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Bridging division between Working Border Collie Tradition vs. “Working” Agility Dogs+Other Disciplines


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Dear Doggers,

 

British Imperialists said that "the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.": i.e. that games developed character. This view underlies American’s notion that successful athletes (and their coaches) should be moral exemplars for youth.

 

That view is trivially false. If it were true, it would apply to any sport: rugby, badminton, beach volleyball, dog agility and sheepdog trialing.

 

Apart from alleged benefits to human character, sports (like Wittgenstein's 'games') vary tremendously and some "sports" (viz. "the sport of dogs") aren't - in any ordinary sense - "sports" at all.

 

Like all sports Agility directly benefits its participants. Dogs are challenged and exercised as are their handlers. Like any sport, agility rewards its most diligent practitioners who doubtless subordinate other values to their desire to succeed. Agility is a "pure sport". Its self referential rules are designed for the competition and ultimately the sports' participants. No dog can accomplish the different tasks without training.

 

Top achievement - as in any sport - is elusive and requires unusual dedication, but there are titles and ribbons for lesser achievement and bragging rights are available at novice levels. Border Collies excel as do breeds like the Doberman Pinscher, Poodles and Papillons. I am told some dog breeds are being created to win agility trials.

 

Sheepdog Trialing is an impure sport - designed originally and still functioning as a genetic strategy meant to produce dogs which could improve livestock handling for the farmer/shepherd who had little time to or interest in training dogs. Sheepdog trials were designed to produce a dog that, in most livestock-savvy human hands could TRAIN ITSELF.

 

And because of their genetics, they will do so. I seen many stockmen here, in the Uk and Australia who use these dogs but have never trialed and told me “We never trained Shep – he just seemed to train himself.” I have seen Montana ranch dogs that had never seen a trial field that could have run an open trial creditably with two weeks of trial training and sheepdogs with farm or ranch experience are, as a rule, better trial candidates than sheepdogs that have merely been “trained”.

 

 

 

While there are USBCA rules for sanctioning and qualifying for the National Finals and regional orgs have rules defining their junior classes and awards, the Open Sheepdog Trial is an impure sport with few administrative rules (entry dates, draw etc) but NO rules how the competition must be conducted. I can hold one on any field, judged by anyone, with any sort of sheep. I can invent obstacles or tasks – all that’s at stake for me is my reputation in the community.

 

Hence, I don’t know many judges who don’t carefully review the GUIDELINES FOR JUDGES the night before the trial – I know I do.

 

They are GUIDELINES not RULES because trialing is an impure sport and there are times when matters are resolved by an appeal to PRACTICAL SHEPHERDING: viz. what would a practical shepherd do if the sheep he’d already shed returned luring the sheep already in the mouth of the pen whose rope he was holding and –according to GUIDELINES couldn’t release without disqualification.

 

Practical shepherding is routinely invoked at trials. “We’re tight for time. Crossovers are a DQ”, “If you fail to bring the sheep around the post, you don’t need to unwind”, “If you don’t take the last one on the head, you’ll be pointed but can go on.” . . .

 

Yes, sheepdog trialing is a sport and yes, many people get into it from other dog sports like agility and obedience without knowing a thing about livestock. But - to be even slightly successful requires learning about livestock. One day you may need to violate guidelines for the sake of practical shepherding.

 

That impure sport was designed to create the Border Collie. Our Border Collie.

 

I recommend agility to many pet Border Collie owners. Border Collies excel at it, one can live in town, equipment is not terribly expensive, training is readily available, there are bragging rights, it’s healthy and fun. Like other sports, the very best/hardest working are rewarded..

 

There are fewer reasons to compete in sheepdog trials. Its ego boosts are few and far between. Annually there’s exactly one (1) Champion. It is exquisitely difficult – it takes at least five and perhaps ten years of dedication and work to make an open handler – and that’s not a WINNING Open handler – you’re only good enough to walk out there and get your sheep around the course.

 

Though entry fees aren’t bad, travel and dogs are expensive. Think thousands. Most handlers with day jobs hoard his/her vacation time and accept the holiday shifts so they can get away for the big trials.

 

Like poetry, it's " a mug’s game.”

 

And like poetry, it is beautiful.

 

Donald McCaig

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There are fewer reasons to compete in sheepdog trials. Its ego boosts are few and far between.

The whole post is very well written. But the above I must disagree.

Here is a very interesting video that immediately made me think of border collies and working stock, because in fact working sheep has all the ingredients for providing the most powerful motivation and hence satisfaction.

 

 

Maja

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Oh, wow, I'm really impressed by everyone's careful time and thought given, and wonderful, different and unique light to things as shared by Donald plus good insight perspectives from those not supporting agility as an expression of working ability. ...OK I need to go back several threads and restart edit on why serious agility folks are forced to do AKC if they are very serious about being outstanding in their field of expertise. Which again leads to why it is critical for us to band together and schedule a monthly petition of some sort against AKC conformation showing. We have to be focused and still try at the very least. I can't rest easy until we do something. At least we know that we can keep applying the pressure....

 

Think of it this way, if Eileen Stein hadn't started the crusade of unifying our boards for the working sheepherding tradition, we'd be SUNK!!!!! There's no way to educate the public without our B.C. Boards! This is the most vital board on the American side so there is a voice and that voice must be pursued against wrong AKC practices. I see tons of people wanting Border Collie pups, but this is the place they must! go to to understand the breed. Likewise, agility has to be understood because there are those who are breeding, and again, education, education, education, as well as willingness to understand several sides and issues involved

 

OK. I will start with problems with the UKC and NADAC. In the serious world of agility, standardized obstacles must absolutely be used. There is a certain competency level that all dogs must reach for the boldness and agility factor. NADAC is missing some crucial elements like the tire and other equipment. And UKC uses equipment which has very impractical and has confusing and unbeneficial purposes....The masters of agility and sheepherding originated in England. And there are traditions that evolved for important reasons. American AKC and USDAA hold those traditions. The severe problem of USDAA is the scarcity of available trials. To gain true on-the-field excelling levels you must!!!! participate in AKC. Even if one is a USDAA participant, to gain enough experience and expertise, AKC trials are very much needed. Hold on, I'll be back to continue. I gotta go somewhere, but will continue!

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Which again leads to why it is critical for us to band together and schedule a monthly petition of some sort against AKC conformation showing. We have to be focused and still try at the very least. I can't rest easy until we do something. At least we know that we can keep applying the pressure....

 

....

 

OK. I will start with problems with the UKC and NADAC. In the serious world of agility, standardized obstacles must absolutely be used. There is a certain competency level that all dogs must reach for the boldness and agility factor. NADAC is missing some crucial elements like the tire and other equipment. And UKC uses equipment which has very impractical and has confusing and unbeneficial purposes....The masters of agility and sheepherding originated in England. And there are traditions that evolved for important reasons. American AKC and USDAA hold those traditions. The severe problem of USDAA is the scarcity of available trials. To gain true on-the-field excelling levels you must!!!! participate in AKC. Even if one is a USDAA participant, to gain enough experience and expertise, AKC trials are very much needed. Hold on, I'll be back to continue. I gotta go somewhere, but will continue!

 

So you are pretty sure it is a worthy goal to waste time trying to change a corrupt organization that ANYONE will tell you will not change no matter what petitions you sign. During which time you support said organization, that does so much to actively contribute to the ongoing destruction of dog breeds, including and especially the bred you profess to love, and directly supports puppy mills, among other evils. Hence you are helping to make all of those problems worse while still not being able to get the changes made that you say "you have to try" to get made.

 

So quick question: why would you WASTE time trying to change AKC, all the while supporting it, when you could take all this energy for change and try to work with one of the alternate agility organizations to make it what you want/need? If they are smaller, and do not have all of the connected interests and attached "stuff" that AKC has (confo showing, breeding, etc etc) that makes AKC glacially resistant to change, wouldn't you be more likely to get what you profess to want petitioning one of them to include tire jumps or whatever? Or start a local club and put effort into getting more local trials together? And if, as you say, "Everyone" who is serious about agility feels this same way, wouldn't these other organizations be happy to expand their base if some small changes would make the org an acceptable venue to MACH types?

 

I'm sorry, maybe I'm missing something here. But your arguments seem really weird to me. What I'm reading between the lines is "I *want* to do ACK agility, but I *want* to not have to feel bad about my choice."

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Oh, wow, I'm really impressed by everyone's careful time and thought given, and wonderful, different and unique light to things as shared by Donald plus good insight perspectives from those not supporting agility as an expression of working ability. ...OK I need to go back several threads and restart edit on why serious agility folks are forced to do AKC if they are very serious about being outstanding in their field of expertise. Which again leads to why it is critical for us to band together and schedule a monthly petition of some sort against AKC conformation showing. We have to be focused and still try at the very least. I can't rest easy until we do something. At least we know that we can keep applying the pressure....

 

Think of it this way, if Eileen Stein hadn't started the crusade of unifying our boards for the working sheepherding tradition, we'd be SUNK!!!!! There's no way to educate the public without our B.C. Boards! This is the most vital board on the American side so there is a voice and that voice must be pursued against wrong AKC practices. I see tons of people wanting Border Collie pups, but this is the place they must! go to to understand the breed. Likewise, agility has to be understood because there are those who are breeding, and again, education, education, education, as well as willingness to understand several sides and issues involved

 

OK. I will start with problems with the UKC and NADAC. In the serious world of agility, standardized obstacles must absolutely be used. There is a certain competency level that all dogs must reach for the boldness and agility factor. NADAC is missing some crucial elements like the tire and other equipment. And UKC uses equipment which has very impractical and has confusing and unbeneficial purposes....The masters of agility and sheepherding originated in England. And there are traditions that evolved for important reasons. American AKC and USDAA hold those traditions. The severe problem of USDAA is the scarcity of available trials. To gain true on-the-field excelling levels you must!!!! participate in AKC. Even if one is a USDAA participant, to gain enough experience and expertise, AKC trials are very much needed. Hold on, I'll be back to continue. I gotta go somewhere, but will continue!

Nope. Sorry. Uh-uh.

 

Nobody has to go to the AKC to be outstanding in agility. Either you have been brainwashed or you simply aren't willing to do what it takes to avoid funding the destruction of the pedigreed dog. (Which is what you are doing if you hand money to the AKC.)

 

Even if it were true, competing in agility, or any other sport is not worth supporting the AKC with money, and your tacit approval. Why should they listen to your "pressure" when you are obviously willing to overlook their destructive tendencies to gratify your (not your dog's) desire to gather titles for your (not your dog's) scrapbook/ trophy shelf? It's all about ego gratification. Your dog would be just as happy running a course in a dog park where no prizes were being awarded. Your dog would be fine if he never saw another agility course in his life. Throw a stick in a creek for him. Take him for a run in the woods. Introduce him to sheepdogging. Or do agility with him, but don't rationalize your subsidy to an organization that is supporting puppy mills, destroying the genetic integrity of breed after breed, and pulling the wool over the eyes of people who can't see past the nice fluffy hair and registration slip of their AKC dog.

 

You say you don't like the AKC but are forced into their arms to chase ribbons. How does that make you any different from the guy in the breed ring? Because you are pursuing a title or a high standing among your peers in your fun-for-you dog-assisted hobby?

 

I've heard agility/obedience etc. people cry that their sport of choice was their "whole social outlet" and their "way of life." I can only respond that there is a great big world out there - much of it dog-friendly. Check it out sometime...

 

Bottom line - if agility is really that important to you, and the AKC has a corner on "the market," then maybe you should spend some of that energy that you allegedly use to "put pressure on them," (Which will have zip-point-nothing in the way of effect on them) and put "your money where your mouth is" to create more opportunities for people who want to do agility outside of the AKC to compete. Start a USDAA chapter in your area and put on trials. Be instrumental in helping people like you compete in their chosen sport without supporting the AKC.

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Gloria wrote: The prickliness of the debate arises, I think, in concern over how keenly the sporting world can or will police its own breeding practices, to assure that their dogs come from working lines, rather than 3 or 4 generations of sporting dogs who've never been tried on sheep. Because if that true working ability is not carefully nurtured and preserved ... it ebbs away in surprisingly short order. Then all we have left is a clever black-and-white dog who has been shorn from the roots of his origins.

 

Gloria this is very crucial point that you brought up and I say Amen to this! This is why even a champion sports agility breeder still needs to come back to the original sheepherding line to make sure that this intelligence, biddability, etc. never gets watered down… Calmness, the off switch are crucial to a good Border collie, the ability to focus versus the high drive of overstimulation. And policing the breed, again as I mentioned only one litter per year, paper agreements not to breed, are crucial to policing the breeding practice. And personally I’d rather see only a handful of agility breeding, and only those with years of champion lines and breeding experience and knowledge about the working border collie traditions.

 

Our Boys wrote: Serena, what did your agility friends say when you went on their forum and asked them to bridge the division by only purchasing puppies/dogs from proven working dogs? Don't you think that would get the AKC's attention?

 

Actually there are tons of AKC agility dog owners who do purchase dogs with ABCA registrations. They, like me, went to ABCA lineage to continue to support ABCA’s efforts. We also choose not to breed as well. However I did make a very critical mistake, and this was due to my ignorance and inexperience. Not all breeders with ABCA deserve ABCA. ABCA is the best resource to check for a breeder’s credibility and to look back on previous lines and what happened to the pups afterwards. Also it is up to us to report those breeders who were not responsible and are not “doing the right thing”.

 

Julie wrote: And of course if I want to go to clinics or trials, I need to *pay* someone to stay on my farm and look after the livestock. Oh, and lets not forget the livestock guardians, who have to be fed and vetted. And the cost of fencing and fence repairs, vaccines, deworming, shearing, lambing supplies. And the property taxes on the land. Perhaps there's even the expense of farm equipment (I can't claim that because I have no tractor, etc.; I do everything by hand). I could go on, but you probably get the picture. The dogs make my work much easier, but I also have to take care of that livestock EVERY day, rain or shine, hot or cold, in the dark, through the mud, and whether or not I actually feel physically up to it. Unlike agility equipment, sheep, cattle, goats, and poultry don't just sit around without needs during the times when I don't have the time, energy, or money to participate in my chosen activity. Livestock needs care, sometimes more care and sometimes less, but care all the same. The dogs help tremendousely with that and I get a great deal of satisfaction from our partnership and the jobs that are made easy with their help, but forgive me for having little sympathy for the drives you make and the money and time you spend when I am spending money and time caring for my livestock 365 days a year.

 

I totally agree with what Julie represents. I do understand all the special care that goes into the sheepherding, plus what she has so thoughtfully described in detail as what is “not rewarded” when one has working border collies. Almost all agility owners, I am thinking, do have the utmost respect that sheepherding will always be the ideal, the most special of trades and what a border collie was “meant” to do. However, what I was trying to share is that we have as intense of a love for our border collies and we are definitely trying our best to maintain as much traditions as possible. We do not have the sheepherding industry as our vocation, many of us are “city slickers” who chose border collies because there was something deep in them that we identify with. NO other dog breed will do because we bonded with that border collie. I am very obsessive and driving and a very hard worker, always eager to please, always trying my hardest, and being so persistent, these characteristics make me identify with the border collie. I love the way the border collies move, just like I love watching ballet too. Watching them think, problem solve, the whole works…We chose the border collie, yes, the agility folks chose them because the border collie goes one step beyond, just like we do whenever we go out to train, constantly challenging ourselves to be better and to truly excel.

 

If this makes it easier for everyone to understand, agility as with all things can be an all-consuming passion. For the top MACH handler, this is not fun and games, this goes beyond trophies and selfishness. And even when we do not achieve MACH, this is still the story of me and Eluane’s very special relationship. Every owner has a special story to share. If we could come to agreement and enjoy everyone’s company, more wonderful stories can be shared in spite of the divisiveness. This I still maintain. Does one think of the sport of being a top figure skater fun and games? Can we call being an artist fun and games? Or working for Cirque du Soleil. Being an artist is one of those professions, a person can easily see as having no real value. It’s merely eye candy, or as the saying goes for high-end design in general only the rich and fabulously wealthy have a demand or appreciation of expensive high-end design. But does that make being an artist not “work”…? Both the artist and the plumber/someone with real tangible trade skills—all have their unique and wonderful contributions. And we do have to support worthy causes and work together.

 

Think of it this way...a lot of figure skaters go and try their hardest to compete. But only a bare handful make it, but they will try their darn hardest to compete to national and international levels. Imagine if they can only go to a handful of venues. Imagine if those ice skaters were limited to only Skate America. How can they achieve excellence with only a single venue? It’s IMPOSSIBLE. You bet they will try to gain as many venues as possible. We also have to understand that an agility dog only has 5-6 years to be at their peak prime. If one only has a scattering of agility trials to go to, it leads us with little choice in our regional area.

 

Finally, we still need to do the best we can. And surely it can’t be that hard to schedule amongst ourselves monthly times to petition AKC...Believe me, take conservationists and environmentalists. They constantly fight corruption and a losing battle against conglomerates and corrupt industries. Yet never do they give up. Should we not take that exact stance ourselves??????

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OK. I will start with problems with the UKC and NADAC. In the serious world of agility, standardized obstacles must absolutely be used. There is a certain competency level that all dogs must reach for the boldness and agility factor. NADAC is missing some crucial elements like the tire and other equipment. And UKC uses equipment which has very impractical and has confusing and unbeneficial purposes....The masters of agility and sheepherding originated in England. And there are traditions that evolved for important reasons. American AKC and USDAA hold those traditions. The severe problem of USDAA is the scarcity of available trials. To gain true on-the-field excelling levels you must!!!! participate in AKC. Even if one is a USDAA participant, to gain enough experience and expertise, AKC trials are very much needed. ...

 

OK, I will start with saying that I play in agility with my dog. I do not use him for sheep-herding (although I wish like heck that I had the time, etc. to do so). I don't see any problems with NADAC, USDAA, CPE or UKC agility trials if that is what one wants to play at. Each venue has its strengths and weaknesses. Whether or not an organization includes "crucial elements like the tire or some other equipment" doesn't mean it is not a valid agility organization. I don't see that the tire or any other piece of equipment is integral to an agility course. There are just different ways of playing a game that started in England in the late 1970s as an entertainment feature during the intermission at the Crufts Dog Show. (not much of a tradition in the grand scheme of things IMO)

 

Actually, some of the better handlers I have seen trial in NADAC - and I have only been to 3 NADAC trials. I believe some NADAC enthusiasts would believe that AKC-only handlers lack on-the-field handling skills, and vice versa. Ever try directing your dog through most of an agility course while standing 60 feet away?? I don't know of any AKC-only competitor who could accomplish that.

 

I have not yet tried USDAA because IMHO they require the dogs to jump too high - for repetitive training and trialing. My dog would have to jump 26" instead of 20". He can jump 26" easily, but I do not want to subject him to that repetitive jumping.

 

In a broader view, AKC is a poor preparation for international-style agility trials. Thus I find your statement "To gain true on-the-field excelling levels you must!!!! participate in AKC." to be limited.

 

In my mind, if one wants to talk about serious agility, where are the rubble heaps, scaling a solid wall and other obstacles that police dogs are trained on? Or how about jumping stone walls, creeping under barbed wire fences, jumping out of the way of bovine kicks, etc. that a working sheepdog routinely encounters?

 

As impassioned as you are about AKC agility, it is only one minor piece of the broader world of "agility".

 

Jovi

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If this makes it easier for everyone to understand, agility as with all things can be an all-consuming passion. For the top MACH handler, this is not fun and games, this goes beyond trophies and selfishness. And even when we do not achieve MACH, this is still the story of me and Eluane’s very special relationship. Every owner has a special story to share. If we could come to agreement and enjoy everyone’s company, more wonderful stories can be shared in spite of the divisiveness. This I still maintain. Does one think of the sport of being a top figure skater fun and games? Can we call being an artist fun and games? Or working for Cirque du Soleil. Being an artist is one of those professions, a person can easily see as having no real value. It’s merely eye candy, or as the saying goes for high-end design in general only the rich and fabulously wealthy have a demand or appreciation of expensive high-end design. But does that make being an artist not “work”…? Both the artist and the plumber/someone with real tangible trade skills—all have their unique and wonderful contributions. And we do have to support worthy causes and work together.

 

Think of it this way...a lot of figure skaters go and try their hardest to compete. But only a bare handful make it, but they will try their darn hardest to compete to national and international levels. Imagine if they can only go to a handful of venues. Imagine if those ice skaters were limited to only Skate America. How can they achieve excellence with only a single venue? It’s IMPOSSIBLE. You bet they will try to gain as many venues as possible. We also have to understand that an agility dog only has 5-6 years to be at their peak prime. If one only has a scattering of agility trials to go to, it leads us with little choice in our regional area.

 

Finally, we still need to do the best we can. And surely it can’t be that hard to schedule amongst ourselves monthly times to petition AKC...Believe me, take conservationists and environmentalists. They constantly fight corruption and a losing battle against conglomerates and corrupt industries. Yet never do they give up. Should we not take that exact stance ourselves??????

 

 

I still don't understand what you're saying. So agility is hard work, like many other pastimes- no-one here has disagreed with this. But you can't get a working sheepdog by breeding for agility as well as you can get an agility dog by breeding for working sheep. No-one's saying that agility doesn't require effort. But it's not what created the border collie, it's a sport designed so that many different breeds can take part.

 

If you participate in AKC events and petition them, you're supporting them with your money and by showing up. That's what they care about. It's like saying I'll protest the puppy farmer down the road by buying a dog from him and writing him a letter- he doesn't care about the letter, he's delighted with me for giving him the money. You're not fighting corruption by drawuing up monthly petitions, you're just wasting paper.

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Find this topic odd. But have to ask... why do you keep saying MACH handlers and not agility handler? You make it sound as if they are two different handler groups.

 

Good point. I missed this distinction. After attending (spectator only) the National Agility Finals and seeing many MACH dogs/handlers, I can tell you that I was struck by what poor handling skills quite a few "MACH handlers" had.

 

Jovi

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The thread title refers to "bridging the division" between working and sport BCs -- but wasn't that division created, back in the early 1990s, by the AKC's co-opting and "recognizing" the Border Collie? Before that, there wasn't any such division, really -- there were working BCs and BCs that couldn't work, but there were no breeders of 'sport' BCs. (There also wasn't AKC agility, but never one to miss an opportunity for $$$$$, they glommed onto that shortly after they dragooned the BC and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.)

 

So now the OP is proposing that the BC that was essentially created by the AKC be -- what? eliminated? modified? made more like the real BC? -- by petitioning the AKC?

 

It sounds like a trip down the rabbit hole to me. :)

 

And as another poster mentioned, Mr. McCaig's book "Dog Wars" is immensely helpful to understanding the relationship between the AKC and the BC.

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Finally, we still need to do the best we can. And surely it can’t be that hard to schedule amongst ourselves monthly times to petition AKC...Believe me, take conservationists and environmentalists. They constantly fight corruption and a losing battle against conglomerates and corrupt industries. Yet never do they give up. Should we not take that exact stance ourselves??????

 

The crucial difference between petitioning AKC and fighting corruption/conglomerates, etc, is that in the instances where something substantial changed, it was because 1)the company or conglomerate was sued, often with the case taking many, many years to wind its way through the legal system and costing everyone, including the consumer, tons of money or 2)there was an enormous public outcry. By enormous, I mean hundreds of thousands of people, some of whom were very influential publicly. And by 'very influential publicly',I mean the entire population of the US, not just border collie fans.

 

Suing the AKC isn't going to happen, not unless I win an enormous lottery and want to devote the rest of my life to the process.

 

The enormous public outcry isn't going to happen, either. There aren't enough people who care.

 

While I think it is misplaced, I admire your passion. Like others, though, I'm puzzled that you pay AKC and ask them to change at the same time. I think you can't ride two horses at the same time. And, you as an individual have No Power In AKCwhile you're paying them. If you want to become part of their political process, go for it.

 

Is your passion, however you define it, strong enough to deny yourself the pleasures of doing AKC agility? Make no mistake, all you're feeding is your own ego, participating in AKC. Your dog doesn't care what kind of venue it runs around, jumping over things, and running on top of other things, it's all about you and your wants/desires. Deny yourself this gratification and stop feeding the AKC, stop hanging out with others who are AKC defenders.

 

Make NADACC stronger and better. Someone else mentioned that it's much easier to change a smaller, less entrenched organization.

 

Stop with the justifications. I don't think that your burst of good feelings after you achieve an AKC ribbon plus your good intentions to change the AKC cancels out their endless history of repeating mistake after hideous mistake and calling it 'correct' or 'good breeding'.

 

Ruth

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Finally, we still need to do the best we can. And surely it can’t be that hard to schedule amongst ourselves monthly times to petition AKC...Believe me, take conservationists and environmentalists. They constantly fight corruption and a losing battle against conglomerates and corrupt industries. Yet never do they give up. Should we not take that exact stance ourselves??????

 

By this analogy, essentially what you are doing is buying stock in the WORST of environmentally unfriendly companies like ConAgra, Chevron, and Monsanto; voting to allow or deregulate practices strip logging, overfishing, and mining; supporting candidates whose platform wants to strip existing laws such as the CLean Water Act, Endangered Species Act of their existing powers; voting against initiatives for renewable energy and public transportation; buying and driving a Hum V instead of any of the less impactful vehicles that would still fulfill your needs; and making purchasing choices that are all about waste, unnecessary packaging, and toxic plastics. Then signing a petition to "Save our Forests" and using this to claim that you are an environmentalist and telling other people they really should be more green. That's not fighting corporations or being a conservationist, that's HYPOCRISY.

 

But all of these analogies (including the ice skaters and artists) are smokescreens. They are getting away from and obscuring the real point. Again I directly ask, why not point the impetus you have to change things towards making one or more of the non-AKC venues into what you want/need it to be?

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I don't see any problems with NADAC, USDAA, CPE or UKC agility trials if that is what one wants to play at. Each venue has its strengths and weaknesses.

 

I concur with this. There really is no venue that is somehow more "authentic" than another. There are some that more closely resemble what Agility was at a certain point in time, but at this stage of the game, Agility exists in many forms - each equally valid.

 

If one wants prestige, yes, there are venues that are more "prestigious" than others. And yes, AKC is one of the "prestigious" venues. As is USDAA.

 

But really, what is this sport truly about? Accolades? You know, that really is going to depend on each individual participant. Yes, there are many to whom the prestige and the accolades matter. But there are many others who simply want to achieve something with their dog in a working partnership in a game that they love. And that can happen in any venue, really.

 

Some are after high level competition. That's cool for those who are into that sort of thing and have a dog with the temperament to enjoy it as much as the handler. Those teams are certainly out there. But that's not for everyone, either, and it doesn't need to be.

 

The variety of venues in Agility really reflects the preferences and goals of the diverse population that enjoys the sport of Agility. All that is crucial to me is that the dog and handler are working toward appropriate goals for their team and are enjoying the ride. And, as SS Cressa pointed out, that goes far beyond MACH handlers, as well.

 

Whether or not an organization includes "crucial elements like the tire or some other equipment" doesn't mean it is not a valid agility organization. I don't see that the tire or any other piece of equipment is integral to an agility course.

 

I concur. And I think some of the games in the different organizations are a brilliant addition that broaden the scope of the sport. It is an aspect of Agility that AKC has not really gone in for, either, although I understand there is some movement in that direction with the fast class?

 

Actually, some of the better handlers I have seen trial in NADAC - and I have only been to 3 NADAC trials. I believe some NADAC enthusiasts would believe that AKC-only handlers lack on-the-field handling skills, and vice versa. Ever try directing your dog through most of an agility course while standing 60 feet away?? I don't know of any AKC-only competitor who could accomplish that.

 

I'm quite impressed by the distance work that some of the NADAC handlers do.

 

I have not yet tried USDAA because IMHO they require the dogs to jump too high - for repetitive training and trialing. My dog would have to jump 26" instead of 20". He can jump 26" easily, but I do not want to subject him to that repetitive jumping.

 

Same here. There is so much more to Agility than jumping high. I'd rather jump my dog at a reasonable hight and focus on other skills.

 

As impassioned as you are about AKC agility, it is only one minor piece of the broader world of "agility".

 

I concur with this, as well.

 

I realize that none of this has anything directly to do with bridging the gap between stockdog handlers (which I am not and have no plans to ever be) and Agility competitors who run Border Collies (which I am), but it is an interesting aspect of the discussion.

 

Agility is so much more than AKC. AKC is just one manifestation of the game. A tire does not make Agility. AKC does not make Agility. It goes way beyond any of those things!!

 

If your personal preference is for AKC, then that is what it is, but that hardly renders the rest of the Agility world null and void!!

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Curious about the AKC agility and AKC breeders, do the sport AKC breeders prefer that their puppy buyers compete AKC and is there a marketing stradigy for puppy sales and stud dog services by gaining titles in AKC over the other venues?

 

I could see where a person would feel "forced" to compete AKC if the breeder who they purchased their dog from required it some how.

 

Not sayin' it is so, don't know.

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Curious about the AKC agility and AKC breeders, do the sport AKC breeders prefer that their puppy buyers compete AKC and is there a marketing stradigy for puppy sales and stud dog services by gaining titles in AKC over the other venues?

 

I could see where a person would feel "forced" to compete AKC if the breeder who they purchased their dog from required it some how.

 

Not sayin' it is so, don't know.

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I realize that none of this has anything directly to do with bridging the gap between stockdog handlers (which I am not and have no plans to ever be) and Agility competitors who run Border Collies (which I am), but it is an interesting aspect of the discussion.

 

I really don't think that the intent of the thread has much to do with a general bridging of a gap between stockdog handlers and agility competitors. Despite the title, the OP has laid out a very specific gap to bridge - that of the working Border Collie and the AKC agility world.

 

Furthermore, she really seems to be interested in laying out a scenario by which the working BC enthusiasts would acknowledge that there is a place for breeding dogs that were agility champions that had not been proved as stock working dogs. Which seems a really odd proposal to make on this particular board where the breeding philosophy has been clearly laid out time and time again.

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I really don't think that the intent of the thread has much to do with a general bridging of a gap between stockdog handlers and agility competitors. Despite the title, the OP has laid out a very specific gap to bridge - that of the working Border Collie and the AKC agility world.

 

I'm definitely more interested in the topic suggested by the title myself. :D

 

In addition, I'm rather surprised at the notion that "Agility" would be equated with "AKC Agility", since AKC Agility is just one type of Agility within the far broader context of the sport, which exists in a good many manifestations within quite a few venues.

 

Maybe not what the OP was hoping to talk about, but I consider it to be a worthy branch of the discussion to explore further. :D

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....personally Id rather see only a handful of agility breeding...

Why?

 

....and only those with years of champion lines and breeding experience and knowledge about the working border collie traditions.

Why/how are these people so knowledgeable about the working border collie traditions? What are their qualifications?

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It seems to me that the bridge already exists. The people in agility saw the working Border Collie and said, "That's for me!" Then they took it over the bridge to the other side. And then some of them - the ones with only a dim idea of what a working Border Collie is - decided to "make the best better." This was of course bound to be a failure, just as the breeding of Border Collies for the breed ring is bound to be a failure. If you don't work the dogs at what made them what they are, then you don't have a working Border Collie anymore.

 

Now they want a bridge... I say, let them come back over the bridge they left by, and stop breeding dogs altogether. Buy the real working Border Collie from the real working Border Collie breeders and then everybody will have what they want - good, sound, useful dogs.

 

These people want Border Collies because they are one of the few dogs that the AKC hasn't managed to destroy yet. They don't want German Shepherd Dogs because they've been ruined. The Shetland Sheepdog it on the road to hell as well. They don't want the AKC wrecks, but they many like the OP are willing to get in bed with the organization that wrecked these dogs. I say, anyone who is a friend to the AKC is no friend of the Border Collie.

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I'm definitely more interested in the topic suggested by the title myself.

 

:D It would be a slightly wider topic to discuss.

 

In addition, I'm rather surprised at the notion that "Agility" would be equated with "AKC Agility", since AKC Agility is just one type of Agility within the far broader context of the sport, which exists in a good many manifestations within quite a few venues.

 

Well, the AKC is very good at advertising themselves as the only/best game in town.

 

But I was surprised too. Since I don't train for competitive agility I wasn't sure if there were some nuances that I was somehow missing. Everybody's responses have confirmed my initial thoughts on the matter.

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eeeks so many wonderful and valid comments but I keep falling further and further behind. OK. What I am referring to is the MACH, Master Agility Champion. Now there are dogs that constantly achieve the very minimum basics of MACH, and it is true there are those handlers which won't be the stellar ideal MACH, but for a Border Collie owner MACH those instances are very rare... The stellar MACH handler has real and consistent placings (1st, 2nd, 3rd place) real ranks in the National competitions. Many of them also teach and instruct as well, like my friend. Finally, the way a MACH breeder gets to be a responsible breeder is by having CLOSE FRIENDS AND RELATIONS WITH PEOPLE ON THIS BOARD who do have the sheepherding experience, advice and expertise. These breeders do keep in contact with ABCA, they replenish their B.C. lines with working B.Cs, they work all the elements of obedience, focus, intelligence in the dog. All this takes time and real friendships and shared goals. And the breeders have to set aside a time when they can spend time with the pups and give up certain parts of their agility competitions as well to concentrate on breeding during the off-season of agility. As I keep emphasizing over and over, the whole purpose and dedication which Eileen Stein took to educate new owners as well as help breeders be better breeders too.As I have stressed over and over again these boards are very monumental to the welfare of our Border Collies. If you don't have MACH in AKC you are merely a hobbyist handler and "pet owner" of the B.C. Note, I'm only talking about those with AKC registered dogs. If a B.C. handler has titles and ranks in USDAA they are champions in their own right and deserve to breed if and only if they do all the responsible things required and if their B.C. has the ideal B.C. traits and health soundness. I'm only talking AKC and MACH to stay on topic with petitioning AKC.

 

By the way, please if any MACH border collie owner is here lurking or if anyone knows a real good MACH handler, I did some research and found a great petition website. And, people, please do not think money is the only thing that will shame a corporation into changing its practice. Famous people will sponsor, we just have to alert them and to keep trying and pressuring too. Just look at our politics, you have Warren Buffet who dares speak the truth about corruption and things not being right or fair. Remember it's the corporation that needs to be changed. There are some very sweet and special AKC secretaries and judges for example. Do not throw these people under the bus as corrupt evildoers, because some are so knowledgeable, thoughtful and some even have a "heart of gold". But again, this has to do with trying to be braver and braver...It's hard for MACH handlers, judges, secretaries because there is peer pressure and fear of offending key people and they've already spent years of their lives dedicated to a lifestyle and a vocation. What needs to change is the organization. A lot of them really care about the welfare of dogs and we just need to do things like stop all the terrible things....and there is comfort in numbers. It only takes one or two to step up to the plate...Then the rest will start following...It's about fielding ideas and someone needs to get the catalyst going someone who has real standing and clout in the agility world...

 

Here is the best website for petitioning...

 

http://www.change.org/

 

but please, please note!!! their very important advice on how to start a very effective campaign going. We have to focus and also send out the petition to an actual specific individual within the organization. It takes a really skilled writer who has real agility ranking, prestige.

 

http://www.change.org/guides

 

So hopefully someone with passion and commitment can do this. It may also mean writing and knocking on doors of these MACH handlers. There's a Stuart Mah, for example, a Marcus Topps. And they've got tons of experience in USDAA and will not be as cowed down by the AKC, I'm thinking... who knows, you never know....Emails, websites are always available.

 

Debbie wrote: Curious about the AKC agility and AKC breeders, do the sport AKC breeders prefer that their puppy buyers compete AKC and is there a marketing stradigy for puppy sales and stud dog services by gaining titles in AKC over the other venues?

 

Debbie we are only discussing AKC agility MACH Border Collie breeders. Tons love USDAA, and just wish there were more trials available. Most consider NADAC as additional great practice time. The breeders don't care if the pups never compete at AKC especially if it's because of ideology....But they do think personally that a gifted pup should be allowed the chance to shine at agility, no matter what the venue is but they are not going to boss anyone around on this either. It would be pointless and very wrong to. And many of those MACH breeders also make sure their dog is well-rounded. Many also have Obedience Titles and yes, Sheepherding training (note it's training I'm now careful with my choice of words)

 

USDAA by the way forces the higher heights to also prepare for the FCI Worlds...That is why I maintain that AKC and USDAA uphold the international levels in Europe. I do disagree about the tire, the tire has a definite use because the dog must center its vision and focus in a very narrow area. There are also specific uses for certain equipment but don't want to digress too much. And by the way, the tire is my personal thorn in my side. I dread the tire but it is necessary for testing agility.

 

Kristin I did want to differentiate those handlers who "work" their dog in agility goals versus the hobbyist handler. I consider myself a hobbyist handler who desperately wishes she was a "worker MACH handler" and will keep fighting for those levels in spite of the "impossibility"; but I am still very concerned and we do need to change. There is a wonderful internet article about petitioners who protested the United Kingdom AKC show and created enough of a huge uproar so that the British AKC was forced to take out the offending puppy mill sponsor....The Brits to this day are still diligently working on that puppy mill issue because just like the American AKC, the British AKC has done its share of bad things too and still will not lift a single finger against puppy mills. So during crucial times, at the British forum I belong to, some dedicated person will pass around another petition. The total irony is that it all looks good on the website, but the implied knowledge is a bunch of terrible malarky if you read behind the lines. A new person coming to the AKC will go to the Puppy mill issue question and can still come out not even noticing the terrible potential loopholes. Nowhere in that site does it talk about enforcing healthy breeding, and passes the buck onto the Humane Societies and Animal Welfare groups to do all the hard work. Bogus, bogus, bogus!!!! You don't get any hint of them having puppy mill sponsors. And in fact it was the boards here that alerted me so I had to go off and do my separate research. And yes, there is hope, because if the Brits did it, so can we. It takes years to keep pressuring....Ruth, I disagree, that people don't care. They are just don't know. Someone will eventually care enough to step up to the plate. Petitions are so easy to sign...

 

Ooky, I don't consider figure skating at all to be a smokescreen. These are real concrete facts about what is available to an ordinary handler like myself in our region, working our hardest to achieve the ideal and with very limited venues to attend. The iceskating is the real deal because it can easily feel "just for fun" instead of the driving passion for it. And every iceskater still dreams to achieve their little part of the ring.... I have no clout or prestige in the agility field. We train on our own. No instructor, we are extremely isolated but with a very sweet dog that people love and remember. I depend on my MACH friend and the people in England to train me. There is no one training us for financial reasons now. I choose the venue where my friends are at. Friendship, support, these are the things which draw us together. Again, if we are involved we have the responsibility to voice and try to change the organization....

 

I will write tomorrow again, I feel I didn't have time to address the details. Other parts of Julie's and Maja's comments were not addressed yet (I covered some of Julie's) and I've got Maralynn's and so many others.

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FCI agility is what AKC world team compete in.

 

IFCS agility is what USDAA world team compete in.

 

AKC is the american version of the British KC. Its not the british AKC. It called just KC(kennel club).

 

MACH is a title a dog earns not a person. No matter how good the handler is they are NOT a MACH handler.

 

Are you thinking world team member? When talking about serious agility folks? :-)

 

your terms and thought process is confusing me to no end.

 

ETA: To earn a MACH all you need is 20 dbl Qs and I think 700pts. How is that all exclusive and makes a handler AMAZING?

 

And unless you know all these AKC "MACH" border collie breeders... please don't speak for them like you know what they are breeding for!

 

How long have you done the sport for? Why don't you think you can earn a MACH?

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OP-

 

What don't you get about "breeding for stockworking ability is the #1 and only valid reason to breed Border Collies?"

 

"Infusing a "MACH" breeding program with working lines" is not the same thing. Have you never read the "read this first" sticky at the top of this forum?

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If you don't have MACH in AKC you are merely a hobbyist handler and "pet owner" of the B.C.

 

OK, now I understand completely where you are coming from. Thankfully I don't run into many people in real life who have this particular mindset. I doubt I would be involved with Agility at all if I did.

 

Seriously, I doubt you are going to bridge many divisions. With the attitude that you express, you may well not even bridge the division between yourself and the vast majority of Agility handlers.

 

I did want to differentiate those handlers who "work" their dog in agility goals versus the hobbyist handler.

 

I personally know a good many handlers who have several MACH titles. Knowing them, I am confident that none of them would claim that many of their colleagues and students, who choose venues other than AKC or USDAA, "work" any less than they themselves do. In fact, some very likely work even harder for a good many reasons.

 

If any of them so much as implied such a thing, I certainly wouldn't respect them to the degree that I do.

 

I consider myself a hobbyist handler who desperately wishes she was a "worker MACH person" and will keep fighting for those levels in spite of the "impossibility"; but I am still very concerned and we do need to change.

 

If you want a change, I'd suggest trying out some of the other venues. Hang out with folks who aren't looking for prestige and who put as much of their hearts and souls into the sport as you have into seeking the MACH. Get to know the other side firsthand - come to know some of the impossible odds that many of the teams have overcome just to be there.

 

Then you may find some of the bridges that you are looking for - even where you least expect to find them.

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