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"starting" a 12 year old

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Guest Lilliam

Hi everone

 

I've got a 12 year old border collie who my ex husband put on stock ever so briefly. Life happens, as it always does, and the one thing I said to him was "I keep the dogs." Well, at this late stage in Bill's life I want to honor him by putting him back on sheep. I've got no pretensions of being able to trial; rather, I want him to have what he should have had all along and never did due to the changes we all went through.

 

I don't own sheep but I may have found a place where he can go on sheep. I am thinking to put him in a small round pen and see where he is. I am thinking to look for things like how willing he is to change directions, whether he has good balance, whether he even knows his sides. Am I in the right direction? Do you have any suggestions for "starting" a senior citizen? He does have some arthritis and I've got him on Rymadil.

 

Is it too late?

 

Many thanks,

 

Lil

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With good guidance and safe stock, in a safe environment (after all, at 12, he may be a bit slow and less agile than when younger), I say there's nothing wrong with giving it a go.

 

Some years back, I saw a dog at a clinic. This working-bred dog never saw sheep except at one or two clinics a year yet every time he went to a clinic, he went into that field and worked like his last clinic was yesterday. These dogs are smart and when they learn something, they don't tend to forget - plus, if they have the instinct, that's been there all along.

 

If the two of you are going to enjoy this, not harass the stock, and increase your partnership, then what's not right about it? It seems you don't have any unreasonable expectations. If it doesn't work out, you both can return to "life as normal".

 

PS - I doubt he spends his days regretting not being able to work sheep. Dogs are not like people in that way, particularly since it's been a while and he wasn't on sheep that much at all. So, if you do this, do it because the two of you will enjoy and learn from it, not because you think you somehow "owe" it to him. I expect he's happy and content enough as it is.

 

PPS - If you do, let us know how it goes! And maybe you'd like to share with us where you might be considering taking him.

 

PPPS - I read often of old dogs (even older than yours) that enjoy a little gentle stockwork. These are dogs who have worked all their lives but in the right and safe situation, can enjoy the work even at an advanced age. My Celt is about to turn 11, and he's working our cattle better now than he ever has. But, at his age, I will be watching closely because I will not want to overface him. I expect this next calving/grazing season (2014) to be his last year working cow/calf pairs, but he may have another year of being able to move weaned the calves in the fall as they are not ever aggressive.

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Guest Lilliam

With good guidance and safe stock, in a safe environment (after all, at 12, he may be a bit slow and less agile than when younger), I say there's nothing wrong with giving it a go.

 

Some years back, I saw a dog at a clinic. This working-bred dog never saw sheep except at one or two clinics a year yet every time he went to a clinic, he went into that field and worked like his last clinic was yesterday. These dogs are smart and when they learn something, they don't tend to forget - plus, if they have the instinct, that's been there all along.

 

If the two of you are going to enjoy this, not harass the stock, and increase your partnership, then what's not right about it? It seems you don't have any unreasonable expectations. If it doesn't work out, you both can return to "life as normal".

 

PS - I doubt he spends his days regretting not being able to work sheep. Dogs are not like people in that way, particularly since it's been a while and he wasn't on sheep that much at all. So, if you do this, do it because the two of you will enjoy and learn from it, not because you think you somehow "owe" it to him. I expect he's happy and content enough as it is.

 

PPS - If you do, let us know how it goes! And maybe you'd like to share with us where you might be considering taking him.

 

PPPS - I read often of old dogs (even older than yours) that enjoy a little gentle stockwork. These are dogs who have worked all their lives but in the right and safe situation, can enjoy the work even at an advanced age. My Celt is about to turn 11, and he's working our cattle better now than he ever has. But, at his age, I will be watching closely because I will not want to overface him. I expect this next calving/grazing season (2014) to be his last year working cow/calf pairs, but he may have another year of being able to move weaned the calves in the fall as they are not ever aggressive.

Thank you for the quick response!!!

I had in the past attempted to work with someone but he never got back to me on any of my inquiries. Perhaps I was not deemed a good prospect as a student. I have since then found, through a friend at work, someone relatively close to me. I don't want to jinx it yet, but as soon as I've formalized things I'll be sure to let you know!!! Thank you so much.

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As an owner of livestock I do not appreciate people wanting to stress my livestock (which occurs during training) for the sake of providing "fulfillment" to their dogs. If I am going to allow by sheep to be stressed by an inexperienced dog I want to be sure the dog will progress to a useful dog which can work sheep without stressing them. This is why I give preference to potential students who have their own stock or who I can see want to progress towards having useful stock dogs. Livestock are not dog toys.

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Guest Lilliam

As an owner of livestock I do not appreciate people wanting to stress my livestock (which occurs during training) for the sake of providing "fulfillment" to their dogs. If I am going to allow by sheep to be stressed by an inexperienced dog I want to be sure the dog will progress to a useful dog which can work sheep without stressing them.

OK. Thank you for the information.

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I don't think I'd take a 12 year old dog to sheep for fear of the dog getting hurt. I've got a 12 year old who is very keen and would love to work sheep but it would be way to hard on his body. it's just not worth it.

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Guest Lilliam

I don't think I'd take a 12 year old dog to sheep for fear of the dog getting hurt. I've got a 12 year old who is very keen and would love to work sheep but it would be way to hard on his body. it's just not worth it.

Thank you for your input.

Bill does have arthritis and he is not as free moving as he once was but he is in excellent shape and is not a couch potato. I was thinking of a small pen and possibly even using a long line to deal with the possibility of him not listening.

This is the reason I opened the thread, to get a read from folks. I appreciate your input.

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As an owner of livestock I do not appreciate people wanting to stress my livestock (which occurs during training) for the sake of providing "fulfillment" to their dogs. If I am going to allow by sheep to be stressed by an inexperienced dog I want to be sure the dog will progress to a useful dog which can work sheep without stressing them. This is why I give preference to potential students who have their own stock or who I can see want to progress towards having useful stock dogs. Livestock are not dog toys.

Your post seems to have changed from the last time I saw it. Rest assured that I am well aware of what is a dog toy.

Additionally, it would be presumptuous of me to walk in with a 12 year old dog to any trainer or clinic and expect that i will go to the Nationals. I am simply looking for information as to how to reintroduce an old dog to sheep after having been exposed only briefly, and then by my ex husband.

I want to do something that I know is in his bones. I want to do this for him and to have my memories of him on stock, like he was meant to be. I have lost many years and I want this to look back to when I lose him.

I understand you don't consider that a worthy endeavor, I do appreciate your input.

Many thanks.

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I want to do something that I know is in his bones. I want to do this for him and to have my memories of him on stock, like he was meant to be. I have lost many years and I want this to look back to when I lose him.

 

I understand how you feel. If I were you, rather than risk injury to dog/sheep/human, I'd go about making memories that are less dangerous to all concerned. My 12 year old isn't a couch potato either. He was a successful agility dog and had more than a few turns on sheep when he was young and I was starting out in herding but now he's so precious to me I'd never risk injuring him by putting him on sheep.

 

Your original question was "Is it too late?". My opinion is yes.

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Guest Lilliam

I understand how you feel. If I were you, rather than risk injury to dog/sheep/human, I'd go about making memories that are less dangerous to all concerned. My 12 year old isn't a couch potato either. He was a successful agility dog and had more than a few turns on sheep when he was young and I was starting out in herding but now he's so precious to me I'd never risk injuring him by putting him on sheep.

 

Your original question was "Is it too late?". My opinion is yes.

Thank you. I appreciate your input. And thank you for understanding my point.

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I've spent way too much time thinking about my original response and thinking that I was being a bit optimistic and rash in responding the way I did.

 

I totally understand and sympathize with Mark's remarks - stock do not merit stress simply to satisfy someone's "wants". We certainly would not allow someone to use our cattle because they "want" (and "want" is my word, not yours) to experience their dogs on livestock, particularly without a useful goal in mind - like training a dog for a job as a stockdog.

 

There are many trainers who will allow almost any handler/dog combination to come for training or "sheep time" as long as they pay the fee. They may cater to people with pet dogs whose only goal is "herding" as if it were just another dog activity like agility or tracking. There are many trainers who do not consider the sheep other than as a tool to train paying students or even their own dogs. Mark and other responsible stockmen/women don't tend to take that approach.

 

Your dog is not missing anything at this point in his life. He's not pining for sheep. In reality, aren't you wanting to do this for you because it is really not something he is even thinking about or realizes he might be missing?

 

And, as pointed out, as he is older and arthritic, you would be placing him at a certain level of risk trying to do this at this point in his life. My dog is still working, but he has been working all along. He's not as fast as he was and he gets tired more quickly. He works more intelligently, though, due to his experience and that helps make up for his older body's limitations. There are older dogs who do work (rarely past the age of 10 or 11, though, and I can't say I recall a dog of 12 actively working other than very easy, familiar small jobs) but they are also dogs accustomed to the work, with years of experience, and used to the mental and physical effort and stress it requires.

 

So, when I rethink my remarks (and thanking those who have written thoughtful comments), I believe I'd say to enjoy him for the dog he is now and what you both have together now - working with sheep is not a necessity and would pose a certain level of risk to a dog of his age and condition.

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I've spent way too much time thinking about my original response and thinking that I was being a bit optimistic and rash in responding the way I did.

 

I totally understand and sympathize with Mark's remarks - stock do not merit stress simply to satisfy someone's "wants". We certainly would not allow someone to use our cattle because they "want" (and "want" is my word, not yours) to experience their dogs on livestock, particularly without a useful goal in mind - like training a dog for a job as a stockdog.

 

There are many trainers who will allow almost any handler/dog combination to come for training or "sheep time" as long as they pay the fee. They may cater to people with pet dogs whose only goal is "herding" as if it were just another dog activity like agility or tracking. There are many trainers who do not consider the sheep other than as a tool to train paying students or even their own dogs. Mark and other responsible stockmen/women don't tend to take that approach.

 

Your dog is not missing anything at this point in his life. He's not pining for sheep. In reality, aren't you wanting to do this for you because it is really not something he is even thinking about or realizes he might be missing?

 

And, as pointed out, as he is older and arthritic, you would be placing him at a certain level of risk trying to do this at this point in his life. My dog is still working, but he has been working all along. He's not as fast as he was and he gets tired more quickly. He works more intelligently, though, due to his experience and that helps make up for his older body's limitations. There are older dogs who do work (rarely past the age of 10 or 11, though, and I can't say I recall a dog of 12 actively working other than very easy, familiar small jobs) but they are also dogs accustomed to the work, with years of experience, and used to the mental and physical effort and stress it requires.

 

So, when I rethink my remarks (and thanking those who have written thoughtful comments), I believe I'd say to enjoy him for the dog he is now and what you both have together now - working with sheep is not a necessity and would pose a certain level of risk to a dog of his age and condition.

Thank you for your input.

It appears that the only way to have a dog on stock is if I have a ranch.

Many thanks for the attention.

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Dear Friends,

 

One doesn't reach a certain age without regrets. I was a pretty good piano player as a kid and wish I could pick out a tune or two today. Then there's all those people I admired and expected one day I'd meet and get to know better. I don't think I've ever got everything from a dog that dog had to give. Dog after dog who were never as beautiful or delighted in their work as they might have been.

 

One does what one can and sometimes it's a beautiful fall day and sometimes a not so good dog jumps onto the couch beside her not so good handler and licks his hand.

 

Donald McCaig

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Dear Friends,

 

One doesn't reach a certain age without regrets. I was a pretty good piano player as a kid and wish I could pick out a tune or two today. Then there's all those people I admired and expected one day I'd meet and get to know better. I don't think I've ever got everything from a dog that dog had to give. Dog after dog who were never as beautiful or delighted in their work as they might have been.

 

One does what one can and sometimes it's a beautiful fall day and sometimes a not so good dog jumps onto the couch beside her not so good handler and licks his hand.

 

Donald McCaig

I'm sorry, I am not quite understanding your meaning. May I ask that you explain a bit?

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Use wisdom provided in this thread, and look further into it. I wouldn't attempt starting him again without a knowledgeable trainer who is willing/able to design a curriculum that is suited to your dog's age and circumstances. Try to find a training opportunity that is within a reasonable distance, so that you can keep it up on a regular basis. Your dog may need to begin training in shorter increments, and (like you mentioned) in a roundpen where everything can be kept slow and methodical. Who knows, you may be doing long gathers in short order? Lots of good handlers get stockwork instruction and train for chiefly recreational purposes.

 

You seem to know what to look for in stockdog skills, and he has already been introduced. I see no reason to believe that he is going to be unkind to his sheep. I like to think many dogs (and humans) mellow a little with age. Do you recall how he did earlier on stock? That may give you some indication. I have seen older dogs do a nice paced job in a roundpen, never having worked for years.

 

How is his exercise level right now? Should you consider a program of conditioning to get him ready for the stresses of stock training? Something to think about.

 

Do everything you can to not over-tax him in the first place. You know his gait, and how he looks when sore. Keep a close eye during training, and afterward for signs of pain, as I'm sure you have become accustomed to do. If he comes-up lame/sore, provide plenty of rest and appropriate remadyl.

 

I'm not into rules, except one. Get into training for yourself and your dog. It's a big time commitment and learning curve for both of you. It might become the highlight of your week. -- Best wishes, TEC

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TEC, on 04 Nov 2013 - 15:03, said:

Use wisdom provided in this thread, and look further into it. I wouldn't attempt starting him again without a knowledgeable trainer who is willing/able to design a curriculum that is suited to your dog's age and circumstances. Try to find a training opportunity that is within a reasonable distance, so that you can keep it up on a regular basis. Your dog may need to start training in shorter increments, and (like you mentioned) in a roundpen where everything can be kept slow and orderly. Lots of good handlers get stockwork instruction and train for chiefly recreational purposes.

 

You seem to know what to look for in stockdog skills, and he has already been introduced. I see no reason to believe that he is going to be unkind to his sheep. I like to think many dogs (and humans) mellow a little with age. Do you recall how he did earlier on stock? That may give you some indication. I have seen older dogs do a nice paced job in a roundpen, never having worked for years.

 

How is his exercise level right now? Should you consider a program of conditioning to get him ready for the stresses of stock training? Something to think about.

 

Do everything you can to not over-tax him in the first place. You know his gait, and how he looks when sore. Keep a close eye during training, and afterwords for signs of pain, as I'm sure you have become accustomed to. If he comes-up sore, provide plenty of rest and appropriate remadyl.

 

I'm not into rules, except one. Get into training for yourself and your dog. It's a big time commitment and learning curve for both of you. It might become the highlight of your week. -- Best wishes, TEC

Thank you.

When Bill was younger I had someone offer to buy him when he saw him working. He is keen but takes correction well. He gives ground when you step into him. He takes his time and has a very nice, almost pivot action on his back legs when he squares out.

I am looking into lessons for the rest of his life or for as long as he can manage. I don't ever expect to get into an Open field but I do expect that he will manage well in arena trials. I am not putting him in with seven Rambouillet nor am I attempting to do double lifts. At this point in his life I am looking into arena trials of the AHBA variety. I don't even expect Pro Novice.

His exercise level right now is moderate. Weekends we sometimes go on hikes, I take him and my other dog (golden retriever) to the river, on days I go to work he goes to a doggy day care and plays all day. He is a happy moderately active dog and this is not an ego trip for me, simply a desire to see my border collie on stock.

Please know that I do not intend to put him at any risk from over training. Ten minutes, if he can handle it initially, then slowly increasing to what he can handle, is fine.

This is entirely recreational. I have no sheep, don't own a ranch, and do not work in livestock. But simply because it is recreational in that sense doesn't mean that I won't commit to a training schedule now that I am at a place in my life that I can.

I am looking for a place to put my dog on stock but I'm not looking to harass anyone's sheep. I believe I've got more sense than that.

Thank you so much for your input. I appreciate your approach and your communication.

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Hi everone

 

I've got a 12 year old border collie who my ex husband put on stock ever so briefly. Life happens, as it always does, and the one thing I said to him was "I keep the dogs." Well, at this late stage in Bill's life I want to honor him by putting him back on sheep. I've got no pretensions of being able to trial; rather, I want him to have what he should have had all along and never did due to the changes we all went through.

 

I don't own sheep but I may have found a place where he can go on sheep. I am thinking to put him in a small round pen and see where he is. I am thinking to look for things like how willing he is to change directions, whether he has good balance, whether he even knows his sides. Am I in the right direction? Do you have any suggestions for "starting" a senior citizen? He does have some arthritis and I've got him on Rymadil.

 

Is it too late?

 

Many thanks,

 

Lil

 

 

Hi Lil ~

 

I've read through all the responses so far, and I think I have mixed feelings about this. I totally understand your impulse. A few months ago I lost my first good old dog at age 14, and it was sad when, at age 12, I realized his body was no longer able to keep up with what his instincts wanted to do.

 

But ... I also realized that the dog himself was not pining for what he no longer had. Jesse was content in his retirement, didn't mind when I left him home to doze on the porch while I took the younger dogs to work. His days were happy and fulfilled just living with us, with just having a rickety romp around the property or barking merrily while the young dogs played. He enjoyed hanging with us and sleeping on his fancy orthopedic bed and following his nose around our little pond pasture. He loved playing in the snow and sleeping in the sun and just being in the moment.

 

And that's the thing to remember. Your dog lives in the now. Whatever he missed in life ... he doesn't know he missed it. You may have regrets, but he has absolutely none. I'd worry about him being inadvertently hurt, if put on sheep now at his advanced age. Even if the sheep are kind and he is biddable and easy, it would be so easy for him to simply over-extend himself. If he has arthritis and is already on Rimadyl, how kind would it be to indulge his instincts only to watch him spend the next three days hobbling around?

 

If you know someone with quiet sheep who would welcome you and your good old dog, I'd say go for it. I have a friend who was happy to let me bring Jesse over, even when he was nearly deaf and couldn't move fast enough to do anything but drive sheep around a small field. But that was me knowing my dog and the sheep owner knowing my dog, and knowing when to say, "Okay, old man, enough for now, or you won't be able to get out of bed in the morning."

 

If you have a good situation handy that you can make use of, go ahead. But I'd be wary of hunting up a situation where you won't know the sheep and the sheep owner doesn't know your dog. It's not worth putting Bill's old body under too much stress.

With best wishes to you and Bill,

 

Gloria

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Thank you for your input.

It appears that the only way to have a dog on stock is if I have a ranch.

Many thanks for the attention.

 

No, no, no. The point several people are making is that if there isn't a useful reason, why stress livestock and put your dog at risk (considering his age and physical condition) because this is something *you* would like to do to create memories about this dog for yourself and maybe make your dog happy (which he apparently already is). As I pointed out, there are people who would be happy to take your money to provide you and your dog with a chance to try this activity (and I am calling it an activity for a reason, because it is not to accomplish something with a useful end goal in sight other than enjoyment).

 

I don't know who it is you are looking at working with (you imply that you want to put him "on sheep" in a small pen, etc., but without exactly saying if this is something you will do yourself or under the close supervision of a competent trainer) but for your sake and that of your dog, I hope that if you do this, you work with a person who will be honest, consider your dog's age and condition, and who also respects the livestock.

 

There are many people who start with a younger dog or an older, trained or started dog, who begin by taking lessons when they can but with the end goal in mind of becoming a reasonably experienced and accomplished team of handler and working dog - it's the slippery slope with the $250,000 dog. You get a dog, take lessons, and wind up buying the farm, the stock, the truck, the whole shebang. And, along the way, you do realize that it's not you and it's not the dog but the stock and their care and keeping that is the crux of the matter. In the UK and Ireland, they have the dogs because they have the stock. Over here, in the East in particular, it's often the other way around, that people have the stock because they have the dogs - but most people I know come to understand and respect the stock for their own sake, and it was the interest in the dogs that led them there.

 

Sorry, I diverge.

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Guest Lilliam

 

 

Hi Lil ~

 

I've read through all the responses so far, and I think I have mixed feelings about this. I totally understand your impulse. A few months ago I lost my first good old dog at age 14, and it was sad when, at age 12, I realized his body was no longer able to keep up with what his instincts wanted to do.

 

But ... I also realized that the dog himself was not pining for what he no longer had. Jesse was content in his retirement, didn't mind when I left him home to doze on the porch while I took the younger dogs to work. His days were happy and fulfilled just living with us, with just having a rickety romp around the property or barking merrily while the young dogs played. He enjoyed hanging with us and sleeping on his fancy orthopedic bed and following his nose around our little pond pasture. He loved playing in the snow and sleeping in the sun and just being in the moment.

 

And that's the thing to remember. Your dog lives in the now. Whatever he missed in life ... he doesn't know he missed it. You may have regrets, but he has absolutely none. I'd worry about him being inadvertently hurt, if put on sheep now at his advanced age. Even if the sheep are kind and he is biddable and easy, it would be so easy for him to simply over-extend himself. If he has arthritis and is already on Rimadyl, how kind would it be to indulge his instincts only to watch him spend the next three days hobbling around?

 

If you know someone with quiet sheep who would welcome you and your good old dog, I'd say go for it. I have a friend who was happy to let me bring Jesse over, even when he was nearly deaf and couldn't move fast enough to do anything but drive sheep around a small field. But that was me knowing my dog and the sheep owner knowing my dog, and knowing when to say, "Okay, old man, enough for now, or you won't be able to get out of bed in the morning."

 

If you have a good situation handy that you can make use of, go ahead. But I'd be wary of hunting up a situation where you won't know the sheep and the sheep owner doesn't know your dog. It's not worth putting Bill's old body under too much stress.

With best wishes to you and Bill,

 

Gloria

Thank you so much. Yes, I am looking into calm, dog broke sheep. A small round pen. A long line even. And exactly as you said...."OK my old man, all done."

I think you understand what I want. This dog is my last border collie and the one that was always the kindest on stock. He was never grippy like my second dog and was never a dog that was hard on stock but too soft to correction like my first...who I incidently ruined.

Unfortunately for Bill he got caught up in a move, a divorce, and all the ensuing turmoil. I lost my other two border collies to old age and Billy remains. He is devoted to my golden retriever, they are best buddies. But there are times when I look at him and I know that he could work again. And really, trust me, it's what I want for him. It will give him satisfaction, how could it not? It would make him happy, why would it not?

Thank you for your input and your words.

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P.S. I do see that you know dogs and working sheep, so I hope I haven't overstepped by offering my perspective. :)

 

~ Gloria

Thank you for noticing!!!! :) And I appreciated your perspective.

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No, no, no. The point several people are making is that if there isn't a useful reason, why stress livestock and put your dog at risk (considering his age and physical condition) because this is something *you* would like to do to create memories about this dog for yourself and maybe make your dog happy (which he apparently already is). As I pointed out, there are people who would be happy to take your money to provide you and your dog with a chance to try this activity (and I am calling it an activity for a reason, because it is not to accomplish something with a useful end goal in sight other than enjoyment).

 

I don't know who it is you are looking at working with (you imply that you want to put him "on sheep" in a small pen, etc., but without exactly saying if this is something you will do yourself or under the close supervision of a competent trainer) but for your sake and that of your dog, I hope that if you do this, you work with a person who will be honest, consider your dog's age and condition, and who also respects the livestock.

 

There are many people who start with a younger dog or an older, trained or started dog, who begin by taking lessons when they can but with the end goal in mind of becoming a reasonably experienced and accomplished team of handler and working dog - it's the slippery slope with the $250,000 dog. You get a dog, take lessons, and wind up buying the farm, the stock, the truck, the whole shebang. And, along the way, you do realize that it's not you and it's not the dog but the stock and their care and keeping that is the crux of the matter. In the UK and Ireland, they have the dogs because they have the stock. Over here, in the East in particular, it's often the other way around, that people have the stock because they have the dogs - but most people I know come to understand and respect the stock for their own sake, and it was the interest in the dogs that led them there.

 

Sorry, I diverge.

You are right. There is no useful reason other than recreational herding. Throughout the country there are trainers who do train hobbyists. You mentioned yourself that there are people who will allow hobbyists to train for a fee. It does not mean that a hobbyist is absolutely callous to damage to sheep nor does it mean that a hobbyist is unaware of possible damage to self, dog and stock.

The personal, non useful reason for me is to have my dog on stock and to work. I have seen many a ranch dog be much harder on livestock than my dogs ever were....I don't believe that the stock in those situations were any less stressed simply because it was the rancher's own dog hanging on to a ewe's leg. Nor do I believe that the ewe that went head first into a ravine was any less stressed because it was the rancher's own dog. Not do I think for a minute that the ewe that escaped into a highway was any less stressed because it was a rancher's own dog.

There are several assumptions here - first that Bill is a ravenous crazed fiend intent on mayhem; second that I have never stepped in a field; third that I will go into someone's pen and callously and without care allow my presumably ravenous crazed hound attack and maim unsuspecting stock. All are incorrect. Bill is a gentle innocent, a dog without guile. He is honest and has always been. For myself, I am not an expert handler but if you placed me in a pen sorting stock I could manage it without damage to any ewe. As a matter of fact, I have done. And most important, I am keenly aware of the responsabilities I will have in using someone else's stock. I have seen certain important handlers be a lot harsher on trial sheep AND trial dogs than my 12 year dog will ever be on dog broke sheep. Or that I will ever be on my 12 year old aging BC.

No, there is no useful reason for me to put Bill on stock. It is entirely recreational. I want my border collie to go on stock again, before he dies. Sentimentality? Absolutely. Are sentimentality and respect for someone else's livelihood and livestock mutually exclusive? Not in the least.

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One thing no one has mentioned is that many old dogs do not work in the manner they did when they were younger. My 12.5 yo retired Open dog, who was always super kind to her sheep, is incredibly slicey and buzzes her flanks if I try to work her now. She knows that the sheep can out run her, so she tries to make up for it by cutting corners, so to speak. This upsets the sheep. Or, conversely, she refuses to do some tasks because she knows the sheep will beat her. She very rarely gets a wild hair and asks to go work, but I am careful to set it up for her success. Otherwise, she is perfectly happy being retired (even though she is around sheep every day of her life).

 

Just because your dog was nice to his sheep and enjoyed doing it years ago doesn't necessarily mean that will be the case now. And there is nothing more heartbreaking than to see an old dog struggling to do what his owner asks of him, or as you are interested, struggling to do what their heart tells them to do, but their body simply cannot.

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One thing no one has mentioned is that many old dogs do not work in the manner they did when they were younger. My 12.5 yo retired Open dog, who was always super kind to her sheep, is incredibly slicey and buzzes her flanks if I try to work her now. She knows that the sheep can out run her, so she tries to make up for it by cutting corners, so to speak. This upsets the sheep. Or, conversely, she refuses to do some tasks because she knows the sheep will beat her. She very rarely gets a wild hair and asks to go work, but I am careful to set it up for her success. Otherwise, she is perfectly happy being retired (even though she is around sheep every day of her life).

 

Just because your dog was nice to his sheep and enjoyed doing it years ago doesn't necessarily mean that will be the case now. And there is nothing more heartbreaking than to see an old dog struggling to do what his owner asks of him, or as you are interested, struggling to do what their heart tells them to do, but their body simply cannot.

I can certainly appreciate that. And I do not intend to put my dog in a position where the sheep will damage him.

If Billy's body cannot handle it, then it will be a one off.

Thank you for your input.

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