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


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Guys, lol, at least we agree on one thing, the importance to send agreements/contracts not to breed papers...Folks, wouldn't you think us agility folks still need to police themselves-- otherwise agility folks will only breed exclusively amongst themselves, they will disregard wanting to learn about their sheepherding traditions, and they'll continue to willy-nilly breed and not look for essential qualities that are very important to the working border collie talents, intelligence biddability, and other crucial factors. Agility folks still are part of the border collie family and it's important that we have to stay in touch with them or else the whole agility line is gonna be sunk, torpedoed to crap!

 

Egads, Kelliepup! no, no, and no!!! there is a safe age to spay puppies and that is 6 mos. One mustn't spay/neuter a puppy when it's at such a tender age (before being sold)! Most puppy seekers want and prefer pups from 7-14 weeks. Agreement-contract papers are all that are needed and if they don't honor, shouldn't we have a warning list about the folks who do break their contract and become unethical pet breeders???

 

Someone once told me that it's ok to ask these boards about original pedigree lines, that it's been done before on this forum so I'm curious as to what the Boards say when a potential new Border Collie owner comes to inquire about reputable breeders. To me part of "policing" is to let people know who the reliable breeders are, at the very least and to warn against those who breed in flagrantly irresponsible ways such as pups with serious health problems, those who fail to deworm, those who falsify their "working records", those who are nothing more than a version of semi puppy-mill in their disregard to the amount of litters they are sending out.

 

To me part of the bridge is helping Border Collie owners make the right decision, correcting any misconceptions, policing and managing our own...

 

Eileen and SueR, thank you for clarifying and helping me understand what the ROM program is used for.

 

Sue wrote:

You can register any backyard bred, agility bred, who-knows-what-bred (but with registered parents) Border Collie in ABCA.

 

But then I'm sure ABCA would eventually want to tighten up the requirements to stop the backyard bred, who-knows-what-bred... ABCA, the organization itself, means the world to me, so I'm sure they'd espouse the highest standards too...

 

Eileen, Mums24Dogs and Diana, thanks for also shedding some more light amidst the confusion. I sort of covered my feelings that most sheepherders are too busy making a living to immerse themselves in agility and that it had to be a real passion with them for them to make that effort. But I think it's still a reality that the UK'ers have far easier access than they do in the U.S. when it comes to agility-sheepherding folks contacting each other should they wish to do so. I've got several UK friends who pay working sheepherders to teach them hobby herding as a sideline "hobby". Granted it's not work, but it's an enjoyable and constructive hobby for an agility person and their B.C. to bond....Eileen, also correct me if I made any misassumptions on the lifestyle of a sheepherder which I wrote down below. A lot of people here got super mad, but sometimes it's nice to find out what a typical day is really like for the sheepherder.

 

Serena wrote: To which I reply that's because top U.S. sheepherding experts are too busy working sheep, and don't have the time for intensive agility. If they do indeed do agility with their working dogs on the sideline, it's an extreme rarity and it's because they have a deep passion for it. But normally this take superhuman effort and really going beyond... Sheepherders have a full-time job to do in which food on the table is of critical priority. And the dogs are plain tuckered out, they are tired. They often work 14 hour shifts, I would guess... And so do their owners...They need to take care of real responsibilities, much of which involves intense manual/physical labor....

 

Guys, 14 hours was what I watched a television show from an English sheepherder. So if I heard wrong or remembered wrong, let me know, and yes, agility folks do have curiosity and it's important to realize that we are all here to learn as well...

 

But back to the topic, I just thought that it would have been a great idea about what policing the agility lines might entail if one were to have real test performances for intelligence, biddability, skillsets for example in an agility dog, as well as the physical soundness requirements. But heck, it's understood if everyone hated my ideas or thought it was out-of-touch with reality. I figure tons of agility breeders would hate my ideas too, :P. I'm sure they'd be pretty angry at my requirement that they spend extra money and time attending sheepherding trials and/or seminars, creating all these contract and paperwork hassle as well, attending monthly meetings to discuss agility issues - whether it's training, venues, regulations, etc. I'm sure the agility breeders would say, you are not a breeder, you never will breed in your life, you barely have agility experience except with one dog, get out of our faces! Striped zebras don't belong anywhere. Agility breeders for the most part would not be "kind" in their assessment, I'm pretty sure, lol! Not everyone can have as much patience/kindness like Rootbeer. I've always rattled and driven 90% of my grade school teachers totally berserk, so it's 2nd childhood revisited, as I continue to question and ask and do crazy guesswork, trying to figure things out....

 

Rootbeer wrote:

Serena, thank you for answering my question.

 

Indeed, there are many different mindsets within every aspect of the dog sport world. Yours and mine are about as different as can be, although we do share an appreciation for Agility, and especially for running Agility with Border Collies, in some measure. Our approach to the discipline, and our personal definitions of success are night and day polar opposites, as well as our perspectives on the breeding of Border Collies.

 

But I wanted to say that I do appreciate the fuller glimpse into where you are coming from, and I hope you enjoy running with Eluane for many years to come.

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Egads, Kelliepup! no, no, and no!!! there is a safe age to spay puppies and that is 6 mos. One mustn't spay/neuter a puppy when it's at such a tender age (before being sold)! Most puppy seekers want and prefer pups from 7-14 weeks. Agreement-contract papers are all that are needed and if they don't honor, shouldn't we have a warning list about the folks who do break their contract and become unethical pet breeders???

 

 

Actually, vets are still debating on whether it is safe or not and have evidence to support both sides, so even the vets don't agree on this. Therefore, it has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with personal belief/preference. The rescues in my area will and do spay/neuter surgeries as young as 8 weeks. The only requirements are healthy and of sufficient weight. So the question is about growth and hormones and their role in the growing process, that is what is still being debated with no clear answer when last I looked. One might even argue that 6 months isn't safe and to wait a year. Or two years so the growth plates settle.*

 

It's like a balancing act between unproven health risks and accidental/unethical breeding risks and there isn't enough concrete evidence in either direction to make a scientifically informed decision.

 

What good is a list going to be? The damage is still done. Look how many times Swafford was shut down only to start up again in another state. Everyone knows, but it is profitable, so the problem persists. To that type of person, even a spay/neuter deposit isn't going to work because of potential gains. Not to mention that registry organizations don't really care how the puppy came to be as long as the parents were registered. That alone brings these puppies, who might be the sorriest excuse for the breed ever seen, out of the realm of "just a dog" and into the realm of prestige. These people don't care about bettering the breed, all they see are dollar signs marking the puppies' fur.

 

Then, there are people who might think they have that one in a million agility dog, they have the wins, and the line needs to be continued, so they "breed responsibly" in their mind, but, in actuality, end up hurting the breed as a whole, and all the while thinking they are different than the people just breeding for profit. With border collies, here's the secret, because they are not breeding for the working ability, they are every bit as bad to the breed as those puppy mills.

 

The only way to be sure the puppy won't be bred is to have it altered before it goes to it's new home. Outside of rescues, what's the likelihood of that happening? Is it really fair then to condemn those breeding for the right reasons if one of their sales is used for a future breeding? That brings us to educating people, and even then, not every one listens.

 

 

*My personal preference is to spay/neuter later because I personally believe hormones play an important role in maturation, especially concerning growth plates; however, I understand the other part of the argument.

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It is more difficult to extinguish a behavior than it is to shape it (with positive methods), and since we can't humanely euthanize folks, I'm guessing a leash pop is in order.

 

If we follow the "when to use an adversive" tree/model, then I would have to agree. For something this serious, perhaps even an e-collar, correctly used, is in order. ;):P

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Because you aren't going to produce a high probability of open trial winners by putting the stock work talents as a secondary consideration.

This statement, taken in context, suggests to me you believe that any open winner is worthy of breeding. I don't use open wins as a breeding standard because dogs can win in open that I don't believe should be bred and dogs may not win in open that I believe should be bred.
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Because you aren't going to produce a high probability of open trial winners by putting the stock work talents as a secondary consideration.

This statement, taken in context, suggests to me you believe that any open winner is worthy of breeding.

 

FWIW, what Diana wrote does not come across that way to me at all. I think you are not hearing her explanation.

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This statement suggests to me you believe that any open winner is worthy of breeding. I don't use open wins as a breeding standard because dogs can win in open that I don't believe should be bred and dogs may not win in open that I believe should be bred.

 

No, I actually did say in one of my recent posts that I've seen open trial winners that I wouldn't want a pup out of. And I picked my last pup based on the work I saw of a full brother who was still only in Pronovice (but I just liked the dog) and had one parent with open trial wins and one parent who had never trialed. I don't think an open trial winner should automatically be bred. But you still aren't likely to produce a dog good enough to win open trials if you aren't breeding for work. It's not as if any old biscuit eater can walk off with an open trial win. Even if open trial winner isn't a sign of top quality talent, it's still something requiring a halfway decent dog and not something you're going to get with haphazard breeding. It certainly isn't something that a person with agility as their main focus is going to acheive by 'dabbling' in the stockdog world and trying to better an inferior dog by throwing in the occasional token working line. So a requirement of open trial accopmlisments for dogs of a potentially questionable background (such as a world team agility dog) would weed out most (maybe all) of those dogs from putting their genetics back into ABCA and be an improvment over the 'anything goes' policy in place now. At the very least it means the person trialing and training that dog should be well acquainted with its strong and weak points with regard to working ability and be in a better position to judge its qualities than if the dog has never worked sheep off its home turf. And it absolutely would guarantee people with sport dogs who had never even seen stock wouldn't be able to register those offspring.

 

And as I said before, I wasn't being entirely serious - my suggestion was more of a knee jerk reaction to the suggestion of setting requirements like the owner has attended seminars and meets yearly to discuss issues (which have no bearing on the dog's ability at all). In reality, you'd never be able to put a requirement like this in place because first you'd have to define who would need to meet it (obviously not real sheep ranchers who don't even trial, or as you said, owners of good dogs who know their dog is good even if it's not a trial dog). It's something you'd want for 'questionable dogs' but who's going to define what is considered a questionable dog and track it? Do we expect ABCA to look at every registration that comes in and figure out if the parents have competed in agility trials, or if the owner doesn't live on a sheep or cattle ranch, or look up the trial record of both parents?

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For me, and I need dogs for my job.

 

The trials are a way of seeing alot of dogs work on a strange field on strange sheep.

 

 

 

I am not a trainer- and boy- I find it very tough at Open.

 

 

But more than once I have seen a handler walk off the trial field discouraged. And plop down next to me. and I have said, I'd take your dog in a heartbeat. Because he could work cattle, goats or sheep. Work all day, and not quit.

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OK, you guys, play nice. :P

 

You both want the same thing. I think what Diana is saying is that there already are agility breeders, whether we want them or not, so if we could make a registration policy so stiff that they would not be able to register their puppies, they might throw up their hands and just do what they ought to have been doing all along – buying their dogs from people whose overriding priority is the best quality stock work.

 

Diana’s proposals may have been made tongue-in-cheek, but which is likely to work better, lamenting and decrying the foolish practice of breeding for anything but stock work, or to suggest strategies that would make it prohibitively difficult for them to do so?

 

 

Yes, this exactly is what I was getting at. I do not believe border collies should be bred for agility. First, I don't think it's necessary in order to get a good agility dog. Second, even if it was necessary to breed for agility to get a good agility dog, getting good agility dogs is not a good enough reason to risk ruining the breed.

 

Luckily for the agility people they can get what they need from those who do breed for work, so in theory we can make everyone happy, the trick is convincing the people who buy (or want to breed) agility dogs of that. Or if convincing doesn't work, find a way to force the issue. Which is where a requirement of some type for suspected agility-bred dogs would help. Because if they really are breeding for agility, a work requirement (even if an imperfect one) would bring the deficiencies to the surface within a generation or two (assuming the person even tried to meet the requirement and didn't just throw up their hands and walk away to start with) and you'd get those dogs out of the ABCA gene pool. Breeding for agility would become a self-limiting behavior - let the work speak for itself. Breeding for agility would cause such a decline in working ability that you don't need a test to separate the 'best of the best' but just a test that will show up the 'obviously deficient'. In other words, the divide is so great between the two types of dogs that you don't need a super-precise test to tell the difference. I think winning Open level trials is good enough for that task. Sure it's not perfect and trial work isn't everything, but it's good enough to weed out breedings that have obviously gone down the wrong path. And it's better than what's in place now, which is absolutely nothing, letting everyone just do as they please and breed for whatever they want.

 

Bottom line, does anyone on this board honestly believe if a person is breeding for even a few generations with stock work either not considered or only considered as secondary, that they'd still be getting dogs capable of not only getting around Open courses but of winning them? It may not be the absolute gold standard, and it definitely isn't the only thing you considering in breeding choices, but it sure isn't something you do by chance with a crappy dog. And if we think that's something a dog bred for other than work for several generations could do, then maybe the trial format, judging, etc needs to be revised so it's a better challenge of the dog's abilities. Otherwise why do we even bother with trials and Open points and National Finals if none of it means anything? And I know 'real work' is the true test, but I haven't seen anyone yet come up with a way to measure that objectively, so if you're talking about a requirement of some type, we're down to subjective individual opinions on dogs the person evaluating has personally seen work, or looking at trial results. Scoring within the top 10% of open trials is one of the ways of satisfying the work requirement criteria for ROM, so if Open trials are good enough to be considered for letting a dog into the gene pool, why aren't they a good enough criteria for kicking an obviously deficient dog out of the gene pool?

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The only dog I've ever bought with a spay/neuter contract was from a sports breeder. I know of many sports people who go to working breeders to get a dog for breeding because sports breeders are typically very picky about who they sell to w/o a S/N contract. Granted they get turned away from a number of working breeders also who either won't sell to them at all, or require S/N.

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Folks, wouldn't you think us agility folks still need to police themselves-- otherwise agility folks will only breed exclusively amongst themselves, they will disregard wanting to learn about their sheepherding traditions, and they'll continue to willy-nilly breed and not look for essential qualities that are very important to the working border collie talents, intelligence biddability, and other crucial factors.

 

Uhh, that pretty much is already happening.

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It is totally beyond me how folks can even think to propose a control system. They do not work!!!!!

Look at other breeds. Yes, I know, I sound like a broken record...look at the German Shepherd. Probably one of the most controlled systems out there. A system that is designed to guide physical and psychological soundness. A system that is supposed to even exclude certain breedings based on a numeric value that is assigned to the breeding suitability of two dogs. Look up ZW. They limit the amount of dogs bred by each breeder. They put stipulations on dogs ages. And the list goes on.

Has it worked? Heck no!

The reasons it does not work is that as long as there is vanity and money involved, humans will find a way around any rules.

It boils down to the desire of every individual to do the right thing AND to have the education in the subject to know the right thing. I have come across quite a few dogs that are ABCA bred that are less than nice. One of the very nicest dogs I have EVER met has no venue to be registered (other than via the ROM which is unlikely due to her age but maybe the new owner will do it) other than AKC due to the "fault" of the breeders. Yet both parents where working dogs and produced some really nice ranch dogs. In that case is simply boils down to the fact that the breeders knew nothing about all of this. They are old. They are not in the know. They did not mean to do anything bad. They had very nice dogs.

I know the solutions but they will always fail because of the human aspect involved. So back to trying to educate and personal responsibility.

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You both want the same thing. I think what Diana is saying is that there already are agility breeders, whether we want them or not, so if we could make a registration policy so stiff that they would not be able to register their puppies, they might throw up their hands and just do what they ought to have been doing all along – buying their dogs from people whose overriding priority is the best quality stock work.

 

Here's the deal, though -- While I am not disagreeing in any way, shape or form that the working bred border collie must be preserved, there are NOT enough working bred border collies being produced to satisfy the needs of the agility community.

 

I highly doubt that ranchers are going to start pumping puppies out of their best dogs to fill the void if sporter collie breeders suddenly stopped breeding. The theory of "everyone should buy from a breeder who's priority is stock work" is fine & dandy, but there aren't enough puppies being produced from these breeders!

 

I got a new foster puppy on Friday. He was bred by a farmer who mated his dog to his dad's dog (another "working" farm dog) because another family member and a couple of friends wanted puppies. He was left with two that nobody wanted -- Commendably, he gave them to a border collie rescue instead of dumping them in a ditch or taking them to a kill shelter --- But is that sort of "breeder" doing anything better for the breed than a sport breeder? Most of the sport breeders have their entire litter placed before it hits the ground. They do health testing, etc. That's more than I can say for this farmer who bred two "working" dogs.

 

Nice puppies, though. :D

 

Oh, and FYI, registration is not required to do agility -- so I doubt making registry in the ABCA difficult for sport breeders would deter them.

 

Bottom line, there just aren't enough working bred dogs available. How do you figure one could remedy that?

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Here's the deal, though -- While I am not disagreeing in any way, shape or form that the working bred border collie must be preserved, there are NOT enough working bred border collies being produced to satisfy the needs of the agility community.

 

I've thought of that, too.

 

If there were not Agility breeders and/or other types of breeders, there would not be enough working bred Border Collies to meet the demand for Border Collies for those who wish to have them as sport/Agility partners. And while one might say "oh well, too bad, get another kind of dog because there is really no difference anyway", those who do consider them different and wish to have Border Collies are going to find a way to get Border Collies.

 

Now, I know that from the working side, that seems like it would be a good problem to have, but the reality is that if that were the case, breeding for Agility would most likely still be the end result, to meet the demand that is simply there and isn't going away, no matter how many people decry the "Dark Side".

 

But the fact is, that is an "if". The reality is that as it is now, there are far more Border Collies out there than there is a need for them. So, there is not a need for the "MACH Handler - Breeders" that Serena is promoting, no matter how much the working stockdog community would be willing to police them (which strikes me as something that is seriously not going to happen - why on earth would they?).

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Here's the deal, though -- While I am not disagreeing in any way, shape or form that the working bred border collie must be preserved, there are NOT enough working bred border collies being produced to satisfy the needs of the agility community.

 

I highly doubt that ranchers are going to start pumping puppies out of their best dogs to fill the void if sporter collie breeders suddenly stopped breeding. The theory of "everyone should buy from a breeder who's priority is stock work" is fine & dandy, but there aren't enough puppies being produced from these breeders!

 

I got a new foster puppy on Friday. He was bred by a farmer who mated his dog to his dad's dog (another "working" farm dog) because another family member and a couple of friends wanted puppies. He was left with two that nobody wanted -- Commendably, he gave them to a border collie rescue instead of dumping them in a ditch or taking them to a kill shelter --- But is that sort of "breeder" doing anything better for the breed than a sport breeder? Most of the sport breeders have their entire litter placed before it hits the ground. They do health testing, etc. That's more than I can say for this farmer who bred two "working" dogs.

 

Nice puppies, though. :D

 

Oh, and FYI, registration is not required to do agility -- so I doubt making registry in the ABCA difficult for sport breeders would deter them.

 

Bottom line, there just aren't enough working bred dogs available. How do you figure one could remedy that?

Rescue dogs.

And waiting. I waited 3 years for a litter from a specific Collie bitch once. If you want it bad enough, you'll wait. Or get a rescue.

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Rescue dogs are a crap shoot. Secret came from rescue -- while I love her dearly, she is not what I had in mind for what I wanted in a sporting prospect. In addition, I simply refuse to take another dog that had a pediatric spay or neuter -- and find me a rescue that will adopt out intact puppies and allow you to keep them intact for 15-24 months.

 

For various reasons, I am not interested in taking on an older dog (where one could argue you know their temperament and suitability for sport). I want a puppy, and a puppy of unknown origin through a rescue is a complete crap shoot. Not what most agility competitors are interested in. I don't care a lick about registration, but I would prefer to know something about who the parents were.

 

MANY agility people want puppies because we have our way of starting dogs from the beginning to raise them up the way we want them. So sorry, while it's a commendable idea and does, indeed, work for many people, rescue is not an option for all sport enthusiasts.

 

And I hate to tell you, but many aren't patient enough to wait three years, either. It takes a good two years to go from puppy to partner -- I tend to start looking for my next dog when I feel like one of my older ones is stepping back a bit. Since I don't really want to go a period of time with no dogs, I'm not willing to wait three years. I have no idea where I'll be in three years.

 

And with the current number of puppies offered by working breeders, if all sport enthusiasts took the "wait" stance, the wait list would grow far longer than three years. And what about all of you who want those puppies to go into working homes? Are we going to start fighting over who gets them since they will be a limited commodity?

 

Your argument of "rescue or wait" isn't going to get you very far or win you any favors with the sport world.

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Bottom line, there just aren't enough working bred dogs available. How do you figure one could remedy that?

 

I get a lot of agility people who want pups. Now I am getting flyball folks. I would say 98% drop out as soon as I tell them that there is a spay/nueter contract and I put limited registration on any pups. If they want a pup from me for agility and are a good home, then they have to agree to my terms.

 

Most of the folks who do not want to fix the dogs state that they want to breed the dog later.

 

That's a no go for me. So there are pups available but non-breedable. I have seen people buy a pup from working/trial folks, were supposed to fix it, then bred it. So by putting limited registration on the papers, any offspring can not be registered. Sometimes I co-own the pup until I get proof of spay/nueter.

 

 

If the agility folks didn't breed, then a lot more working pups would be available.

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I don't think that the "majority" of sport people buy a puppy with the intent to breed it in the future. I do, however, know a lot of sport people that opt to keep their dogs intact for health/medical/developmental/etc. reasons. More and more people seem to be moving that way for whatever reason.

 

Just because a person keeps a dog intact doesn't mean they are going to breed it. I kept Kaiser intact for 3 1/2 years and he never got anywhere near a bitch in heat. The only reason I finally did neuter him was because my dad got a dog on a breeding contract and offered to pay for it to avoid any accidents -- and since Kaiser developed a luxating patella this past summer, there was no arguable reason to keep him intact.

 

I would have an issue if a breeder said, "This dog must be neutered by the time he is six months old." If that is the language in your contract, you are going to have issues with sport folks. It is becoming commonplace to push altering back to a MINIMUM of 12 months of age. Most people are waiting until 1 1/2 to 2 years to make sure the dog is fully done growing.

 

I would happily co-own a dog to be able to keep it intact longer.

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