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There is a series of book by the author Virginia Lanier, where the main character is a woman uses bloodhounds as trackers/trailers, and saves some lives in doing so. I couldn't put the books down.

If you love dogs, and their infinite use, and a good story, these are for you!

Julie

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In my post of our lesson today, I stated that Jackson was doing more "thinking" than he had shown previously. And that is one essence of them doing what they were bred to do. SAR dogs, regardless of breed, do such a great job, one that cannot be done by a human. Their noses are just way more sensitive. But the fact is, when they find someone, everyone, handler, person, news media, family of found person, etc., all get happy and have "Lassie, come home." moments. But to the dog, they would be just as happy if they were sent out to look for a ball. It is US that find the emotional high when they are succesful. Same thing with narc dogs, or bomb dogs, or agility dogs, etc. They are happy because we are happy. They are feeding off of our praise, etc.. But when you put a Border Collie on stock, THEY are happy, they are doing what fulfills them. If they come in from bringing 200 sheep to safety, or run a trial, and no one ever gives them so much as a pat on the head, they will still just as eagerly go again.

 

I don't think "bond" should be the word to use. As most people feel a bond with any dog they are around constantly, especially if they do activities with their dog. But as someone said, if you have never done it, you won't know. It's like trying to explain why you are so in love with the ditch digger, and could care less about the doctor. (all other factors being the same, cuteness, niceness, buttness, etc.) It just IS.

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I agree that bond is the wrong word because I really do believe bonds are based on relationships and not activities despite all the wonderful examples listed above of needing dogs to work stock. And most successful activities are the results of good bonds/partnerships.

 

Perhaps the crux of it, if I've understood, is that the magic of the border collie working stock is that he operates indipendantly (or in equal partnership) to his handler for the sole appreciation of the work. Case in point, the crappy rancher in my area who treats his dogs shamefully....has dogs that work beautifully for him because they're doing what they love and were bred to do....but it's not through bond for their handler. It's because they are who they are.

 

I doubt the same could be said about most other activities a border collie might partake in.

 

Maria

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In order to take this discussion to it's logical beginnings all you have to do is look at the first dogs, wolves. Their only basic needs are food, the pack and breeding. Every working dog breed on the planet was bred to modify these traits. By modifying the original dogs we ended up with stock dogs, bird dogs, guard dogs, SAR dogs, and lastly the lowly family pet. The greatest trait of all that we recieve when desired by the owner is the dog's pack instinct. This is what gives us companionship and why a dog is "man's best friend".

 

With all the breeds available to us, it is up to the individual to choose which one suits him the best. The breed is the individual's choice. If you want to elevate a dog to human status, which they are not, then feelings of will I meet the dogs "breeding intention" needs comes in.

 

As much as I love Ruger, he is not my son or daughter. I want them to reach their full potential. I do not have the same feelings for Ruger because ultimately, he is just a dog. The best dog in the world but just a dog. The reason most people purchase a dog is to meet their own needs and not meet this nebulous "breeding purpose" needs of the dog.

 

When I go to find another BC it will probably come from another farm raised litter with the full potential of herding sheep. I love the drive and intelligence that I found in Ruger. Yes, Ruger got this through proper breeding and working blood lines and it was my choice to go this route. If the farmer refuses to sell my next dog to me because I won't herd him, that is his individual decision. I will just find another breeder as down to earth as the first one I found.

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Eileen: I know that nobody other than Bill is saying that you do not have to herd in order to own a Border Collie. When Bill said what he did it just struck me as being arrogant.

 

From Bill Fosher: "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. I also wonder why he needs a four-wheel drive truck and a Corvette. If it's just because he wants them and can afford them, well, I suppose there's no law against that. But it does strike me as odd."

 

However, my point has always been two things. One, very little of what we own is used to it's full potential. Two, dogs are to serve our needs to the fullest and we are not under some moral obligation to serve our dogs to the fullest potential of someone else's ideals.

 

Like I have said, every breed was started for some specific purpose. If the owner does not use the dog for that purpose, who has the right to question whether the owner really needed that breed of dog? As long as the dog is treated humanely, NO ONE.

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Eileen and Julie, I want to thank you for the effort in your responses. I hope my online posts were not viewed in a hostile manner, I meant them as more of a questioning tone. I also tried to make it clear I did understand a number of working bred dogs could be used for SAR with great success. I understand and thank you for expanding on my short prey drive answer for why dogs work in both aspects. I do think I took the word "bond" to be the main issue with reguards to the dogs work. I think relationship is a much better word, and leaves me in agreement with what everyone is saying. Your relationship with dogs herding vs other dog activities is different, that I understand and can even see it in my own dogs. I won't say it is better or worse but just different. :rolleyes:

 

As for my herding dog, age and health will limit his learning, but I will continue learning and expand my interest once I have less on my plate with a new dog or puppy.

 

Oh and for the original topic I don't feel talked down to by anyone on the board and I enjoy reading it as often as I can!

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Their noses are just way more sensitive. But the fact is, when they find someone, everyone, handler, person, news media, family of found person, etc., all get happy and have "Lassie, come home." moments. But to the dog, they would be just as happy if they were sent out to look for a ball. It is US that find the emotional high when they are successful.
I'm not sure I agree with this statement. Maybe Sarah can enlighten us some more. I remember reading about SAR dogs that must be sent out after so many finds of deceased people to find people that are alive because the dogs get depressed when finding only the deceased. That to me speaks of what the dog has invested in his work. Am I off Sarah?

 

Still no comparison to working stock. Not in a superior way, just different.

 

Eileen mentioned that "herding" or participating in a few novice trials can in no way mimic what stock work truly is. I can now agree with that statement. I moved from a small 5 acre mini-mini farm to 40 unfenced acres. I've been working dogs since '99. Until moving here I had no idea what I or my dog would be called upon to do or could do. But I could/would not have agreed with that statement before we moved. Only because I hadn?t needed to do anymore than what the 5 acres and a few trials let me do. Since I had done ?some? true work with our own sheep, at that time I thought I had done it all (not really but you know what I mean) so I knew what ?it? was.

 

2 nights ago I found myself and Mick out in the deep woods, in the pitch dark of a moonless night, hunting up ewes that are due to lamb. We both came back scratched and worn, difference between us was I was tired and ready to quit without finding the sheep, Mick ran in got a drink and headed right back to the porch to wait for me to finish the job. Without his urging I might not have gone further. That's a keeper to me.

No, I don?t have 100 or 1000 acres to really test the whole dog, I have all I can handle, sometimes it seems more than that.

By all means, the sheep do not provide my income but they would die without me and that counts for something in my book.

 

Again, unless you really do ?it? you can?t imagine what ?it? is. For me, I?ll be figuring out exactly what ?it? is for the rest of my life. Doesn?t mean that we all should run out and do it, it simply means you can?t know till you know, me included. IMO the argument is not a fair one, I could compare it to arguing with Sarah about SAR when all I?ve done is read about it. I wouldn?t have a leg to stand on.

I?m glad, besides a few, personal feelings have been kept out of this discussion. IMO I think ?pet? (me included) owners get their feelings hurt because it sounds as sometimes stock people are saying their dog is less. I for one enjoy all my dogs, the good working ones and the not so good working ones. I can?t compare the 2 but I sure can love them all.

 

Rugers Dad, My dogs are not my kids, but I consider myself a working dog person and I love my dogs too.

I wouldn?t leave them in the back of my pick-up at McDonalds (I?d take the small car for that ) But if sheep were involved my wroking dogs wouldn?t mind waiting anywhere, even if the ice was hanging off their bellies. I bet the couch taters wouldn?t mind waiting at McDonalds, out in the cold if burgers were involved.

In your last post, you seemed to switch positions and now call them ?only? dogs. I don?t get where you?re coming from. You even mention the lowly pet dog. No one but you has called a ?pet? lowly. Wasn?t it you earlier who said your dog did just as important things as the working dog? Now you?re calling him a lowly pet dog?

 

Oh well, I?ll stick with you can only know what you know until you choose (or not) to learn something different. In this case you can?t learn it from a book or a Frisbee, you got to do it.

Enough said from me

Kristen - Sorry that was so long

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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.

I like that point a lot.

 

I always felt bad that Speedy never got to try working sheep. But at the same time I was glad because I thought that if he did and liked it, he would "pine" for the sheep all the time and be miserable doing other things.

 

Then we got the opportunity and he did love it, but I found that his reaction was the opposite. He seemed to enjoy his other activities with even more enthusiasm than before.

 

I have enjoyed the chance to get to know the side of him that his kind were bred for just a bit. It makes me appreciate him and understand him more. There is something unique in his eyes and his demeanor when he is around sheep. In fact, that is the only time outside of our home when he is a 100% normal dog and not a dog with issues.

 

I love these dogs. For me, no other breed will do. I love my mixes, but they lack the inquisitiveness, the sharpness, the creativity, the drive, the quality that makes Border Collies the perfect dog to suit my temperament. I had wanted another one so badly for a long time!!

 

And I really have come to the point where I am satisfied that my dogs are content with what I have to offer them - they don't pine for any other way of life. And interestingly, it was dabbling a bit in Speedy working sheep that brought me to that conclusion.

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>

 

Bill didn't say it either. He said you don't NEED to have a border collie if you want a dog to fool around with and throw a frisbee for. This is obviously true. He didn't say you shouldn't have one unless you were going to herd with it. Nobody said that.

 

You, OTOH, have repeatedly said things like, "To think you have to use a dog for what it is bred for is ridiculous" and "If that offends some sheep rancher that my dog is not herding sheep I just have one thing to say. GET A LIFE." And you said both of those things BEFORE Bill posted the statement you quote as objectionable. I can't help wondering who you're trying to manufacture this argument with.

 

>

 

Well, you're the one who's calling yourself Ruger's Dad. It'll be a cold day down below before Bill calls himself Tweed's Dad.

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Eileen,

 

Thanks for clarifying what I was trying to say. You got it exactly right.

 

Well, you're the one who's calling yourself Ruger's Dad. It'll be a cold day down below before Bill calls himself Tweed's Dad.
You're right about that, too. To call myself Tweed's dad would be a mark of disrepsect to his actual father who was a wonderful sheepdog named Tru. The reasons that I love and revere Tweed have much more to do with Tru (and his mother, and the dogs that produced them) than they do with me.
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I think that it has been said that people can do whatever they wish to do with their dogs and that the breeding of BC's should be left to those who have working stock as the paramount requisites out of the pups. That said, the rest is academic right?

I think the reason this post has gone on so long, are the added statements by those of us who do work our dogs on sheep, that those who don't in effect, just don't get it, because you have never experienced it. That can be considered a bit elitist and separatist. Yeah, maybe "they" don't get it, or maybe they do, and they feel belittled because they are feeling left out. Whatever the case is, I can see why there is some animosity. I used to feel the exact same way, and responded similarly. Then I got a dog who's main raison d'etre is to work sheep. I surely don't fall into the work sheep for a living group, or even work sheep every day/have a farm. I am a true "wanna be" for now, and LOVING every minute of it. And, I don't care anymore what anyone thinks of what I do, I just don't. Maybe that is the best part

Julie

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I feel the need to add another 2 cents' worth...my interpretation of Bill's comment, "...makes me wonder why he wanted a border collie..." is this: IF you just want a dog to "mess around with" then you could get any myriad of other breeds, or better yet, adopt one from a pound--they would fulfill that requirement very well. There is no reason to get a purebred dog with a history of being bred to do a very specific job with no intention at all of ever even seeing what that dog and its specific job are all about.

 

Bill, if I have misinterpreted your words, I apologize. I guess this is really just my take on RD's comment about just wanting a dog to "mess around with." My first reaction when I read it was, "then why, oh why, get a BC?"

Anna

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As Kristine said:

 

I love these dogs. For me, no other breed will do. I love my mixes, but they lack the inquisitiveness, the sharpness, the creativity, the drive, the quality that makes Border Collies the perfect dog to suit my temperament.
That illustrates there are reasons why a pet owner would prefer a border collie over another breed or mix of dog, even to just "mess around with". It is a matter of preference, and I don't see anything wrong with it, as long as there are border collies who need homes. Rescue BCs are great to "mess around with"! But then again, I rescue, so maybe I'm biased.
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Originally posted by stockdogranch:

My first reaction when I read it was, "then why, oh why, get a BC?" Anna

I'm not sure I understand, why not get a BC? And why not a working bred BC given that they will be bred regardless that not all pups will (may) be great stockdogs and could end up in Rescue if not for people who want a BC just for the sake of wanting one who seek out (hopefully responsible) working BC breeders.

 

I'm all for going the rescue route (5 of my 8 are rescues) but I would hope that the working people on the board would WANT people who "just wanted" a BC and could provide a good home to seek out the working BC bred by a responsible owner.

 

Maria

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Paula and Maria,

I think the actual point was if you really think "it's just a dog" as Ruger's Dad keeps stating, then breed really shouldn't matter. After all, it's just a dog.

 

But if you want a particular breed because there's something about that breed that especially appeals to you, then there's no reason not to have that breed. But it's doubtful that you'd then go around spouting, "It's just a dog."

 

J.

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Originally posted by juliepoudrier:

Paula and Maria,

I think the actual point was if you really think "it's just a dog" as Ruger's Dad keeps stating, then breed really shouldn't matter. After all, it's just a dog.

 

But if you want a particular breed because there's something about that breed that especially appeals to you, then there's no reason not to have that breed. But it's doubtful that you'd then go around spouting, "It's just a dog."

 

J.

That does make sense. Thank you for pointing it out.
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Please indulge me while a write of something that relates to the subject at hand. I think it might illustrate what the stock dog folks are trying to impart.

 

Last fall I sold my little quarter horse mare, the one I'd had a bad wreck on in the spring. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life and I still miss her everyday, but at the same time I don't doubt for a moment that it was the right thing to do for us both.

 

She was quite green when I got her five years ago and my "use" of her was limited to pleasure riding. Before I put her up for sale I had her in training for a tune-up with a trainer that specializes in ranch and performance cow horses. Her pedigree included a pretty well known cow horse up close. I'd typically stay around to watch him work with her. She was by no means a laid-back horse and I wanted to be comfortable with how she was being ridden. I really liked the way they worked together.

 

One day he was riding her in the arena and said he was going to try her on cattle. Well, when that steer was released into the arena her ears perked up. And when I saw her flatten her ears and roll over her hocks to go after that cow I burst into tears! She had a job to do and you could plainly see she loved doing it.

 

I had given her top-notch care, love, exercise, an equine companion, everything I thought she needed to flourish. But in that one instant it was apparent to me that for her, none of that was enough. She had a work ethic and a job she was bred to do, and that part of her that was so integral to who she was, was just being wasted in my barn.

 

I've never regretted letting her go, as much as I still feel the heartache. And I guess it's for that reason that when I read that someone bought their companion dog from a breeder it makes me a little sad and wistful.

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Ok, but then we're back to the question: If someone wants a border collie and chooses not to rescue, where do they go?

 

And as working bred puppies will most certainly exceed the need in numbers of working people (or they're not up to par to work), where do the puppies go?

 

I don't think that pet border collies from working lines dream of working sheep even if they may very well turn on at the sight of sheep if all of their mental/emotional/physical needs are met.

 

I don't know why you sold your Quarter Horse mare. My neighbor has a thoroughbred mare that the track decided to do away with, she still "turns on" in certain situations because that is what runs in her bloodlines, but if not exposed to these situations, she's just as happy (and healthier) being a family "pet" and doted on. Not implying stock dogs aren't happy or happier...just that this specific mare is much better off now.

 

I don't think anyone should feel that their pet is not fulfilled by not working sheep unless its emotional/mental/physical needs are not met to begin with.

 

Maria

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Eileen mentioned that "herding" or participating in a few novice trials can in no way mimic what stock work truly is. I can now agree with that statement. I moved from a small 5 acre mini-mini farm to 40 unfenced acres. I've been working dogs since '99.
This happened to me last year. We only had about 10 acres of pasture at the old place. Now we have 50, that opens out onto about 200 acres that is sometimes available (and sometimes NOT available, and he gets very crabby if he sees ONE single sheepy hoofprint out there!). We've only got aobut 8 acres fenced and grazed the large field all summer using the dogs to try to convince the sheep to stay put. :rolleyes:

 

Holy moley. I thought the work was gonna kill Ben. He started really slowing up on me and it took a couple days of mourning the fact that he was finally "showing his age", to realize that he was running out about half a mile, about half a dozen times a day or more, plus doing half mile to two mile drives if the sheep ran up to the long-suffering neighbor's front yard. Plus we werre lambing so we were moving mamas and lambs around, catching, treating in the field, doing post-lambing feet and worming, holding off feed, etc, etc.

 

This is my dog that never made it out of novice-novice. And Doug the Dog has a bad hip, so he'd help a little but we had to be careful with him.

 

Ben and I got used to the work eventually. I limbered up a bit and lost about ten pounds, he learned to drive for real. I still get a little chokey when I think of how much he gave to me last summer. I absolutely will not attempt to compare what happened then to service dog work, since I've never experienced that directly. But I've trained a dog in disc dog, to quite a high level (two, actually) - and flyball - and dabbled a bit in agility and obedience.

 

It's different, just like Bill said. Part of it is the danger possibly - put those three or five sheep on the trial course out of your mind, and substitute a flock of 30 to 200 ravenous ewes. They are heavily pregnant so you can't manhandle them. The ground is muddy and icy. And you've got to get two 50 pound bags of feed from the gate to the feeder.

 

Even if you or some of the sheep were NOT injured in the stampede, the result would be feed wasted, trampled, some ewes would gorge and get very ill, maybe even die, and others would not eat at all and possibly get ketosis from lack of energy.

 

Having the dog there doesn't make that job a joy, but it's much more relaxing when you can hold the ewes off at a safe distance, open the bags, spread the feed, eyeball the sheep while you are there, and then call the dog off and watch the sheep eat at your leisure.

 

My landlord has learned to laugh, rather than panic, when the sheep take a notion and gallop over the hill towards the neighbor's fields across the pond. I unhook the dog and he flies over the hill - I go back to what I'm doing, he knows where they are heading. Not because I gave him a bunch of commands, but because he knows. Just like he knows what to do to get sheep in a trailer or a pen - when to hold pressure, when to push, when to fade back a bit and give the sheep room to think.

 

I might be in the middle of something fiddly, exhausting, dirty, hot or cold, but it's often downright distracting how amazing it is that this creature with such superior instincts and abilities has subjected his will to mine. And moreover he seems to be content.

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"I unhook the dog and he flies over the hill - I go back to what I'm doing, he knows where they are heading. Not because I gave him a bunch of commands, but because he knows. Just like he knows what to do to get sheep in a trailer or a pen - when to hold pressure, when to push, when to fade back a bit and give the sheep room to think.

 

I might be in the middle of something fiddly, exhausting, dirty, hot or cold, but it's often downright distracting how amazing it is that this creature with such superior instincts and abilities has subjected his will to mine. And moreover he seems to be content."

 

Rebecca that was wonderfully expressed. You really give a true picture of the work you and Ben do!

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Wow Rebecca

I'll quit moaning now. All I usually have to worry about is the sheep ALWAYS finding the grass greener in the neighbors fields. The neighbors smile and say they don't mind but I do!

The more we fence the harder they work to find new holes! It's getting harder to bring them back. Now we have the fence done on one side so they've moved over to the other side of the property, new holes to go through.

 

Having the dogs makes me joyful, but you're right not always a joy doing the jobs! Well, usually but mud and ice make it only half smiles! I can honestly say fencing sucks!

 

Today we found them on the other side of the woods, somewhere they've never been. (we're working on the newest fence they've found holes in) The fence on the other side of the woods is bad too, and the field on the other side of that bad fence looks really nicccce. They're already planning a new escape route! That's ok, as long as they get though we'll get um back.

Mick's favorite job is holding sheep off while I put grain out. I grain my preg. ewes in a small holding pen (the only thing that keeps my sheep home at night) so prego ewes are always looking to break around him to run me down for grain. He's like a little cutting horse with his quick moves. Only command we got for that is ?watch um? totally inadequate if he?s counting on me to tell him what to do. Thank dog he?s not!

 

Man...you got to love these dogs!

 

Mick BTW gripped out on our 2 PN runs last weekend. That's ok...we got our work cut out for us at home. I did learn to quit stopping him short on his outrun at a trial so he doesn?t feel the need to floss, to bad it was after the 2nd run! We'll be back for me to make a fool of myself while I try to learn this wonderfully challenging art, I know Mick will stand there by my side while I do. Can't get to winning till you get through losing! :rolleyes:

 

Cool story Rebecca. Isn't Ben the dog who suffered from TBD left overs? Mick is the one who almost died a little over a year ago from 2 TBD's that took almost a year to get diagnosed, and close to a year to get better. For a while he couldn't even walk. I never dreamed I'd get my dog back to this state! He just turned 3 a few months ago.

Cheers

Kristen

oops, rambled again straying off topic....sorry

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Yup, Ben's had not one but three seperate TBDs. Including one that's not actually tick-borne, technically. Leave it to Ben.

 

Cord's my main man now for the big gathers and sheep hunting. He adores this - unfortunately for him, we almost never have to do this anymore as I can leave the sheep in the nice big fenced areas now when I'm not immediately watching them. We've got one teeny little bit of additional fencing to do and then the Cordster is going to start serious competitive training. We wiped out big time at our trial debut several weeks ago.

 

Somehow it really doesn't matter that we aren't good at trialing yet, when he does stuff like help me load up sheep who have seen very little of dogs, including a ram who was VERY ticked off - and there was the time the week before last when I accidentally left him in the field holding the flock for worming (had an emergency in the house and totally forgot to call him off), and came back THIRTY minutes later to find him still holding them. The sheep were perfectly happy, even grazing.

 

The astonishing thing to me is that Cord is not really an exceptional dog, and Ben is far, far, from the mark of being a truly great dog - but even mediocrity is a marvelous thing to see in these dogs.

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