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As Lisa Pruka ended her term as president of the BCSA (Border Collie Society of America), she used her final president's message in the most recent issue of "Borderlines" to express concern about where the AKC Border Collie is headed. "I see an increase of 'generic' dogs within our ranks ... the Border Collie is losing some of its distinctive 'Border-Collie-ness'," she wrote.

 

As regards "herding," she said:

 

It is important that we continue to produce Border Collies that not only have the instinct and desire to herd but also have ability as well as the things that make a dog a Border Collie. It isn't enough to produce dogs that can move sheep around an arena -- any herding breed dog can do that. We need to preserve the unique Border Collie traits -- the crouch, the innate ability to rate livestock, the eye, the ability to make the right decision on its own. And we need to remember that the Border Collie should excel at open field work -- the B Course -- not the arena. At the recent National Specialty, there were a lot of dogs, especially in the tests and lower levels, that looked more like other herding breeds in their working style.

 

She noted that agility is the fastest growing canine sport, and that Border Collies excel at it, dominating several height classes. She said that most of those who compete in agility and who breed agility Border Collies are not BCSA members, but "this group has the potential to have the largest impact on the Border Collie as a breed."

 

"Unfortunately there aren't really any unique Border Collie traits found in some of the best agility dogs -- agility really is a sport where almost any dog can do it," Pruka said. She cautioned that "the structure that provides for pure speed is not correct for the Border Collie." She said further:

 

In the drive to create faster dogs for agility, breeders need to remember that speed alone did not make the Border Collie one of the world's premier agility dogs. In fact many of the same traits useful in herding are responsible for making them so good at agility – the ability to work well at a distance, the ease with which they can both turn and stop on a dime.

 

"Conformation is another area where many Border Collies are losing some of the traits that make them a Border Collie," according to Pruka. "In the effort to win at the group and best-in-show level, some breeders are beginning to lose sight of some of the uniquely Border Collie characteristics". She pointed to the practice of gaiting dogs too fast around the show ring, which she said "changes the way that they move":

 

Seeing this incorrect movement too often will lead people to believe that it is actually correct. The bad will become normal and before we know it, Border Collies will all move in the incorrect manner.

 

Pruka said that all of these changes are "caused by unconscious, accidental selection pressures." She said that the board of directors of the BCSA was at one time composed of "people whose primary interest was herding," but that over time this has changed, so that now the board is made up of people who "have an interest in herding but not as the primary activity they participate in with their dogs." She closed by saying that "I do know that it is the Border Collie as a herding dog that has enabled it to excel in all the other activities," and that "I really, really hope that it is the Border Collie as a herding dog that BCSA has pledged itself as the parent club to protect."

 

In a separate article in the same publication, Claudia Frank, Chair of their Herding Committee, reported that 43 Border Collies had been evaluated for herding instinct at the last BCSA National Specialty. Of that number, 37 were evaluated as "passed," and Claudia noted that the six who did not pass may yet pass in a future evaluation. But Claudia went on to say:

 

It must be noted that, as the years have gone by, fewer and fewer dogs participating demonstrated the traditional postures and eye thought of as working Border Collies. There was an increase in continued upright postures, elevated straight tails, barking and excessive excitement or lack of interest altogether. Some of these things may change with constant exposure to livestock, but the basic posturing of the dog usually stays consistent with that dog.

 

 

 

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Remarkable... very interesting. I'd be lying if I said my mouth wasn't hanging open in shock as I read that...

 

You'd think if she felt that way about their "Border Collie" that she would have made some effort to do something about those issues while she was in office instead of waiting for her last message to the club to vocalize her concerns...

 

:blink:

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It's interesting to see that some of the people facilitating this deterioration of the border collie seem to be fully aware of what's happening. I guess they feel that as long as they publicly deplore it and wring their hands over it, that qualifies them as the good guys.

 

I would have to disagree, though, with the statement that at one time the BCSA board was composed of "people whose primary interest was herding." I don't think that was ever the case. But it does stand to reason that, whatever their starting point was, the extent of their "herding" orientation is going to diminish over time.

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This whole thing just chills me, because I fear that the people who breed for non-working purposes must far out-number the working breeders. Where, then, does that leave the border collie in say, 15 years' time? It's far from a new fear, but it does serve to underscore it.

 

~ Gloria

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We've got to find a way to separate the types. As it is, many new people come to Border Collies ignorant of the issues. Often, if they ever realize what's going on, they have already spent years & $ in ACK and even registered their dogs with them.

 

I agree, the letter was surprising & very sad that it she didn't say (or do) anything until she was headed out the door.

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Dear Doggers,

 

Ms/Mr MyTDogs writes: "We've got to find a way to separate the types."

 

They aren't different "types" they're different "breeds". viz: "Border Collie", "Barbie Collie".

 

Donald McCaig

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I agree with Donald, I voiced my opinion on this before (and remember getting flamed for it... ;) )

I think the only hope for the working border collie is complete separation from what other people call (and breed as) border collie.

Any dog that gets moved from the working breed to something else would then be lost to the working breed population as if it were a cull.

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Dear Doggers,

 

Ms/Mr MyTDogs writes: "We've got to find a way to separate the types."

 

They aren't different "types" they're different "breeds". viz: "Border Collie", "Barbie Collie".

 

Donald McCaig

 

 

Well, if they are different Breeds then we really do need to separate. However, I'm gonna guess they won't voluntarily change their name to Barbie Collie.

 

So where does that leave us? We need to do something (other than complain about them). I'd suggest we start thinking of other options for a name or start collecting for legal fees to force them to change.

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^^ What Rachel, Eileen, and Donald said.

 

It's always safest to speak the truth once you've left the room. Shame, because that's not the time when speaking (and acting upon) the truth does any good.

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"I would have to disagree, though, with the statement that at one time the BCSA board was composed of 'people whose primary interest was herding.' I don't think that was ever the case."

 

Eileen, my recollection from reading that old (don't know if it's still active) Show BC list years ago is that the conformation hucksters thought so and resented board control by AKC herders and people who thought herding defined the breed. In fact, if you make a loose distinction between AKC/AHBA type trials and USBCHA/working border collies, which I do, then that may have been the case.

 

Remember all the claptrap about changing the AKC from within, trialing there to show conformation judges what real border collies look like (huh?), and everyone joining hands for the betterment of the breed. Didn't the drivel come from people involved in AKC herding trials? I am under the impression that the agility and conformation breeders often argued along the lines that working didn't need to be bred for because genes can't be lost. They excuse breeding for looks and agility but not ability on livestock because ability is always there regardless. Doublethink, I know. A smaller portion of conformation breeders maintain their nonworking bred dogs are better pets.

 

The saddest part of Pruka's lament is that she seems to think B course is a worthy but neglected test.

 

Penny

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"I would have to disagree, though, with the statement that at one time the BCSA board was composed of 'people whose primary interest was herding.' I don't think that was ever the case."

 

Eileen, my recollection from reading that old (don't know if it's still active) Show BC list years ago is that the conformation hucksters thought so and resented board control by AKC herders and people who thought herding defined the breed. In fact, if you make a loose distinction between AKC/AHBA type trials and USBCHA/working border collies, which I do, then that may have been the case.

 

Remember all the claptrap about changing the AKC from within, trialing there to show conformation judges what real border collies look like (huh?), and everyone joining hands for the betterment of the breed. Didn't the drivel come from people involved in AKC herding trials? I am under the impression that the agility and conformation breeders often argued along the lines that working didn't need to be bred for because genes can't be lost. I believe their conviction still is: breed for looks and structure but not ability on livestock because that is always there. Doublethink, I know. A smaller portion of conformation breeders maintain their nonworking bred dogs are better pets.

 

The saddest part of Pruka's lament is that she poses ability in terms of B course.

 

Penny

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I usually don't post anything anywhere, but this topic always wakes me up. I think that a suitable name for the show bred type of dog being described here would be "Australian Collie", because I think the biggest change in look and attitude came, with AKC recognition, when people in the US started to import show winners from Australia and New Zealand, dogs which have long been bred for a certain look but not necessarily any kind of work. Perhaps this is an upsetting notion to some, but a dog put forth as a "border collie" which was not bred for herding work is upsetting to me.

 

 

 

Margaret Lass-Gardiner

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I wanted to look at some actual numbers, so I wrote to the BCSA and asked how many Border Collies were registered with the AKC in the years 2008, 2009 and 2010, and the response I received was:

 

Please consult akc.org and query the information there regarding the regisration results of BCs for the years requested.

 

I sent an email to the AKC and am awaiting a response. In the meantime, if anyone knows where I can find this information, I'd appreciate it. I thought for sure the parent club would have been able to provide it to me. Maybe I misunderstand what their overall purpose or goal is.

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Here's just another question - in her years as president of BCSA, where did Lisa Pruka's emphasis lie, both within what she did/promoted in BCSA and within her own dogs? I am curious to know if what she said "on the way out" is reflective of what she may have tried to accomplish publically and/or privately. Is it a regret (that she didn't put working ability first) or a frustration (that she wanted to and could not accomplish that)?

 

I doubt anyone here could answer this question, but it has piqued my curiosity.

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"I would have to disagree, though, with the statement that at one time the BCSA board was composed of 'people whose primary interest was herding.' I don't think that was ever the case."

 

Eileen, my recollection from reading that old (don't know if it's still active) Show BC list years ago is that the conformation hucksters thought so and resented board control by AKC herders and people who thought herding defined the breed. In fact, if you make a loose distinction between AKC/AHBA type trials and USBCHA/working border collies, which I do, then that may have been the case.

 

Remember all the claptrap about changing the AKC from within, trialing there to show conformation judges what real border collies look like (huh?), and everyone joining hands for the betterment of the breed. Didn't the drivel come from people involved in AKC herding trials? I am under the impression that the agility and conformation breeders often argued along the lines that working didn't need to be bred for because genes can't be lost. They excuse breeding for looks and agility but not ability on livestock because ability is always there regardless. Doublethink, I know. A smaller portion of conformation breeders maintain their nonworking bred dogs are better pets.

 

The saddest part of Pruka's lament is that she seems to think B course is a worthy but neglected test.

 

Penny

 

Penny, my recollection is that the BCSA board in early days was almost entirely comprised of "Obedience people," who did indeed pay a great deal of lip service to preserving herding ability (which was what the Conformation people resented), but whose lodestar was "versatility." I think many of them really did understand and appreciate on some level that the essence of the border collie came through its being bred for work (the community of border collie owners was much smaller then), even though they knew little about stockwork or breeding for work. But AKC was their life and they just couldn't face the implications of what that meant. Easier to just hope for the best and ignore the implacable reality.

 

Here's the board as listed in the May/June 1995 issue of Borderlines (which had to be the original post-recognition board, or very close to it), with my own (possibly erroneous, and I welcome corrections) designation of what each person's "primary interest" was:

 

Janet Lewis, President (obedience)

Richard Whorton, V-P (obedience)

Nancy Gagliardi Little, Secretary (obedience)

Nancy Keller, Treasurer (obedience)

Ronni DeLay, Director (conformation)

Barbara Handler, Director (obedience)

Helen Phillips, Director (obedience)

 

It's hard to remember now how major Obedience once was -- it was by far the biggest, most influential performance category at the time.

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I know this question has been asked and answered before but I can't remember the answer... How did the Jack Russell Terrier people win their name lawsuit and has that been attempted by the working Border Collie people? And would any court say we waited too long after becoming recognized by the AKC to fight it? I kind of think most courts would take the AKC's side in a lawsuit like that...

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Here's just another question - in her years as president of BCSA, where did Lisa Pruka's emphasis lie, both within what she did/promoted in BCSA and within her own dogs? I am curious to know if what she said "on the way out" is reflective of what she may have tried to accomplish publically and/or privately. Is it a regret (that she didn't put working ability first) or a frustration (that she wanted to and could not accomplish that)?

 

I doubt anyone here could answer this question, but it has piqued my curiosity.

 

I don't think it really matters, because it's so obvious that no matter how strong one's commitment to preserving the true working border collie, that cannot be done within the AKC. King Canute could not hold back the tide, even though I'm sure he really, really wanted to.

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Sue, that is an interesting question. I went on to the BCSA website where they list titles, and maybe I'm missing something, but it looks like Lisa earned one "B" course title in herding in 2010 ... on ducks. Also, on the 2010 Advanced Class Stats, there's a listing for her on A course, but I don't see anything for the B course for ducks or sheep.

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This may be a good example of why it is not a bad idea to keep the lines of communication open Lisa is a member of the Wisconsin Working Sheepdog Association. She competes in USBCHA style trials. I can't say for sure that attending USBCHA trials has changed her view about the dogs, but I know several other people now trialling well at the Open level where that is the case, so I wouldn't rule it out.

 

It's pretty easy for people to be all self-righteous about these things, but in this case the self-righteous indignation seems to be a bit misplaced. People are products of where they have come from, what their experiences have been. Here's someone who may have started in AKC obedience or conformation, got involved with stockwork, sees the value in preserving the Border Collie as a working dog, has the courage to state that openly in a forum where she is bound to gain very little in the way of support or appreciation for having done so, and instead of applauding and supporting her for saying the correct thing, she's being criticized and derided.

 

Wars are won on more than one front. Alienating potential allies is usually a counter-productive strategy.

 

As for those who feel she is wrong in promoting the AKC 'B' course. It's the closest thing the AKC has to a ISDS style course. Yes, it is usually smaller, and the sheep are typically well-dogged, but just maybe if more AKC people ran B course, they might work to getting better dogs, maybe even cross over to the odd USBCHA trial. God forbid that they find they actually appreciate stock work and either move to change the culture of the BCSA/AKC or just leave, as many have done, and turn on to more challenging stock work.

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I don't think it really matters, because it's so obvious that no matter how strong one's commitment to preserving the true working border collie, that cannot be done within the AKC. King Canute could not hold back the tide, even though I'm sure he really, really wanted to.

An organization that holds the dogma that appearance defines the breed cannot be the venue to attempt to preserve working ability.

 

[bTW I do believe that Cnut (modern spelling Canute) was attempting to prove the limitation of his powers to his court.]

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I went to the AKC website and did not locate hard numbers on registrations, but did find some other interesting information.

 

This doesn't show how many Border Collies were registered by AKC, but it does show that the ranking (numbers of dogs registered) for Border Collies has risen over the last four years. For each breed listed, the four numbers following the breed name indicate the ranking in 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006. My expectations (a total assumption on my part) for the rise in ranking of the Border Collie is their outstanding performance in the agility venue, as well as other performance sports. This is out of a total number of 164 AKC-recognized breeds.

 

For litter statistics, they rank 62nd (in 2009) and 64th (in 2010). Again, purely assumption on my part, I think the difference between litter registrations and individual registrations may likely be due to ABCA (or ISDS) registered dogs gaining dual registration. It is, after all, still an open book.

 

RANKING

BREED 2009 2008 2004 1999

Labrador Retrievers 1 1 1 1

German Shepherd Dogs 2 3 3 3

Yorkshire Terriers 3 2 5 9

Golden Retrievers 4 4 2 2

Beagles 5 5 4 5

Boxers 6 6 7 10

Bulldogs 7 8 14 21

Dachshunds 8 7 6 4

Poodles 9 9 8 6

Shih Tzu 10 10 9 11

Miniature Schnauzers 11 11 11 14

Chihuahuas 12 12 10 7

Rottweilers 13 14 16 8

Pomeranians 14 13 13 12

Doberman Pinschers 15 18 22 23

German Shorthaired Pointers 16 16 20 24

Pugs 17 15 12 16

Shetland Sheepdogs 18 19 18 15

Boston Terriers 19 17 17 19

Maltese 20 20 19 20

Great Danes 21 22 27 28

Siberian Huskies 22 23 24 18

Cocker Spaniels 23 21 15 13

French Bulldogs 24 26 49 73

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels 25 25 32 58

Pembroke Welsh Corgis 26 24 23 30

Mastiffs 27 28 33 39

Australian Shepherds 28 29 34 38

English Springer Spaniels 29 27 28 26

Brittanys 30 30 30 31

Weimaraners 31 31 29 34

Havanese 32 36 52 92

Miniature Pinschers 33 32 21 17

Basset Hounds 34 33 25 22

Bichon Frises 35 35 26 25

West Highland White Terriers 36 34 31 29

Papillons 37 37 35 46

Collies 38 38 36 32

Bernese Mountain Dogs 39 40 48 59

Bullmastiffs 40 39 47 50

Redbone Coonhounds** 41 N/A N/A N/A

Vizslas 42 44 44 48

Bloodhounds 43 43 50 51

Bluetick Coonhounds** 44 N/A N/A N/A

St. Bernards 45 45 37 37

Newfoundlands 46 46 45 53

Chinese Shar-Pei 47 47 41 35

Rhodesian Ridgebacks 48 50 55 56

Chesapeake Bay Retrievers 49 48 46 41

Akitas 50 52 51 36

Scottish Terriers 51 49 42 43

Border Collies 52 53 60 71

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While Lisa and I disagree in many ways I do applaud her ability to start to recognize the future of the BC in the AKC coffers. Unfortunately begging will do no good as long as there are beauty contests and 'events' for people to win titles and therefore earn more moeny for pups, things will continue to decline for those dogs called BC's within the AKC. But at least there is now recognition from within.

 

As for B course, it is not an effecient test but far superior to the arena venue which is most common.

 

I am actually surprised at the number of dogs that passed the instinct test. I know at the first specialty there were at least 2 dogs failed by testers that went on to be approved (passed) by someone filling out the paperwork. This is the attitude of the BCSA towards 'herding'

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This may be a good example of why it is not a bad idea to keep the lines of communication open Lisa is a member of the Wisconsin Working Sheepdog Association. She competes in USBCHA style trials. I can't say for sure that attending USBCHA trials has changed her view about the dogs, but I know several other people now trialling well at the Open level where that is the case, so I wouldn't rule it out.

 

It's pretty easy for people to be all self-righteous about these things, but in this case the self-righteous indignation seems to be a bit misplaced. People are products of where they have come from, what their experiences have been. Here's someone who may have started in AKC obedience or conformation, got involved with stockwork, sees the value in preserving the Border Collie as a working dog, has the courage to state that openly in a forum where she is bound to gain very little in the way of support or appreciation for having done so, and instead of applauding and supporting her for saying the correct thing, she's being criticized and derided.

 

The problem with this, Pearse, is that there has been no dearth of BCSA people who have given profuse lip service to the idea of preserving the border collie as a herding dog ever since the BCSA began. There is no courage needed in saying that sort of thing in "Borderlines." It has been said over and over again. It is the foundation of the "you have an obligation to enter your Border Collie in corformation to show those judges what a Border Collie really looks like!" kind of talk.

 

There are three kinds of people who register Border Collies with the AKC. Those who have not yet seen or are incapable of seeing the harm that is being done to the breed. Those who see it, but continue to support the AKC and BCSA anyway, while saying, "Oh, isn't it too bad! I hope things will get better!" And those who, once they see it, leave. I've got plenty of applause and support for those honorable few who take the third course -- plenty. I've all but gone down on my knees and begged certain BCSA people who've moaned to me about how terrible things are to take this course. But I've got no sympathy or appreciation at all for those who take the second course. None.

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So where does that leave us? We need to do something (other than complain about them). I'd suggest we start thinking of other options for a name or start collecting for legal fees to force them to change.

 

I agree about this. As much as the working dogs are entitled to the name Border Collie, is it worth watching working ability go down the tubes to protect the use of a name? Seems like it's more important to save the usefulness than the moniker. Heigh-ho for the Anglo-American Stock Dog, or whatever name seems good to those of you who have working dogs.

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I have to agree with the statement made by Pearse that you are a product of your environment. Good and bad I suppose.

 

From the 1990 to about the early part of the 2000's I only was exposed to one kind of dog. The ranch dog. I lived and worked in ranch settings and did not even know about the conformation and show dogs. Yes, I lived in a bubble! I honestly did not even realize what had happened to the breed in even those 10 years until I started dabbling in rescue at a much later point. And with that I am simply referring to the fact that I was exposed to more dogs from different walks of live others than just my own.

I don't just own Border Collies but also German Shepherds. A breed that has been ruined a long time ago and split into show, sport and working dogs. I only came to the GSD's about 10 years ago and it has been sad to watch.

 

I am ever more so grateful for my start in the dogs and the values I was exposed to and became to adopt as my own. Also for my lifestyle that allows me to own more than one dog and a mindset that leads me to dabble in/ investigate/ play around with different venues as I simply enjoy training and learning with my dogs.

So as someone that for the most part just simply enjoys their dogs, I feel that in my own way by not hesitating to share my convictions of what a true working dog should be maybe, just maybe, I can make one person here or there stop and think enough for them to set out to do their own research and I suppose "see the light"!

In the meantime, I am simply annoying the ones that really don't want to hear it! B)

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