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Most shepherds in the world, dont use herding dogs, and indeed the work that goes into training them using the Border Collie is more trouble than its worth for most farmers. Certinly there are more applications in Australia and New Zealand where a trained kelpie or huntaway is worth its weight in gold, but human survival is not dependant on the animals performance. In the great transhumant migrations, shepherds can move millions of sheep a year without the aide of a herding dog.

The use of sheepdogs is mostly for fun. They are used in sport trials often by professionals who pit themselves aginst one another for an audience for the purpose of testing their skills as dog breeders, trainers, or trialers. Who can display the best dog? Trialers win prize money and the big winners sell more puppies. But mostly their incentive is watching their dogs in competition.


This is an paragraph from a book I am currently reading. Entitled "Dogs" by Raymond Coppinger, and Lorna Coppinger. So far I have just been skimming through it, as its really a rather difficult read, as it doesnt make a whole lotta sence to me. As of this paragraph, Im wondering if I should continue the book. Has anyone read it in its entirity, and gotten anything out of it thats worth continueing through with? Im about ready to put it back on the stack and say....next.

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This is an paragraph from a book I am currently reading. Entitled "Dogs" by Raymond Coppinger, and Lorna Coppinger.


I don't remember that bit but then it's been a long time since I've read Dogs. Lots of people think the Coppingers are all that and I agree they bring some fresh ideas to the table. However, I really don't care for them and often disagree with their views that they present. The statements about sheep dogs may have some basis in reality nowadays, but sure doesn't explain how herding dogs came into existence. On the PBS show "How Dogs Changed the World," there is a fairly long segment about herding dogs in general and Border Collies in particular. The point was herding dogs allowed man to start raising stock instead of needing to hunt for meat which leads to a whole different lifestyle.

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I've read it all the way through. I read it because I was interested in their claim about the relationship between dogs and wolves (or maybe more accurately the lack thereof). I found it reasonably persuasive on that score, but I also got the sense that they were more interested in LGDs and sled dogs more generally.


Including the first two sentences of the paragraphs you quote might place your quote in more context, I think. They are talking about whether humans absolutely need dogs as a matter of species survival (e.g. biological mutualism). They've just claimed that sled dog running is not possible without both a human and a team of dogs in the previous paragraph.


then, they write, "It [sled dog racing] is not, however, a true biological mutualism, because the survival of either species is not dependent on accomplishing these tasks. At best, it is a convenience for the humans." Then comes the part that you quoted above.


Then, they go on to note that the effect on dogs of these activities is a change to their form toward a particular behavioral conformation--which is then what they discuss using the example of border collies--all to show the larger point that humans don't "teach" these behaviors, humans breed for them--they are part of the genetic package. Thus, border collies being judged on the trial field are being judged based on how much they conform to the ideal behavioral package involved in livestock herding (I think it's a bit more complex a judging task than that, but this is the Coppingers' argument, not mine).


I suppose that a recommendation to continue or not depends on why you're reading it in the first place--if it's for pleasure and you're not finding it that pleasant to read, then I'd probably put it back on the shelf. If you're reading it for something specific about border collies or using them to work, then that's a harder call, I think.

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Im reading it because it was loaned to me by a friend, and she told me it was a pretty interesting read, though I am at a point where Im finding it more difficult to really put to use any of what Ive read so far, and a lot of what Ive read so far seems rather far fetched as opposed to what Ive known to be true through out my experiences. Ive just been thumbing through it, and that part struck me as a major Huh? Maybe I'll give it another go, as they say: You cant believe everything ya hear, and only half of what cha see!

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