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


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Serena - once again you wrote an awful lot without saying much of anything and without answering any questions. Perhaps if you didn't add in all the personal info you could address questions that have been asked.

^^Yes, this.

 

ETA:

 

I will explain my background more when I return.

 

Why? Are you planning on being the agility breeder and you're trying to justify it? And/or to prove to your boyfriend you aren't spending money frivolously, that in fact, you're going to eventually make money from it?

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It's over in Europe (maybe just Great Britain?) that they have the Anything But Border Collie class - nothing like that in the US. That's because over there I believe you have to win to move up to the next level, and the border collies were too much competition for most. USDAA is much more highly competitive than AKC agility and you see a much higher percentage of border collies there. The US large dog division of the World Team is pretty much all border collies (I'm sure there is the occasional exception, like Suni the Aussie several years ago, and if you go back really far you see a much greater variety of breeds than you do today, but today it pretty much is exclusively border collies). Now in the OTHER coutries large dog division it's interesting that you see a lot of Belgians also and they do quite well even against the border collies. In this country the belgians are mostly show dogs and you see only very few who are that competitive, but over seas they have a lot more performance/working lines.

 

Any dog can do well at agility and get MACHs. I don't know why all this emphasis on MACH dogs and MACH handlers as a MACH title doesn't even mean it's a very good agility dog. There are plenty of MACH dogs out there who got their MACH title without ever being in the ribbons or even close. The key to a MACH is a pretty consistent dog who is 'fast enough' to get the necessary points and double Qs. He doesn't need to be brilliant and Q all the time (50% Q rate will do it quite nicely) and he doesn't need to be blazing fast or handled brilliantly, he just needs to not be really slow and have a good enough handler to get around the course. So using it as a breeding criteria, no way, as it is a pretty meaningless criteria even if all you care about is producing a good agility dog.

 

I can see how those who ONLY care about agility would think it makes sense to breed two nice agility dogs together and increase the chance of getting nice agility puppies. I know people who have done/are doing this and the owners seem happy with their dogs and to do well with them. The thing is, it's not what happens in one generation or even 3 or 4. You have to look further down the road, what will the fallout be? I suspect there will be some superb agility dogs out there from those lines, but they will NOT be the same dog we all know and love today. Maybe the agility people won't even know what's different, as they'll still be winning and by then they'll have changed their perspective on what a border collie is. There are also a lot of new people coming into the breed from other breeds due to agility and they care about the SPORT not about the BREED so are coming in from a totally skewed perspective IMO.

 

Agility is a new enough sport and only recently has become so extremely demanding of physical skills to win that there isn't a long history of 'agility lines' out there in any breed so it's too soon to say what may come of breeding only for agility generation after generation. Flyball and breeding for flyball has been around longer and I have seen flyball border collies on stock and they don't have a clue even though they originally came from working lines. I have also heard from a few agility people who got dogs from flyball lines - they got dogs with no off switch or dogs with just plain 'odd' temperaments. Some are okay agility dogs but not any more so than the majority of border collies out there. Of course that is only the small sampling that I know of personally. But I wonder if all these agility breedings will eventually go down that same path.

 

If agility people want to breed agility border collies it's going to be tough to stop them. It's a free country after all. And I can't even say the dogs will suck at agility after a few generations - you do tend to get what you breed for. I just take a bit of offense at someone coming on here and proposing to breed for agility and then trying to talk to everyone about bridging the gap and getting the stock dog people to see their side and assure everyone that what they're doing won't really cause any harm to the stockdog abilities of the border collie. And this is coming from someone who has never put a MACH on a dog (which is not all that hard to do) and presumably never worked a dog on stock either, so there's not a lot of basis to have a truly informed opinion.

 

First of all, just knowing the basic genetic principle of selection - if you don't select for complicated traits like working ability you lose them. There are plenty of examples of that. It's as simple as that. Whatever else it may be, it won't be a stockdog anymore. And I can't see how anyone would believe that stockdog people on this board could be convinced to be okay with that. Now if you take both agility dog parents and run them in Open USBCHA trials and qualify for National Finals, then maybe I could see myself as being convinced that it wouldn't be much harm to breed those two knowing they'd be going to agility homes. Except of course the pups would need to also become Open dogs before they could be bred to prove that the two parents were a good match from a working perspective, and so on. And that's not something I see any top level agility trainer taking the time to do. The better they are at agility probably the less time and energy they have for other pursuits like putting their dog on stock consistently. The more efficient way to get a good agility dog is to buy a working dog, run it in agility, and if it's very good, you go back to those working lines for more agility dogs. This way the stockdog people test out the dog's stock work abilities and make the breeding decisions, and the agility people can find which lines are ideally suited for agility, and everyone gets what they want without harming the breed.

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OK I'm back! and Maralynn from now on, I will try to stay on track, I just didn't want people to think I was ignoring them…. I'm super busy training Eluane, and with just one person, it's extremely demanding and she is my absolute priority!! This will be the last time I post more than once a day. I am getting a bit worried so will make this an exception because I do sense people are getting the wrong ideas about my first intent.

 

1) I need to find out on our boards, who here actually actively participates in AKC. If no one is answering, this is exactly what I'm fearing...With this thread if anyone is too afraid to say that they actively participate at AKC agility trials, then this betrays an important issue. I see only one, and so far she has not offered any of her thoughts on what she thought about AKC and the puppy mill issues or the conformation issues with AKC either.

 

2) If we scare away all the AKC Border Collie agility folk, then the danger is if they run away from these boards, you create an unbridgeable division. Everyone will do their own indiscriminate choices, no one is communicating at all!!! And it becomes exactly the same situation about why my MACH friend gave up on the B.C. Boards.

 

Serena wrote: In the past my friend explained that many MACH handlers, including himself, have dropped out of the forum due to frustration with the raging controversy concerning whether agility dogs met the criteria of a working border collie.

 

Eileen responded: Whether agility dogs meet the description "working border collies" is a subject that comes up very occasionally -- so seldom that I'm very surprised to hear that someone would drop out of the forum over it.

 

Well, with all the harsh criticisms held here about sports agility endangering the Border Collie line, you can see how people might be scared to even mention that they participate in AKC agility. Those who avoid these boards may make the horrible mistake of becoming indiscriminate agility breeders. That is why open communication is very important too! We still have to build a caring bridge for people to discuss without getting personal or angry.

 

Remember a lot of MACH champion breeders are very caring excellent conscientious people. They are dedicated folks who have an awareness about the ideal B.C. traits to look for. Do not judge these people. Give them due respect. These people are not Serena and should not be judged as such. They’ve dedicated years of their lives. As Root Beer and I have said, their work is their vocation – agility. Training as instructors, giving seminars, teaching, writing books etc. Many do replenish their lines with working border collie stock too.

 

I am now going to address what Gloria wrote it was very beautifully written with very clear thoughts. But I also need to talk about a few things which she may have misunderstood. But every point she did say had a special validity and I hope she gives me a chance to maybe see a tiny bit of validity in my response as well.

 

Gloria: Frankly, I am still confused about what you want. An agility person who "keeps contact with" the working sheepdog community is no more qualified (or less qualified) to breed border collies than someone who does freestyle or competes with Frisbees or has taught their dog to use a Ouija board. What does "keep contact with" mean, anyhow? ... they are NOT breeding to preserve the border collie for what it is. They're just breeding agility dogs and throwing in a little extra spice once in a while, so's to look good on paper.

 

Gloria, this is actually a very common misperception of responsible MACH handlers who do breed. I know specifically of an instructor at my Club. She had originating working stock dog lineage, her Border Collies are soooo calm, so focused so discerning. Wonderful dogs and she is a brilliant dedicated instructor to her students. To say that re-building the line by going back to the working sheepdog community and replenishing the lines just to “look good on paper” makes me sad. What I am very discouraged about is the stereotyping that people may have about these MACH handlers who breed. To say that she does not work for her dogs and her dogs work for her is a bit painful for me to read. These dogs help do demos in tracking, obedience and agility and excel in all three fields, not just agility and demonstrate the high efforts she makes to breed great B.Cs. I have never learned from her alas, my finances ran out, but everyone at my club loves her. I know for sure that this particular instructor does not go back to the working lines just to “look good” on paper.

 

What I mean by keeping in close contact with the community is that every generation or so, ideally a sports agility champion breeder will indeed go back to a good working stock breeder. The only way to find a good working stock breeder is to have friends involved in ABCA or the sheepherding community, people to rely on and count on for advice to tell them which dogs they can breed with and can recommend an ideal breeding line. And it’s also nice to have an expert champion sports agility person be able to give knowledgeable advice on this forum as well.

 

Gloria to say that all sports agility handlers have no clue as to the ideal B.C. talents and temperament is a misconception. We want calm, focused dogs, dogs who are keen who can switch over at an emergency instant, who can read things instantly and know where you are sending them, who can hold off, who work from the heart! These are all part of the same disciplines that the working border collie and the sports agility champion dog uses but it's been transformed and translated into a different outlet. And yes, it’s all about muscle control, and fluidity. And we also want brilliant dogs who can learn many different things. Some like me, want our border collies to have extensive vocabulary and comprehension and we train for this too to keep their minds alert and thinking. Border Collies are the #1 working dog, and hands down they are the #1 agility dog breedwise. None are their equal. That is why a Border Collie champion agility handler might be interested in breeding so that their champion lines can continue within the family too.

 

Gloria, tomorrow I will address your point on a breakdown of agility techniques and why it’s not fun and games but involves real discipline, real concrete usages of the Border collies discernment and awareness…The "early takeoff" that you did not understand involves a very important concept and is not ridiculous as you may think it is. It actually involves a border collie's wisdom and timing...

 

Gloria wrote: Serena, I wish you could have been at the trial with me this past Monday. I wish you could have seen my Nick, just over 3 years old, out there laying down possibly the most beautiful run of his young life. I was the director, sure. But he was 200 yards or more away, further when on his outrun, and I could see the generations of good hill dogs in every stride, every subtle shift of position, every intuitive movement that kept those sheep going in directions they would never have chosen, of their own accord

 

I do too :) . It would have been so awesome to watch Nick! But in a way this is sad for me. I have always loved and been interested in watching sheep dogs work and trial. And if I catch it on TV I watch :D And I always lurk at the herding section. Yet it makes me sad that I never see the same reciprocation. I do not see the open hearts to love the beauty and brilliance of a sports agility champion dog in action by many of the professional sheepherding community who’ve already written here. Some have flat out stated that they have no interest, that sports agility was nothing but silly fun and games, and ooouch, Ouiji Board :o: but a few have been so kind as well in setting aside the differences such as BC Sista - and I thank you Sista, for your very kind words and support!!!!! And to Donald once again for the brilliant, clinical writing...

 

But back to the sad note, if we choose to ignore or snub sports agility there is one hard fact: Everything impacts our border collies no matter how you look at it!! Border Collie sports will keep accelerating at a phenomenal rate and we have to stay in touch, like it or not!!! between the sports agility community and the working sheepherding community. Ignore this part and the problems and dangers of indiscriminate breeding will only deepen and get worse :(

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Serena,

 

For me, as a livestock owner and open USBCHA handler, I would rather spend my time working my dogs on stock. In my past life I did agility, worked my dogs etc. I have several friends that have very high titles in agility, although I don't exactly know what they are. I do like watching a good agility run. I don't love the tug and the "highstrungness" of many dogs at the trial site. It grates on my nerves

 

The point is, what makes a border collie is stock work. We breed dogs that we think will make better workers. does it always work, no, but our intent is very clear, build a better working dog; but I wouldn't take the chance that the champion border collie, in what ever venue, would make my working border collie any better. I don't care that it might make the lines of the agility border collie better. I'm not trying to make a bigger gap, I'm telling you my thoughts.

 

I think it is great that people spend lots of time training their dogs. Many pet and agility folks have better trained dogs than mine, more socialized...great, what ever; mine work stock; And I will breed to improve the dogs I have, or buy better dogs, but unless that MACH dog (or whatever) is working sheep/cattle and will make a good match, I wouldn't breed to it. No one is saying they don't have a passion for what they do or that they are great in their respective field. No one is saying that it isn't hard to get a high title in agility, flyball, what ever...No handler is less worthy of owning a border collie because they dont' work stock.

 

What makes the border collie great is the generations of breeding for working; bidability; thoughtfulness; grit; diligence; heart. I am happy to meet with agility folks, chat etc but I don't think I'd every breed one of my dogs to help agility lines maintain some working component.

 

Cynthia

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Well, with all the harsh criticisms held here about sports agility endangering the Border Collie line, you can see how people might be scared to even mention that they participate in AKC agility.

 

Sereena

No one has harsh criticims for people who partisipate in agility, or that doing so is endangering the border collie. There are quite a few here that express their distaste for AKC, an evil corporation that is intent on making money at the expense of the dogs they promote in their breeding programs. But that is a seprate issuse from "doing" agility.

 

What is being said, over and over again is that you can't keep or get agility champions by breeding for them, you said it yourself, that your "MACH" handlers need to go back to the "great" working lines to keep their breedings successfull. Why do you think that is? Why do you think there are no working people that go "back" to agility MACH handlers and ask them to breed thier MACH dogs?

It's not cause we don't like them but becuase we know, you can't breed for one thing and get something else.

Unless you choose a great Border Collie out of proven working parents for a breeding program (which for me does not always mean open handlers, it means doing your homework and finding out about the particular lines that you are looking at a puppy from. Watching the parents work, looking for other siblings out there working. Way more that looking at papers) you will quickly lose what makes those dogs great.

 

Once you get some years on you, maybe you will be able to understand what the people on here have been saying.

You are an eager learner, I sure hope you learn the things you're gonna need if you ever become a MACH handler and decide that you need to breed your dogs. It's certainly not to bridge the gap with the people on here to come over to the dark ACK side. Never gonna happen, no matter how nice the words are you choose to use. NEVER. And you will NEVER convince a stock dog handler that he will produce a good dog by using a super duper MACH dog. That's not going to happen either.

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We want calm, focused dogs, dogs who are keen who can switch over at an emergency instant, who can read things instantly and know where you are sending them, who can hold off, who work from the heart! These are all part of the same disciplines that the working border collie and the sports agility champion dog uses but it's been transformed and translated into a different outlet.

 

No. As breeders of working dogs, yes, we want need all of those things, but the difference is that we need those things in relation to the stock. Yes, we need to dog to take direction, but it's really not difficult to teach a dog its directions (or flanks). The missing piece that is at the bottom of all this--the foundation on which all this is built, is the relationship between the dog and the livestock. The truly well bred dog will, inherently, have a feel for its stock. It will read the stock and respond appropriately with just enough power/presence (whatever you choose to call it) for that particular group of stock on that particular day. The truly well bred dog does not have to be taught "pace"--it will automatically adjust for the stock it is working at that moment. The truly well bred dog will know when it needs to give a nip at the heels to get the stock to move, and will also know when it does NOT need to do so. This underlying feel for/reading of stock is of such paramount importance that I can't stress it enough. AND, this is absolutely GENETIC. Sure, you can take a dog with no feel for its stock and train it up, and probably get around a trial course with it, or even do some chores with it. And that dog might be a relatively useful dog. But the handler will always have to HANDLE that dog--place it where it needs to be, tell it when to down or back off, etc. A dog like this does not have the NATURAL TALENT that (IMO) should be there. I don't believe a dog like this should be bred, even though it does work (but, unfortunately, I see too many of these kinds of dogs being bred all the time).

 

So, it's not a matter of just even trying the dog on stock, or seeing that it "wants to work." I've seen a number of sports bred dogs who want to work, but there is no natural ability there. So how you can say that we should EVER consider breeding dogs just because the dog (or its handler) has some MACH initials behind their name, or how you can try to convince me that the traits agility people (even those with the revered MACH title) are looking for ARE THE SAME as what I am looking for in a border collie is simply, utterly ridiculous,

A

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I wish everyone who wished to breed dogs for whatever would spend just one day behind the scenes at a municipal shelter, or even a so-called "no kill" shelter with overcrowded conditions.

 

Serena, I'm not much into groupthink and I don't want to engage in any sort of pack attack, but I would like to tell you why I'm "on board" with the basic philosophy of this board, even though my cynicism will not permit me to use "breeding for work" as the sole criteria for respecting a breeder. That is an essential component, but certainly not the only component that makes a responsible breeder, in my opinion. Quite frankly, I'd rather see a dog go to a pet home that does agility than a working home with little regard for the pups in a litter that don't make the grade. I just don't want to see that dog reproduce when there is no legitimate reason for it.

 

As far as respecting agility handlers, I do, very much. But their dogs are pets. When I say pets, I don't say it with the supercilious disdain with which I've heard many breeders speak of pets. On the contrary, I care very much about those pets. I am a proud pet owner.

 

I used to handle in the AKC show ring. I wanted to be a professional handler, so I handled my own and other people's dogs. But I also used to volunteer, then work in the administration of an animal shelter. I can tell you that the world of companion animal welfare--pets--is heartbreaking, and there are a lot of misconceptions about just what sort of dog you will find in a shelter. They are not all mutts that were allowed to breed indiscriminately, although there is that.

 

Roughly half of the 6-8 million dogs and cats the enter shelters are euthanized. Approximately 25% are purebred. Have you ever seen a wheelbarrow full of dead dogs being carted to an incinerator? I have.

 

With this as my background, I have watched these amazing Border Collies on sheep. It is breathtakingly (is that a word?) beautiful. More than that, it is primal; natural. With all the synthetic, the plastic, the asphalt and the genetically engineered whatever that we live with in the modern world, the simplicity; the synergy of a shepherd and his trusted dog working sheep is something I don't want to see disappear.

 

I hate to see even one more dog born into a world of throw-away pets, but if it means preserving something so basic to the sustenance and history of civilization--and if the breeding is undertaken with purpose and restraint--I'm willing to make an exception.

 

 

EDIT: Yeah, I didn't spell-check this. Could you tell?

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Well, with all the harsh criticisms held here about sports agility endangering the Border Collie line, you can see how people might be scared to even mention that they participate in AKC agility.

 

The truth as one preson sees it can sometimes comes across as harsh to a person who views things differently.

 

I've found that if you just notice things here, you find out who participates in AKC events. I wouldn't call them out or be rude to them because of it, but OTOH I'm not going to change my position or not speak up about why I feel the AKC is bad.

 

FWIW, I find it interesting that you called out an owner of a dog that does very well in AKC agility and told them that they really don't understand what MACH means.

 

I'm super busy training Eluane, and with just one person, it's extremely demanding and she is my absolute priority!! This will be the last time I post more than once a day. I am getting a bit worried so will make this an exception because I do sense people are getting the wrong ideas about my first intent.

 

This is a prime example of not staying on track ;)

 

Also, I don't think anyone is exactly sure about your first intent is/was. I think everyone reads you posts and kind of goes "huh?". This includes agility people, AKC sports participants (who have posted to this thread) as well as the rest of us. Perhaps you should figure out how to lay it out in three sentances or less and make it clear.

 

Right now it sounds an awful lot like - stockdog people should welcome those who do well at AKC sports with open arms and assist them in breeding AKC sport dogs.

 

Which is quite mind boggling seeing as the stockdog people have already produced the premier sport dog through breeding dogs for stock work. If anything you'd think that sport breeders would want to learn from stockdog people what goes into breeding a calm, driven, athletic, biddable dog.

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Serena, you really need to speak with the original breeders of obedience Border Collies. They have "been there, don't that." They figured out pretty quickly that in a single generation you can lose the essence of the breed, that you must breed proven working dogs to get more Border Collies. Otherwise you just get really smart dogs in a tuxedo. Track down and spend some time with them. Listen to what they have to say. I think you will learn a lot from them.

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If we scare away all the AKC Border Collie agility folk, then the danger is if they run away from these boards, you create an unbridgeable division. Everyone will do their own indiscriminate choices, no one is communicating at all!!! And it becomes exactly the same situation about why my MACH friend gave up on the B.C. Boards.

 

Well, with all the harsh criticisms held here about sports agility endangering the Border Collie line, you can see how people might be scared to even mention that they participate in AKC agility. Those who avoid these boards may make the horrible mistake of becoming indiscriminate agility breeders. That is why open communication is very important too! We still have to build a caring bridge for people to discuss without getting personal or angry.

 

Those that stay on these Boards may also make the horrible mistake of becoming indiscriminate agility breeders. You're here, you're participating in this thread (which BTW has included some of the most eloquent posts on this subject that I can recall), and yet little if any communication seems to be taking place.

 

Like others who've posted, I am having a very hard time understanding what your point is. This is what I hear you saying in your posts:

 

1. Agility-focused border collie owners whose dogs earn the MACH title and get high placements are often wonderful caring people, devoted dog owners, and dedicated and committed to their sport. [Agree -- no need to belabor this further] They are forced to compete in AKC, and therefore it is okay for them to do so. [Disagree] Because they are such lovely people, because they really appreciate border collies, and because they value some of the same traits of border collies that you value, there is nothing wrong with them breeding their high-achieving agility border collies as long as they do it responsibly. [Disagree]

 

2. Whatever your feelings and beliefs might be about registering and competing border collies in AKC, or about breeding border collies who have not shown proven ability in livestock work, you should not express them here, because it is more important that you build bridges with agility people and keep them feeling comfortable on the Boards. [Disagree]

 

3. Building bridges with them is paramount because . . . because . . . because . . . well, because otherwise they might not have any stockworking contacts with whom to arrange breedings every few generations to infuse their agility lines with the je ne c'est quoi that will keep them . . . keep them . . . make them . . . [Had to give up here. I have no idea what the point is supposed to be of breeding back to stockworking dogs unless it's an acknowledgement that breeding for agility doesn't produce real border collies, or doesn't even produce dogs that will continue to excel at what the agility breeders want them to excel at.]

 

Gloria, tomorrow I will address your point on a breakdown of agility techniques and why it’s not fun and games but involves real discipline, real concrete usages of the Border collies discernment and awareness…The "early takeoff" that you did not understand involves a very important concept and is not ridiculous as you may think it is. It actually involves a border collie's wisdom and timing...

 

Serena, if you do that, you will be totally wasting your precious time. I'm quite willing to assume that agility techniques are as complicated and hard to master as rocket science, and everyone has acknowledged over and over that many of the qualities that border collies possess -- because the breed was developed for such mentally and physically demanding work -- are utilized by and valuable in the sport of agility. You don't need to convince anyone of that. It is so beside the point. It just doesn't support any of the conclusions you are trying to draw from it.

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Eileen, thank you for this post, and especially for pointing out to Serena that she will be wasting time if she belabors any more of her points.

 

Serena, with all due respect to you and no offense intended, I have read this whole thread and you are just not listening at all.

For just one of many examples, you say: "

 

Well, with all the harsh criticisms held here about sports agility endangering the Border Collie line..."

 

Of course no one said anything even close to that. What was said is that BREEDING for anything other than excellence in real stock work is deplorable by the standards of this forum. A lot of other things have been said as well, and you appear to be missing them.

 

I suggest you re-read the posts here from others, and try to take in some of the exceptionally well-written wisdom expressed here. And stop wasting your time defending whatever point is it that you think you need to make, especially as it appears that none of us can even figure out what that is.

Again, no offense intended. You mean well, that is clear. But I think you are a bit misguided and could learn a lot from the folks here if you would listen. Try it. I did, and am glad I did.

D'Elle

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The truly well bred dog will, inherently, have a feel for its stock. It will read the stock and respond appropriately with just enough power/presence (whatever you choose to call it) for that particular group of stock on that particular day. The truly well bred dog does not have to be taught "pace"--it will automatically adjust for the stock it is working at that moment. The truly well bred dog will know when it needs to give a nip at the heels to get the stock to move, and will also know when it does NOT need to do so. This underlying feel for/reading of stock is of such paramount importance that I can't stress it enough. AND, this is absolutely GENETIC. Sure, you can take a dog with no feel for its stock and train it up, and probably get around a trial course with it, or even do some chores with it. And that dog might be a relatively useful dog. But the handler will always have to HANDLE that dog--place it where it needs to be, tell it when to down or back off, etc. A dog like this does not have the NATURAL TALENT that (IMO) should be there. I don't believe a dog like this should be bred, even though it does work (but, unfortunately, I see too many of these kinds of dogs being bred all the time).

 

 

This was so well said. It is amazing watching the stock sense of a good border collie. I have no idea how they do what they do. How they can be sent from 400 yards away (or further), be running at pretty much top speed the whole way, far off their stock, and yet arrive at that perfect spot with just the right amount of presence and in just the right place to lift the sheep calmly and smoothly, even on a field they've never been on before and with sheep they've never seen before. It's quite simply amazing and NOT something you can ever 'teach' to a dog. Most of the training is about getting the dog into situations where they can find and refine that feel for themselves and is not merely a mechanical exercise in 'when I say this you do that'. Without the right genetics, the training methods would not work to produce the top class dogs we see out there today. It also is amazing to see how well many young border collies their first time on stock read them and control them. I'm a bit of a science geek and at one point was going to go into the field of molecular biology and genetics, and I still find it totally amazing what mere genes can put into an animal's head and into their hearts.

 

I will say this - I do agility, have been for over 15 years now. I've put a lot of advanced titles on dogs and gone to nationals competitions. I've won a lot of classes, and I teach agility. I enjoy the sport and so do my dogs. But it is NOTHING compared to seeing these dogs on stock and knowing what a precious gift has been placed into our hands, to either preserve or to carelessly crush and throw away. I have a lot of friends who do agility, many of them with border collies, some sport bred, some working bred, some rescues so we don't really know the background. I talk to them all the time about how amazing stock work is and how important it is to keep working ability in the breed. Words don't really do it. I think they appreciate what I say, but they don't really 'get it', even the few who have casually watched part of the national finals or seen videos of my dogs working and even some of them whose dogs I've worked on my sheep or they've seen the dogs work in person. I don't know how you bridge this gap. I didn't totally get it myself until I got sheep and needed certain things done and learned to appreciate the natural talent in another context than a standardized trial field.

 

I would like to think that anyone who decides to breed would first come to know the whole breed (not just the agility part of it) and would take the time to immerse themselves in the stockdog world and learn from it. But realistically I know that most won't bother. If someone would like to breed premier stock dogs, trial them at the highest levels (in USBCHA, not AKC), prove out their abilities, and also runs that dog in agility, and wants to market to both worlds, that woulld be one thing. I don't know of a single person who does that. Agility breeders can pay lip service to working concepts all they want, but it's just talk until they make the commitment to really understand the working aspect of the breed, not by 'associating' with working dog people, but by actually getting out there and doing it themselves. On the other hand, working breeders sell dogs to agility homes all the time and everyone can see their accomplishments in agility. So someone looking for an agility dog who also really cares about the breed, does it make sense to go to an agility breeder who really has no clue about their dogs on stock, or to go to a working dog breeder who's dogs have proven their abilities in agility as well on stock? Knowing how many of this second type are available out there, why would anyone who really appreciates the breed go the other route and go to a sport breeder?

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Wow. I have never been so proud of the people on this board. You guys are pouring your hearts and souls into your address of the working border collie, and I don't know when I've seen the love and respect we bear for these dogs shining more brightly - or more eloquently. Thank you, all of you, for so wonderfully articulating your thoughts.

 

Now I return to Serena's reply to me.

 

 

I am getting a bit worried so will make this an exception because I do sense people are getting the wrong ideas about my first intent.

 

Well, we remain rather confused, I think. You've gone from talking about "honoring the border collie tradition" and asking whether "working ability" can be extended to include non-sheepdogging activities, to insisting that only top Agility handlers should breed agility border collies - so long as they go back to the working gene pool every two or three generations. That's just a little hard to follow.

 

Oh, and as a note, I think it goes without saying that EVERYbody on these boards abhors the AKC's association with puppy mills and backyard breeders. That's a given and in fact, this Forum's entire stance on the AKC is outlined in the READ THIS FIRST post, which you may review here:

http://www.bordercollie.org/boards/index.php?showannouncement=1&f=15

 

 

2) If we scare away all the AKC Border Collie agility folk, then the danger is if they run away from these boards, you create an unbridgeable division. Everyone will do their own indiscriminate choices, no one is communicating at all!!! And it becomes exactly the same situation about why my MACH friend gave up on the B.C. Boards.

 

I don't think anyone means to scare away AKC agility people. We just don't like to see them breeding AKC agility dogs. The AKC is detrimental to the Border Collie breed. Nothing in its practices serves to preserve or promote the high working standard that the BC is best known for.

 

Now, I won't disagree that Mach breeders are caring, considerate people. But I believe they are earnestly ignorant. Take your use of this word: "Replenish." Serena, you now have before you paragraphs, pages worth, even, of the most passionate, articulate and learned explanation as to why "replenishing" working lines is not enough. Border collies should be bred from honest working lines. Not every border collie needs to work sheep - of course not! But to deliberately breed dogs who do NOT work and have never worked is damaging to the breed.

 

 

Gloria, this is actually a very common misperception of responsible MACH handlers who do breed. I know specifically of an instructor at my Club. She had originating working stock dog lineage, her Border Collies are soooo calm, so focused so discerning. Wonderful dogs and she is a brilliant dedicated instructor to her students. To say that re-building the line by going back to the working sheepdog community and replenishing the lines just to “look good on paper” makes me sad. ....To say that she does not work for her dogs and her dogs work for her is a bit painful for me to read. These dogs help do demos in tracking, obedience and agility and excel in all three fields, not just agility and demonstrate the high efforts she makes to breed great B.Cs. ......

 

Serena, I am sorry to make you sad. What I'd hoped is to make you think. No one is saying your friend does not work for her dogs, or that they don't work for her. The fact she puts so much effort into training her border collies to excel in fields other than sheepdogging is admirable! I have nothing but respect for people who put this degree of effort into their dogs. I salute border collies whose owners bring them to greatness in whatever field. All hail the versatile border collie! But you've missed my point. More below.

 

 

What I mean by keeping in close contact with the community is that every generation or so, ideally a sports agility champion breeder will indeed go back to a good working stock breeder. The only way to find a good working stock breeder is to have friends involved in ABCA or the sheepherding community, people to rely on and count on for advice to tell them which dogs they can breed with and can recommend an ideal breeding line. And it’s also nice to have an expert champion sports agility person be able to give knowledgeable advice on this forum as well.

 

"Going back to" working lines is the problem. Why do agility breeders go away from working lines at all? Do they not not realize what intangible, precious traits can be lost in just a couple generations?

 

Let me explain. Say I were to one day breed my boy, Nick. Say that by the time he's 5, the traits I see in him today have been proven on the trial field and in practical work, and I decide I'd like to have a pup from him to carry on. Now, I know Nick has a lot of eye and is a wide-flanking dog, and he had difficulty learning how to drive, because he really wanted to flank. He also can be rather pushy, so I've had to manage his sense of pace as he matures. So, maybe I'd look for a bitch that was stronger at driving, had a bit less eye, had a better sense of pace and wasn't quite so wide on the outrun. Granted, genetics are tricky rascals, and maybe the pups of this hypothetical breeding would favor their grandparents in ways I didn't expect! But I'd know that I'd stand a better chance of a balanced pup, than if I took him to another strong-eyed, pushy, wide-running bitch.

 

Those are the sort of considerations a working breeder will asses. They look at their dogs' working traits and try to figure what combinations of traits might work best, when bred together, so as to get the sort of working dogs they want.

 

But if someone breeds two or three generations of agility dogs, looking ONLY at the traits that best suit the agility field ... those subtleties of work ability are ignored. Whether a dog is strong-eyed or loose-eyed, a flanking dog or a driving dog, is courageous in the face of an ornery ewe or gives way when confronted, whether he's clever enough to spot sheep on a hill half a mile away, whether he's got heart enough to go out in the storm to bring the flock safely off the hill, or the subtlety to work an anxious ewe and her lamb quietly back to the barn, or ease wily range ewes into a pen ... NONE of those traits even appear in consideration for sport breeding.

 

Instead, 2 or 3 generations of agility dogs may have combined speed, athleticism, focus, keenness and bidability, but what of the rest? The natural sense of pace or beautiful outruns or stock sense on tricky sheep that their forebears had has been utterly overlooked. There has been no test of which dogs posses what working traits, at all, and thus those precious qualities are diminished.

 

 

Gloria to say that all sports agility handlers have no clue as to the ideal B.C. talents and temperament is a misconception. We want calm, focused dogs, dogs who are keen who can switch over at an emergency instant, who can read things instantly and know where you are sending them, who can hold off, who work from the heart! These are all part of the same disciplines that the working border collie and the sports agility champion dog uses but it's been transformed and translated into a different outlet.

 

I was not talking about temperament, that I recall, but rather about what makes a good stockdog. But I will concede that yes, of course sports handlers value many of the intrinsic qualities of the BC. That is after all why BCs got into the sport world, in the first place.

 

But as I illustrated above, the qualities of the working border collie are so ephemeral that they can be easily diluted and lost. Just because a BC wants to run around sheep does NOT mean he possesses the best qualities of a working dog. That is a point I feel many if not most AKC people miss. A drive to work livestock is NOT the same as a good working dog.

 

 

Gloria, tomorrow I will address your point on a breakdown of agility techniques and why it’s not fun and games but involves real discipline, real concrete usages of the Border collies discernment and awareness…The "early takeoff" that you did not understand involves a very important concept and is not ridiculous as you may think it is. It actually involves a border collie's wisdom and timing...

 

Please, Serena, do not do that. I have never said that discipline, training and the acumen of the border collie mind are not of value to the sport breeders. It's obvious those things are why we have agility champions and fabulous freestyle obedience routines.

 

But I point out things like "early takeoff syndrome" because that has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on what makes a working border collie. Listen, I've read earnest discussions on ETS and even watched videos purporting to show it in action. I saw over-eager dogs that were so excited they launched at their jumps a bit quickly. To me, that looks more like, A) a training issue, or B ) a breeding issue - meaning those agility people are breeding dogs so hyped and amped up that they can't focus.

 

So when I read earnest discussions about breeding away from dogs with "early takeoff syndrome," my heart just sinks. You know why? Because the solution is obvious.

 

STOP BREEDING OVER-AMPED AGILITY DOGS! When or how a dog launches himself at a jump is the most artificial thing in the world, and to breed according to that single quirk is absurd, dangerous and damaging. Breed the border collie for work. He will be sensible, intelligent, wise and yes, he'll probably be pretty good at timing, since it takes but a nano-second to be right or wrong, in positioning when working sheep.

 

 

I have always loved and been interested in watching sheep dogs work and trial. And if I catch it on TV I watch :D And I always lurk at the herding section.

 

Oh, Serena. The AKC 'herding section' is the last place on earth to be. Those aren't working dogs. Those are pitter-patting fluffballs who know how to hold sheep against a fence and make one right turn for a tiny little cross-drive. There is no more dumbed-down stockdog course on earth, than the AKC "A" course. They DO have a "B" course, which is like a little Pro-Novice course, but I very seldom have heard of it being used. Because many if not most AKC-bred dogs can't do the job. The ability to do so has been diluted and left behind, in favor of false and cosmetic ideals.

 

 

I do not see the open hearts to love the beauty and brilliance of a sports agility champion dog in action by many of the professional sheepherding community who’ve already written here. Some have flat out stated that they have no interest, that sports agility was nothing but silly fun and games...

 

Well ... yes, I guess a lot of us don't have interest. I've seen agility and it looks fun, but so do frisbee and dock diving. Agility and sheepdogging don't always cross-pollinate well. At least one friend of mine tried, and while her dog has a certain working talent, those first couple years of high-energy agility training have made it really hard for the dog to learn consistency about pace or stopping or methodical work, on sheep.

 

Still, that's not really important. What IS important is that agility breeders continue to breed away from working lines, and to create their own lines of dogs with no consideration for the great subtleties of the working "heritage."

 

But back to the sad note, if we choose to ignore or snub sports agility there is one hard fact: Everything impacts our border collies no matter how you look at it!! Border Collie sports will keep accelerating at a phenomenal rate and we have to stay in touch, like it or not!!! between the sports agility community and the working sheepherding community. Ignore this part and the problems and dangers of indiscriminate breeding will only deepen and get worse :(

 

I won't argue with you, there. I think the sticking point you're seeing, however, is breeding away from working lines and only "replenishing" agility lines every so often with working dogs. AKC is a Bad Thing for border collies.

 

Honestly, I do not for one instant believe your crusade to stop AKC having Border Collie conformation will succeed. It will be a cold day in hell before AKC gives up conformation for one single, solitary, special breed from amongst the scores of breeds on its books. And the AKC conformation breeders will never go along with it, either. They sincerely believe in what they are doing, and further, they invest every bit as much time, money, training and energy as any agility trainer you know. AKC won't let go of that which makes it money, and there is too much "prestige" attached to the AKC brand name.

 

Working-dog folks have no problem with agility or agility handlers and trainers. we can only be proud to see our magnificent breed excel at dozens of endeavors! But we have a huge, enormous problem with AKC. And we will not accept AKC's bastardization of the border collie breed. We are in a fight for the working border collie's life, and dilution of those precious genes is how the intrinsic beauty - and ability - of these dogs is lost.

Sincerely,

 

Gloria

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Serena wrote: 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.

 

Diana, I did repeat the exact same thoughts as you that nothing compares to the working Border Collie...I have said this multiple times but people don't read my posts and are busy reading each other's posts and getting misconceptions of what I've said from the get-go.

 

Diana wrote: I will say this - I do agility, have been for over 15 years now. I've put a lot of advanced titles on dogs and gone to nationals competitions. I've won a lot of classes, and I teach agility. I enjoy the sport and so do my dogs. But it is NOTHING compared to seeing these dogs on stock and knowing what a precious gift has been placed into our hands, to either preserve or to carelessly crush and throw away. I have a lot of friends who do agility, many of them with border collies, some sport bred, some working bred, some rescues so we don't really know the background. I talk to them all the time about how amazing stock work is and how important it is to keep working ability in the breed. Words don't really do it. I think they appreciate what I say, but they don't really 'get it', even the few who have casually watched part of the national finals or seen videos of my dogs working and even some of them whose dogs I've worked on my sheep or they've seen the dogs work in person. I don't know how you bridge this gap. I didn't totally get it myself until I got sheep and needed certain things done and learned to appreciate the natural talent in another context than a standardized trial field.

 

I would like to think that anyone who decides to breed would first come to know the whole breed (not just the agility part of it) and would take the time to immerse themselves in the stockdog world and learn from it. But realistically I know that most won't bother.

 

Diane, this is the one thing I'd like to say, many do try to learn from sheepherding traditions. They don't just carelessly crush and throw away... In between their agility titles they do go out and participate in sheepherding classes if it's close enough to their locale. And those city slickers, there is no way on earth we can own sheep. We do try our best to go online to watch sheepherding videos and appreciate even though we will never be agility champions or breed. I will never be an agility MACH champion (one cannot do this trialing just 3x-5x a year) and we started Eluane so late 3.5 years so only two more years and we are done, no more 1st places, 2nd places, 3rd places for us at our 20" height division...In fact I'm dreading 2012...I mention this because 3 people specifically asked me!! (sigh) and I would never ever want to be a breeder-ugh!!!!!!! I am a pet owner, for Heaven's sakes!. It will always be just one Border Collie at a time that I own. So in my lifetime I'll only own 2 B.Cs at the very most because I will not get another until Eluane passes on. If I live to be 84 :lol:, I will get my 3rd B.C. but in all likelihood it'll just be my 2nd one and I on our last leg together in happy peace and contentment...But I have an enduring love for the welfare of the border collie too! And my Border Collie will always come from ABCA lineage. Both Eluane's parents came from real working cattle lineage. Likewise almost all AKC Border Collie sports handlers won't ever breed either- many rescue, adopt, and tons make sure their dogs have ABCA within the pedigree too if they do get a brand new pupy! Many do the right thing, at least it's that way in our region the only deplorable thing we do is participate at AKC as the Boards clearly instruct us not too....but regardless we barely have enough trials in our area, and I chose the same venue setup that my friends in England chose- AKC and KC and with my comfort level with their equipment.

 

D'Elle wrote:What was said is that BREEDING for anything other than excellence in real stock work is deplorable by the standards of this forum.

 

IMHO, the instructor at my club has bred and I absolutely cannot condemn her for that decision or call her deplorable, either. Is it exactly fair or right to call a very upstanding person in the community, a very dedicated trainer who is very well-respected in her field and loved by her students deplorable?

 

Gloria we are not disagreeing here. You say, conformation is a "bastardization". I intensely dislike conformation too. It also took these boards to let me know about the puppy mill issue, and I'd like to petition against that too with never allowing AKC papers for puppy mill producers. Conformation border collies needs to be stopped. Period. That is why it is important for AKC handlers to petition AKC on principle. We have a duty, whether it works or not, who cares? We petition out of principle. At least we've done something instead of sitting on our but*s and I'm still disappointed. I still would hope we'd try like they do in England...but it might be for the best after all. Burning two bridges at the same time-- offending AKC handlers and working border collie owners is no fun. And yes, I was seriously thinking about approaching some of the friendly AKC folks at my upcoming January 2012 trial about the AKC puppy mill issue. But just like I can unintentionally offend a friendly forumer here, in the same way I could likewise offend an AKC handler... Example: when I had the chance to read back, Root Beer clearly misunderstood me in thinking that I was saying only top MACH titled Champion Handlers with National Rankings of 1st 2nd 3rd places were worth any squat. We were completely miscommunicating :o ... There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a hobbyist, and I find no offense with that descriptor. It's being simply a hobby that we really feel committed too but we are not in a position to make it a career because we haven't reached enough of the achievement and the experience level to be a trainer, instructor, coach, etc. It's just a practical reality- we are pet owners and hobbyists, but those who truly outshine in their field and have had decades of experience, indeed have attained a special level to have it count as a real profession. :mellow:

 

Stockingdogranch, the point is you don't need us, the sports agility dog handlers, but did you ever consider that we need you, the sheepherder?????? We need you all for knowledge, advice, input, to help re-plenish our lines for good Border Collies. We need the B.C. Boards to keep the working heritage going as well. Many of us never stray more than a generation away from the originating working stock dog when we purchase our pups, we never ever purchase from a puppy mill, and never do we breed. As pet owners we don't breed. Period. And plenty of AKC handlers rescue/adopt too!

 

I just can't understand why this division. In the UK, there is none of this war going on! Gee, it doesn't feel like a division now, feels like a war when one says deplorable. In the UK, Border Collie agility dog owners continue to compete in the KC (Kennel Club) which also does Conformation shows and is known for puppy mill issues too! But they are clear that they do not agree with the conformation shows either and they do not intermingle with the conformation show dogs. Even at Crufts (Kennel Club sponsored) I saw at least 2 working border collie stock dogs compete at Crufts agility; go to YouTube and you will hear them make the announcement about real working stockdogs as the dog enters the ring before their agility run. And yet every year, a committed UK'er remembers to send out a petition for everyone to sign at the agility forum against puppy mill farms, and one of those petitions actually worked and was successful!!! Finally, in the UK, the outstanding champion agility handlers do indeed intermingle their lines with working stock dogs to make sure that the agility dog has good basic working B.C. genes as well. The Brits have been doing agility far longer than we have, and none of their dogs display this dumbing down nor is there a debate I know of regarding this issue.

 

Gloria EGADS, I never watch AKC herding trials! I watch real British sheepherding trials and sheepherding trials in Australia. There's also a country station I occasionally come across which covers the USBCH trials. The rest of the videos come directly from here.

 

STOP BREEDING OVER-AMPED AGILITY DOGS! When or how a dog launches himself at a jump is the most artificial thing in the world, and to breed according to that single quirk is absurd, dangerous and damaging. Breed the border collie for work. He will be sensible, intelligent, wise and yes, he'll probably be pretty good at timing, since it takes but a nano-second to be right or wrong, in positioning when working sheep.

 

Gloria this complete stereotype and misconception of what an excelling beautiful agility dog is about, continues to make us sad...We do not wish agility to be viewed as absurd and dangerous as you wrote earlier. That's why I do feel compelled to talk about our disciplines if Eileen would please allow me too. It worries me that everyone talks about the "beauty of sheepherding" but not the "beauty of the agility" which was also the original intent of the thread as well and to be able to freely share some of the special parts of the techniques.

 

Of course everyone understands how beautiful and evident sheepherding and it has always been the ideal. Why else would agility folks like me want to lurk on the sheepherding video section on our boards. But I have yet to see an excelling MACH champion handler post their videos here...That to me is very sad because, unlike other dog sports, agility has very intense maneuvers that are very based on the principles of speed, visual maneuverings and balance except instead of the sheep, it is the obstacle that the B.C. is flanking, etc., and I would dare to say that there is even more immediate interaction between handler and dog-eye signaling and head, shoulder gesture versus the shepherd's in which the dog is so much further away that you have to use the whistling and verbals and the B.C. is mostly interacting directly with the sheep and using its own decision. Agility is an intense teamwork. Do not think agility is like flyball or disc dogs. It's completely different from these two. The others have more of a gaming element involved. AGILITY IS INTENSE when you are a border collie owner. A border collie handler has to move as one with his or her dog, you are actually moving together each counter-balancing the other, an unforgettable partnership. For me, because I dance there is just this wonderful expression when you are out in the field. It's been between you and your border collie...and everyone else "disappears" it's just you and your dog, flying together in oneness...

 

Gloria, you still don't get what early takeoff is. You take any young working stock dog and he too will have early takeoff syndrome. It's not bad genes, lol! it's when an inexperienced dog is first trying out his leaps and the ideal location for the most power and the most streamline to cover the maximum distance. Jump too early or too late, your speed and smoothness is gonna be affected. Nothing to do with being over-amped. Every dog also has a natural gait depending on length of leg stride all those components, and a young dog needs experience to feel out the grounds so-to-speak. As someone wrote, not all stockdogs make good agility dogs, and my friends in England likewise vouch that some good working stockdogs do not make brilliant agility dogs because they do not have the drive for speed and have the genes/preference of gentle and staying "at bay" instead of honing close and tight... They may not have enough stride or the natural gait of the hips ride higher, or they may circle too wide, and it takes much longer to train up closer than other B.Cs, and yes, even the early takeoff issue, other possible vulnerabilities.... Another misconception that you have about agility Gloria is that anytime a Border Collie knocks a bar is not the fault of the dog, it's usually the signaling and position of the handler to guide the border collie. The good border collie is very attentive and any mistake you lead him to make is because you! gave it the wrong signal and he chose to be obedient to you as the priority than what he would have done instinctively if you had given him enough girth. The agility border collie is very intelligent because he also goes by route memory of how you signal and move. Any slight tip of the head or shoulder he is reading from you just like he reads and predicts how a sheep will move next. He is constantly in maneuver....!! Between the equipment and you and it always involves judgement, spacial awareness and power....

 

By the way, Gloria agility folks who have sense in their heads can't stand overhyped border collies with glassy stares either. No one in their right mind and knowledge wants this or breeds for this hyper-amp. They breed for focus, keen calmness, the drive for work, extreme intelligence and sensitivity. That contact zone is likewise the same demand that a border collie resist the drive to propel forward and to make sure their feet touch right in that critical yellow zone instead of being so "amped" they go right over and miss that contact area- judging and gaging for that contact zone is so difficult or doing the 4-off split second release to garnish that next rocket launch-off. Also the AKC has very safe hurdle heights. In fact, the USDAA which our boards support, actually has far more extreme heights and the tire is more "dangerously narrow" compared to the AKC tire which is much wider and "safer"...

 

Finally, you get the best Agility B.C. and the best working B.C. and combine, and I still am thinking that a really great dog will still emerge. You can still get the best of both worlds. It's happened with people. It can also happen with dogs.

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There are some people that you just cannot teach. Either she'll get it down the road or she won't, something she'll have to figure out on her own.

 

ETA: Serena, have you read "The Dog Wars"?

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JaderBug, you are right. Some people cannot be reached.

 

Serena, once again and still, you are not listening.

 

Quote

D'Elle wrote:What was said is that BREEDING for anything other than excellence in real stock work is deplorable by the standards of this forum.

 

 

IMHO, the instructor at my club has bred and I absolutely cannot condemn her for that decision or call her deplorable, either. Is it exactly fair or right to call a very upstanding person in the community, a very dedicated trainer who is very well-respected in her field and loved by her students deplorable?"

 

Once again, you twist the words of others and the meaning of them. Read what I wrote again. I would never call a human being deplorable. I said the act of breeding border collies for anything other than excellent stock work is deplorable. That is what everyone here has said, although I am the one to use that particular word. And this I believe. So do the others on this forum. You will not convince anyone here otherwise no matter how many hours you spend writing lengthy and convoluted posts.

 

Your time would be much better spent taking in what others here are saying.

 

And I cannot imagine any respectable and reputable working border collie breeder permitting their dogs to be bred with sport breeder's dogs who want to "replenish" their bloodlines.

D'Elle

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Example: when I had the chance to read back, Root Beer clearly misunderstood me in thinking that I was saying only top MACH titled Champion Handlers with National Rankings of 1st 2nd 3rd places were worth any squat. We were completely miscommunicating :o ... There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a hobbyist, and I find no offense with that descriptor.

 

And you have provided yourself with another great example. I did not think that you were saying that those handlers were the only ones "worth any squat".

 

As I quoted you before (in Post #50 of this thread), you wrote:

 

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

 

"Merely" is pretty clear.

 

It does not convey an objective fact - that those who have earned a MACH have done something that those who have not earned one have not done. It implies - very clearly - that there is some superiority factor in play. Knowing many handlers who have earned multiple MACH titles, I am glad to say that none of the "MACH handlers" that I know have such a superiority complex, but are instead highly respectful of what all of their fellow participants put into the sport, regardless of level.

 

That, in my opinion, is an attitude that we should all strive for, regardless of discipline.

 

However, the biggest point on which I disagree with you, and I re-quote you again from Post #50, is this one:

 

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

 

And my disagreement with this breaks down to two points.

 

1. Those who have earned a MACH did not begin to "work" their dogs upon completion of that title. The work started the day they decided to train a dog and the bulk of it took place as they learned training, learned handling, attended their first trials, learned through experience and trial and success and trial and error, etc. etc. etc.

 

And that is precisely what most "hobbyists" are also doing. They absolutely "work their dogs" and "work themselves" if they want to become better at Agility on any level in any venue.

 

2. No title is an absolute indicator of how much work a handler puts into any dog sport. For some, stepping onto any trial field in any venue takes as much work, if not more, than it takes others to earn a MACH.

 

I don't know how any of that translates into "hobbyists aren't worth squat". I would say that is the misunderstanding.

 

Going back now to your most recent post:

 

It's being simply a hobby that we really feel committed too but we are not in a position to make it a career because we haven't reached enough of the achievement and the experience level to be a trainer, instructor, coach, etc. It's just a practical reality- we are pet owners and hobbyists, but those who truly outshine in their field and have had decades of experience, indeed have attained a special level to have it count as a real profession. :mellow:

 

Now you have shifted from talking in terms of "working the dog" and "making it a career". Those are two very different things.

 

So, are you defining "MACH Handlers" as those who have made a Agility a career as trainers, instructors, coaches, etc.?

 

If so, I would point out that a MACH is certainly not the one and only criteria for such a career. Those who have years of experience in other venues and have good teaching and coaching skills can certainly do the same thing if they so desire and have the business savvy to make such a career for themselves.

 

Conversely, most MACH holders are "hobbyists" by your definition. Sure, a lot of them do teach training classes and coach teams, but most do so in addition to a "day job" of some sort, many on a volunteer basis, or for very little pay.

 

Again, none of this boils down to "hobbyists not being worth squat". I don't know where you got the idea that I thought that was what you were saying.

 

So yes, excellent example of miscommunication. :)

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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.

 

Okay, here's a tradition you can maintain: the dogs are bred only for excellence in stock work.

 

That's why I do feel compelled to talk about our disciplines if Eileen would please allow me too.

 

I never said you couldn't talk about it. I said you'd be wasting your time, because all of that has no bearing on the issues you've raised. Only you can decide if you want to waste your time, but in general, when arguing a cause, it is good to focus on the facts in dispute and not on those that aren't in dispute or aren't relevant.

 

My position on the issues you've raised can be stated very succinctly:

 

1. Border collies should only be bred if they are proven stockdogs, and should only be bred by those with the knowledge to breed for excellence in stock work.

 

2. It is wrong to register border collies with the AKC or to support the AKC by entering their events.

 

3. It is important that these positions be publicly stated and defended.

 

Nothing you've written about the glories of agility, the loveliness of the people who engage in it, or the harmonious paradise that is Albion (as portrayed by UK agility handlers) has any bearing whatsoever on any of these issues. I don't dispute that agility is complicated and glorious, and I don't dispute that the people who engage in it are wonderful; I'm willing to assume that all of that is true. It's simply that none of that calls into question, or is even relevant to, the three principles I listed above. Rhapsodically romanticizing the working border collie "ideal" is irrelevant too.

 

That is why it is important for AKC handlers to petition AKC on principle. We have a duty, whether it works or not, who cares?

 

Oh. Okay, I get it.

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Finally, you get the best Agility B.C. and the best working B.C. and combine, and I still am thinking that a really great dog will still emerge. You can still get the best of both worlds.

 

Maybe a great dog, but not a great Border Collie.

 

Sheep are not dog walks, nor are they weave poles.

 

Susan

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Serena, your inability to comprehend and/or understand what so many people took the time and patience to try and explain to you saddens me.

 

I hope one of these days you muster up the courage to read "The Dog Wars".

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Diana, I did repeat the exact same thoughts as you that nothing compares to the working Border Collie...I have said this multiple times but people don't read my posts and are busy reading each other's posts and getting misconceptions of what I've said from the get-go.

 

 

 

Serena, this is what you wrote:

 

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.

 

I did read what you wrote. You say you have the 'utmost respect' that sheepherding will always be the ideal. Then you go on to to say that because agility people love their dogs very much, it's okay that you try to maintain 'as much traditions as possible'. "As much as possible" means some but not all. That means you are willing to compromise on those traditions, most notably by breeding dogs whose stock working abilities are unknown and untested. Whereas the working breeding maintains ALL of the tradition. How can you on the one hand say you respect something, but then discard the most important part of it?

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OK, so, first of all, it's not stockINGdogranch, it's stock dog ranch; get it?

 

Now, rather than waste my time writing a lengthy response which you will apparently not read anyway, I will ask you to please just address this one issue (a point I made about 2 pages ago):

 

The missing piece that is at the bottom of all this--the foundation on which all this is built, is the relationship between the dog and the livestock. The truly well bred dog will, inherently, have a feel for its stock. It will read the stock and respond appropriately with just enough power/presence (whatever you choose to call it) for that particular group of stock on that particular day. The truly well bred dog does not have to be taught "pace"--it will automatically adjust for the stock it is working at that moment. The truly well bred dog will know when it needs to give a nip at the heels to get the stock to move, and will also know when it does NOT need to do so. This underlying feel for/reading of stock is of such paramount importance that I can't stress it enough. AND, this is absolutely GENETIC.

 

So, now please tell me how breeding for agility (or, as in your most recent post, crossing an agility dog and a working dog) will result in a dog like the above.

A

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