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Black Watch: Ruger is neutered.

 

Just a side note, a guy that I work with just told me today about seeing a man that frequented a local MacDonalds in which he goes to regularly himself. David said this man was driving a pickup truck which had a Border Collie in the bed. The dog is in this guy's truck on a regular basis. David said this guy will spend a couple hours at a time gabbing with his friends. What concerned David is that this guy was warm and cozy in MacDonalds while his dog was in a very cold rain. The dog was soaked and shivering.

 

Not to be profiling this individual but there are ranchers around here that use Border Collies on cattle. It is not uncommon to see Border Collies in the back of pickup trucks. Here is my question. Who is at one with his dog, the one drinking hot coffee while his dog is freezing in the bed of his pickup truck or us non-herding city slickers that would have left the dog in the cab of our seldom used 4X4's?

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I'm sorry, Ruger's Dad, but I don't think you're getting the point here. And, you can't take one guy as the example for all working dog owners out there.

 

Thank you for your eloquent post, Luisa. If anyone can't "get it" after reading that, it just isn't going to be "got".

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Not to be profiling this individual but there are ranchers around here that use Border Collies on cattle. It is not uncommon to see Border Collies in the back of pickup trucks. Here is my question. Who is at one with his dog, the one drinking hot coffee while his dog is freezing in the bed of his pickup truck or us non-herding city slickers that would have left the dog in the cab of our seldom used 4X4's?
Ouch. How do you know what the man does with his dog? He could be just a pet in the back of the truck. Maybe you're the one that's "not at one with his dog" because you don't allow him to do the job he was bred for... You heard a second hand report and are making alot of assumptions.

 

You saw a cool dog, and you wanted one just like that. Fine, there is no problem with that, and no one has said that there is. You enjoy your dog, that's great. But you don't seem to understand if it were not for the people who actually needed a working stock dog, you would not even have your dog.

 

Luisa, your post is right on!

 

ETA - In no way am I trying to imply that people who do not work their dogs are depriving their dogs or do not have a very special/meaningful relationship with their dogs. I'm just not understanding why Ruger's Dad feels he needs to justify owning a BC the way he is.

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This has probably been debated to death, but I hope you don't mind one more analogy.

 

As a side note and random thought from an outsider, I think the respect between working sheepdogs and their handlers is one of the things that makes their relationship so fulfilling. It's hard to see a good dog work and not respect it, and I think the dog responds to that. Respect is something that, IMHO, is sorely lacking in pet/master relationships.
I think what Borderlicious said really nailed it. I'm a pet-dog person (not even an owner at the moment), and I think of my new foster pup as something like a toddler who can't be left to her own devices or something terrible might happen. A dog who's been trained extensively for agility/frisbee etc., has earned rather more trust and independence, but you still wouldn't let him take your car keys and go cruising around with his girlfriend all night? I guess what I'm going for is that you can love your baby, your teen, and your twin with equal intensity, but definately not the same way. Keeping in mind that there are people who abuse their kids too...

 

gah. maybe what I should really be saying is that every person, every dog and every relationship is different. No one should expect that they will all be the same, though there will certainly be observable trends.

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I know nothing about the guy that a guy you know told you about. Don't know if you know or he knows whether the dog is a working dog or not. Based solely on what you say here, if it's true, this guy is not worthy of his dog. Some people aren't, among working dog owners and pet dog owners alike. But that being said, you probably place a higher relative value on physical comfort than your dog does.

 

>

 

That is one of the things dogs are about, but that is not what border collies are ALL about. There is more to the breed than that. You may not need that "more" in your life, but some of us do. Most dogs, of all breeds and mixed breeds, bring great joy to their families and friends. If you think border collies are "the best dang dog in the world," how do you think they got to be that way?

 

Just curious: Do you understand at all that NO ONE is saying you should not have a border collie unless you herd sheep?

 

Unless your border collie is atypical, he is not fulfilling his full potential with you. He's just not, any more than your Corvette is. But that doesn't mean that he doesn't love you and make you happy, and that you don't take good care of him and make him happy. And it certainly doesn't mean that you should go out and herd sheep with him.

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Luisa: your post is absolutely right on...

 

Borderlicious: YES! Respect is exactly what it is! It's a mutual respect and trust and level of communication that is unlike any other I've ever experienced (with any other species)...

 

And whoever it was (I'm too lazy to scroll up and see who said it) that mentioned tough challenges and long days--YES, again. The job's not over and finished until it's over and finished--when the cattle are all loaded into the trailer or whatever it is that day. And if that takes hours, then it just does. I've had plenty of days when I knew I was wiped out, and I know my dogs were, too. But they never stop, or get cranky, or walk away, or sulk, or pout because dinner's late and they're hungry and we're STILL working. And I so respect them for that, and their always cheerful but businesslike attitude about the work. And it's not just that they were bred to work stock--they live to work stock!

 

So while they (BC's in general, not mine) certainly may enjoy agility or frisbee, it's not crucial if you decide, mid agility run, to stop and call it a day because it's unbearably hot and humid or whatever. But when we (my #1 dog and I) know that we still have 3 or more hours to go, we have to count on each other to get through it. And there's just nothing on earth like that kind of bond.

 

OK, I've rambled enough...

Anna

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Okay, for my 2 cents worth. I have a working bred bc (Sara) and a bc/springer mix (Katie). Sara is my once-in-a-lifetime dog with whom I have a very close relationship. I live in the city. During her 14 yrs, we have done agility, formal obedience, and she has been exposed to herding (as a recreational activity only). She's been well cared for and very loved.

 

However, I will probably never have another working bred bc. Why? Because I feel guilty that Sara never had the chance to do the work she was bred for. To see her herd was to see a dog doing what she felt was the most important thing in her life. She still will herd given half a chance.

 

I've posted before about Katie being a great family dog but not a bc personality - she has no work ethic at all. I love her but she's not a bc to me.

 

I'm hoping for a happy medium with my next dog. It will probably be a rescue with more instinct towards sports than herding - I can provide the sporting environment but not the ranch/farm. But I will probably always miss that something extra that Sara and other working bred bc's seem to have.

 

I mean no offense to the sports bc's but like most people here, I truly believe the breed benefits only if all breeding is of working dogs.

 

The above is just my opinion and I mean no offense to anyone or their dogs.

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Ruger's Dad please go out and get a copy of "The Farmers Dog" by John Holmes this book changed my idea of what i thought i knew.

 

When i first came here i was in your camp, I was insulted (felt like it anyway) and my dog was dubbed a Foo foo dog!! It's one thing to insult me... it is over the line to insult my dog! I left these boards vowing never to return.

 

After some years and some learning my Foo dog died, i returned to here searching for people who understood what this pain i felt was. Never has the loss of an animal hit me so hard. To this day i have to fight back the tears and sorrow of her passing. It didn't matter that she was a disc dog / pet. Everyone understood i lost alot more then just a dog.

 

It doesn't matter that I got her because i fell in love with a dog in a movie. *Down and Out in Beverly Hills* Didn't matter i got her from a respected rancher. It didn't matter that I thought i knew what i was getting into. *of course i thought wrong.*

 

But as many have said there are differences between the relationships of us vs. them. It's a fact BC's were bred to herd sheep, it's in there blood! Everything else is just gravy. and thats okay.

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Eileen: Thank you so much for this board. I have been reading it far longer than I have been a member.

 

Bill Fosher said "However, I have to say that the attitude expressed by Ruger's Dad -- that he just wanted a dog to train and mess around with -- makes me wonder why he needed a Border collie." To me this is a rather arrogant statement. What business is it to him how I or anyone else uses their Border Collie much less whether we non-herders need one? If I decide I want to train my dog how to touch the yellow portion of a teeter totter verses purchasing a sheep farm to bring Ruger to his full potential is my business.

 

We could be having this same conversation over Labrador Retrievers which is one of the most popular breeds. There are bird dog snobs that think not hunting bird dogs does the dog a disservice. I guess non-hunting Lab owners don't need one either.

 

I didn't want a mutt from a pound I wanted a Border Collie. I bought my dog from a farmer who trains sheep dogs. He never once asked how I was going to use Ruger. As a matter of fact, I doubt he would tell me today that I didn't need to buy him either.

 

Using anything to it's FULL POTENTIAL is strictly up to the individual. Very little of what anyone of us owns or uses will ever see the full potential. I will bet Bill never had kids line up just to throw a frisbee to a dog that would actually bring it back and go running back out for another throw. I will take those experiences of seeing the smiles on their faces any day over the idea that Ruger isn't needed because I don't have sheep.

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I don't understand where you are getting the idea that your dog isn't needed. Of course he is, he's your pet. :confused:

 

I don't think you're quite getting the point, and I'm not educated enough about this subject to continue trying to explain my point of view to you when there are others here who can word things in a far more eloquent manner. If you'd stop being so defensive, you'd realize that nobody here is belittling you or with Ruger simply because you don't work stock. I really am not sure where you're getting that.

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After reading and digesting all the posts on this thread, it got me wondering- where do all of us who don't currently (see, I say currently, because eventually most of us will- if we pass the litmus test ) have sheep- but go to other's farms and learn with others? We clearly don't need to work our dogs with other's sheep, but we do. Perhaps it should just be looked at as a stepping stone to having/doing the "real" thing? I am thinking along those lines.

I will say, my dog would be MORE than happy to live where we take lessons- sure I would miss her, but she would be happy as a pig in a poke. Sad that they don't think of us, but I guess when your gut says I MUST WORK SHEEP, and since dogs don't do higher math, there just isn't much left...

Julie

Qualifier- there is something to not putting your dog on sheep, and not igniting the fire, thence having agility, and other activities fill that gut need for the dog.

Oh, and one other thing- the goose chase that my dubiously bred Kelpie does, well, that fulfills her gut to a T.

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Ruger's Dad,

 

We're talking past one another. I do something you don't understand, and I'm apparently not able to communicate to you what the difference is and why it's important. I'm not interested in converting you, and I'm glad you enjoy and take care of your dog. I'm especially glad that he's neutered.

 

I'm sorry if I got the wrong impression, but it sounded to me like you were bragging about all the things you have that you don't actually need -- a 4x4, a Corvette, a Border collie -- and that's why I thought you were treating the dog as a status symbol. Conspicuous consumption bugs the hell out of me, particularly when it's extended to the dogs that people choose as their companions. You may not be doing this, but it is done, and it is justified by the sort of rationale that you were espousing: essentially I can afford it and I want it, so therefore it is my right.

 

As I said, there's no law against it.

 

Probably the closest I come to owning a status symbol is the $40 brass shepherd's whistle that I have. I could just use a $2 plastic one, but I like the brass better and it gives me a better tone that carries farther. I honestly can't think of anything else that I own just because I wanted it. Maybe some music.

 

I do have a 4x4 pickup. I just replaced my 1996 Mazda B4000 with a 1998 Toyota T100. I use it every day on my farm rounds. Just getting away from my house to check on my sheep requires four-wheel drive. I have good tools and try to take care of them, but I don't think that any of them are status symbols.

 

FWIW, I do have a dog that would be happy to fetch frisbees for kids all day, but I don't choose to use him that way. It might give the kids enjoyment, but it would do nothing good for the dog's mind, nor help me get my day's work done.

 

I know a guy who told me that he saw someone at the diner with a chain saw out in the bed of his pickup in the rain. Therefore all loggers mistreat their tools? C'mon. Anyone who really relies on their dogs takes care of them. If they don't, they're stupid and short-sighted. I don't suppose that there was anyone who owned a pet Border collie sitting inside and sipping coffee while their dogs were tied outside on a run, either? Or simply being allowed to wander?

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To Ruger's Dad:

What exactly is it that you are arguing? That you have every right to keep a border collie as a pet? Why are you arguing that? No one has said you shouldn't have a border collie as a pet. So why is this something you keep harping on? You claim to have been on this forum for a long time, but apparently you still haven't gotten the message that no one judges you for what you do with your dog. I can't help but think that you're only arguing for the sake of argument.

 

If you truly believe these things you said:

In the mean time, Border Collies are the best dang dog in the world. Bar none.
and

After reading about Border Collies and doing some research I decided this brilliant and workaholic breed is what I wanted.
Then perhaps you should consider how border collies got to be that way. They didn't get there by being companions, or by being flyball, agility, or even SAR dogs. They are the dog you like so much because they were purpose-bred. I don't care what *you* do with your dog, but for you to imply that the work isn't important is ridiculous--it's the work that made these dogs into the type of dog that so many people want for so many other uses. Why can't you see/get that? Is it because you just don't want to?

 

J.

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Ruger's Dad, I repeat my earlier question, which you have not answered:

 

Do you understand at all that NO ONE is saying you should not have a border collie unless you herd sheep?

 

I think it would be really useful in focusing the discussion if you would answer it.

 

BTW, I have had a bunch of kids throwing frisbees for my dogs on many occasions, and of course the dogs bring it back and go running out for another throw. The kids love it. Everybody has fun. I don't really understand what this is meant to prove. But maybe that's because while you and I have both had this experience, only one of us has had the experience of managing sheep with a good dog.

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>

 

It's up to you whether you would like to have another working bred BC, bc friend. Maybe another type of dog would suit you better. But you absolutely have nothing to feel guilty about that Sara never had the chance to do the work she was bred for. It is simply not in the nature of dogs to "miss" or "regret" what they have never had. Or IMO even what they have had, for very long. I'm sure Sara has been perfectly happy with you, and has never felt that anything was missing.

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My 2 cents....

I think Ruger's Dad is arguing because somewhere down deep he feels like he is less of an individual than he should be, becuse he has this wonderful breed that he is not using to it's full potential, or what it was bred to do.

 

We can explain the differences, argue the "point" and go on for days. I think Ruger's Dad has to say what he says so he can believe he's doing OK or even GREAT with his dog. Which BTW no one is arguing about, and even agrees that he is doing a great job.

The sad thing he?s missing is that no one cares what he does with his dog, no one judges him, except, and it's big...himself!

 

Get over it RD. All my dogs would love to go live with you, and they'd be as happy as they ever could be! Yes they would love to work stock if given the chance, but they can't miss what they're not doing.

 

NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU DO! NO ONE JUDGES YOU UNLESS YOU ASK THEM TOO! YOUR DOG IS HAPPY!

Now find you own peace and don't wait for this board to give you only what you can give yourself!

 

You can put it to rest with knowing you have your dog neutered, so no matter what, you won't be put to the test!

 

Back on topic

I think people who have never worked stock, unfortunately, have no comparisons as to know what the dog working people are talking about. Not a bad thing, how can you feel what you?ve never felt. You can imagine, marvel, dream or judge what you think it might feel like but, you won?t know till you do it.

Again?not a bad thing, just what it is.

 

Sincerely

Kristen

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Originally posted by Eileen Stein:

It is simply not in the nature of dogs to "miss" or "regret" what they have never had. Or IMO even what they have had, for very long. I'm sure Sara has been perfectly happy with you, and has never felt that anything was missing.

I don't feel too guilty (just a little) though I know Quinn would love to work sheep every day, even though he was sports bred. He even somehow looks more contented after a lesson. Against my will, I have been drawn into this sheep herding thing though I don't know how far it will go. At the least, I figure once or twice a month we'll get to sheep. The instructor has talked to me about trialing but the jury is really out on that one.

 

I only understand about 1/10 of what is going on in the pen, but I do know see a happiness and intensity in Quinn that I don't see elsewhere, even though he is in general a happy and intense boy. He has a blast in agility and chasing his Frisbee in between lessons. As many people have pointed out, BC's can still have very happy lives even though they are not working dogs.

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So I wonder how different a sport dog person, or therapy dog, etc relationship is from someone who does not in fact make their living from livestock, as a growing number of sheepdog people don't. What makes their relationship that much different from an agility handler? Part time herding, the dog can win or loose and still be a loved pet. Is the difference solely in the fact that one is herding while the other is not. I mean the reliance on the dog is the same isn't it? No one will lose the house or food on the table if the dog fails on any venture. And as stated a dog can't miss what it doesn't know so how could the bond of one dog doing herding and one dog doing agility be that much different?

 

I also don't understand the comparison of search and rescue to any dog sport or recreational herding. I am using my dog?s innate skills as a dog, regardless of breed; he was born to know how to hunt with his nose, read his surrounding, etc. I am using that ability to find people. If my dog fails people could die, I don't see that in any relation to running around over some jumps or even herding for fun. People will say that my dog thinks its a game, which is true I suppose to an extent, but as Catu stated when you are alone with a dog for days on end in horrible conditions, there is more there to the dog then a "game?. You are partners with him, and the trust you have in each other isn't something I think a lot of people will understand.

 

So I think if the sole difference in the bond or relationship is if you are working with the dog in a capacity that is natural to him, then herding is not the only activity in which a border collie and handler can have the magical steak-eating bond. :rolleyes:

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Neither of my dogs are stock dogs. And at the ages of +7 and +3, I didn't really expect they would ever see sheep, and part of me really felt bad about that. You know "they should do what they were bred to do" feeling. So, when the opportunity arose to give herding a try, I jumped at the chance even though I was concerned that I might "turn something on" in Jazz and Cricket that I might not be able to continue. Well, we only had 3 lessons before our schedules conflicted. Do my dogs miss 'sheep'? No, they don't. They are content to race through the fields chasing their balls, play frisbee or go tracking. They don't miss the sheep - I DO!! I cannot describe exactly how I felt while in the pen with the dogs and sheep.

Anyway, that experience has changed me and if my plans fall into place, there is a very good chance I will have the fencing, a pole barn and the sheep sometime in 2007.

If my plans don't work out, my dogs will still be happy and content - I might not be :rolleyes:

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Originally posted by Eileen Stein:

<< However, I will probably never have another working bred bc. Why? Because I feel guilty that Sara never had the chance to do the work she was bred for. To see her herd was to see a dog doing what she felt was the most important thing in her life. She still will herd given half a chance. >>

 

It's up to you whether you would like to have another working bred BC, bc friend. Maybe another type of dog would suit you better. But you absolutely have nothing to feel guilty about that Sara never had the chance to do the work she was bred for. It is simply not in the nature of dogs to "miss" or "regret" what they have never had. Or IMO even what they have had, for very long. I'm sure Sara has been perfectly happy with you, and has never felt that anything was missing.

Thank you for your kind comments. I love the bc intensity and would truthfully love another dog just like Sara - it's just that I have never seen her so happy/pleased w/herself as when she has herded goats, sheep, calves, ducks - and I can't quite convince myself (at least not yet) that it is fair to just let her be a pet - and yes, she still plays frisbee, fetch, and anything else I can think of! So getting another working bred dog would be something I would have seriously think about - even though that is the kind of bc I want.
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...What makes their relationship that much different from an agility handler? ...No one will lose the house or food on the table if the dog fails on any venture.

 

Well, I will start out by stating that my income is not derived from anything dog-related. In fact, it's quite the opposite - the dogs suck most of my income with their activities. I also LOVE doing agility with my dogs. There is a rush when the two of you are in sync, when the obstacles pass by like blurs, and it's all over before you know it. Very exciting stuff altogether. Been doing it for over 5 years, have put lots of alphabet soup titles on my dogs, competed at Nationals, blah blah blah.

 

Yet, when I take my Lou dog out to work stock, and he sails from my feet for no other reason than every fibre in his being is telling him that that's what he's to do, it inspires a different rush, one built more from admiration than adrenaline. His ability to read the stock, to react to pressure, and yet to still to work with the human that's on the field - I'm kind of at a loss for words to describe what it's like. It's beautiful, it's ancient, it's primordial, and it's just right .

 

...I am using my dog?s innate skills as a dog, regardless of breed; he was born to know how to hunt with his nose, read his surrounding, etc. I am using that ability to find people. If my dog fails people could die, I don't see that in any relation to running around over some jumps or even herding for fun.

 

I think the key here is that you are using the innate skills of a dog, not specifically a border collie. I imagine that border collies must be quite good at SAR, given their extreme trainability and work ethic. But to me, they are incidentally good at SAR, because of the qualities that are deliberately bred for that make them useful stockdogs. Just as border collies incidentally make great agility dogs - there's no need to tweak the breeding philosophy that shepherds have been following for all these years: breed good 'uns to good 'uns.

 

I have a world of admiration for those of you who do SAR. Ditto those whose dogs who act as service dogs, therapy dogs, narcotics dogs, and all the other wonderful roles that dogs play. Those dogs all are very happy, I'm sure, even if they're not doing what they were bred to do originally. They are serving a purpose, they are well-loved, they are happy. It's all good.

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Yet, when I take my Lou dog out to work stock, and he sails from my feet for no other reason than every fibre in his being is telling him that that's what he's to do, it inspires a different rush, one built more from admiration than adrenaline. His ability to read the stock, to react to pressure, and yet to still to work with the human that's on the field - I'm kind of at a loss for words to describe what it's like. It's beautiful, it's ancient, it's primordial, and it's just right
Yes, that's it! Kristi, you've explained beautifully :rolleyes:

When I watched the Cnd. championships, with so many excellent dogs and handlers, that's the feeling I had. It was almost overwhelming. And, if I had that feeling just watching, I can only imagine what that feeling would be if I were the shepherd depending on that relationship with my dog to get the job done.

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First I want to say that I in no way support breeding border collies for anything other than stock work. I have a rescue that I do take lessons with and would love to someday be able to compete. Then I have my working bred border that I do SAR with. I do train both my dogs in dog sports and they are pets. I have no issue with understanding that border collies were bred to herd, but what is herding if not the hunt without the kill. I just see search and rescue as the first part of the hunt and herding as the second. It stems from prey drive, and it is that drive that both things tap into and I feel as though the bond with the handler when the dog is using that drive is pretty much the same. I can say that when both of my dogs leave me to do their different jobs they do so because everything in them is telling them it is what they are born to do. My search dog loves the search, you can see it when you watch his pure joy at running in the woods reading every breeze, finding spots where he naturally knows scent will pool, working the wind to his advantage, etc. So is it the being bred for herding that has second hand made him so good at his job, or is it that because he was bred to do a job (herding in his case) he didn't lose that natural ability that all dogs had at one point?

 

Either way I think my point is that I don't see a difference in a stock dog handlers bond and someone else who uses the same drive in other ways but to that same level. If anything I think it is the human side of the bond that places the difference. As said on this board, many people feel guilty or nostalgic about not being able to have their dogs herd although their dog has no such feelings.

 

From my point I have to say my bond with my SAR is much stronger and on a whole different level than my bond to my herding rescue. Now I don?t, as Bill does, need my herding dog to earn a living, heck I don't even need him to herd. I do however need my SAR dog so I can clear an area in time to save someone from possible injury or death. I think that is the only difference between my two dogs.

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Sarah, I wasn't going to post on this thread again, because I've simply decided that I'm trying to explain something that's impossible to explain. But I'll have one more go.

 

First, I want to say that I have the utmost respect for people and dogs who do SAR. It requires an enormous commitment of training and endurance, its purpose is of the utmost seriousness, and I too would not compare it to any dogsport. I have no doubt that when you're working with a dog at this level and under these conditions the bond you develop is tremendous. Also, tracking is more similar to herding than any other dog pursuit in that the dog is not just learning something you want him to do, but contributing something (scenting ability) that he has to a nature and degree that humans cannot truly understand.

 

I just want to make two points. First, people who live solely off income from their livestock obviously rely on the dog for their living, but nowadays there are relatively few people in that category. There are many more people who derive part of their living from livestock, and the work of a good dog is very important for their livelihood too to a greater or lesser degree. But no matter how little income comes from your livestock, if you own them you have to take care of them. A dog who lets you down will probably not contribute to the death of a person (though I suppose he could drive the cows over you, or put sheep through a fence and onto the road with bad consequences, or fail to get sheep who have put themselves on the road back with bad consequences, or the like), but in many circumstances he could certainly cost the life or well-being (because you're unable to take care of them effectively) of livestock animals, and considerable cost in wear and tear and time on you. There are many jobs I have to do with my sheep that are physically taxing. Many of them would take twice as long or couldn't be done at all without a good dog. When I finish weary, weak and sore after three hours when it would otherwise have taken six, you can bet I'm pretty grateful to my dog.

 

But I don't think that's the point, or not the point of what I've been trying to say, anyway. I wasn't focusing on how serious the consequences would be of a dog's failure, although I do certainly agree that that's a consideration in evaluating the seriousness of the work. And I would also agree that what I'm talking about is not something that comes to you from taking a few herding lessons or entering a few novice trials -- it's something that grows and develops with your knowledge and understanding of your dog and your working together.

 

>

 

This is the thing you wrote that I disagree with the most. I see scenting as something all dogs do, and all dogs love to do. Some may do it better than others, but my guess would be that border collies as a class are no better at it than other dogs. If they stand out as SAR dogs, I suspect it's more because of their superior intelligence and work ethic than their superior noses, and the intelligence and work ethic ARE a result of breeding for stockwork.

 

But I freely admit I could be wrong about this, because I don't do SAR. What I would say, though, is that you are wrong about what is involved in "herding." There is much, much more to it than you are describing here, much more to it than you can understand until you have been doing it a long time, and certainly much more than prey drive. It seems to me that over and over again, people who haven't done it oversimplify what's involved (understandably), and that's an important cause of misunderstanding. There is a lot of complexity in a dog's being able to do the tasks involved in "herding." In speaking of fulfillment to the dog, the only comparison I can think of is to what we call "underemployment." We human beings all have many varying knowledges, skills and abilities built into us. I think if we are fortunate enough to find work that draws upon and challenges all the capabilities we have, we are going to be more developed and fulfilled than if the work we do calls for only a part of what we're capable of. In that sense, stock work is the highest form of activity for the border collie -- it mirrors their capabilities because that is what they were formed for. And in speaking of the bond between person and dog, I think it's at its fullest when you are enabling the dog to work at such a level, and sharing fully with the dog in your common purpose at that level, and understanding, trusting and respecting each other in something so complex.

 

In saying this I am not meaning to denigrate anyone's bond with their dog. And in saying it, I understand perfectly why your bond is stronger with the SAR dog than the dog you take some herding lessons with. Of course it would be, because unless I'm misunderstanding the situation, I don't think you and your herding dog are at the point where all of this would come into play.

 

I'm not sure I've said this well, but I think it's the best I can do.

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Eileen,

Very eloquently said.

 

Sarah,

As I was reading your post, the one thing that struck me was your comment about how your dog doing SAR is tapping into one part of prey drive, while stock work taps into another. As Eileen said, this is an oversimplification. The fact is that there are a number of breeds (and probably mutts too) who can be great SAR dogs. There's a reason bloodhounds and other hound breeds are used for tracking and hunting, and it's because they are superior at it because it's what they are bred to do. But, again, *all* dogs *can* track if they are sufficiently motivated. As Eileen said, border collies are probably good at SAR work for the same reasons they're good at everything else people have them do--drive, intelligence, work ethic, biddability.

 

The difference is that if you *need* a dog to work stock, you are limited to specific breeds, and most likely you'll want a border collie. If you *need* to do SAR, you don't have to have a border collie. There are excellent SAR dogs of many breeds out there, not all of them even herding breeds. That, to me, is the biggest difference. (In other words, you are tapping into qualities inherent in a breed for another use, but people who need to do stockwork can't do the same--they can't get any sufficiently motivated dog and turn it into an excellent stockdog. To me that's a huge difference.)

 

J.

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