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


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Really? No interest in agility? What I have been reading is, that any legitimate effort put into an endeavor for handler and dog that are productive in any way, is totally fine. Heck, some of the most patient and clear posts have been from very dedicated stock dog folks that have had some sort of pretty clear insight into agility.

The breeding for anything but stockwork is where you will not change the mindset and rightly so!!!

By the way, I highly suggest rather than obsessing on one tiny sliver of ranching/farming (in your case the working border collie) it might suit you well to widen your horizon and learn about all of it. The working dog is not the reason for the ranch/farm but the ranch/farm is the one and most important reason for the existence of the working stock dog!!! And that is the way it should be.

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And neither have you considered my entire financial circumstances. I am the amongst the millions of Americans who cannot even afford any! health insurance. And the monthly prescription costs are phenomenal for me in my situation. All my money goes to my dog, making sure she's got activities which mentally and physically challenge her, gives her as much "working" mentality as possible in the region I live at and how far I can afford gas mileage. Again, read through how extremely expensive things are for me agility-wise and how I cannot afford things...Agility in itself costs $600 per year $720 without any discount per year. and we train with no one to help us save for a kind MACH friend by long distance correspondence in Illinois, the rest of the folks are in England.

Ok, all you other folks who do agility please correct me if I'm wrong, but doing agility doesn't have to be expensive. Competing at high levels maybe does get expensive, but that's not about what the dog needs/wants. It's about what the person wants. Challenging the dog and working with it is essentially free.

 

I like horses. I'd like to have a Gypsy Cob and train it to work in harness. But I can't afford a horse, so I go with an Australian Gypsy Horse forum, buy a Gypsy Horse calendar every year and that's that. It's the cards I've been dealt. If I had just enough money that I could only have the horse and cart, and had to forgo everything else in my life that was important I wouldn't do it.

 

I have a Border Collie and I live on $12,000 a year. It isn't rocket science that I'm not going to be able to afford to spend more on her than good food, her insurance premium, my dog walker and routine vet care. I love my dog and see that she is getting appropriate care and stimulation. I would love to take her to sheep. But I think it would be completely unrealistic to imagine I could do that under the circumstances.

 

You have what you have. To say that there are not enough non-AKC events in your area, and that you are forced to go to AKC events is a cop-out. Your dog does not need to compete at high levels. You want to do it. There's a big difference.

 

I'm sure there are a great many people on these boards who would like to go to sheepdog trials more often. I'm sure there are just as many who pull their hair out trying to figure out how to put food in front of their four-legged and two-legged families all the time. But they don't go off to some lame AKC arena trial because it's close. They suck it up and deal with their personal reality. They've taken a step backward and a long look and realized that the world does not revolve around getting them what they want. They suck it up and do what they can to get what they need and do what's right - right for them, right for the Border Collie, and just plain right. And sometimes there's enough time, money and energy left over to get a bit of what they want.

 

I'm fairly certain you can't see the difference.

 

ETA - Julie, seems like I ended up saying a lot of the same things as you. Sorry, I was writing this at the same time as you posted yours. Oh well...

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I don't know that anyone here is particularly interested in discussing "experts" (on the other hand, there very well could be), but if that is something that you are interested in seeing discussed in the Agility section, you could always start topics on the subject. Anyone who is interested would most likely join in the discussion.

 

I'm not sure why you would expect to see discussion of a topic in a particular section of the board that you haven't really brought forth for discussion yourself.

 

Also, I don't really see why you would expect those of the stockwork folks who are not interested in Agility to start such discussions, nor why you would expect them to be interested in the topic of "experts" in any discipline in which they do not have interest.

 

This^^ (where is that "like" button!)

 

 

Our section is so weak compared to England. No comparison, if I am to be brutally honest. Everyone else scatters to the winds in the U.S. It quickly becomes a commercial endeavor where you are forced to go to private trainers, buying books, videos, ridiculously expensive seminars, paying through the teeth in certain locales like mine if they have specific ambitions and goals in mind.

 

And you base this on??

 

If you get to a high level, you have to still support yourself somehow. Lessons seem like a natural progression once one perfects their skill. I didn't do stockdog lessons for years because I couldn't afford the the combined cost of lessons and travel. But the trainers had put years of work into getting to proficient level where they could teach others and I could certainly understand the reason for the cost and didn't begrudge them for charging it. I just couldn't afford it so I did something else. It's the way life works.

 

But honestly, I've also found that there are some great dog people that are more than willing to help a person out with their dog and training for the sake of helping them out. Maybe they don't run in AKC MACH circles, but I've found them in stockdog and SAR circles.

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Just for me, personally, there is still a huge difference between spaying a very young tender age of 8-14 weeks too young whether or not it's a teacup or a St. Bernard pup, and there are horror stories of botched operations as well for too young of an age. Six months is young enough to speedily recover, and mature enough not to mess with hormones IMHO. A tiny teacup at 8-14 weeks is not ready...6 mos. it is mature enough to be ready... Kelliepup, you say a sheepherder should spay at this young of an age if an agility person who wants a young pup from their lines, and that is why I am doing a total yikes and am totally against this.... It's better to have a paper contract and ask that the new owner submit veterinarian spaying/neutering proof that they honored the contract. This is all that is necessary!

 

FWIW: I worked at an animal shelter for several years and many, many people do not honor a contract to spay or neuter. One of my jobs was to do the follow up, and the few times we attempted to take someone to court for refusing to honor that contract we were laughed out of court. Eventually we started doing puppy and kitten neuters and it was amazing how quick the surgery was, and how quickly they recovered. Their organs are small and undeveloped and so the incisions are tiny. Our vet used a small hook and he finished a puppy spay in less than 10 minutes. Sometimes us techs had a hard time keeping up with getting them prepped on time! Within an hour they were awake and trying to play with one another. Much less trauma than the adult animals.

 

I choose to wait with my own dogs until they have finished growing, as I play agility and have read the data talked about earlier...but if I chose to do it before maturity I would do it as a tiny puppy. So much less stress.

 

In the 3 years that I worked there that we did this surgery

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Serena

 

 

I would be happy to answer any questions you have.

 

I like seeing any videos with folks having fun with their dogs as it is the joy that I focus on. But I will always think -Breed for the work.

 

My blog has some stuff on it about what I do as well as fictional stories, poems and whatnot.

 

 

 

I have always invited folks out to the project to help. More now because I see that fewer people are exposed to farming and the realities of life. And I think there is a need.

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But in the same way, it's important to have agility experts also sharing some of their knowledge visually. That's why I question why our agility section doesn't have this on at our boards....Our section is so weak compared to England. No comparison, if I am to be brutally honest.

 

It's true that the agility/sport section of the board doesn't get a lot of traffic. But it's just because there isn't a big population of sport people on this board. I think the majority are working folks and so-called "pet" folks. (and there is NO negative connotation associated with my use of pet people) After all, this board is run by, and mostly for, working border collie people. Why should it be over-run with agility, when there are other forums dedicated to just that? The interest is just not here.

 

You see what troubles me is that so far only a scattering of agility folks with really great performances are not adding their own links either. And there is a shutdown in that it seems if I look back on all 36 pages, very few sheepherding folks have any interest in agility and some don't want agility videos shown at all...As Mums24dog noted, in England, there is no "us versus them". And perhaps this is why our agility section on our Boards is so weak by comparison. At least Mums24Dog had some absolutely lovely agility videos and no one yet save for a scattering have commented on them.

 

Well, I'm not really sure what the point of showing agility videos in this thread is supposed to accomplish? They're not going to change anyone's mind that it's ok for certain people to breed agility border collies. All the video in the world won't change that. I love to watch a stellar run as much as the next agility person, but I don't really see the point here, specifically.

 

I come here because I love to learn about the sheepherding and about the traditions. But for learning about agility, an agility person who does no sheepherding or livestock work is gonna get pretty darn scared if they look at some of the undertones of "Agility is nothing but fun and games" and that it is an "inferior" endeavor...

 

Again, remember who owns/runs this board. Remember the basic board philosophy. People *should* come here to learn more about herding. (There's a GREAT thread going on in the working video section, check out the thread about Nina, a 5 month old BC, and her owner who is trying to learn more about herding. Some really good basic stuff for people who don't know much about it.) Since the main focus of this board is not agility, of course it's not going to be a big topic here.

 

However, I do agree with you that there is a definite undertone of agility being an "inferior", mindless, silly endeavor. And even more so, a negative undertone about all agility dogs being brainless, frantic, out of control dogs. That bothers me, too, but again, I just consider what the focus of this board is, and consider where they're coming from and I don't expect them to have the same respect for agility as they do stockwork (hell, I don't, either). It does get to me sometimes, the condescending comments and what not, but they're not frequent, it's usually the same couple of posters, and what can I do? It's a free country. lol

 

Really, though, even if everyone plays nice, and nobody felt those negative undertones, it still doesn't change the fact that they/we do not agree with breeding for agility, or anything other than working ability. Absolute bottom line.

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When I say realities of life I mean to say

 

the realities and constraints that happen when farming.

 

 

 

I guess everybody on earth is exposed to the realities of life at one point or another, eh?

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Really, though, even if everyone plays nice, and nobody felt those negative undertones, it still doesn't change the fact that they/we do not agree with breeding for agility, or anything other than working ability. Absolute bottom line.

 

^^^ This. Paula is right. It is the absolute bottom line.

 

Two of my BFFs are hard core agility peeps, but they understand the concept of breed for the work. Then again, they also both have breeds who either have had the work bred out of them long ago, or are mostly there already.

 

One of these friends didn't completely get it until she spent all day with me and my dog up in the sorting pens. Now she does.

 

I go to agility trials when I can, and I support my friends. I've even done a smattering with my ex-husband's dog, and a little with one of mine. I respect the sport, and I cheer people and their dogs on when I go. I'm far from the only working dog person who does this or feels that way. I support what people DO with their dogs.

 

I just won't support breeding border collies for agility, no matter how much I might enjoy the sport or appreciate it. That being said, I know some agility folks that (if I were to breed) I would sell a pup to in a heartbeat (people like Paula). I could do that knowing that these particular folks would not breed their dogs. I'd be hard pressed to put my pups out there without knowing who I was selling to though.

 

It always comes down to the difference between, again, what you DO with your dogs vs. what you BREED them for.

 

I'd feel left out if I didn't jump in on one of these threads at least once a year. Not that I've said anything new. :lol:

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Ok, all you other folks who do agility please correct me if I'm wrong, but doing agility doesn't have to be expensive. Competing at high levels maybe does get expensive, but that's not about what the dog needs/wants. It's about what the person wants. Challenging the dog and working with it is essentially free.

 

No, it doesn't have to be super expensive, but, if someone really wants to learn good handling and become proficient, it is going to cost something. It's not something that most people can just figure out on their own. There are skills that the majority of us need good instruction, and a lot of practice on the Agility course, to master, and if one doesn't have a good instructor nearby, that would require travel, or purchase of DVD's, or workshops, etc., if one wanted to improve, and those things do cost.

 

Even someone who has the property to acquire a set of Agility equipment is going to have to make an investment of money, or time (building) to get a full course going. I have a few pieces at home, which I do use to train, but when it comes to contacts, I need a place to train at that has those pieces. And a full at-home Agility course can't take the place of good instruction. Most can't really do that and do rely either on classes, or rental of training space, to train.

 

I'm fortunate because I teach at the training center, so that covers the cost of my classes. So, if I didn't trial, I could train very inexpensively. Of course, I'm spending several hours a week teaching (outside of my normal job), so I am still investing something in that training. And, of course, not everyone has that opportunity. I paid for my classes - many classes - for several years before I got to the point where I started to teach.

 

But if one wants to trial - in any venue - there are costs involved with it. I believe AKC is the most expensive venue to trial in (Not sure about the cost of USDAA runs, so I could be wrong on that). I can run in a trial around here (not AKC) for $11 - $15 per run. I usually do 2 - 3 runs in a day, one day of the trial. Some people do much more. Part of the reason why I only do 2 - 3 runs on only one day is to keep costs down. The bigger reason was because Maddie was older and that was all she could handle physically, but now that I have a youngster coming up, I may well start to do more. But if I want to keep costs down, I can still trial.

 

Like anything, if you want to become good at it, you have to put both time and money into it. But it's not like you have to spend any certain amount to be able to participate.

 

You have what you have. To say that there are not enough non-AKC events in your area, and that you are forced to go to AKC events is a cop-out. Your dog does not need to compete at high levels. You want to do it. There's a big difference.

 

Exactly. It's a choice. Nobody has to trial in AKC Agility trials, or any Agility trials, for that matter. The tire size in USDAA, travel costs, "MACH Handlers" in England, lack of "traditional" pieces of equipment in other venues, etc. do not somehow force you to do anything.

 

You want to participate in Agility trials, you want to earn titles, you have chosen a venue to run in and earn titles in.

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But in the same way, it's important to have agility experts also sharing some of their knowledge visually. That's why I question why our agility section doesn't have this on at our boards....Our section is so weak compared to England. No comparison, if I am to be brutally honest......

 

You see what troubles me is that so far only a scattering of agility folks with really great performances are not adding their own links either....

 

For what it's worth, I do NADAC agility -- And perhaps the reason I'm not sharing links to all of my trial videos is because of people like you who make comments that NADAC isn't "real agility" because you think AKC is apparently the only worthwhile venue.

 

You are welcome to visit my YouTube channel to watch all 200+ of my videos, but apparently they will bore you since we don't run "European" or AKC courses. http://www.youtube.com/user/SarMoniet Or hey, maybe you'll surprise me and actually be open minded and learn something.

 

Like others have said, if you want agility discussion maybe you should start it.

 

And if you want people here to respect your thoughts & ideas, maybe you should stop saying we suck in comparison to Europeans. Plain and simple, agility in this country is DIFFERENT than in Europe. If you are so enamored with their agility, you have the option of moving there -- Or pursue UKI agility. I'd love to see how you handle those courses.

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Cost wise... I can only speak for AKC and USDAA. But depending on how many classes you enter it can vary.

AKC is generally 23-25$ for the 1st run and 13-15$ for each additional run. AKC normally offer 3-4 runs/day

Usdaa is generally in our area about 15$ per run unless its a tournament class then its more. Usdaa generally offer I think 7 runs/day.

 

And what rootbeer said. While you can buy the equipment you have to also have the space for them. And that doesn't include the knowledge to properly use that equipment for the max potential.

Heck I can't imagine paying over $700/year for just training. :-) I pay a little over $200/year for 1-2 training session(for cressa) and drop in(for troy). And I can stop in for practice as long as no one else is teaching or training.

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I train at home because the local training center here caters to beginners and doesn't have anything for those of us with more experience. In NADAC you need distance skills to do well and the local classes didn't cover that at all -- so I had to be able to do it at home to advance.

 

I invested a lot -- I bought a house. B) A large flat yard (I ended up with 100'x100' fenced) was my number one priority. I was moving from horses to dogs and sold most of my horse stuff for my initial equipment investment. I started out with tunnels, a-frame, dog walk & jumps --- I bought or made other obstacles as I needed to train them (teeter, tire, table, etc.).

 

I prefer being able to train at home because I can set up whatever I want and work each dog for five minutes a day if I want. I hate group classes and don't feel most dogs learn best in that environment. Even when I taught classes, I hated them. I much prefer private lessons, but that definitely gets prohibitive.

 

I tried to take lessons from a facility two hours away last winter, but then my instructor was injured and it never went anywhere. I suppose I could look into it again for this winter (I can't train at home), but I get the same anti-NADAC crap from instructors around here, even though I plainly say I don't want to work on NADAC skills because I don't need help with that. USDAA style courses are my favorite, but it would cost me a lot more because I'd have to travel -- so hence I *choose* to do NADAC. Note I didn't say I am forced to do NADAC as the OP is "forced" to do AKC.... It is simply the most convenient and I find it fun.

 

If I ran all three dogs in all classes, most trials would run me $360 per weekend. I usually compromise and run them in four classes per day for a total of $240 per weekend. It depends on what we're working towards -- if we need Q's in games classes someone might get to run five.

 

I trial about once per month on average. Can't afford to do more than that, and that's with a second job.

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Agility is only cheaper than horses when you only have one dog. When you start accumulating dogs (as is unavoidable, it would seem), then agility starts to get right up there with the horses.

 

Of course, it depends on what you DO with each of them. I showed horses at the local level and had two horses on pasture board and worked at the barn to help pay for it. So my horse expenses would run me about $500/month with a show or two.

 

Showing three dogs has become more expensive than owning two horses for me. But I surely know people who spend more on one horse than I do my three dogs -- boarding at a fancy barn, going to rated shows, etc. In that case your horse expenses could easily be $2000 month.

 

Most hobbies have a wide swing of what they cost, depending on what level you wish to participate and on what scale. If you want to go to the big shows and national events, it's obviously going to cost you more. I easily spent $1500 going to NADAC Championships this year -- and there are people who travel like that all year long. No idea how they do it, but I think I need a sugar daddy or something.

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For what it's worth, I do NADAC agility -- And perhaps the reason I'm not sharing links to all of my trial videos is because of people like you who make comments that NADAC isn't "real agility" because you think AKC is apparently the only worthwhile venue.

 

I think it's awesome that you do so much NADAC. If I didn't love CPE so much, I think I would really love NADAC. I really appreciate the distance skills that I see on the NADAC courses, and the fluency of discriminations.

 

Tessa and I are going to a NADAC trial in a couple of weeks. It's going to be her first :D and is really just to get her feet wet, but I think she is going to love it.

 

If she enjoys it, I might do some more NADAC with her before going into CPE next summer or fall.

 

I get the same "not real" rubbish about CPE simply because it is a venue that is designed to put more emphasis on enjoyment than a competitive attitude, and it is very beginner friendly (Level 1 is designed specifically for dog and handler teams without previous experience). I'll admit, I went into my first CPE trial expecting it to be a piece of cake that anyone could do. I left that day with 3 NQ's and a long list of skills to work on to prepare for our next one!!

 

And the CPE games are just way too much fun - and far more challenging than they look from the outside.

 

I honestly can't see ever not doing CPE, no matter what other venues I might enjoy in the future. It's too much fun to miss.

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I typed a response, but it got eaten by the Internet doGs!

 

When I suggested that Serena could set up agility equipment in her back yard, it wasn't with the intent to imply that she could somehow use that to become a DIY agility star. In the entire context of my post, I was simply pointing out that if a person doesn't have the disposable income to easily pursue a chosen hobby, there are still ways to enjoy that hobby on a non-competitive, less expensive level. Agility equipment at home requires space and an initial investment for the equipment. You can start small and add obstacles as you can afford to do so.

 

Paying X amount of dollars to a training club, or spending X amount of dollars on agility trials is something Serena wants to do, but it's not something Eluane needs to do. I'd be willing to bet that Eluane would be happy practicing a sort of agility on found objects on long hikes through the woods or in parks.

 

I love stockdog trials. I really do. I miss going to them, and I'm fortunate that occasionally trial hosts hire me to set sheep so I CAN go and see my trial buddies, even if I'm not running my own dogs. But I also recognize that trialing is largely about me and what I like to do. My dogs are happy to go on walks to the river, do the work we need to do right here, and just be with me.

 

So the point of my comments was simply that if a person's financial situation makes it difficult to participate in the organized sports they'd like to do, they can still replicate some of the stuff at home and do it there. The dog won't really care so much, even if the human partner finds the DIY venue much less inspiring.

 

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As for the comments about people disparaging agility dogs, etc., I don't think it's mainly the working dog folks doing that. Yes, some people will mention out-of-control agility dogs, etc., but those types of mentions seem to occur across the board among members. If I were a betting person, I'd bet that "insane," etc. are used a lot more by nonworking folk than by working dog folks (except for the few already alluded to).

 

I can remember not long ago when stockdog folks asked Eileen to be sure there was a specific section on this forum for working dogs, their training, livestock, etc., because they felt like their interests and issues were being overlooked/overwhelmed by all the non-working topics on this forum. So it's kind of interesting to hear that people feel this board is largely made up of and catering to working dog people.

 

Most discussions take place here in the general section (and there are very few stockdog-related discussions started in the general forum) and I believe the overwhelming majority of members are not working border collie people. I think some are confusing the overall stated philosophy of the boards (the information in the "Read this First" post) as proof that this forum is for and by the working stockdog community. Ask the working stockdog folks, and I think most would say that this board is largely made up of other types of people (pet owners, sport people, etc.).

 

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Regarding agility and other sports. When I got my first border collie I had an idea in the back of my mind that I might do agility with her, but she was mainly my jogging partner (talk about an inexpensive activity you can do with your dog, if you can stand jogging! :lol:). Things didn't end up that way, because I was introduced to stockwork before I had a chance to try agility.

 

So it turned out that agility didn't end up being my thing, but I certainly wouldn't disparage people for whom it *is* their thing. Like Laura, I have friends who do agility. I spent part of both days last weekend at a NADAC Toys for Tots trial visiting with friends and cheering them on. I met some nice people, Kes got some good socialization, and I learned something about NADAC agility. Sadly, Pip lost the "best puppy kisses" contest, though he tried valiantly! :P I can't imagine ever going to a flyball tournament, but I have friends who adore it. It's not my thing, but it is theirs, and I respect that. In all my travels, I see so many clueless dogs owners, not to mention dogs I feel genuinely sorry for, either because they are treated poorly by their humans or because they are tied out or left in a pen at the edge of the property, with little or no attention from anyone. So I greatly admire anyone who makes an effort to do something fun with their canine partner. Just because someone else's thing might not be my thing doesn't mean I think less of the folks doing those other things. Lots of folks doing those other things are actually my RL friends.

 

J.

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As for the comments about people disparaging agility dogs, etc., I don't think it's mainly the working dog folks doing that. Yes, some people will mention out-of-control agility dogs, etc., but those types of mentions seem to occur across the board among members. If I were a betting person, I'd bet that "insane," etc. are used a lot more by nonworking folk than by working dog folks (except for the few already alluded to).

 

I agree. The person who makes the most comments that I personally find disparaging is not a working person. I didn't mean my earlier comment to sound like it was strictly working people that I was talking about. Not at all.

 

ETA: I went to re-read, and it certainly does sound like that's what I was saying. Sorry!

 

And whether the board currently has more pet and sport people as active posters, vs. working people, I still stand behind my feeling that I would never expect a board owned, moderated and frequented by working BC people to embrace agility the way a different board might. The interest simply isn't going to be there. *shrugs* I hope my comment didn't come across as negative towards anyone or the board, in fact, I was trying to say that I understand it, even as an agility person.

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I am also an agility person, and want to follow up with these comments:

 


  1.  
     
  2. I have never felt that there are any negatives on this board about agility, it is just important to remember that the primary focus of this board is protecting and training working stock dogs. I have always felt that there is support for any pet/sport home if you are providing a good loving home. Just do not suggest that anything to do with the AKC is a good idea.
  3. We all have a budget for sport, I spend $15-$20 a week for group class/ run thrus. Every other week I split a private class that works out at $30.00, and I am lucky enough to share a ride in a prius! This year I added the private classes as I have a very fast, talented and enthusiastic dog, who I needed to learn how to handle and if I was going to master the sport "I" needed training. Training at home is limited I live in the middle of an old town and I can train with 3 jumps or a set of 12 poles in my garden which limits my options :rolleyes: .
    I am stretching to do this, but it is my choice.
  4. I would have liked to have tried stockwork but the closest good trainer is 2.5 plus hours, and that wear and tear on the truck is not going to happen at the moment.
  5. The choice of activity with your dog is personal: I would never do flyball, freestyle or obedience but I respect how much work goes into it, just not my taste. In this house a good walk in the woods with both humans and both dogs trumps everything.
  6. I trial in NADAC 5/6 times a year, usually just for one day. I make wedding cakes for a living and can only go if I am not working. I would like to do USDAA but the trials are further away and at this stage in my and my partners career it is to much money and wear and tear on my truck. I could compete in AKC as there are many trials at the same venue but choose not to for numerous reasons, politics, cost, long day with few runs, etc etc. I have met a lot of people in the last three years who do all flavors of agility and never felt a lesser person by my choices, and always had lots of support.
  7. As a side note: I do not like extreme NADAC style distance I want to run with my dog and so I am happy to learn AKC/USDAA handling as that is how I want to handle, but apply it to those great fast flowing NADAC courses. last year I started running so I could improve my fitness so I could manage those courses and not collapse at the finish.
  8. And finally I hope that working members of the group realize that Serena's view of agility is not held by most people I know personally in agility.

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alligande- i completely agree with you,. especially point number 1. i've never felt lesser for being an agility person 1st, herder 2nd on this board. wish i could meet all you agility people at a trial!!

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Julie, thanks for sharing, and just like you it's now about 2.5 years for me as well. I forgot how time flies. However, agility equipment to do really well in (if you blow a contact you are immediately disqualified) costs literally a few grand. Not to mention there's not enough space for a small suburban lawn, and you have to build a gigantic shed to store that couple of grand equipment which adds another couple of grand and further cuts down on one's space limitations. :blink: Hurdles don't cut it and even a triple jump hurdle is ultra expensive too, and you take Kansas high-blowing winds...you get the picture, lol! And one 5'2" girl ain't gonna have the muscle to move around all that equipment. I already whine and complain because at my indoor training club I still have to push-pull equipment by just one or two feet and it literally takes me an entire hour to set up for the club...

 

Also for me personally, the dog's intelligence is tested the more advanced you train and compete in. Very difficult challenging courses like what they have in Europe push the B.C. as far and as advanced as it can go as a pet agility border collie. You cannot challenge one's pet B.C. unless you yourself are an extremely good and excellent competitor. These are the extremely difficult levels I train for. And I can't measure how successful Eluane and I are until others judge us and critique us. A brilliant ballet dancer and brilliant artist seeks to be measured by the best of our peers.

 

It's like being an outstanding artist or pianist versus just doing something because it's a fun hobby. Also I know of many mediocre artists who are perfectly happy and feel fulfilled where they are at. But my former colleague-illustrator friends and I would be miserable and utterly depressed producing such works. Just like being a gifted engineer or physicist who goes to CalTech, MIT and is at the head of their class- we expect a lot! out of ourselves. We give a pat on the back to those who try their hardest. Just like my friends in England give me a supportive "pat on the back". But it all comes down to this-- you cannot train any other dog breed to reach as outstanding of a stockdog as a border collie. My challenge to myself is always--- have I utilized every single ounce of Eluane's brains to the fullest level as a pet border collie owner? Have I done my utmost that every accomplishment we make gives honor to the name "border collie"? Those are the measures that I go by. Because she is a border collie, Eluane must use all of her border collie brains, she must be the best she can ever be because she is a border collie, after all. Just like if I am an artist, I must do really good work!

 

By the way, calling agility "nothing but fun and games" is disparaging, folks. Saying "pissing on agility equipment" is also very painful to read as well. Any border collie once it sees another border collie utilizing the equipment, will know exactly what to do. They are that smart. Show them another border collie with its agility handler, they will not be pissing on that equipment. And neither is agility a simple mindless sport either...that is another misconception that some sheepherding folks have. Agility has special techniques and disciplines to reach that outstanding level that very few handlers can achieve, and the fact that no other dog breed can match the border collie in agility speaks volumes as well. You can look at a European championship course, it takes doggy brains to cue in, not just the handler. People always blame the handler, and I say no dog save for a border collie can compensate for the multiple mistakes I make on-the-course. WE WIN BECAUSE ELUANE USED HER MIND AND BRAINS TO FIGURE OUT WHAT I MEANT TO DO instead of what I tried to show her to do. Only if you are at top national ranking can one have the gumption to say agility is a piece of cake. No advanced top world handler has been able to say this either. We all know how difficult it is with our super fast border collies...Only if a border collie is verrrrry slow does agility ever get "easy". And yes, I've seen plenty of slowpoke b.c's.

 

When one owns a border collie, "mediocre" just doesn't cut it for me. Do I have the right attitude? Would many agility folks like my attitude??? Heaven's no!!! But at least I am very up-front and very honest even though it can horrify a lot of agility folks...Also there are indeed numerous agility folks who don't face up to their true feelings. Many try to get multiple dogs, seeking for that "ultimate winner" dog, many are so very tense and you can tell how important winning is to them. I call it the unsmiling, constant-frown, the furrowed brow, the clenched jawline syndrome. In my locale, a lot of this intensity goes on, and it's probably because there are so few venues available in our region, that people get ultra driven and uptight and they sure don't look all that happy to me....If I could take a video and start filming everyone's expressions, you'll see that exact same obsessed look mirrored on so many faces. It's intense where I'm at!

 

But--- I am not willing to settle for my mediocre level, not ever! Eluane needs to be mentally challenged, her mind needs to be stretched as far as it can take her. When I have to retire Eluane from agility, that is when I will create our own rules just like I do with agility. In agility, no one! runs the way we do, it is unique and has its own loveliness. We use our own special signals and vocabulary, everything is based on the ballet disciplines. And when she retires from agility, I plan to break the rules to pieces. We will do Freestyle dance but it will be on our terms and not anyone else's. I am not fond of the Freestyle that exists- to this day, the choreography tends to be very stilted and boring, I've never seen any handler who could dance-and this is visually jarring for me, the dog's movements also look suspiciously like conformation showings-- I don't like the head craned upwards, the "prancing" stance, and tail waving high in the air, it looks so un- border collie-like. The border collie has such a beautiful gorgeous stride, the crossovers, the flowy circling, the special movement of the feet that look so distinct and different from any other breed's footwork, even the stalk has this lovely neck extension that I never want to adulterate either. HTM and freestyle seems to completely ignore the border collie's natural, flawless grace and this is disturbing to me. Rules are meant to be broken artistically I feel. What I like about freestyle if it can be done our way, is that it opens more directional commands and signals so that Eluane can continue to work her mind....

 

Also great news is that I'm looking forward to visiting a sheepherding farm in 2012, hooooray! It's quite a long drive, and lol, it is a little less than double the distance that I've ever had to travel to a trial. 36 miles is the farthest I will go to an agility trial...Hopefully my incessant loopy learning-disability way of communicating is not gonna spin outta control and tire the sheepherder out, lol! Bless her! I am a handful, so I did talk to her more in detail about the learning disability and the typical havoc it wields...

 

Tea I'm going to look at your blog tomorrow, more in depth but here is only the tip of the iceberg on the questions I will be slamming you and another very kind sheepherder with in the future...

 

Tea wrote:

Sort the wool sheep that won't lamb till april- move them out of the barn and paddock area away from the hair sheep which are lambing soon. And take them down the trails to where they are currently foraging. This can be a couple of miles. Then they stay out.

 

Then they come back to the main barn in the evening. Meanwhile the hair sheep are put in the paddock and looked over and then I hay those guys. The last month or so I hay them.

 

Then they go back.

 

Once lambing has started then there is putting ewes in jugs.

 

Sorting older lambs and ewes into a bigger area.

 

Moving a flock of ewes and two week old lambs out.

 

And also we go to the USDA mobile slaughter and move stock in and out of our own rig and move others.

 

I am called on to catch sheep to crutch for other shepherds soon.

 

And all these things have different challenges and restraints.

 

And with diffrent animals that changes. And the difference with moving a pregnant flock and a flock with a bunch of new lambs is very different. The difference between catching a lame ewe and a bunch of piglets is different.

 

And the terrain changes- muddy- water filled ditches- snow- icey patches.

that changes how stock behaves.

 

Jumping in back of trucks with campers to move out lambs.....going down a stock trailer to move sheep.

 

Moving someones reluctant undogged steers..

 

Or this last week catching some older goat bucklings that kept trying to flatten my dogs against a fence.

 

And then on Sat I often go to a trial.

 

Now here is my quote

Serena asks:

How does lambing season change sheepherding routines.

 

How do you delegate new lamb versus the older lambs. Obviously there seems to be??? 2 different lambing seasons about 2 months? apart???

 

What is the difference between hair sheep and wool sheep? Does Hair sheep mean sheep raised for meat and Wool sheep for the wool if I were to take a wild guess??? sorry for the ignorance here. But if indeed hair sheep is for meat strictly, why did they give "hair" as the name.

 

What is a jug?

 

What does crutch mean...

 

I'm not sure I can visually get what the phrase "Jumping in back of trucks with campers to move out lambs.....going down a stock trailer to move sheep" entails

 

Finally, any video of goatherding? I've never seen this before! Would love to see and compare. I once talked about the difference in herding style I noticed with managing cattle versus sheep and wanted to see some live goatherding in action....

 

Also Julie mentions a forage management system...I argued with my BF that sheepherders can't just let their sheep stay within their fenced in area....He says why bother herding? just keep them penned up in the same area. And I said noooo. I told him I was just wild guessing but I think for healthy sheep they have to keep on the "move" plus all land has to be re-plenished instead of being over-grazed...And no matter what you still have to round up those sheep. And Julie's comment about forage management system also leads me to believe there may be some nutritional aspects to the copper content? but can someone tell me what this is exactly???? "forage management"...

 

Ummm, Rootbeer it's critical for every owner who owns a border collie to research our sheepherding roots. It not only makes for a great read but it's essential to understanding our heritage and our responsibilities as owners of Border Collies. I am pretty sad to hear you don't have much interest in the sheepherding traditions. I agree that flyball and tracking holds very little relevance because the border collie's brains are not being utilized. There's no brainwork involved... Service dogs do have brainwork involved (a dog leading through traffic, opening doorways, chest drawers, getting out items, multiple decision-making and environmental assessments, and sensing out what an owner needs help on). Anytime a particular discipline uses the border collie's intelligence, biddability, its beautiful spatial coordination and ability to understand intricate command systems, that discipline does pay tribute to working qualities of the B.C. Service dogs are a lifetime's work to help the owner "survive" and is of great value I feel. Granted everything pales with real sheepherding, but they have that faint "shadow" of the original B.C....

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Julie, thanks for sharing, and just like you it's now about 2.5 years for me as well. I forgot how time flies. However, agility equipment to do really well in (if you blow a contact you are immediately disqualified) costs literally a few grand. Not to mention there's not enough space for a small suburban lawn, and you have to build a gigantic shed to store that couple of grand equipment which adds another couple of grand and further cuts down on one's space limitations. :blink: Hurdles don't cut it and even a triple jump hurdle is ultra expensive too, and you take Kansas high-blowing winds...you get the picture, lol!

 

If you could find a carpenter or someone with good DIY skills (or builders etc) they should be able to make some equipment for you? Weave poles can be difficult but everything else can be made pretty simply by someone who knows what they're doing, and it shouldn't cost a couple grand. They would be able to look at your size and weight limitations as well.

 

An acquaintance of mine did this, she's competed in a few different countries in Europe. I know of a few people who've done it. You might even be able to do it yourself, with some help. Have a look at the agility equipment when you're training: the measurements (lengths, angles etc) and the materials.

 

Would be less expensive and just as fun, and when you have your own equipment it makes it much easier to practice.

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Serena,

I am no longer going to spend a lot of time on this thread because I think you aren't bothering to understand what some folks are *really* saying.

 

So this time, I'm going to be quite blunt. You have repeatedly commented about how little money you have and how difficult it is for you to train because of that and also how it has caused divisiveness with your boyfriend.

 

Here's my message, as plainly as I can state it: If the thing you want to do costs more than you can afford, then you have to make CHOICES. If doing something less than competing at top levels in AKC is beneath you, then STOP WHINING about the money! Either you make a compromise, which, by the way, millions of people do every day, or you stop moaning about the lack of money and do what you need to do to have the money you need to do what you want.

 

I was already there--competing in open with enough success to qualify for the National Finals numerous times. I love training and trialing. But I don't have extra money right now. So I don't make excuses, or talk about how I'm special and I want to do only the best and therefore I just HAVE to do it the AKC way or not at all. Do you get my point? If you are unwilling to compromise because of your financial situation (and by the way, you can build agility equipment for a lot less than you claim), then stop whining about how much it all costs. It's that simple.

 

And while I'm at it, I hope you realize that while you're complaining about people disparaging agility you turn around and DO THE VERY SAME THING when you mention freestyle. Talk about OFFENSIVE. Those comments really take the cake of offensiveness. If you can do better than the folks already putting their hearts and souls into it, by all means do so. But don't come here and cry that people are unfair in their beliefs/assumptions about agility and then engage in the exact same behavior when discussing a sport in which you don't even participate. The arrogance is astounding. Big deal that you're a former ballerina. Many of the folks who post to these boards have special skills and abilities--we just choose not to trumpet it out every chance we get. And FWIW, I can name a number of artists who were considered artistic geniuses after their deaths who were actually repeatedly disparaged by their peers. Your analogies don't even work.

 

And it's a shame that you're operating under the belief that the only way to challenge your dog so completely is by doing AKC agility. How limiting for both of you.

 

At the risk of being reprimanded by Eileen, I just want to say that I think you need to get over yourself.

 

P.S. I would have thought that someone who makes a living as an artist would have the imagination and creativity to figure out how to do what you want without spending the money you say you have to struggle for in order to pay the dog club and do AKC agility....

 

 

J.

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Ummm, Rootbeer it's critical for every owner who owns a border collie to research our sheepherding roots. It not only makes for a great read but it's essential to understanding our heritage and our responsibilities as owners of Border Collies.

 

What makes you think I haven't? I most certainly have.

 

The fact that I have some knowledge of that heritage, and that I appreciate that heritage does not translate to a passionate interest that would lead me to pursue stockwork. In fact, after giving it a more than fair try (with sheep, with my Border Collies, for more than a year), the decision not to pursue it was exactly that - a deliberate decision, based on my own interests and passions. It's not for me. Other disciplines are.

 

That does not mean, however, that I don't appreciate it in and of itself. Nor does that mean that I fail to appreciate what I learned about my Border Collies, which was considerable, through the experience.

 

It simply means that it is a discipline that I have chosen not to study extensively or participate in. And that is a perfectly valid choice. Work with livestock is not for everyone and, frankly, I am not much interested in livestock. That is in no way an indication that I cannot appreciate the Border Collie as a training partner, teaching partner, sport partner, or companion, as I most passionately and enthusiastically do. If there is a big stockdog trial nearby (within a couple of hours), I may well go watch, as I have twice before, and I absolutely appreciate watching the Border Collies work, and the heritage and history of my own Border Collies and their ancestors.

 

But I have chosen other disciplines to put my time, study, efforts, work, and heart into with my Border Collies - just as you have, with Agility - and that doesn't make me somehow unappreciative of their heritage.

 

I am pretty sad to hear you don't have much interest in the sheepherding traditions.

 

A lack of personal interest in the serious study and pursuit of stockwork does not translate to a lack of interest in the sheepherding traditions.

 

I agree that flyball and tracking holds very little relevance because the border collie's brains are not being utilized. There's no brainwork involved...

 

No brainwork in tracking? Seriously? Have you any experience with tracking? I don't have a lot, but I've done enough to know the dog is absolutely using his or her brain. There is much, much more to it than just sniffing around, and it is far from mindless.

 

My choice not to pursue tracking was not based the degree to which the dog's brain is utilized. I appreciate tracking in a particular way because of the mode of mental work that it entails for the dog. Like stockwork, I gave it a try (not quite as much of a try). And I actually enjoyed tracking considerably. But I very much prefer other disciplines, so I chose not to pursue tracking. I am not interested enough in it to watch other people do it, so I can't say I have an interest in it. But I do appreciate it for what it is.

 

Service dogs do have brainwork involved (a dog leading through traffic, opening doorways, chest drawers, getting out items, multiple decision-making and environmental assessments, and sensing out what an owner needs help on).

 

I'm not sure, Serena, where you got the idea that I somehow equate lack of personal interest in a discipline with the dog using his or her brain. I could probably list about 50 things I could choose to do with my dogs that require extensive brainwork in which I am not personally interested. I am very appreciative of what service dogs provide, and the intense work that they do.

 

And my interest in the sports that I do study and participate in does not stem primarily from the fact that brainwork is involved. Granted, I do appreciate that side of it in particular. I am very much aware that Agility involves far more brainwork on the part of the dog than some people who do not have firsthand experience with it realize. Same with Freestyle - if you are interested in brainwork, Serena, you seriously should consider giving Freestyle a whirl. There you could also incorporate your dance background, and many in England, in particular, appreciate Freestyle. Some of the most "prestigious" (since that seems to be important to you) Freestylers in the world are English - Tina Humphrey, Richard Curtis, Mary Ray - and the three of them perform with Border Collies. Here in the US, a good many Border Collies excel at Freestlye, as well. It provides a most unique form of brainwork, especially for a dog who enjoys learning vocabulary!!

 

Of course, you may not be interested in Musical Freestyle, and if that's the case, that's fine. That's a matter of personal interest, not an objective indication of the amount of brainwork used by the dog in the discipline.

 

Anytime a particular discipline uses the border collie's intelligence, biddability, its beautiful spatial coordination and ability to understand intricate command systems, that discipline does pay tribute to working qualities of the B.C. Service dogs are a lifetime's work to help the owner "survive" and is of great value I feel.

 

I consider many, many, many of them to be great value. The fact that I do not have a personal interest does not in any way indicate that I believe they don't have value. All it means is that I personally don't have interest in it.

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