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The heated breeding discussion, and the ensuing conflict has got me thinking on how best an individual can preserve the working border collie. If you could do anything to help preserve the working border collie what would you do? Each one of us has come from different places and different experiences. I think it would be interesting to see how each of us would like to go about preserving something we cherish.

 

Ideally, the route I would love to take is how my husband and I imagine our ideal retirement. I would love to have a ranch/farm in the middle of, or extremely close to a large city. I would love to spend my days working with my dogs, and have sheep. My husband and I have barely even been around livestock with our dogs, but when we were we loved it. I have never seen my husband so excited about doing anything. The moment we drove away from our first experience he turned to me and said "This is what we need to be doing. I don't care if we have to wait until we retire, we must find a way to do it."

 

I would love to have children from the city come to my house and see the dogs work with people. I had no idea when I was younger the type of relationship a dog could have with a person, or even that dogs could be and were originally more than a pet. I believe that seeing a dog as a partner in work would not only champion the working border collie, but the original purpose of other/all breeds. I would also love to stop the idea of a dog being a disposable object before it becomes cemented.

 

That was my little utopia dream, what is yours?

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I would do exactly what we are doing now.

 

25 acre farm about 60 miles northwest of DC

raise a flock of sheep (50-100 breeding ewes)

raise, train, and compete with our working border collies

occasionally breed one of our dogs (ones we think are worthy) to the best mates we can find

give lessons

mentor

work on the ABCA health & genetics committee

debate what we think will be best path forward for the breed we love

 

Mark

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I am leaving the breeding to the experts and those who are truly dedicated to breeding top working border collies. There are many great breeders, trainers and handlers. I know many, some of you fall into this group. I feel perfectly safe in your hands. I don't want to own a farm or breed working border collies but I do and will take every chance I get to present to almost anyone who will listen what a working border collie is all about. I have three working dogs from great stock. My best dog is intact but I will not breed him. In a couple of weeks I will be going to a country fair in my area to do a demonstration and presentation with my best dog. I have no idea how many people will be sitting in the stands watching and listening to me but even if it is one person I will be proud to do my best presentation ever. I am not getting any younger but I decided some time ago that this is what I want to do. I take my dogs to seniors homes and talk about them and show them off. I can't take sheep with me but I can talk about the herding border collie. Some of the folks in the homes in my area are from farms and they remember how life was many years ago and they have fond memories of their dogs. It is common to see a few tears from the old folks and it is a great pleasure to have my dogs trigger such wonderful memories.

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I have not and will never breed as I have no need, no knowledge, and no dogs worthy (or proven worthy) of breeding. Sadly, many other people in the same position still breed, for whatever reason they feel they have.

 

What I try to do in my own small way is to educate people when I can, that Border Collies are a breed with a purpose and need to be bred with that purpose in mind. Breeding for that purpose is what has made the breed the outstandingly intelligent, sound, biddable, useful dog that it is. Any other reason for breeding does and will result in producing a dog/breed that is no longer a true Border Collie.

 

I may, as one AKC friend has said, have a soapbox but I choose to not sit back and be quiet when I think I can make a difference. Have I ever made a difference? Sadly, I think not but that's no reason to not continue to try.

 

I appreciate Mark and many others like him who have high standards, are responsible, set a fine example, benefit the breed through volunteer work, and are ready to mentor and educate - and who put the future of the breed ahead of selfish or profitable motives. My hat is off to folks like these.

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^^What Sue said^^

 

I did my best to discourage the CKC from having Border Collies included - sadly to no avail. However I continue to advocate for the working BC... I have joined both the Ontario Border Collie Association and the Canadian Border Collie Association and whenever possible I try to help out with events

 

Educate everyone I can about the working BC...and usually point them to these boards :rolleyes: I know it's not much, but I try.

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I don't know enough about Border Collies as working dogs, frankly, to even think about breeding them.

I'd like to learn, though.

 

My dream - and it's pure fantasy - would be to get some 100-odd acres near where I live now, find a mentor, and carefully learn about raising sheep, and tending sheep, and breeding sheep, and using dogs to help me do that. I think I'd learn best by slowly working my way up to a rather large flock, learning as I go. Then, maybe, I'd know enough to think about breeding BCs.

 

But - Along the way, I'd need a lot of help, and I think I'd like to hire college students from the local Uni - I think it would be a community service to connect young people to animals, and too many kids these days have no such connection at all. Plus, Uni students almost always need more money than they've got.

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What I try to do in my own small way is to educate people when I can, that Border Collies are a breed with a purpose and need to be bred with that purpose in mind. Breeding for that purpose is what has made the breed the outstandingly intelligent, sound, biddable, useful dog that it is. Any other reason for breeding does and will result in producing a dog/breed that is no longer a true Border Collie.

 

I think that pretty much describes what a lot if us aspire too.

 

I find as the years go by, I find the defination of "breedable" is getting much more narrow, and I think it's important for all of us in that position to be honest with those coming after us why that is. It hink its like the environmental friendly movement. We need to go forward, and if we leave footprints let them be of quality.

 

Debate is good. It may not always be fun, but it's important.

 

Mark states he would do exactly what he is doing now - don't blame him, that's a good list.

 

I think I would also do what I do now - but same income minus quite so many hours at the "real" job LOL And I'd like a property with a few more hills and rocks. I'd like to have more time to garden (and if in Utopia, no bugs please!).

 

sweet ceana - I think that's a nice dream. I wish more kids could learn where there food comes from, and to stop the mental split of "food" from the food chain.

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Sorry my fantasy and retirement were destroyed by the failed economy. We were looking at the possibility of 25 acres but not any more.

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My husband and I are getting ourselves into the slow food movement. We are working towards getting on a farm ASAP and will have sheep and ducks to start with (which will come first will depend on where we end up). We are looking at rental farm properties now. :rolleyes: A few weeks ago I had the privelege of cleaning and dressing a sheep carcass and was happy to find the work in no way frightening, "gross", or otherwise aversive. I know I can drench them, cull them or whatever else needs to be done.

 

I want to support USBCHA trainers with my lesson money. And, in the future, I want to support working breeders with very high standards for their crosses and their pups. I'd like to train my dog up to be not only useful on our future farm, but I'd like to trial him in USBCHA trials if this is at all possible for either of us.

 

I want to support the working border collie by supporting sheep. They are the reason for it all, and I like them immensely. I'm interested in animal husbandry, and would like to become a true shepherd. In some ways this feels like coming home - my dad's family is from the english-scottish border and our last name literally means "to herd sheep" in old english. I know Odin and my future working collies will support me in this.

 

I want to potentially use Odin and my flock to help with environmental restoration and weed control on both my own farm and also on restoration jobs. I hope to also figure out a way I can use Odin or future dogs to demo my idea that range stock must be moved out of wetlands seasonally to protect these habitats - and that it is not nearly the hardship if you use dogs to do it. I write this clause into management plans a lot, and the grazing lessees often find it one of the more onerous requirements and say it can't feasibly be done.

 

I hope to convert ranchers who are grazing lesees on preserves I deal with that don't have dogs, or who just have ACDs that chase their ATVs, to understand the benefits of learning how to use, and using, a well-trained working border collie.

 

I want to advocate strongly within my own profession for more working collies in preserve management, where these areas are grazed. Grazing is *so* important to keep our grasslands, serpentine grasslands, and vernal pool complexes healthy, but it is not just stocking rates that determine the benefits and trade-offs. The stock must be moved to most optimally manage for native and/or rare species.

 

I want to make inroads with regulatory agencies such as USFWS, Army Corps, and USFS about the benefits of using "green dog power", so that this is seen as a powerful and known tool for land management. I want to encourage municipal agencies to utilize collies in goose control and controlling "weed herd" used in local parks.

 

I think I'm in this for the long haul...it's just the beginning for me. :D

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I've been thinnking about this, and I think the best thing I can do right now is learn all that I can. Learn more about the breed, how to train dogs/Blaze for stock work, and anything else that will help me in the future to educate others about this wonderful breed.

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The heated breeding discussion...

 

I looked (I think - it's gone now, so I can't check) at the discussion you're talking about, and if I'm not mistaken part of the answer, or at least a key to understanding the problem, is in the first post. Why on Earth would anyone pay $1000 for a puppy? For a trained herding dog, sure, if you're a rancher, but my impression was that the buyer's intent was to somehow get ego points by competing in stock trials.

 

As long as there's ego gratification to be found in winning trials, or agility competitions, or AKC dog shows, there'll be people willing to pay money for it, and there will be breeders willing to take their money. Not much different from anything else.

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As long as there's ego gratification to be found in winning trials, or agility competitions, or AKC dog shows, there'll be people willing to pay money for it, and there will be breeders willing to take their money.

 

It isn't necessarily ego gratification that makes people spend that kind of money. For many casual sports people, they feel they will be getting pups from "proven" dogs and there is a "You get what you pay for" mentality as far as hoping the money will get them a sound, healthy dog with lots of drive, ability to do the sport and a good temperament.

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Sure, but why do they choose to compete at these sports anyway? As opposed to just doing some activity for fun. It seems completely backwards to me. I get, or get stuck with, the dog (I've never actually chosen a dog) and look around for things to do together.

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For the average person who can't or won't buy a farm...

 

1) Adopt from rescue or buy from reputable breeders who work their dogs and breed for the work (and not sport, show or versatility).

 

2) Eat locally raised foods, especially lamb. Most of the lamb you see in supermarkets is from Austrailia. To keep the working BCs around you need to support the way of life that developed the breed. If you don't like lamb buy pasture raised beef, lamb skins, wool products, etc.

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Sure, but why do they choose to compete at these sports anyway? As opposed to just doing some activity for fun. It seems completely backwards to me. I get, or get stuck with, the dog (I've never actually chosen a dog) and look around for things to do together.

 

 

 

Why do any of us enjoy the things we do? Some would ask why get a dog at all? If there is sport or activity you really love to do with your dog, I think it makes perfect sense to look for a dog you feel will also love and do well in that activity. Agility is just a game and some people are more competitive than others. Competition certainly isn't limited to dog sports.

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Sure, but why do they choose to compete at these sports anyway? As opposed to just doing some activity for fun. It seems completely backwards to me. I get, or get stuck with, the dog (I've never actually chosen a dog) and look around for things to do together.

 

Why do people play golf? Or tennis? Or dress up and go to Star Trek conventions? Why do people spend money on box seats at football games or follow NASCAR?

 

It's the same thing, just a different interest.

 

For me, there is something very enjoyable about having goals with my dogs and working toward them. It's not just about going to competitions, but every bit of time I spend with my dogs preparing. I enjoy the training process and the bond that is built with my dogs through it. We learn and laugh together through it.

 

So, why not just play in the back yard? I've heard it compared to going out, getting makeup done, getting a fancy dress (or tux, for a guy), renting a limo, getting a date, and then not going to the dance.

 

There's a social aspect to it. I want to share my dog's successes with others. And yes, their failures, too, because the support of fellow competitors when things don't go right is good. I enjoy seeing what others can do.

 

And I enjoy competition for it's own sake. When all of the pieces come together and you have a succesful run or performance, it just plain feels good. It's fun in the back yard, but I find it even more fun at competition. And my dogs enjoy it, too. Usually for days after a competition, the dog who competed stays very close to me and we find ourselves looking at each other happily.

 

I see it like any other hobby. Some people spend a lot of time and money on gardening. Some spend a lot of time and money on golf. Some spend a lot of time and money on being in a band.

 

It's something that I enjoy immensely for many reasons, and so do my dogs. We enjoy time in the yard, too, but competition is special.

 

So, why not?

 

And if some consider it selfish gratification, they are entitled to their opinion. I don't consider it any more selfish than most other hobbies, though.

 

P.S. I realize this response might come off as snippy or like I've been offended. I haven't and it's not. Tone of Post: Conversational, Animated and Enthusiastic to talk about something I truly enjoy.

 

ETA: I responded to the tangent instead of the original question. I apologize if that annoys anyone because it is certainly not my intent to annoy anyone. :rolleyes: Really!

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Sorry my fantasy and retirement were destroyed by the failed economy. We were looking at the possibility of 25 acres but not any more.

Ahhh, Ranger... Find a new dream...one must have at least one pipe dream to keep one going in life... my dream(not dog related) is the perfect weedless flower and veggies beds...)

So my dream would be to find the perfect home (and home a few myself} of those perfecrtly bred dogs that didn't cut the mustard in the field... have the room to keep them and play all day with them! Ahh, would have to include having the enegry to play all day with them in that dream...

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It would seem that all members of this board are contributing to the continuance of the breed in wonderful ways, I looked for rescues when I wanted a dog and make sure they have a good life and explain to people who see Ladybug that she wasn't born shy of people, someone did that to her and that's why we have her now in the hope that people will think twice before they bring any type of dog home.

 

Now, I've got these pups, with new responsibilities. I thought it would be interesting to raise a dog myself in order to not have to deal with the dysfunction someone else put on them. I'm finding its a lot like raising a child -- there's no right way to do it and no guarantees how the pup will turn out. :rolleyes:. But, hopefully if I do my best to understand how to communicate with them, and keep plugging away, they'll graduate college and find a job with a retirement plan and health insurance :D.

 

 

 

Liz

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It's the same thing, just a different interest.

 

But here there's someone else involved. That is, it's you (just for the sake of discussion here) getting a dog specifically so you can compete in agility, or sheep herding, or whatever, as opposed to adopting a dog, and thinking you might like to try doing those things together. Suppose your new aquisition doesn't like your sport, or has no talent?

 

Just for instance, I love cross-country skiing, and Niki likes being in the skijoring harness (though she's too smart/lazy to actually pull except on downhills). My old dog (a much larger mix), never could go skiing with me because she'd sink in. Should I have forced her, or dumped her and spent a thousand or so for another dog?

 

In any case, it's not really about what people should or shouldn't do, just a realization that they ARE going to do those things as long as the motivators are there.

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Suppose your new aquisition doesn't like your sport, or has no talent

 

There are lots of options for a casual competitor who enjoys the activity as well as the company of other enthusiasts. Continue to train with an emphasis on building enthusiasm. Sometimes it takes time, patience and persistance to get a dog who is ready and happy to engage in the activity. But it can be done and often is. My best agility dog was the worst prospect on paper since he was born with severe shyness. But together we learned to love the sport and formed the deepest bond I've ever had with a dog. Agility was never the same for me after I lost him.

 

If the dog still doesn't want to do the sport, isn't able or you don't want to put in that kind of training, you move on to other activities and/or continue in the sport without that particular dog. Example: I got my Lhasa with agility in mind and so was looking for a specific sort of temperament -- which I got. We had lots of fun together in agility but turns out he has bad knees, so he was retired at four years of age. I also got Quinn with agility in mind. However, I've lost my taste for the sport so despite all the training we put in for the first couple years of his life, his natural ability and his high drive, we no longer do agility.

 

In any case, it's not really about what people should or shouldn't do, just a realization that they ARE going to do those things as long as the motivators are there.

 

What things? Engage in sports and look for dogs that will do well in them? True. So going back to the original question, you then make choices about where you get your sports dog that will be in alignment with doing what you feel will not harm the breed.

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But here there's someone else involved. That is, it's you (just for the sake of discussion here) getting a dog specifically so you can compete in agility, or sheep herding, or whatever, as opposed to adopting a dog, and thinking you might like to try doing those things together. Suppose your new aquisition doesn't like your sport, or has no talent?

 

Well, I can speak to this because I'm in this exact boat. I adopted Dean with the intent of competing very seriously in three sports with him and it hasn't worked out exactly as I had planned for several reasons (noise phobia, problems with social pressure, personal preference, etc.). He's got all the talent he needs to do it all, but the desire and enthusiasm required is not usually there. It will never be the way I had planned it to be originally, although there is a lot that he can do.

 

That's really part of being in dog sports. Things don't always go the way they would in a perfect world. Sometimes this happens on a minor level (the dog doesn't care for tunnels, but will do them if you stay really close) and sometimes it happens on a major level (Dean absolultely hates to perform to music in front of people and will shut down mentally). Sometimes things go perfectly and sometimes they don't. That's part of the deal.

 

I can't speak for anyone else, but my choice has been to love my dog for who he is and do what is best for him. We haven't given up training and sports altogether, but I've adapted his training and my expecatations of him competition-wise to suit him as an individual. Example - I will take him along to an Agility trial with one of my other dogs, but he's just there to enjoy the day. I might enter him in a run or two, but I treat it as a fun run just to give him a good experience. I hope that the day will come when he enjoys it enough to compete seriously, but if he doesn't, it's perfectly OK. He is no less valuable or important to be me because he'd rather play frisbee in the yard than perform Freestyle routines in front of people.

 

I have two other dogs that I am competing with, so I focus more on them from a competition point of view. Dean goes along for the ride with them and he gets to play - if he wants to - at the level where he is comfortable.

 

When my other two pass on, I will get another dog to train for competition. Hopefully it will work out that the new dog has a similar attitude toward competition as Speedy and Maddie, but if not, I'll adapt as I've done for Dean. Dean can continue to go along for the ride as long as he wants to - or if he ever does show interest in being more serious about training and competition, I will happily go there with him. I suspect that when the day comes that I start to train a new dog, Dean will change (just as Speedy and Maddie did when I adopted and started to train Dean).

 

Just for instance, I love cross-country skiing, and Niki likes being in the skijoring harness (though she's too smart/lazy to actually pull except on downhills). My old dog (a much larger mix), never could go skiing with me because she'd sink in. Should I have forced her, or dumped her and spent a thousand or so for another dog?

 

I wouldn't say that you should have forced her or dumped her. You already had another dog to enjoy skijoring with, so why would it matter if the older dog isn't appropriate for the activity?

 

Yes, there are sport folks who push their dogs into things and would dump them to replace them if they weren't appropriate for a given activity. Those are things that I would not personally choose to do, and I can say the same for the vast majority of people who participate in dog sports. Almost every fellow competitor I know has a dog or two, in addition to the dog (or dogs) that they participate in sports with who don't participate - either because of age, preference, some issue, or something. Most of them (myself included) go out of their way to keep those dogs healthy, happy, and loved. It's not sports that give the dogs value - although sports may have been a motivator in acquiring the dog in the first place. It's the value of the relationship between dog and handler, translated into the sport, that make sports so addicting.

 

At least that's my take on it.

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There are lots of options for a casual competitor who enjoys the activity...

 

But presumably this sort of casual competitor isn't the one paying thousands for a purpose-bred puppy in order to enhance their chances of getting ego gratification from winning, and so giving the breeders the incentive to breed for success in competition to the exclusion of other traits such as, if I remember the original post, not being seizure-prone.

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I wouldn't say that you should have forced her or dumped her. You already had another dog to enjoy skijoring with, so why would it matter if the older dog isn't appropriate for the activity?

 

I guess I wasn't clear: I only had one dog at a time. The older one died about 18 months before Niki came along.

 

But from your post, I get the distinct impression that you're one of those who're into it more for fun. Just three words: "I adopted Dean", rather than say "I paid big bucks for Dean so I could be a WINNER!" make all the difference.

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But presumably this sort of casual competitor isn't the one paying thousands for a purpose-bred puppy in order to enhance their chances of getting ego gratification from winning

 

Well, speaking as someone who has spent a lot of time with performance folks, I don't know anyone who has paid "thousands" for a puppy but many who have paid in the $800 - $1,200 range. That isn't considered outrageous among the Dog People I know. And yes they are casual competitors in the sense that their goals are relatively modest. And if you want to call hoping to do well "ego gratification," ok then.

 

 

I guess I wasn't clear: I only had one dog at a time. The older one died about 18 months before Niki came along.

 

That is one option. To wait until the next dog to try again at an activity you like. But many people have more than one dog at a time and just as we like to spend time with people who enjoy the same sorts of things as we do, we look for dogs that will hopefully be a good "fit" for our lifestyles.

 

Just three words: "I adopted Dean", rather than say "I paid big bucks for Dean so I could be a WINNER!" make all the difference.

 

Honestly, I've never heard anyone saying "I paid big bucks for my dog," but even if they did pay high prices (lets say $1,000) it doesn't mean they aren't mainly in it for fun or that they don't prize their dog as a companion first and foremost. Have you known many sports people and how they relate to their dogs? Your perceptions are very different from what I have seen for the vast majority of people.

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