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Why did you choose a border collie?

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Plus the sheep themselves are thinking, which puts a whole other spin on the "obstacles" being manipulated. Debbie brought up a parallel between what stockdogs do and the spatial relationships that agility dogs deal with. But, stockdogs are also having to read and react to psychological signs that the stock are giving off.

 

There's a huge difference if I ask a dog to move a ram, and move a ewe with twin newborn lambs. Both will need a lot of "push" to get the job done, but the ewe also needs the dog to convey the idea that it's "safe" to move off. The majority of randy rams just need the assurance that it will hurt, big time, if they don't move off. Then there's sick or lame sheep. Again, the dog needs to exert a lot of power to convey to the sheep that it's "worth it" to keep up. But too much and the sheep will say - "Just eat me, I don't care." Most dogs seem to overcome this with "nudging" - turning an eyeball on the sheep when the dog senses it's thinking of flagging.

 

Just writing it makes my brain hurt. :rolleyes:

 

Imagine taking about thirty sheep up to a graze, through the woods, half a mile away. All of the above types of sheep are in this group. I took three dogs, then two, then the dogs were all able to handle it alone. But I don't take the same dog more than once a day for now - probably later I'll be able to. If I do I have no dog left at the end of the day. If I were a better handler I'd be able to help more but they've got to figure stuff out pretty much on their own.

 

The amazing thing is that given enough time, they do learn, and they teach ME about the sheep when they do. And it's not because my dogs are special - it's the way the breed is. I can't imagine this is common in other types of training.

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And to add another nuance, I don't think *independent* thinking is prized in agility as it could really mess up a course, and if the handler in agility makes a mistake and cues the wrong obstacle the dog is (I assume) going to take the cue, because the dog isn't the one who has memorized the course. If I'm working my dog on stock and give a wrong command, I hope that my dog will either ignore me and do the appropriate thing or give me the "WTF?" look they can be so famous for, until I figure out I've made a mistake. My dogs have saved my butt on a trial course by this sort of independent thinking, and I don't think there's any sort of equivalent in any other dog sport. This is probably another way of stating what Eileen was saying: while the dog takes commands from me, he is also thinking about what the sheep are doing and what he needs to do to control them, even if I'm giving commands that, if taken, could cause a huge mess (i.e., loss of control). I call this the ability to read sheep and react appropriately, even if the human is messing up or clueless.

 

Likewise the times when the dog may be working out of sight of the handler. If I can't see my dog, I can't tell it what to do or help it manage the situation. The dog has to read the sheep, and then think to do what is necessary to accomplish the task with no input from me.

 

J.

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Root Beer: So what is the difference between say a Hob Nob dog and a Jack Knox dog? Are they faster, structurally different, different temperments? What is there about the Hob Nob dogs that makes them so desirable to sports people? Or is part of it just marketing the name as a stand out sport dog?

 

This is not a trick question. What I am getting at is if agility becomes the major activity of border collie owners - which over time that may happen - is there something in the very essence of the border collie that may be changing in order to accommodate the demands of the new sport?

 

And if that is the case then what do we need to do to be sure the original working border collie is protected.

 

I think the question I've put in boldface is a really important one.

 

The dangers to the working dog from breeding for conformation are pretty well-recognized and understood, I think. (Except by conformation folks, I guess. :rolleyes:) But what about the dangers of breeding for agility? I think they are just as real.

 

The obvious ones are the problems with any kind of breeding that is made without regard to working ability. Agility breeders are not testing for, or selecting for, many of the qualities required for stock work, such as balance, power, ability to read stock, stamina, etc. If those qualities are not selected for in breeding at every generation, working ability will gradually be lost from those dogs' descendents.

 

Another issue I have been thinking about recently -- and which may deserve a thread of its own -- is the mushrooming popularity of all-positive, c/t type training. It is my impression (and I hope people will correct me if I am wrong) that this method of training has taken the sport world by storm and is now the near-exclusive method of training agility dogs. I assume that the dogs who will come to be considered the top agility dogs, and the ones from which agility breeders will breed, will be dogs who are trained in this pressure-free way. If so, I think agility breeders will be selecting against dogs who respond best to training with pressure and correction. And since I know of no way that stockdogs can be trained without pressure and correction, the future generations those agility breeders produce will almost certainly be less amenable to training for stock work.

 

There are probably more ways than these in which selection for agility will undermine the working ability of the dogs that result.

 

But, again, people who only know dog sports and have no awareness of the working stockdog world (and honestly if they aren't memebers here or aren't personally acquainted with someone who does stockwork, they just won't have that awareness), are going to go to a sport breeder for a sport dog. I'm not saying they should, but that finding a working breeder on purpose is just not something that many of them know about.

 

The fact of the matter is, though, that Border Collies as pets and as sport dogs are here to stay. Those of us who love training them and competing with them aren't going to get rid of them and get other types of dogs just so there will be less Border Collies in sports. That's simply not going to happen!

. . . .

Preserving the Border Collie as a working stockdog is important.

 

But Border Collies in sports are here to stay. Somehow there must be a reconciliation between the two because Border Collies in sports are simply not going anywhere.

 

I think Root Beer is right on both these counts. Which means that agility breeding is almost certain to increase, and perhaps even to the point where it might well produce numerically more "Border Collies" than any other. That's why I feel it is best for the traditional breed, bred for work, to be kept strictly separate from the KC (show and sport) dogs, and why ultimately it will be necessary to change our dogs' name in recognition of the fact that the dogs the KC will persist in calling "Border Collies" have become a different breed.

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To add to Julie's "independent thinking" scenarios--at a cattle trial, there might be one calf who is a bit "recalcitrant"--this calf does not want to move with the rest of her friends. The dog walks up, giving her some eye. Still she doesn't move. She moves closer to the dog, putting her head down. By now, she and the dog are nose-to-nose. I tell the dog to "git her!" meaning to bite. But the dog ignores me, and keeps giving the calf eye. I keep telling her to hit, and she doesn't. In a few seconds (although it feels likes ages), the calf turns and moves away.

 

Is my dog "blowing me off" or being disobedient? No way. She certainly has a hard nose bite and doesn't hesitate to use it when she feels it is necessary. She is having a relationship with that calf, and knows way better than I do what it will take to move her. She knows that if she had hit as I asked her to, we'd have way more trouble than we bargained for.

 

So, as Eileen and Julie have both stated, the dog is listening to the handler's commands to understand what it is that the handler needs the dog to do with the stock. But it is always up to the dog (or should be, with the good ones, anyway) as to how to best achieve that end.

 

I just can't imagine agility requiring that sort of high level thinking,

 

A

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Yes, the dog is "thinking" in a sense, but agility does not set the dog a task that requires him to do think to the degree that a working border collie must think. Not just "in the same way," but "to the same degree."

 

Even so, thinking to a different degree does not negate the extent to which an Agility dog must think. A dog who can't think out there won't make it out of the beginning levels, if he even makes it that far.

 

Look at it this way -- who is thinking more when you run a dog in agility, you or the dog?

 

Honestly, I'd say the dog.

 

I've done my thinking in the walk through. I've decided how to handle the different challenges, practiced them a bit, and made all of the decisions before I even set foot on the course. Sometimes the handler makes an error and must think to compensate, but in a "perfect" run, it almost feels like being on auto pilot (which is extremely cool in those rare times when it happens!)

 

The dog, on the other hand, sees a sea of obstacles out there. He does not know the order. He must be tuned in, hear the cue, and then apply what has been learned to this very specific situation.

 

Even if you take out the variables - usually an unfamiliar setting, unfamiliar pieces of equipment that sometimes "acts" different from what the dog is used to, unpredictable surfaces (sometimes), and ambient distractions - the dog must read the handler's directives and perform each piece correctly, often in lightning fast time.

 

Yes, "tunnel" means run through the tunnel, but sometimes the entry to the tunnel is next to a contact piece (which for some dogs is absolutely irresistable) and the dog must make the correct choice. Sometimes the entry to the tunnel is not visible. Sometimes it looks (to the dog) like either entry would do just as well as the other and the dog needs to make a decision based on the handler's body language, which is not always perfectly clear.

 

There is a lot more to it than meets the eye. If it were as simple as training each piece and then going out there and saying each one and having the dog just take each piece, it would be too easy to be interesting!

 

I'd actually say that in a run the dog does more thinking.

 

That's thinking of a pretty high order.

 

So, would you say that a Border Collie who does not have the opportunity to think in that particular order will be, by default, miserable or unfulfilled in some way? My inclination is that you are not saying that, but that TC, the OP, is, in fact, saying just that.

 

I think that's what TC and I have been debating. (At least I'm pretty sure!!!)

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Another issue I have been thinking about recently -- and which may deserve a thread of its own -- is the mushrooming popularity of all-positive, c/t type training. It is my impression (and I hope people will correct me if I am wrong) that this method of training has taken the sport world by storm and is now the near-exclusive method of training agility dogs.

 

Personally I wish that were true, but no. There is a significant contingency of reinforcement only trainers, but not everyone, nor would I even say the majority. Often the training method of choice depends a lot on the preferences and temperament of the owner/trainer/handler, so there will always be a mixed bag.

 

I see some pretty harsh stuff in competitions sometimes. 95% of the time, the dog gets a severe reprimand or strong physical correction for something that the handler actually caused. Those dogs need to be able to take some attitude from their handlers. They not only have to be able to handle corrections, but corrections that are often being given for things that are the handler's fault, so the dog needs some extra mental wherewithal.

 

I assume that the dogs who will come to be considered the top agility dogs, and the ones from which agility breeders will breed, will be dogs who are trained in this pressure-free way. If so, I think agility breeders will be selecting against dogs who respond best to training with pressure and correction. And since I know of no way that stockdogs can be trained without pressure and correction, the future generations those agility breeders produce will almost certainly be less amenable to training for stock work.

 

Maybe, but even dogs who are trained through reinforcement have to be able to withstand pressure in competition. It may be a different type of pressure, but it can be aversive to some dogs and a dog who can't deal with it won't make it in Agility or any other sport.

 

Even though I train reinforcement only, I'd rather have a Border Collie bred from dogs who can handle a great deal of pressure. That would be an asset in a competition dog. Taking the ability to handle pressure out of the dog would create a very frustrating sport partner.

 

It might seem like training with reinforcement only is like handling the dog like fine china, but it's really not. And sports is a tougher world for a dog than it might seem on the surface.

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I just can't imagine agility requiring that sort of high level thinking,

 

A

 

And yet, the very capacity for the dog to think at that level, coupled with a strong desire to work with the handler, makes for a dog sport partner that is a cut above a dog of any other breed.

 

At least to those of us for whom nothing but a Border Collie will do. :rolleyes:

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Even so, thinking to a different degree does not negate the extent to which an Agility dog must think. A dog who can't think out there won't make it out of the beginning levels, if he even makes it that far.

 

If what you're saying here is that the agility dog must think, I already agreed. But I would say much less thinking is required of the dog running an agility course than the dog working livestock, and that difference of degree and complexity is very significant. It takes more thinking ability to be a philosopher than to man a toll booth, though both endeavors require thinking.

 

Look at it this way -- who is thinking more when you run a dog in agility, you or the dog?

Honestly, I'd say the dog.

 

I've done my thinking in the walk through. I've decided how to handle the different challenges, practiced them a bit, and made all of the decisions before I even set foot on the course. Sometimes the handler makes an error and must think to compensate, but in a "perfect" run, it almost feels like being on auto pilot (which is extremely cool in those rare times when it happens!)

 

When I said "when you run a dog in agility," I didn't just mean during the timed run. I meant to include the whole effort required by you and by the dog to run a particular trial course. But I'm happy to defer to you and accept that it's the dog -- you are far more qualified to make that judgment than I am. My point, though, was that the stockdog must both be run (by a handler), and handle (the sheep). He has to play both roles. That demands more thinking than just playing one. And it seems to me that all the things you say about the variables the agility dog must deal with are at least equally true of the stockdog.

 

There is a lot more to it than meets the eye. If it were as simple as training each piece and then going out there and saying each one and having the dog just take each piece, it would be too easy to be interesting!

 

Oh, I have no trouble understanding that. I was not meaning to diss agility at all.

 

So, would you say that a Border Collie who does not have the opportunity to think in that particular order will be, by default, miserable or unfulfilled in some way? My inclination is that you are not saying that, but that TC, the OP, is, in fact, saying just that.

 

No, I'm not saying that. I guess what I am saying is two things. (1) it is uniquely fulfilling for anybody to use their inborn talents to the fullest, to do that which most fully exercises their powers. And (2) in dog breeding, selection only operates on the traits your breeder values or needs you to have; those traits which your breeder does not need or value will, over generations, wither away.

 

But neither of those things implies that the border collie who does not work stock will be miserable or unfulfilled. The ones I know are totally happy.

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What a terrific discussion these last couple of pages have been! Thank you, Kristine, for presenting a knowledgeable agility point of view, and Eileen, Julie and Anna for presented an experienced working stockdog point of view.

 

A civil, educational, and intelligent discussion - what a joy! And not a rarity here, I know, but this one is really snagging my attention and making me think (and teaching me things that are new to me).

 

Bravo, ladies, even if you are on differing sides of the fence! Or is that the dog walk?

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And it seems to me that all the things you say about the variables the agility dog must deal with are at least equally true of the stockdog.

 

I concur.

 

And I really think that a big part of the reason why Border Collies tend to make such fantastic Agility dogs (and partners in other sports).

 

It's funny because people with dogs of other breeds complain about us A LOT. Most of them wish that we, and our Border Collies, would vanish into thin air.

 

And (2) in dog breeding, selection only operates on the traits your breeder values or needs you to have; those traits which your breeder does not need or value will, over generations, wither away.

 

I'm with you on that.

 

Dean is working bred and I see huge differences in him as a sport dog. He is more of a thinker. That bites us sometimes, but usually it's an asset.

 

I'm not among those who think that Border Collies should be bred for sport. I'd love to try my hand at raising and training a working bred Border Collie from scratch someday.

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Another issue I have been thinking about recently -- and which may deserve a thread of its own -- is the mushrooming popularity of all-positive, c/t type training. It is my impression (and I hope people will correct me if I am wrong) that this method of training has taken the sport world by storm and is now the near-exclusive method of training agility dogs. I assume that the dogs who will come to be considered the top agility dogs, and the ones from which agility breeders will breed, will be dogs who are trained in this pressure-free way. If so, I think agility breeders will be selecting against dogs who respond best to training with pressure and correction. And since I know of no way that stockdogs can be trained without pressure and correction, the future generations those agility breeders produce will almost certainly be less amenable to training for stock work.

 

Eileen, I think this would be a great discussion. Can we post a new thread to address what you have brought up? I would really like to see how everyone goes off on this tangent, and hopefully contribute myself. The recently increased emotional responce (ie.. pointing out mean people again) in this current thread has made me feel more like Rebecca's sheep:

Just eat me, I don't care.

 

ETA: Just kidding, someone started the discussion while I was making my way throught this one! :rolleyes:

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I have spent some time learning both agility and stock work over the last several years, and Kyzer currently competes in trials in both (but I don't run or train him in agility because in the end, agility just isn't for me). He's a novice dog on the trial field and a beginner in agility (where he runs in CPE and soon, maybe, in USDA), reasonably talented in both, so I'm told. But, he's obviously got a long way to go in both arenas, so take my comments with that in mind.

 

One thing that I have really noticed that is different with him on stock vs. in the agility ring is his attitude toward the activity. He is clearly working the stock--you can see it in his body carriage, his expressions, his decisions and his keenness.

 

He is serious enough about agility and has interest, but it is not the same level of interest or intensity--not by a long shot. And, he works *with* me on stock but *for* his handler in agility. He also accepts corrections and keeps working when he's on stock whereas in agility, his feelings get hurt much easier.

 

Whenever I watch him in agility and compare it to working stock, it just seems like he "gets" the stockwork more. As he should; it's what he was bred to do. (Although I don't normally run him in agility, I have taken him through a course a few times and he's a little keener to work for me than his agility trainer, but otherwise, the same observations apply.)

 

I have a great deal of respect for good agility trainers/training and there can be many more similarities in the training than I realized early on--many similar issues of pressure (in terms of putting physical pressure on the dog), control, communication, intuition from dog and handler apply

 

But, I also find that many agility folks have little understanding for how much of ability on stock can't be trained very easily but needs to be in the package to start with. That's not meant as a slam on agility folks and it makes total sense to me that they wouldn't know this. Most of the folks I talk with seem to assume that all Border Collies will "herd" if put in with sheep and given some training. And many people want that "herding" ability in their agility dogs because fundamentally many believe that the dog should do what it was designed to do--hence the importance in many agility breeding programs on having "herding titles" on dogs being bred.

 

One of the really big challenges is to show the difference between what those titles represent (particularly the instinct "title") and the kind of work that a well-bred working dog will do. I know this was exactly the topic of several recent threads, but I sure wish there were some non-politicized ( :rolleyes: ) way to get the message out there.

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Personally I wish that were true, but no. There is a significant contingency of reinforcement only trainers, but not everyone, nor would I even say the majority.

 

I am very interested to hear this; it's contrary to the impression I have been getting on these Boards and elsewhere. But even if purely reward-based training is not the majority right now, what would you say about the trend? Surely I'm not mistaken in seeing a huge increase in the number of those espousing and using it, and an increase in the disparagement of other methods?

 

Maybe, but even dogs who are trained through reinforcement have to be able to withstand pressure in competition. It may be a different type of pressure, but it can be aversive to some dogs and a dog who can't deal with it won't make it in Agility or any other sport.

 

Yes, but it seems to me that that's different from learning via training pressure. You're talking more about stress there and in the following sentence, if I understand you right. I don't think they are the same at all.

 

Even though I train reinforcement only, I'd rather have a Border Collie bred from dogs who can handle a great deal of pressure. That would be an asset in a competition dog. Taking the ability to handle pressure out of the dog would create a very frustrating sport partner.

 

Mmm. But IF purely positive training becomes the norm in agility training, and IF agility competitors and wannabes more and more buy agility-bred dogs rather than working-bred dogs, I think the resulting dogs in future generations will inevitably be less responsive to training via pressure and correction than they are now.

 

And yet, the very capacity for the dog to think at that level, coupled with a strong desire to work with the handler, makes for a dog sport partner that is a cut above a dog of any other breed.

 

Oh, I know. I know. :-/

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Warning: post of over three inches.

 

I've got another "thinking" story now.

 

Tonight, Ted and I were bringing the lambs into the back yard for worming. We've got the pens set up right now for maximum inconvenience unfortunately - we started with no pasture and the pens all just "grew" as we cleared more space.

 

So what we needed to do was bring them past the round pen which is attached to the shed, into a chute where the neighbor's dog used to run the fenceline and bark at them. The dog escalated to reaching through and biting so we got permission to tie her up when we move the lambs. But the damage is done - the lambs would rather walk on hot coals than go through this chute now, in spite of the fact that we do it at least twice a day.

 

Then from the chute the gate into the yard is on the same fenceline as the neighbor's fence, with the dog. It's a wide gate but it is not wide enough to block the lambs from shooting forward past the gate instead of taking the right turn into the yard, getting out into the "duck lot," and then playing ring-around-the-rosy around the shed and round pen.

 

Normally we stop this by physically pushing the lambs as they go by - if we get a couple in the yard they'll draw the rest.

 

Lately, Ted's been stopping in the chute, then backing out and starting to flank all the way around the round pen and the shed. I usually scold him, stop him, and bring him back. I don't get the dirty looks he's shooting me.

 

Tonight I was not paying attention and Ted got all the way around. What he'd done was "bump" the sheep until they committed to the chute, then flanked around and caught them on the other side, turning them nicely out the gate.

 

Yes, I know. All together now. "DUH."

 

I've been fighting him for over a week, not letting him do this, but he kept trying to do it RIGHT. Obviously that didn't come from me. I just can't see the comparison to sports.

 

Eventually I could have "broken" Ted of this, but I'm pretty sure I'd also "break" something really important, too. He'd probably stop looking for ways to beat sheep around obstacles. That would really kill me at the pen or even at a tough turn on a cross drive.

 

If your dog keeps wanting to take a tunnel instead of the dogwalk, I imagine (and I hope someone will correct me) you can eventually convince the dog to listen to you instead of its impulses without doing much damage to its overall ability to run courses. To change the sport to something I'm more familiar with - I saw the big change in flyball from box pounding to "Swimmer's turns." I remember spending hours retraining the dogs on our team to "turn right." Asking for this change didn't decrease drive to get to the box - in many cases times were significantly increased, if the turn could be re-shaped.

 

Most Border Collies dislike "fiddling" when asked to do a job they know, on stock. But they not only don't mind, they seem to relish (most of them), increased demands for precision in sports.

 

Lastly, one of the most important demands one can make on a Border Collie, I think, is the silent outrun, lift, and gather. Take a dog on a strange field, set out sheep it's never seen before, stand hundreds of yards from the sheep, and send it. And that's the last word between you and the dog until the dog has the sheep at your feet.

 

I'm fairly sure there's no such equivalent in agility.

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I am very interested to hear this; it's contrary to the impression I have been getting on these Boards and elsewhere. But even if purely reward-based training is not the majority right now, what would you say about the trend? Surely I'm not mistaken in seeing a huge increase in the number of those espousing and using it, and an increase in the disparagement of other methods?

 

One clear trend that I see is that sport dog owners/handlers/trainers are getting better and better educated about a number of different approaches to training and many are making more conscious choices about their training decisions for their dogs (as opposed to just going with whatever a their instructor might say). I see a fair amount choosing a primarily reinforcement based approach and a fair amount choosing a primarily correction based approach. But the vast majority I see most doing more of a mix and match of methods to different degrees - sometimes effectively and sometimes quite ineffectively.

 

I don't really see a huge trend toward purely reward based training, but that those who are choosing that approach are coming to understand it better and become more conversant on the topic. Internet debate from many standpoints is certainly alive and well out there!!

 

Among the Agility people that I work with, I know very few who use only reinforcement to train. I will say that most of them are very open to learning and considering new reinforcement based techniques - there have been quite a lot of new ones made available to us in recent years - but they still tend to mix and match.

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No, what I was trying to say, probably badly, was that not all working dogs are social. A lot of mine have been shy. They just do better in a familiar environment and don't do very well if you try and push them to be outgoing and out there in public.

No flaming here but what I've discovered over the years is that the border collie is one breed that especially needs early socialization and exposure to what life can bring. Other breeds don't seem to require the same effort and not every shy border collie will become the social butterfly. Innate temperament plays a big part. I have two border collies each on the opposite side - one timid, the other outgoing. Maybe it's because I'm a shy, timid person and know how that interferes with my life, I want to help them be comfortable in their skin no matter the circumstances. Depending on the individual dog's temperament that can take time. Also, the border collie being a sensitive breed, I think sometimes the owner's insecurities or anxieties can be mirrored in their dog turning a fairly normal dog into an insecure, phobic one.

 

The downfall of the working border collie is the characteristics of the working border collie. These characteristics make the breed a versatile breed that excels in many areas. Like someone said earlier, in the 70s the border collie took over the obedience ring and the top competitors were buying border collies from working lines (then there were working border collies or pet border collies). Unfortunately, over time, some bred away from what made the breed so successful and, in my mind, created another breed. Same with agility and flyball. Again, the characteristics of the working border collie made them successful in those sports. Luckily there are people breeding to keep the working in the working border collie. It is this work that has fascinated me for over 10 years.

 

Both my dogs work sheep. My older one also competed in agility and flyball. I think she liked them all. It was doing and doing with me that she enjoyed. This breed like all dogs is so adaptable. Would her life been less if she never saw sheep? Don't know - ya'd have to ask her! :rolleyes:

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I thought of this thread yesterday!! Re: the Border Collie's innate drive to work with the handler!!

 

Yesterday Speedy got his Adequan shot. It had been a month since he had his last one. He had the two a week loading dose for four weeks and now he's getting one a month.

 

He saw me with the needle and he dropped his ball and shot off into the bedroom. No - not what you think! He wasn't going in there to hide! That's where I give him his shots. He ran into the bedroom ahead of me, jumped on the bed, and positioned himself correctly for getting his shot. All of this was without any verbal cues or directives from me!! He did all of this just after seeing me walking toward the bedroom with the needle!

 

He sat on the bed with clear purpose as I gave him the injection. He flinched just a little as the needle went in, but remained perfectly still. After I pulled out the needle and capped it, he jumped off the bed and began to preen around, wagging his tail with a very happy expression on his face!

 

Honestly, I can't imagine any other kind of dog thoroughly enjoying an injection. I would be happy if the dog tolerated it well, but thorough enjoyment of the entire process is not . . . usual!! The injection itself is not pleasant for him. It must sting when the needle goes in and I've heard that the muscle gets a burning sensation as the adequan is injected. But his reaction to the process can only be described as eager and then he is much pleased once it is finished.

 

Why such enthusiasm? I can only surmise that it is because this is ritual that he and I carry out together as a partnershio and that - pretty much no matter what we are doing - brings him great joy.

 

It's really pretty darn amazing.

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Why such enthusiasm? I can only surmise that it is because this is ritual that he and I carry out together as a partnershio and that - pretty much no matter what we are doing - brings him great joy.

 

It's really pretty darn amazing.

 

What an interesting and neat story, Kristine. Not sure Quinn would go that far, but he is the most helpful dog. If I drop something (keys, a pen) he is Johnny on the spot, even if he was off to the side dozing, to pick it up and bring it to me. When I want to slip on his collar, he comes to me and stretches out his neck. When I wipe his feet, he picks them up as I reach for them. In the car, he steps into his seatbelt even though he prefers not to wear it. Anytime I head for the car, he wants to go along even if it is just running errands. He sits in the passenger seat, in what I call his "Cool Cop" mode watching people and activities as impassively as a state trooper parked on the highway, watching cars go by. If I ask Quinn to put away toys or drop small pieces of clothing in the laundry drop, he is thrilled for the opportunity to do the task. I love that "partnership" attitude about him.

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Kristine, I won't disagree with you that Border Collies sure love their little rituals. But, I wonder whether his shot makes him feel really good?

 

We've been dosing the whole flock every evening for a severe coccidia outbreak. I thought it was worms at first, a week ago, and wormed them all, but many of them got worse and more started to get sick. Bother. Definitely coccidia - especially since we had recently switched them off a feed with DX.

 

Day one. Many of the sheep were too listless to care one way or another when we caught and dosed them (with oral meds).

 

Day two. Ted had to work hard to even keep the flocks in place, and I had to get my husband's help to catch and hold some of them (I'm having back trouble). The stuff tastes really, really nasty and all the adult ewes and the younger ram fought me desperately. Obviously when it's hard to catch your patient, they are doing better! :rolleyes:

 

Day three, yesterday. We dosed the lambs, who all fought us as hard as the adults had the day before. I also wormed them again. We did the rams. When we went into the ewes' paddock, they all clustered around us. I pulled out the drench gun, and much to my surprise, several of the ewes were practically knocking us down for it. We hardly needed to hold heads. The others fought us even harder than the night before, so the meds were just as nasty.

 

Sheep are much, much smarter than we are inclined to give them credit for. But I'm pretty sure Border Collies are smarter. If what you describe happened to me, I'd be inclined to think it was about half, "Yay! Mom and i are going to . . ." and about half, " . . .do something that makes me feel better!"

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Kristine, I won't disagree with you that Border Collies sure love their little rituals. But, I wonder whether his shot makes him feel really good?

 

Sure, that's possible, and that may very well be part of it.

 

I'd be willing to wager, though, that if I were taking him to the vet for the same shots, he wouldn't be having such a blast getting them - even if they made him feel good!

 

But yes, it's probably a bit of both! :rolleyes:

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But neither of those things implies that the border collie who does not work stock will be miserable or unfulfilled. The ones I know are totally happy.

With all the talk in this thread about how much happier working stock dogs are than non-working dogs, I was beginning to think that I was deceiving myself in thinking that Annie was happy, and that I was doing my dog a disservice by expecting her to be satisfied as a companion and fishing/hiking buddy, as well as a therapy and SAR candidate. I had to ask myself if loving my dog the best that I can, keeping her active and occupied to the maximum extent I can, and ensuring that she had the very best of care, was enough. I even started to think about giving her up for adoption to a working farm, despite the fact that this would devastate me; but we have always talked about what was best for the dog, not the owner, on this board. I am glad to see that someone for whom I have such immense respect feels that a dog who is not working stock can still be happy.

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With all the talk in this thread about how much happier working stock dogs are than non-working dogs, I was beginning to think that I was deceiving myself in thinking that Annie was happy, and that I was doing my dog a disservice by expecting her to be satisfied as a companion and fishing/hiking buddy, as well as a therapy and SAR candidate. I had to ask myself if loving my dog the best that I can, keeping her active and occupied to the maximum extent I can, and ensuring that she had the very best of care, was enough. I even started to think about giving her up for adoption to a working farm, despite the fact that this would devastate me; but we have always talked about what was best for the dog, not the owner, on this board. I am glad to see that someone for whom I have such immense respect feels that a dog who is not working stock can still be happy.

Huh? The quote from Eileen to which you're responding specifically states that the dogs she knows who don't work stock are perfectly happy, and in fact, a majority of folks have echoed that same sentiment. So why are you making these comments?

 

I think a number of people have also said that dogs bred to work who actually work truly seem fulfilled by that work, but that belief doesn't automatically imply that they think dogs who don't work stock are somehow unfulfilled.... I certainly think that my retirees and nonworkers are happy with their lives, as are my working dogs.

 

J.

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Huh? The quote from Eileen to which you're responding specifically states that the dogs she knows who don't work stock are perfectly happy, and in fact, a majority of folks have echoed that same sentiment. So why are you making these comments?

Julie, I obviously did not effectively communicate what I was trying to say. To your point, I was in fact trying to express my appreciation that Eileen had offered this view, i.e., that non-working dogs can in fact also be happy. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw her comment, as it alleviated my guilt. I apologize if that message did not come through. (FYI, I also have high regard for your opinion, as well as many others on this Board. So in my response to you, I am not trying to be argumentative, but rather simply want to clear up any misunderstanding with someone whose opinion I value.)

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You know I have read through this entire thread and I get why people question the whole "non herding pets not being as fulfilled" question. There were some pretty thought provoking posts, i.e the artist's need to express their innate talents comparison. I get into this kind of thinking sometimes without reading this board and Colt is my constant companion and gets tons of exercise, mental stimulation and loving up. He seems very happy but I think it comes with owning a border collie and understanding the history and respecting that their herding instincts are a special thing. Makes one want to honor that. Of course it is not always possible.

 

I am about to have Colt introduced to stock and I don't know if I would be happier to have him not show interest or talent or present with natural ability. If he grooves on it then my life is about to get a little more complicated. Perhaps in a very cool way.

 

The great thing about this all is that it is evident everyone here cares so deeply about their dogs' needs. Everyone, the sheepdog owners, the pet homes, the sport homes. I think the "passionate" devoted border collie attracts a passionate devoted owner.

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This brings up and interesting question. If all these people don't need stockdogs and won't be using their dogs in more than a "part time" way - why do we encourage exposure and celebrate successful experiences when they are reported here?

 

I have my own thought on this. I think that every Border Collie that shows that working ability, is an ambassador for what the breed is all about. People try to say that the working stockdog is a thing of the past, that shepherds' dogs are no longer needed.

 

But as long as people keep taking their dogs to stock, SOMEONE will know what these dogs can do, and will care.

 

Sometimes I feel that possibly thanks to this board, the number is growing. :rolleyes:

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