 18 or 19 I think, I forgot to make a note of which page). It does show he won for that particular course, but I'm not seeing that he's uncommon for an agility border collie. There are a number of places where he actually showed less efficiency than I'm used to seeing in border collies. Frame 0:23, the jump after the aframe, he isn't turning going over the bar, the head is straight as he's at the apex at the jump (even though his path is turning)so he lands away from the course path, adding an extra couple of feet (half the width of the jump) to his yardage. Frame 0:26, jump after the broad jump, he takes the outer 50% of the bar, landing 2-3 feet wider than if he'd hugged the inside on the turn. Frame 0:29, the handler cues the turn. At frame 0:30 look at the dog's head going over the jump, it's straight, not turning even though the cue was turned. He turns on landing, another wide turn. Frame 0:32 is an example of a good turn, the dog hugs the inside standard and is turning in the air to land facing the direction for the most efficient course path. I put this on in here as an example/comparison to the earlier ones I mentioned that weren't as good. Frame 0:34 this is basically a wrap over the jump back to the weaves, a place where you'd want to the dog collect, land short, and turn tight. Notice where he is taking off, in extension, from a distance back. He lands straight and has to turn on the ground. This adds another 5-6 feet to his yardage. Admittedly on this one (which was about the worst turn I saw on the course) the handler did not cue it very clealy as he's still facing forward with arm out when he sends the dog. His location behind the dog, deceleration, and a verbal send on however will cue most dogs that the next thing is a turn back, not keep going straight, so while the handler could have added a bit more help for the dog, the dog read even the cues that were given as continuing on straight ahead and did not pick up the turn until he was already in the air. So I'm not saying this isn't a good dog (he did win at least that round after all) but I'm not seeing 'uncommon' genius that deserves to be bred because the dog has some unique physical ability. The spreading feet on the dogwalk actually costs him some time, whereas other dogs you might see keep in a canter stride and just shorten a stride in one spot to hit the contact - this dog throws in several almost creeping type strides at the very start of the down ramp. Possibly his handler cues this somehow, otherwise I'd have to say the dog is getting a bit creepy in anticipation of having to collect a bit to hit the yellow part. This is something you see in agility border collies sometimes that is a problem is they will start to 'eye' the end of a contact zone and slow down to a creep approaching it. I think these days we are at a point of diminishing returns in agility dogs' physical abilities and probably aren't going to get much better than the good border collies we see today in agility (many of whom are very close to working lines and not many, if any, generations of sport lines. A faster dog can't make much use of the extra speed when they have to engage an obstacle every 15-23 feet, or turn after almost every obstacle (requiring deceleration/acceleration on each turn). Dogs today are already capable of pulling up into extreme collection and landing/taking off within bare inches of a jump if needed - that is largely a TRAINED skill which then must be HANDLED properly, and most border collies have a flexible enough body and are fit enough to accomplish it(it takes some strength to pull up like that out of full exntension and prepare to jump at the same time), no need to breed for any more on that ability. The game has come down to microseconds of handling strategy. Many border collies will hold back a bit, giving their handler time to get signals out, as they get frustrated to think it's straight (so they extend their stride) and then the handler is seeminly changing the plan and asking to turn and the dog is caught with his body all disorganized for the turn due to miscommunication. The top clas dogs out there are top class partly because of top class handlers who are consistent in handling and the dogs TRUST those cues and can confidently go full speed on the straight aways and collect/turn with full conviction and power knowing that their handler is clearly saying what's wanted and won't surprise the dog by changing the plan in mid-stride.
  4. Found this site, listing world teams from the US since 1996: http://usagilityteam.com/teams/ Small dogs are almost exclusively shelties with the occasional papillon thrown in, until you get way back the first couple years when things were less competitive and then there was a beagle and a cocker a few times. Medium dogs were almost all shelties, with a pyr shepherd and large papillon in now and again. Large dogs were 100 % border collies all the way back to 2004. Then 2003 and back you see all BCs and one particular Aussie (Suni) who was an oustanding and unusual example of her breed, with a body type more suggestive of a working type aussie (I do not know her breeding for sure, but I've seen her run many times and if she had a tail I would have thought she was a border collie). Go way back to 1998 through 1996 (when the US first started running World Team) and you do see a malinois and a golden in there along with the border collies. So in the early days other breeds could compare but the border collies were still more than 50% of the team. In later years as things get tighter and more competitive, the other breeds just couldn't rise to the task and border collies completely shut them out. For Large Dog Teams: 2011 - All border collie 2010 - All border collie 2009 - All border collie 2008 - All border collie 2007 - All border collie 2006 - All border collie 2005 - All border collie 2004 - All border collie 2003 - Border collies and one aussie (Suni) 2002 - Border collies and one aussie (Suni) 2001 - Border collies and one aussie (Suni) 2000 - Border collies and one aussie (Suni) 1999 - Border collies and one aussie (Suni) 1998 - Three border collies and one golden 1997 - Two border collies, one golden, one belgian malinois 1996 - Two border collies, one golden, one belgian malinois Border collies absolutely crush the other breeds at the very top levels. That still doesn't mean you should breed for agility. It just goes to show how amazing of a dog has been created by breeding for work.
  5. To be fair, you need to look at how people are defining 'success' in agility. The MACH title was set up to be an all breed title, so requirements were set such that pretty much any breed would be able to attain it. The dog needs to be at least moderately speedy and moderately consistent, but does not need to be outstanding and does not need to win (or even place in the top 4) to get points. So those who can show 'moderate or better' ability over and over again will get multiple MACHs relatively easily. It becomes more a matter of how often the person shows (and indirectly therefore how much money and time they have to spend on agility). It doesn't necessarily mean the dog is an agility genius. Most fast dogs up in the border collie speed range typically have WAY more points than they need for a MACH and it's the double Q requirement that's the limiting factor. You need to qualify in both standard and jumpers classes on the same day to get a double Q, so there's a consistency requirement in addition to speed. One little error on one course that day and no double Q. To put it briefly, 'speed kills'. The faster and more responsive the dog, the easier it is to make a split second error in communication.The more quickly the dog reacts, the less time you have to fix it before it becomes a fatal mistake. A fast moving dog on a course with a lot of turns also has more potential to drop bars and have a nonqualifying run. Potential off-course 'traps' are also way more enticing to a fast moving big-strided dog with a lot of obstacle focus (i.e. typical border collie) - they are often mentally engaging that 'wrong' obstacle while still on their way to the preceding one, and it takes a very good handler to time it correctly and communicate to take the correct one but not the wrong one that follows it. A less driven dog thinks one obstacle at a time and may not even see that wrong obstacle as an option. A smaller dog has so many strides to get even close to the wrong obstacle that the handler has a huge window to communicate the turn. With a border collie you have to simultaneously communicate 'take that jump but shorten your stride and prepare to turn right immediately after it', whereas with a slower or smaller dog you can say 'take that jump' then after they land you can say 'now turn'. So I'm not at all surprised that some of the more moderate speed (but not slow) breeds could easily be more successful than a border collie at getting a lot of MACH titles for the average moderately-skilled handler/trainer. Not only is all that agility brilliance wasted on mere MACH titles, but in a lot of cases it actually becomes a detriment. But if you look at the dogs who have been on the large dog World Team from the US (and many other countries) for the past several years, you'll see almost exclusively border collies (some countries I also see quite a few Belgians). If you look at USDAA agility stats for dogs WINNING classes (not number of titles) you'll see a very high percentage of border collies. If you look at the top winners at AKC and USDAA Nationals (20" and 22" classes) you'll see all or mostly all border collies. Even in AKC, look at the Excellent B 20" class (the height class that most border collies fall into) from just about any well-attended trial and class after class it's not at all uncommon to see the top four placings all going to border collies. So people who want to WIN, especially at the very top levels (like World Team or Nationals) are at a competitive disadvantage with any other breed. Now there are RARE individuals from other breeds who can compete with the top border collies. But someone looking to win and buying a puppy and wanting as much of a sure thing as they can get is most likely going to be looking at a border collie. They are uniquely suited to the brilliance required to win at the top competitions. I still think the 'average' agility competitor doesn't really need (and couldn't handle) the true agility genius. What I see is a lot of handlers get into agility and then become attracted to border collies not necessarily because they have a better chance to win, but because they are so driven and so fun to work with and easy to motivate. Many of these people are coming from breeds where they had to work at getting the dog to see them and the activity as more valuable than the interesting smelling dirt on the floor or the interesting people sitting around the ring. Also there is something exhilarating about trying to handle at those speeds and with a dog so responsive. I know I would be supremely bored running a slower dog and having worked with a border collie I would not have the patience for a dog who had to be 'tricked' into following my plan or thinking it was fun. I still don't think they should be bred for agility. They seem to have done pretty well at it without breeding for it specifically. And most people don't need that level of dog anyway. Why risk ruining the breed for the sake of a handful of agility competitors at the top levels, when the average competitor is getting exactly what they need from what the working breedings already produce?
  6. There is absolutely such a thing as a dog with an inborn talent for agility. I used to own a dog like that, back in the day before handling skills were sophisticated enough to duplicate through handling/training what she did naturally. She was amazing. I swear she could read my mind out on the course, or had taken a sneak peek at map ahead of time. She could slither over jumps full speed while turning without touching the bar, go from flat out full speed to a stop to turn on a dime and still nail a weave entrance or angled contact upramp with the sure-footedness of a cat. She could look ahead at the course and read all the possibilities coming up and perpare her body for any of them, but at the same time was always 100% aware of where I was, how I was moving, where I might be headed next and she could process that information at top speed and make it look effortless. She was a blast to run and made me look good years before I had a clue about all the handling stuff I know today. I could almost swear she was some great agility dog re-incarnated and I wasn't really training her but just reminding her of stuff she used to know, that's how quickly she caught on to things. I have had several border collies and never had another like her. I can see how agility competitors would want a dog like that and someone owning a dog like that would want to breed it to pass those traits on. In theory you could throw in some working lines from time to time and have the best of both worlds. Reality and theory are not the same thing however. Now this particular dog, she wasn't much as a stock dog. I thought she showed some early ability, but the thing was, as soon as I made it HARD for her (asking for something off balance for example, or putting any kind of pressure on her to do something counter to what she wanted to do) she'd just quit on me, then sneak back to the sheep to work them on her terms. And she was prone to take cheap shots at the sheep if I frustrated her by interfering too much with what SHE wanted. There was a certain element of biddability and adaptability missing in her stockwork, but just based on her agility work I would have had NO clue that deficiency was there because in agility she was quite happy to go along with what I wanted - after all, one agility jump or obstacle was just as good as another to her, so she was giving up nothing to follow my plan. On the sheep she had her own ideas. I think she also was a little bit afraid of the situation with sheep - more tending to close her eyes and throw herself in and grab something than to calmly think it through and read what was happening in front of her. She wanted to do things with the sheep but maybe wasn't that confident she really could control things, so she would get in a panic about it. Now if I had not at the time been trying to set my goals for upper level stockdog work, it would have been very easy for me to look at this dog at the basic beginning level of showing 'interest' and some 'cool moves' on the sheep doing basic balance work and other things she wanted to do, and think "wow, I have a dog who is a brilliant agility dog and has 'working instinct'". And if I was a breeder, it would have been tempting to want to breed a dog like that. I'm sure some of her offspring would have inherited her agility talent. But I would have been producing 'lesser' border collies in the sense of stockwork by breeding her. So let's say agility talent is genetic and you can breed for it (I do think that is true to a certain extent). The question then is, SHOULD you do that? And what is the long term impact on the true working border collie likely to be? Is that a road we should even start to go down? Now I am sure there is the rare individual out there with the skills to identify, train, and handle that one in a million agility dog (90% of agility handlers out there wouldn't be able to make full use of that dog if they had it or would just frustrate it or hold it back with poor handling skills and incomplete training)and who also has time and knowledge to fully train that dog in stockwork and determine that it's also a worthy stockdog. So you assume that one 'right' dog who is truly talented in BOTH fields gets into the hands of that one 'right' person who is in a position to really know what they have in BOTH fields, THEN I would say it's okay for that dog to be bred. But now comes the hard part - who do you breed that dog to? Is there another one-in-a-million dog out there also owned by that one-in-a-million owner who has worked the dog fully in both fields. Chances are, probably not, or your choices would be very limited. But let's say you find that dog. He's brilliant in both stockwork and agility. But now we have to look further, do the working traits match up? Are both dogs overly wide working on stock - and breeding them will produce a less than useful dog? Do both have a lot of eye and breeding them may produce a dog who's just too sticky to be an effective worker? What are your chances of finding two 'one-in-a-million' dogs talented on both stock and in agility and having their working traits be a good match? So this puts the would-be breeder in a tough spot - since you are unlikely to find a dog equally talented and fully compatible and fully proven in both fields, you have two choices. One, breed to a compatible working dog who may not have that agility talent. Or two, breed to a talented agility dog but one who may not be compatible from a live stock working perspective. Given that the person in question is on the other side of that bridge wanting to establish an 'agility line' what choice do you think will be made? And what will be the long-term impact of a 2nd, 3rd, etc generation of similar choices? I just do not seeing it happening that there are sufficient numbers of people truly invested in both activities and sufficient numbers of dogs truly talented in both activities that you could ever establish a line of dogs that are equally talented and amazing in both areas. So then, really what you're talking about is a split into a separate agility line, accepting that the stockworking talent will be dimished, but wanting to borrow from the working line in order to keep the PERSONALITY and TEMPERAMENT traits the agility dog needs while discarding full consideration of actual stock talent. So the offer to 'bridge the gap' becomes one side taking what it wants at the expense of what the other side holds valuable. So now if I have to make a choice - scenario (1) preserve extreme stock working talent and have dogs who do can do real work and have a decent chance of being 'very good' at agility and good for 90+% of agility competitors out there and who will produce the agility genius some percentage of the time, or (2) dilute the working talent, risk losing the working dog genes, but have a high probability of producing agility geniuses that 90+% of competitors won't really be able to fully use or appreciate. People who's philosophy puts them on the side of option 2 are not going to be very good bridge builders with those firmly on the side of option 1. The true reality of what's happening? The lines are diverging. There are agility lines starting. They may or may not preserve all the essential personality and temperament traits once stock work is removed from the picture - time will tell. Possibly crossing back to real working dogs will keep that in them and a good agility line will be established. They most likely won't be good stock working dogs. But the true stock working dog will survive because they have numbers on their side - as long as enough of the real thing is being bred, the population can afford some bleeding out of the line to other divergent lines (like what happened with the conformation border collie) and still survive. But just because they will survive does not mean those causing the split will be welcomed with open arms or that those on the other side will want to build a bridge to contribute to that divergence.
  7. Nobody said agility was breeding for looks. What was said is that breeding for agility is AS BAD AS breeding for looks for the simple reason that you are not factoring in stock working ability in the breeding. It is the breeding for stock work that creates the force every generation to balance all the traits so carefully and what has made border collies unique among all dog breeds. Remove that controlling force and the dog will lose what makes it so special. It doesn't matter what else you breed for (agility or looks or SAR dogs or cute pets) - if you aren't breeding for stock work then it will hurt the breed the same. I know you have said it is very important to keep adding back the working line to avoid ruining the agility line. So it seems you DO believe that breeding for only agility will eventually ruin the dog (otherwise why replenish the line with working dogs?). So answer this question - if the working line has to keep getting added to save the agility line, if that working line is the true source of all the good stuff that is important in the agility border collie, then why not just buy working border collies to run agility with? Why take the 'diluted' version with some of the 'pure' version thrown in to boost it closer to pure when you can have the pure 100% genuine undiluted thing? Why is there any need for an agility line?????? And believe me, I do understand about agility and what it takes to do well and how much fun and how beautiful it can be. I've been doing agility for more than 15 years. I teach it, both classes and lessons. I'm the training director for my club. I've been to multiple nationals with multiple dogs. I've won so many blue ribbons that honestly I save the clubs a bit of money and don't even pick up the ribbons anymore and had piles of them that I eventually ended up throwing out. So I know where you're coming from about the agility. I've also been doing stock work with my dogs for over 12 years. It's been a considerably steeper learning curve and considerably harder to get to the upper levels and do well there (we are still on our way there). I've run three different dogs in novice and pronovice, and this year started running my first nursery dog, who I think will be my first Open dog before too long. And one very important thing I've learned in all those years and different dogs is this: I can take almost any border collie and make a very good competitive agility dog out of it, and I have even done that with a non-border collie. But the over-riding factor in stock work in how well we do is what is instrinsically in the dog, the talent that was already in his head the day he was born and just waiting to develop, talent that is there due to over a hundred years of careful breeding. Breed for the stock work and you get a dog that can do both things well. I have no problem with an agility person looking at a working line breeding and selecting a dog to BUY based on agility concerns (how fast do the parents run, how are they put together, which pup in the litter has the best personality for an agility prospect, how have other related dogs performed in agility, and so on). The problem that I and most other people on these boards have is when the dog is bred for those things and the stock ability is ignored in the breeding. So the best way to bridge the gap? Partner up with the working breeders, provide good homes for working bred dogs, show the working breeders you appreciate what they produce, and you respect it enough that you'll come back to them for your next dog and not breed your own if you aren't in a position to make sure you're breeding the very best WORKING border collie possible. This gives all sides what they want and preserves the best in the breed.
  8. It depends on how you define AKC dog. There are probably more cross-registered tha people realize. I've seen a few do quite well (of those I know the registration for). But those are realy ABCA dogs with AKC papers added on. I don't know all that many 'pure' AKC-only dogs running beyond the novice level, let alone in Open and getting into the ribbons regularly. I do not personally know of any running in Open.
  9. ACD was my first thought too, but the merle coloring might have come from a sheltie or a mini/small aussie. The build and head look almost entirely cattle dog and most shelties are so much finer boned and narrow-headed that I'm thinking maybe a small aussie is more likely. Either that or the cattle dog genes really took over.
  10. I think that is where a lot of the sport breeders could be of use for the other breeds. For example there are a few breeders who breed lines of obedience/agility papillons. I'm sure there are similar lines in many breeds. Those breeders I think could produce good pet dogs because (1) there is no driving force for a particular look so less temptation to preserve harmful physical attributes, (2) the demands of the sport activity would limit most of the detrimental extremes, (3) dog sports do at least require some degree of decent temperament, as opposed to conformation dogs, and (4) most sport dogs are pets so the breeder is going to hear about it if he/she is producings dogs that make lousy pets. So no, dog sports are not really true 'work' in the sense of existing for gain beyond the mere enjoyment of the activity, but they are a much better breeding criteria in my opinion than the conformation ring. An interesting side note - I was looking at a picture of Old Hemp a week or so ago, and thinking how he was almost the spitting image of a dog I used to own until I lost her last year. Old Hemp was born in the late 1800s. He would not look out of place at a stockdog trial today. So I find it interesting that while no attempt has been made to breed the ISDS/ABCA dogs to an appearance standard, they have remained pretty much the same as they were over 100 years ago. Now go back and look at bull dogs and other breeds from the late 1800s. Many of them are very different and their 'old' versions would really stand out today as being different. So while I know the appearance doesn't matter, I do find it interesting that the ONE thing the conformation ring says they do (preserve the appearance) they actually do a pretty crappy job at. Whereas breeding for function in the border collie has preserved appearance without even using that as a breeding criterion.
  11. Look at this way. Why is breeding for looks bad? Is it bad to have good looking dogs (beauty being in the eye of the beholder and all that aside)? There is nothing wrong with a good looking dog. But it's wrong to BREED FOR a good looking dog because then you aren't breeding for working ability. That is why breeding for looks will 'indeed destroy the entire B.C. breed' as you stated. Because it breeds away from the working ability. So now ask yourself, how is breeding for agility performance any different? It is STILL not breeding for working ability. It disregards stock working talents in the parents and does not evaluate the stock working ability of the offspring. Same as in a conformation breeding. It will ruin the breed just as surely as breeding for looks. And throwing a working bred dog in there from time to time does NOT preserve or improve upon working ability. Working dog breeders do not breed just any old working dog to another. You have to match up the traits to get a good dog out of it. If you breed two 'nice' dogs together and both are very flanky and wide working, you may get a dog that won't come onto its sheep and can't get the job done. If you breed two dogs that are the top end of the pushness spectrum, you may get a dog who's too hard to train and work with. When you do breed together two dogs that seem a good match, then the next step is you test out the offspring to see how you did and determine if the breeding was good, and if the offspring now deserve to be bred (it does not matter how good the parents are if the match of the two produces a dog with reduced ability). Working ability must be thoroughly tested at each and every generation. There is an art to good breeding, and breeding for agility disregards all of these considerations. The breeding you describe would be 'random' in terms of the working traits. And the outcome of this random breeding would not be fully evaluated, but if the dog is good at agility, it would be bred to make more agility dogs. It doesn't matter if you throw a working bred dog in there every generation, if the breeding is not well planned based on working ability, it doesn't matter how good ONE of the parents is if the other is unknown, random ability and likely has reduced talent (which will certainly be the case after several generations of this type of random breeding). The goal is not to breed dogs with working dogs in the pedigree - the goal is to breed dogs that WORK. Your scenario does not accomplish that goal, therefore it is bad for border collies.
  12. It depends on how you define teaching a lift. We most definitely do teach our dogs what we expect on a lift (don't rush the sheep, don't split them, don't push them off away into the woods, bring them to the handler at a nice pace, etc). We also teach them to drive, teach them to flank, and teach them to do outruns. They get better at these things as they gain more experience, and we guide that experience, so that is the training. What I meant was that while we can teach the dogs when to do a particular thing and some details as to how we want it done, and put them into situations to gain more experience and confidence at doing it a particular way, the inborn ability (sheep sense) that allows them to actually absorb the training and pull it off correctly in a variety of situations on a variety of sheep cannot be taught. Could you teach a golden retriever to make a nice lift? I doubt it, as the golden retriever, no matter how hard he tried, wouldn't have the stock sense to make the right choices on his own.
  13. Serena, this is what you wrote: I did read what you wrote. You say you have the 'utmost respect' that sheepherding will always be the ideal. Then you go on to to say that because agility people love their dogs very much, it's okay that you try to maintain 'as much traditions as possible'. "As much as possible" means some but not all. That means you are willing to compromise on those traditions, most notably by breeding dogs whose stock working abilities are unknown and untested. Whereas the working breeding maintains ALL of the tradition. How can you on the one hand say you respect something, but then discard the most important part of it?
  14. I had a well respected trainer/trialer tell me something similar. He made a very good point. If the dog has what it takes as a stockdog, it may make a mess, but it won't like it any better than I do. That dog will be thinking 'gee, that didn't work so well' and may well try something different the next time, or, if you step in and help a bit to steer him towards the correct solution, he's good enough that he'll latch onto it and think 'this is SO much better than what I did last time'. And then the dog has learned something based on experience, not based on simply 'do it because I said so'. I was one of those newbies very afraid to let my dog make a mistake because she would be practicing bad habits . . .I have seen since then that experience can often be the best teacher, including the bad experiences, as long as you don't let the dog get in over his head and then leave him floundering.
  15. This was so well said. It is amazing watching the stock sense of a good border collie. I have no idea how they do what they do. How they can be sent from 400 yards away (or further), be running at pretty much top speed the whole way, far off their stock, and yet arrive at that perfect spot with just the right amount of presence and in just the right place to lift the sheep calmly and smoothly, even on a field they've never been on before and with sheep they've never seen before. It's quite simply amazing and NOT something you can ever 'teach' to a dog. Most of the training is about getting the dog into situations where they can find and refine that feel for themselves and is not merely a mechanical exercise in 'when I say this you do that'. Without the right genetics, the training methods would not work to produce the top class dogs we see out there today. It also is amazing to see how well many young border collies their first time on stock read them and control them. I'm a bit of a science geek and at one point was going to go into the field of molecular biology and genetics, and I still find it totally amazing what mere genes can put into an animal's head and into their hearts. I will say this - I do agility, have been for over 15 years now. I've put a lot of advanced titles on dogs and gone to nationals competitions. I've won a lot of classes, and I teach agility. I enjoy the sport and so do my dogs. But it is NOTHING compared to seeing these dogs on stock and knowing what a precious gift has been placed into our hands, to either preserve or to carelessly crush and throw away. I have a lot of friends who do agility, many of them with border collies, some sport bred, some working bred, some rescues so we don't really know the background. I talk to them all the time about how amazing stock work is and how important it is to keep working ability in the breed. Words don't really do it. I think they appreciate what I say, but they don't really 'get it', even the few who have casually watched part of the national finals or seen videos of my dogs working and even some of them whose dogs I've worked on my sheep or they've seen the dogs work in person. I don't know how you bridge this gap. I didn't totally get it myself until I got sheep and needed certain things done and learned to appreciate the natural talent in another context than a standardized trial field. I would like to think that anyone who decides to breed would first come to know the whole breed (not just the agility part of it) and would take the time to immerse themselves in the stockdog world and learn from it. But realistically I know that most won't bother. If someone would like to breed premier stock dogs, trial them at the highest levels (in USBCHA, not AKC), prove out their abilities, and also runs that dog in agility, and wants to market to both worlds, that woulld be one thing. I don't know of a single person who does that. Agility breeders can pay lip service to working concepts all they want, but it's just talk until they make the commitment to really understand the working aspect of the breed, not by 'associating' with working dog people, but by actually getting out there and doing it themselves. On the other hand, working breeders sell dogs to agility homes all the time and everyone can see their accomplishments in agility. So someone looking for an agility dog who also really cares about the breed, does it make sense to go to an agility breeder who really has no clue about their dogs on stock, or to go to a working dog breeder who's dogs have proven their abilities in agility as well on stock? Knowing how many of this second type are available out there, why would anyone who really appreciates the breed go the other route and go to a sport breeder?
  16. It's over in Europe (maybe just Great Britain?) that they have the Anything But Border Collie class - nothing like that in the US. That's because over there I believe you have to win to move up to the next level, and the border collies were too much competition for most. USDAA is much more highly competitive than AKC agility and you see a much higher percentage of border collies there. The US large dog division of the World Team is pretty much all border collies (I'm sure there is the occasional exception, like Suni the Aussie several years ago, and if you go back really far you see a much greater variety of breeds than you do today, but today it pretty much is exclusively border collies). Now in the OTHER coutries large dog division it's interesting that you see a lot of Belgians also and they do quite well even against the border collies. In this country the belgians are mostly show dogs and you see only very few who are that competitive, but over seas they have a lot more performance/working lines. Any dog can do well at agility and get MACHs. I don't know why all this emphasis on MACH dogs and MACH handlers as a MACH title doesn't even mean it's a very good agility dog. There are plenty of MACH dogs out there who got their MACH title without ever being in the ribbons or even close. The key to a MACH is a pretty consistent dog who is 'fast enough' to get the necessary points and double Qs. He doesn't need to be brilliant and Q all the time (50% Q rate will do it quite nicely) and he doesn't need to be blazing fast or handled brilliantly, he just needs to not be really slow and have a good enough handler to get around the course. So using it as a breeding criteria, no way, as it is a pretty meaningless criteria even if all you care about is producing a good agility dog. I can see how those who ONLY care about agility would think it makes sense to breed two nice agility dogs together and increase the chance of getting nice agility puppies. I know people who have done/are doing this and the owners seem happy with their dogs and to do well with them. The thing is, it's not what happens in one generation or even 3 or 4. You have to look further down the road, what will the fallout be? I suspect there will be some superb agility dogs out there from those lines, but they will NOT be the same dog we all know and love today. Maybe the agility people won't even know what's different, as they'll still be winning and by then they'll have changed their perspective on what a border collie is. There are also a lot of new people coming into the breed from other breeds due to agility and they care about the SPORT not about the BREED so are coming in from a totally skewed perspective IMO. Agility is a new enough sport and only recently has become so extremely demanding of physical skills to win that there isn't a long history of 'agility lines' out there in any breed so it's too soon to say what may come of breeding only for agility generation after generation. Flyball and breeding for flyball has been around longer and I have seen flyball border collies on stock and they don't have a clue even though they originally came from working lines. I have also heard from a few agility people who got dogs from flyball lines - they got dogs with no off switch or dogs with just plain 'odd' temperaments. Some are okay agility dogs but not any more so than the majority of border collies out there. Of course that is only the small sampling that I know of personally. But I wonder if all these agility breedings will eventually go down that same path. If agility people want to breed agility border collies it's going to be tough to stop them. It's a free country after all. And I can't even say the dogs will suck at agility after a few generations - you do tend to get what you breed for. I just take a bit of offense at someone coming on here and proposing to breed for agility and then trying to talk to everyone about bridging the gap and getting the stock dog people to see their side and assure everyone that what they're doing won't really cause any harm to the stockdog abilities of the border collie. And this is coming from someone who has never put a MACH on a dog (which is not all that hard to do) and presumably never worked a dog on stock either, so there's not a lot of basis to have a truly informed opinion. First of all, just knowing the basic genetic principle of selection - if you don't select for complicated traits like working ability you lose them. There are plenty of examples of that. It's as simple as that. Whatever else it may be, it won't be a stockdog anymore. And I can't see how anyone would believe that stockdog people on this board could be convinced to be okay with that. Now if you take both agility dog parents and run them in Open USBCHA trials and qualify for National Finals, then maybe I could see myself as being convinced that it wouldn't be much harm to breed those two knowing they'd be going to agility homes. Except of course the pups would need to also become Open dogs before they could be bred to prove that the two parents were a good match from a working perspective, and so on. And that's not something I see any top level agility trainer taking the time to do. The better they are at agility probably the less time and energy they have for other pursuits like putting their dog on stock consistently. The more efficient way to get a good agility dog is to buy a working dog, run it in agility, and if it's very good, you go back to those working lines for more agility dogs. This way the stockdog people test out the dog's stock work abilities and make the breeding decisions, and the agility people can find which lines are ideally suited for agility, and everyone gets what they want without harming the breed.
  17. A good working stock dog has to be born that way. He is refined by training, but most of what he is, he is because of good genetics. Those genetics are incredibly complex when you consider the number of different traits (power, balance, stock sense, biddability, intelligence, self control, keenness, etc) that have to come together in the right proportions to make a great dog. You have to see and evaluate the outcome of that balance of traits to make good breeding decisions. You cannot do that by looking at what a dog does in agility or by just dabbling in stock work. Those may show you some of the traits, but they won't show you the whole dog. Breeding without looking at the whole picture is breeding blind. Breeding blind will eventually degrade those qualities not being selected for. A good working agility dog is made mostly through training. With today's training methods, which emphasize reward and very much a 'what's in it for the dog' thought process, the dog doesn't even need to be terribly biddable to be a great agility dog. He does need to be athletic, which is one trait (ONLY one) of a good stock dog. But agility will never measure the myriad of other traits that are necessary for a true border collie to possess to be worthy of breeding. Remember the artice fox experiment? Where they bred for one trait (docile behavior) and ended up changing a lot of other traits (markings, vocalization, mannerisms, ear set, etc). There is a lot we don't understand about genetics and traits, especially behavioral traits. Tweak one little thing that doesn't seem like a big deal, and you may be surprised at what else changes. Those changes may be invisible at first, and by the time you see what's happening, the gene pool has shifted so much that you won't get back to what you started with. That, to me, makes it too dangerous to mess with by trying something different than what has worked for hundreds of years to produce a great dog, and having the nerve to think we're improving it somehow when in reality we don't have any idea what changes it may cause. It is not okay to 'mess it up' and then think we can fix it by throwing in some of the original line of working genetics now and then. That will never get you something as good as what you would have had if you'd just stuck with the original line and breeding criteria to begin with. That isn't responsible breeding - it's damage control, and probably not very effective damage control. All I know is that breeding for stock work made the border collie what it is today. Which is just about as close to the perfect dog as you're ever going to see (in my opinion). So why mess with what works? The risk is too great.
  18. My BSDs do have an off switch and settle when I do. Just not as good as the border collies do. An example - I'm working at home today and have spent most of the day on the computer. The dogs (BSDs included) are lying around not doing much. I just got up to go to the kithen to get a drink. Two of the border collies picked up their heads, noticed I didn't pick up my cell phone and went back to sleep because they know I'll be back in a minute (if I pick up the phone they know I'm really going somewhere and will all get up). Both BSDs got up, jumped all around me, followed me to the kitchen, stuck their heads in the fridge to see what I was getting, sniffed the can of Pepsi I took out, then frolicked around me on my way back to the computer room where the wrestled with each other and tried for several minutes to instigate the border collies into a game(they got no takers). Now they are all resting quietly again. Creating energy level is a lot of what you encourage and allow I think. There are dogs who may be nuts regardless, and others who may be calm regardless, but border collies are smart dogs and I think as long as you know they're getting sufficient exercise at other times, it's not unfair to expect calm behavior around the house. I have not done anything special to get this from them except when they all at some point try the 'throw the ball' thing with me I just put the ball up on a shelf and then later in the day we can go out in the yard and play a bit, but not in the house. As far as spookiness - my current two BDS are not spooky at all, but they come from some exceptional lines and are a bit unusual for the breed in that regard. My first one (show lines) was dog aggressive and spooky about quite a few things. All 3 of mine have been very outgoing with people, although I have been told that is also not typical of the breed. My two current ones also love all other dogs, again, not typical! They are father and son and the father has European lines bred for various types of working ability (herding, a little schutzhund, and agility), not breed ring dogs. All of my BCs have always been outgoing and great with people except my very first one, he wasn't spooky, he just didn't care about anyone but me and his breeder so he ignored other people. I had one BC who was pretty spooky about odd things, the others have all been very stable. They can be pretty sensitive dogs, as the BSDs are also. As in any breed there's a range of personalities.
  19. You don't need to beat other dogs to earn a MACH. It requires 20 double Q's (qualifying in both standard and jumpers courses on the same day) and 750 points. You earn a point for every second under Standard Course Time. Admittedly a dog who only earns one or two points per run is going to take a long time to earn a MACH or maybe will never get one. But you can earn a MACH without ever winning a single placement. Think about it - it's a title that a basset hound can earn (I'm sure there is at least one MACH basset out there) - so is that saying that a MACH border collie is super high quality and should be bred because it can accomplish something that a short legged, unathletic, independent minded breed of dog can accomplish? A MACH is not a true test of anything IMO. Or any agility title for that matter. MANY breeds do quite well at agility. I only know of ONE breed that is the supreme stockdog. USDAA ADCH does require a 'super Q' where you come in the top whatever-percent of the Snooker class (you do not have to win it) but snooker is based mostly on strategy of getting the higher point obstacles, which are purposely put in places that are harder to get to without incurring faults, so it's more of a strategy and handling skills thing than a speed thing, and is more a showcase of handler skill than dog skill. The rest of the ADCH requirements are just more qualifications in lots of different things, you don't need to get placements.
  20. Maja, thank you for a great explanation of this. You said it so well. Your post should be pinned up somewhere for all the newcomers with similar questions to read. These dogs are fantastic at so many things. They dominate in many of the dog sports and are unparalleled at stock work. And yet sport people come along and think they can improve on them by breeding for sports. I don't understand that thinking - you only have to look at what type of breeding selection produced this great dog, and why would you ever want to deviate from what has worked so well and breed with different selection criteria than what produced the dog in the first place? Change the criteria and you will eventually change the dog. There are a lot of good trainers in dog sports. As the breed quality starts to slip due to different breeding selection, they'll just make up for it with good training. So like an invisible cancer, the changes will eat away at what the breed is, until someday you look around and realize all the border collies you see are just like any other dog and no longer the incredibly unique and wonderful dogs they are today.
  21. I also have BSDs and border collies. I had a BSD before I got a border collie. I was really hesitant on getting a border collie because I'd heard how energetic they were and the BSD I had was just about driving me nuts until he got a bit older and settled somewhat. So I thought a BC would be even worse than that and maybe too much for me. I've had 5 BCs since then and 3 BSDs and can say without exception every single BC I've had has been easier to live with than any of the BSDs. The BSDs are into everything, needy, clingy, always attention seeking, etc. The BCs will just chill and you hardly know they are around (do NOT let one suck you into thinking you need to throw a ball 24/7 - when that happens I'm convinced it's created by owners who buy into all the horror stories about border collie energy levels). Your home sounds like the dog will get plenty of exercise and attention and I think a BC would fit quite well there. The rescues giving you black marks are idtios. That dog you put up with for 3 years - you did the best thing for him and you are a saint for dealing with it for that long. I can't give advice regarding the puppy vs rescue thing - but one thing to ask about either way is if the older dog (or puppy's parents) have a good 'off switch' as I have heard some BCs don't (every one I've ever owned has been wonderful and I've had both working bred and sport bred).
  22. i just went through this with one of my dogs. Gunky green discharge and red in one eye. The vet diagnosed it as some type of infection since they didn't see anything in the eye, and gave us antibiotic ointment, which cleared it right up. Two days later the other eye turned up gunky so I used the ointment in both eyes for awhile and now they both look great.
  23. Thanks for hosting the fun trial Laura, and also to John for the one on Sunday. These types of events are few and far between, so are much appreciated, especially when they are so well run. My dogs and I had a great time both days.
  24. Your analogy makes alot of sense. Although I think it's a bit more of a complex situation than that. In your example, you'd be sending the puppy and owner into a situation that would be directly detrimental to them. But the sport dog and their owner who do AKC usually actually benefit from it - they get to do something fun, even though their fun may be funding some other bad things. So in your example, it would be more like if you were selling a border collie to someone and this abusive trainer was seemingly their only option, but let's say the trainer actually is very good with border collies and your puppy would get some decent training sufficient for the handler to happily play around at the novice level (even though not training of a standard you would want for your own dogs, the owner and dog will be happy with it). But let's say this trainer doesn't understand an aussie working mentality or certain lines of border collies and abuses his aussie clients and clients with border collies from certain lines. So by sending your puppy buyer to this guy, even though you benefit the puppy buyer directly, you're indirectly funding the bad trainer's continued abusiveness towards other clients. To complicate it further, let's say he donates some small amount of his training income to border collie rescue (a good thing) but also donates to legislative animal rights extremist groups (a bad thing). So now you have to balance - this guy may be 'okay' for your puppy buyer and maybe if you convince your puppy buyer not to go there the puppy won't get any stock training at all, so there may appear to be some upsides to sending them there, but at what cost to other ethical considerations and other things you hold important? Do you help your puppy buyers at the expense of your own ethics, or stick to your ethics at the possible expense of your puppy buyer? Things are rarely a completely black and white situation. Okay, devil's advocate time: Go take a look around AKC's website. Apparently they do a lot of GOOD things (at least according to the website, I'm not making any claims as to how true any of it may be). They fund scholarships to vet schools, and fund canine health research, and fight anti-dog and breed-specific legislation. They offer a companion animal recovery service. I thought at one point they were offering canine health insurance as well although I don't see that on there now. And they provide obedience trials, canine good citizen tests, agility, lure coursing, hunting tests and trials, etc, all activities that encourage owners to train their dogs and do things with them. AKC clubs put on events that fund the clubs and allow them to be in a financial situation to continue offering classes that benefit the dog owning community in their area (even if some of those people never register or trial AKC). Now I'm not saying any of that justifies supporting puppy mills or empowering a conformation system that ruins dog breeds. But what it does is muddy the waters enough that when someone with roots in AKC hears a working dog person say 'AKC is all bad and evil' they think of all these good things and their first reaction is to dismiss the working dog person as an extremist who doesn't have their facts straight. It also leads to some who can split hairs and say maybe AKC is okay as long as you don't participate in the breed ring, because only their breed ring activity is bad for dogs. Or AKC is okay as long as you aren't a breeder, because then you aren't doing anything to influence the direction a breed will develop. Or maybe even it's okay to breed in AKC as long as you know you're doing it for the right reasons, because it's all those OTHER people ruining the breed by breeding for the wrong thing and of course you have to counteract that by breeding some good dogs. Most people will not want to just throw out the whole organization, but will rationalize their role in it. It becomes even more complicated if you're dealing with a first time border collie owner who has had (or still has) other breeds of dogs.There are people who try to work from the inside to do what's best for their breed (breeding only for performance for example, and even putting down the conformation ring), and if your buyer has had experience with that type of AKC breeder they're more likely to discount anything you may say that sounds like you're saying all AKC breeders are out to ruin breeds. I own another breed besides border collies (belgian sheepdogs) and my last one came from an AKC breeder, but one who imports (or breeds to import lines) for working ability, not the breed ring. So the dog I got is so different in personality, drive, and athleticism than what most people are used to seeing in that breed that I get comments from people all the time about how he must be crossed with something else or just exclaiming over how exceptional he is. Which I think is sad in a way because I think he's what the breed should be, and he should not be seen as exception, and I shouldn't have had to hunt for five years and go all the way across the country to find one like him. For anyone having another breed of dog, it's very hard to withdraw completely from AKC because most breeds don't have a fallback organization or a breed club that isn't an AKC breed club. Border collies with ABCA and aussie people with ASCA are in a unique position to have a choice in organizations, owners of most other breeds aren't so fortunate. So if you're talking to someone who already has roots in AKC, and you're coming in as the outsider to the organization making certain claims, you're going to need good strong facts to make an impression and to really convince people. Maybe this would be something good for ABCA to do as an educational effort - update their current page that has border collie history and the AKC wars with a link to some pages detailing out a lot of these things. I know the site has some information already, but I'm thinking specific facts and examples. Also the current information puts such a focus on the anti-breed ring perspective that it leaves a loop hole for non-conformation owners to think it doesn't apply to them. It would need to go beyond just saying 'AKC is bad because it supports puppy mills' or 'AKC is bad because it facilitates breeding for appearance'. I'm thinking of some of the details like Terrierman has put on his website, SPECIFIC things AKC has done to support puppy mills, and things like how they fought the registration of cross bred dalmatians, and the pictures of how the breed ring has changed the shape of the head of certain breeds - the sorts of things that make people have that 'aha' moment about what's really going on, and makes it harder to dismiss, and more importantly shows them that the ABCA people with these 'extreme' views have good sound reasons for their opinions and it isn't just an emotional reaction to 'they stole our breed'. I actually had someone tell me that once, that ABCA is just mad at AKC because they stole the border collie and dumped ABCA as the parent club, so now they make up stuff to put down AKC just to get back at them. Maybe some video links to working dog clips would help too - show them what ABCA wants to protect. Cite statistics for how many people still use border collies as a real working farm hand and how their role as a stockdog isn't something that 'we don't need these days' (I have heard that one before too, "why bother, no one needs a working dog anymore").
  25. The majority of agility people that I know aren't interesting in breeding and have spayed/neutered dogs. Many of them run rescue dogs. I do know quite a few (although still a minority) who breed their dogs for agility, but these are all at the more competitive level and they're wanting to breed because the dog is out there winning at big competitions and they know they can sell the puppies pretty easily for a good price. So maybe you get the right crowd if you only sell to sport homes of people who aren't very good . There are a lot of AKC breeders who sell pups on nonbreeding papers to sport homes, so those homes are out there. My main concern isn't necessarily trying to knock down AKC or control what registry dogs are in or do an 'us' vs 'them' battle, but mainly that I want the working border collie preserved. I'd like to think that they'll still be around for our grand kids and their grand kids to experience and for future farmers to use as they were meant to be used. Over 100 years of breeding has produced a unique and wonderful dog, and I do not want that to ever be lost. I just watched a video of International Champion Becca's double lift run - it's painful to think of something that beautiful becoming extinct and that most of the world won't even know what they've lost. So if I had a crystal ball and could look into the future and see that selling to AKC sport homes was what it would take, then I'd say that's what we should do. Or it could be the exact opposite, unfortunately no one really knows. It will, as someone said, turn your brain into a noodle trying to get your head around this one. My last two dogs have been working bred and if that first working breeder hadn't been willing to sell me a dog, I probably wouldn't have sheep now or be spending most of my spare time working on the sheep instead of doing other dog activities. Twelve or fifteen years ago I would have happily bought from a sport breeder and maybe even considered breeding if the dog was good - now today after years of exposure to the working border collie world I've changed my views on a lot of things. One example I see - working field labs, have managed to survive in AKC, co-existing alonside the conformation version. Labs are one of the more popular conformation breeds and also very popular as pets, so have had their share of inappropriate breeding to combat, yet people who are into hunting or doing field trials for sport know where to find a good and there are plenty of them out there. Then on the other hand I look at german shepherds, once the world's best athletic police dog, bred now to be a crippled monstrosity and now a very ugly and largely useless dog in my opinion. Which way will the border collie go? I think a big part of that depends not just on what 'others' (AKC, sport breeders, etc) do with them, but what the working breeders do to keep things going. I think maybe the labs have managed it because there a lot of people who like to hunt and do field trials - the dogs will survive as long as that market is out there. A lot of other breeds possibly got away from their working roots even before the conformation ring got a hold of them so had no stabilizing force that a true working version of the breed would have provided. The lab situation gives me hope for working border collies, while at the same time the german shepherd situation scares the crap out of me.
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