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I went to the Scotland festival in Quechee VT on Sat. I was a little put off when the announcer said that BC's do not make good pets unless you happen to have a herd of sheep in the backyard. What's with this? Any dog needs lots of excercize, it would be unfair to any breed not to spend time playing with it. Does everyone that owns a BC train them to herd...what about agility? I get the feeling that the herding people don't have much time for the pet owner/agility people. Oh well....

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Guest Inci Willard



We use BC's for herding ..Every morning one is taken out to help with the chores,in the evening another is taken out to help with chores.etc,..


All together I have 3 adult and 2 youngster in the premises.All gets a training or working sessions every day,even if it's lasts 10 minutes.


In the mornings after chores we go for long walks (5 miles),ditto for evenings.This is their time for being "dogs",they play and play,they chase one another,chase bunnies,squirrels,birds..whatever they wish to do.Did I mention they also fish,too.


Strangely enough they all have one thing in common,no neurotic behaviours...they eat ,make that they inhale their food,they are calm,cool and collected when they face new things,they are not hyper,they don't do anything which could be labeled as frantic,with the exception of, I may go to sheep without them,even then I'll hear them whine a bit,usually the word "quiet"stops them.


When I read about everyone's dogs neurotic behaviours,I know where that stems from,it's their misplaced instincts. That is one reason why the herding people will tell everyone over and over again that BC's do not make a good pet.


Even a year old sleeps all day,till I'll nudge him to wake up. I've got a 10 months old who doesn't think he belongs to the pack and in our walks he'll stick to me like a glue,BTW,we do not use collar or leashes here,he doesn't run and play with the pack,he doesn't play chase. He's the most laid back fellow,but when he's on the sheep,he's most intense..Do you see the differences?


It's not that herding people are against anyone who has BC's as pets and they loved them so much,it's the idea of pet BC owners talking to non BC owners about how active and neurotic this breed could be. It is simply not true...

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OK, I think I get it. I used to think that because my two dogs came from local litters, produced when two ranchers decided to breed their favorite dogs to each other and give away what they couldn't use themselves, and because none of these dogs had anything to do with the AKC, that I was not "part of the problem". But after reading all the posts on this subject lately, I see that's only partly true. No matter how good a life I provide, with obedience and agility training and therapy dog work and hiking in the mountains and whatever, my dogs don't herd. And that means they'll live with an urge they can't satisfy, like an itch that can't be scratched. As good as they may get to be at any of the companion dog activities, they'll never get the chance to be completely in their element, happy and at their best, working livestock. And even if my particular dogs aren't suited for herding and are content with a companion dog's life, other people may see me with my pet BCs and take all the warnings about them not being the best choice for a family pet less seriously. In fact, if I happen to do well at a public obedience or agility event with a BC, it may add to the demand for pet BCs and by extension, to all the things that cause members of the herding community concern.


I had an English setter once that simply lived to hunt birds. She was a great dog and I quickly got attached to her. But I don't hunt, and every time we went for a walk the mismatch of dog and owner was painfully evident. She worked the fields and fencelines so eagerly, but was never rewarded with a bird to retrieve. I finally accepted that I'd made a mistake, and when she was about 9 months old I found her a new owner that loved to hunt birds as much as she did. I guess if my new BC pup proves to have a drive to herd, I ought to make the same decision? or find someone who'll let me train my dog on their sheep. At the very least, I'll tell anyone who admires my dogs and thinks they may want a pet BC that there are some big issues to consider first.


I don't mean to say that my fellow pet BC owners should feel this way too. I don't know what's right for anyone else. I'm just trying to think thru this issue, and trying not to feel guilty when I look at my dogs.

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Dear Jilly,

I don't "work" my border collie. He is a wonderful pet. I think he is happy in my home, even though we don't have sheep in the backyard. He is a little neurotic, and I suppose that is possibly because he is working the instinct in that way. Lou has a good home, we love him and he loves us, so far that is all that really matters to me!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks everyone...my BC Spinner is doing just fine as a "pet". All the attention he gets plus playing frisbee seems to keep him contented. He is still trying to figure out what the horses are all about...and after being chased by our donkey he has gained new respect! I hope with constant attention he will become a well adjusted happy fellow! smile.gif

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