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And they say sheep are stupid....


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You know, I think I'm starting to understand the bias, here, against use of the word "herding." If this is "herding," it certainly has nothing to do with "shepherding," the eons-old practice of diligently and thoughtfully caring for the livestock that sustained human livelihoods.

 

~ Gloria

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I could not bring myself to watch more than a tiny fraction of the initial videos - they were simply cases of using sheep as dog toys, proving nothing, and satisfying someone's ego in a way that I can't comprehend. As for the last video, what does six minutes of walking a dog on leash around the inside perimeter of a pen while sheep are present prove?

 

The really sad thing is that these people probably actually feel their dogs are "doing herding" and showing "herding instinct and ability". And that someone is likely making money off allowing and encouraging them to do so. As someone once said to me, "What right do you (meaning me) have to say they shouldn't have fun with their dog?" Ask the sheep if it's their idea of a good time...

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On the last video:

So if the title of the vid. didn't say Jeager's HIC I would think it was a test to see if she had control of her dog? Like proving it was safe around livestock or people or something....WTF???? I kept waiting to see if she ever let it do anything. I almost watched the whole thing, it was like watching mud dry...had to walk away.

 

Is that a Pittie?

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I hate seeing sheep harrassment. I never understood why someone with a non herding breed would want to put their dog on sheep. I mean if you want to learn to work sheep with a dog, why not at least get a dog that is supposed to be a sheepdog?

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Fun? You mean like this?

One of the requirements is showing "sustained interest". I guess this dog qualifies, right? The only thing worse is that one or more of the people involved is chuckling with (I'm assuming) pleasure at seeing the dog demonstrate such interest and enthusiasm.

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I made a comment on a videos on YouTube, stating my opinion that it was nothing more than harassment (it was a video of a "Queensland Blue Heeler" supposedly herding sheep, but primarily running and chasing, under a "trainer's" guidance at some place in Long Beach, CA). No wonder the person screens comments, so nothing but one positive comment shows up. This is the very intelligent reply that I received from samh09, on "Cookie Herding Sheep in Long Beach CA" -

 

You ma'am or sir,

 

You are an idiot, not a complete one, but almost. You know nothing about what's going on here. I do not care if you have a farm and herd live stock. This is about draining your dogs energy, giving them exercise. meeting the needs of your dog so they can live a happy and fulfilled life. It helps to curve bad behavior problems. By the way, you suck at herding sheep. So why don't you just SHUT UP!!!!"

 

I guess farming livestock (versus having them solely for dog equipment/toys/entertainment/exercise/fulfillment) and using dogs to help manage stock in a reduced-stress fashion leads one to be ignorant. And it's obviously much less significant than keeping/using stock so your dog can lead "a happy and fulfilled life" and the rest of the drivel spouted here. And, I suppose there is a very valid basis for knowing that I "suck at herding sheep". Must be all those videos I have out on YouTube of myself and my dogs chasing sheep around.

 

Obviously, the comment in the title, "And they say sheep are stupid", is very relevent here. Why do I let myself get sucked into wasting even small amounts of time and thought on junk like this? I'd best take my idiot self back to working on the farm bookkeeping...

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I think there are two things that drive this human behavior (putting dogs--even clearly unsuitable ones--on stock).

 

The first is summed up very nicely by Sue:

And that someone is likely making money off allowing and encouraging them to do so.

 

Yep, there's money to be had in letting folks come out and let their dogs harrass the crap out of your livestock. The livestock are simply objects that allow you to make money encouraging people to do something they shouldn't even consider doing in the first place. MONEY, MONEY, MONEY.

 

The second is the mindset so clearly described by the person who responded to Sue's post on his/her YouTube video (and of course this complements the first reason, since such people wouldn't be able to let their dogs harrass livestock for fun if there weren't others who encouraged it because they see MONEY in it):

This is about draining your dogs energy, giving them exercise. meeting the needs of your dog so they can live a happy and fulfilled life.

 

And there you have it. It all comes down to MONEY. Someone's making it hand over fist by letting people "work" (very loosely defined) their livestock.

 

What really saddens me is that so many people are up in arms--and rightfully so--over activities like baiting, dog and cock fighting, etc., and yet somehow it's acceptable to *routinely* stress out (or worse) stock. I used the word routinely, because we all know there is a certain amount of stress livestock undergo during the training of a stock dog, but if the end result is a useful stockdog that can help around the farm and can manage stock with *minimum* stress, then it's a fair sacrifice/trade-off. But it's not a fair sacrifice to subject animals to that continuously because of human greed, human ego, or because the dog needs to have "fun."

 

J.

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This reminds me of a conversion I had with a couple that had a Border Collie.

 

The dog was an AKC-bred dog, interested in stock, but without any real talent. They used to take him to an AKC trainer (his breeder, perhaps?) where they would leave him for some training. They decided to not do that any more because he was being disciplined harshly. Mind you, the trainer (who was making money off training him) was not discouraging the owners from bringing him for training in any way, but was endeavoring to train the dog with strong physical correction (i.e., striking and hitting). They did not like this approach and so were looking for another trainer.

 

I asked what their plans were for the dog and his future, for instance, did they have stock or were they planning on learning to work the dog themselves or trialing. They said, neither, but that the dog was "bred for this" and it was fulfilling and enjoyable for him, and that his life would be lacking something if he did not get training. So they wanted to take him out every week or a few times a month to "satisfy his need". Obviously, this is a prevalent idea in some circles, and I am sure it is more than encouraged by those who make an income or living off perpetuating this idea, no matter how ill-suited the particular animal might even be for stockwork.

 

As Julie pointed out, it is sad that the sheep (or other stock) pay the price for someone's dog being able to "do what he was bred to do" and "work off energy", or for an onwer to "solve behavioral problems" or give him "a fulfilling life". Geesh, people, these are dogs! Most of them weren't "bred for this" for generations if ever at all; there are more constructive and humane ways to exercise a dog; there are many suitable ways to deal with behavioral issues; and a dog does not need livestock to have a "satisfying and fulfilling" life.

 

At best, these dogs being discussed are living out predatory instincts common to all dogs, and their owners are deluding themselves into thinking they are "herding", while the so-called instructors are laughing all the way to the bank.

 

And I am not being critical of people with suitable dogs who are enjoying learning with and bonding with their dogs during worthwhile training, even if it is limited, as long as the welfare of the livestock is top priority.

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Well, maybe the motivation is money, but I'd say most of these people, who let dogs harrass("work") the livestock, are totally "clueless", how it should be done.

They probably don't know any better and if you try to point it out(chew them out), they get offended big time...that's just the human nature.

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Well, yes, "cluelessness" is a prerequisite, for the "student" at least. Absolutely. Some of the so-called instructors are also clueless but I think some are just inconsiderate of the livestock involved. For some people, an animal is just a tool or a means to an end.

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Well, maybe the motivation is money, but I'd say most of these people, who let dogs harrass("work") the livestock, are totally "clueless", how it should be done.

They probably don't know any better and if you try to point it out(chew them out), they get offended big time...that's just the human nature.

I was just having a conversation about this topic with a friend. She had brought me a copy of an article that was in the Wall Street Journal (I confess to not reading yet) and she thought it was cute that people could rent the sheep for the dogs. I explained that this could be a problem like videos above and once I explained what was going on, the animal welfare aspect made sense, she had just not thought about it, This is a lady who was a development director for a shelter, has owned horses, a couple of pet sheep, chickens and all sorts of other critters, and on reading the article it had not registered that it could be problem for the sheep.

So yes ignorance.

The other part of the videos that really shows ignorance is that you can hear the dogs owners laughing and cheering on their dogs. I would imagine most of these people car about animals and if they gave a little thought to the sheep would not think what was happening fun.

PS what was going on in the HIC video I speeded through but it looked like a dog who was being made to heel around a ring with distraction any dog with prey drive would want to go "play" with those sheep

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