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One chilly highland evening, Geoff Billingham and I were warming ourselves with a small fire and a wee dram. Geoff told about a fine young dog he hadn’t got to the vet in time and said, “You’ll never be a dog handler until you know the regrets.”

Mishandling, mistraining, misreading are betrayals of the dogs we work with and love. Geoff was right about the regrets.

I’ve less personal regrets too.

AKC “recognition” is probably non-reversible but I believe our resistance was the “emperor has no clothes” moment that began the AKC’s slow demise. That doesn’t salve my regrets for not defeating it.

Some believe sheepdog trialing should continue as an amateur sport. I believe that our trials showcase and protect the dogs and have sought to bring them to national TV. I’ve pitched Lionheart and PBS regionally and nationally. The catch 22 is: to get TV you need to have sponsors/to get sponsors you need TV. I have pitched likely suspects with an invitation to attend a nearby trial where I’d be happy to explain what Purina rep George Cook told me a very long time ago: “You have the only perfectly televisable dog sport”. My invitations have produced not one sponsor visit but have taken me to trials I otherwise might never have run in.

The olympics hold horse events - why not a sheepdog trial? The very first step to become an olympic sport is a demonstration on the periphery of an Olympics - a demo Olympic officials can attend. I tried to arrange a trial during the Atlanta Olympics but didn’t make it happen.

Younger handlers have picked up the traces as we geezers drop them. They know, as we do: in the end, it’s not about us: it’s about the dogs.

Donald



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I think we should be wary of bigger exposure. How PETA is trying to kill the Iditarod is just one example of the danger.

 

Amy

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I would say use extreme caution making sdt an Olympic event.

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Well, I personally would rather see breeders producing sheep dog trial dogs than agility dogs... Though I hate to see any animal get caught by overweening sport/owner competitiveness.

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I'd rather someone else do it. I think that kind of publicity can only lead to more problems and more puppy millers. It's horrible what you see out there now being bred..we'd need an entire office staff for registration I think if the work went big time prime time.

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Good to hear from you, sheepdogging geezer! :)

However, I must also respectfully disagree with the idea of sheepdog trial Olympics. It's sad to say, but in this day and age, I would not like to see it. I reckon the World Sheepdog Trial is close enough - at least then it's among "our people."

But given the rabid evangelistic fervor of the vegan crowd now, as well as underhandedness of the AR extremists, I think the longer sheepdog trialing stays under the radar, the better. AR people are going after circuses, rodeos, zoos, FFA kids, farm shows, exotic animal parks ... I'd rather sheepdog trialing avoid their line of sight as long as possible.

Sad, ennit? But the enemy is out there and there would surely be someone to raise hue and cry about a sport that involved dogs chasing poor little innocent sheep around.... :ph34r:

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If we don't tell the story someone else will.

Donald

Oh, but the trouble is exactly that, the story as you choose to call it will go off in directions you might not like. And don't be too sure "we" will be the authors of those new and exciting chapters.

Remember the dressage horse Donald.

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Dear Mr. Smalahundar,

 

Your suggestion that not telling the story because it may be hijacked seems riskier than allowing the hijackers to tell the story in the first place.

 

Donald

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I’d just like to see a sheepdog trial, or even a demonstration, held at my county farm fair. There’s an agility competition. There’s even a dog show. What either has to do with farming I’ll never figure out. Of course there’s also a monster truck event. So...

 

Would an Olympic SDT be about the dogs, the work they do and why they do it? Or would such an event make it solely about the “sport” and the handlers and the accolades. The gold. Popularity ruins so many things. Dog breeds. “Herding” (note the quotations).

 

Hopefully if it does happen, it becomes a vehicle to educate the public generally and farmers specifically. However, I can also see such an event popularizing the Border Collie as a breed. I hope I’m wrong, because that can’t be good.

 

“Insular” isn’t always a bad thing.

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Got me there sheep dogging geezer, and you guys lived it before.

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Dear Mr. Smalahundar,

 

Your suggestion that not telling the story because it may be hijacked seems riskier than allowing the hijackers to tell the story in the first place.

 

Donald

Dear mr. Donald,

I think we are taking your analogy too far, analogies can illustrate a point, but they are worthles arguments.

It will probably make more sense talking directly about the pro's and con's of sdt as an olympic sport.

Personally I think the trial sport though important can not function as the grassroots for stockdogs. In my opinion these lay in real farm/ranch work. If for whatever reason people stop using dogs there I strongly suspect stockdogs as we know and appreciate are doomed.

 

My remark about the dressage horse was exactly about that; the original function of dressage and related horse sports was to demonstrate the fitness and level of training of war horses. This original function has completely disappeared (luckily).

But really, nobody would want to ride into battle on a modern dressage horse, believe me....

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All I know is when money comes into it and perhaps unrelated to original use things go south fast.

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Dear Mr. Smalahundar,

 

Your suggestion that not telling the story because it may be hijacked seems riskier than allowing the hijackers to tell the story in the first place.

 

Donald

 

 

Mr Donald, I think it may already be too late for that. I've already seen too many instances of rabid evangelical vegans and animal rights extremists hijacking even the most innocent internet discussions. Someone could post a heartwarming video of a farmer saving his sheep from a blizzard, and the lunatics show up in droves to rave about how the poor innocent sheep are just going to die horribly with their throats cut, anyhow. Or the latest I saw was a UK farmer posting about a dog attack on his sheep. Again, the lunatics showed up to scoff and scorn because the mean ol' farmer was only raising those sheep to murder them later. :(

 

I honestly fear the outside world learning any more about sheepdog trials than was showed in the movie, "Babe." There are too many loonies. As I said, they are already going after circuses, zoos and even FFA kids and farm shows. I'd really hate to see sheepdog trialing get within their reach.

 

Yes, I am becoming a pessimist in this regard.

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Dear Doggers,

 

There was something charming about farm trials in the 80's and 90's. Virginia had three nursery winter classes: under 2, under 3 and older dogs that hadn't run much. We'd start about 10 - plenty of time to finish chores before the trial and the whole thing'd be over by 4 or so. We'd be home before it got dark. Back in those days we'd drive to a big trial and enter. We were supporting the trial.

 

My, how things have changed.

 

While I agree with Mr. Smalahundar that unless the dogs are necessary for real farm/ranch work the trials would become pure sport and less worthy. I believe trials are today what sustains the quality of the farm dog and also serve as the Border Collie's showcase.

 

There are real dangers to promoting the Border Collie; dogs too pricey for all but a few, fiercer, nastier competition, pressure to adapt trialing to media needs (night trials?) . . . But.

 

If we keep the dog semi-hidden because we're afraid of Animal Rights Monsters we invite them to tell whatever story they wish. A fair example of such a yarn "The Border Collie is the Most Intelligent Dog." Created by a sociologist who'd never worked one and may have never seen them work.

 

Donald McCaaig

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You are right, sheepdogging geezer. We can't stay hidden. But it's hard to know when it's safe to peek out.

Where I live, HSUS and their ilk got the ear of Washoe County lawmakers. A new law was passed governing exotic animals, how and where and if they may be kept. Today on Facebook I saw the heartbroken post of a man who was having to give up the beautiful ball python he's had for 23 years - longer than his son has been a live. An animal he's used all that time to educate and inform children and local groups. But now the regulations won't permit him to keep her. He has no way around it. So he must let that beautiful snake go. How do we know when it's safe, when it seems nothing is safe any more? It's so hard to know. The AR Monsters are out there, working hard and making bad things happen.

But I will carry on with my dogs, as we all will. We do what we can, speak when we must, educate whenever we are allowed.

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As to regrets, two: First, the gurus like Mr McCaig are aging out. As George Jones sang, "Who's gonna fill their shoes?" The second is no one thought to trademark the name. Both of which are purely regrets because neither can be changed at this point.

 

The bright spot - what the general public considers a 'Border Collie' is what's being shown in Conformation. After something over ten years of breeding to a 'standard' what's seen in show rings bears little resemblance to what's seen at trials, and none of the attributes valued for moving stock about.

 

It should be noted, the show folks are a hell of a lot better prepared to oppose the AR people, and are doing so actively. They may well save the breed while the working people have in many instances their head in the sand. No offense intended.

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My regret is that there are people who believe that show bordercollies (aka barbie collies) actually belong to the bordercollie breed.

No offense intended.

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My regret is that there are people who believe that show bordercollies (aka barbie collies) actually belong to the bordercollie breed.

No offense intended.

 

^^^This

I would like to suggest to the OP that he read the "Read This First", and some other posts on these boards to get a clear picture of this topic.

 

To think that Barbie collies would "save the breed" is faulty thinking in the extreme. Barbie collies and their breeders are doing the exact opposite of that.

 

Barbie collies have nothing to do with border collies, are a different dog entirely, and while they may unfortunately at some point outnumber the true border collie, they will never replace the border collie.

 

Fortunately, there will always be people who value the true border collie and will make sure the breed continues to be the wonderful intelligent quirky working dog that it always has been.

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On 5/15/2018 at 10:01 AM, D'Elle said:

 

^^^This

I would like to suggest to the OP that he read the "Read This First", and some other posts on these boards to get a clear picture of this topic.

 

To think that Barbie collies would "save the breed" is faulty thinking in the extreme. Barbie collies and their breeders are doing the exact opposite of that.

 

Barbie collies have nothing to do with border collies, are a different dog entirely, and while they may unfortunately at some point outnumber the true border collie, they will never replace the border collie.

 

Fortunately, there will always be people who value the true border collie and will make sure the breed continues to be the wonderful intelligent quirky working dog that it always has been.

Hello, I’m new here- always looking for some glimmers of truth about how to best help my BC’s.

I should explain: I came about this all wrong. We wanted a pup- to assist in driving the smallish herd of cattle we own. Dog broke, you ask? Well, no, not really... so, we hear of two pups remaining of a litter, and we go take a look.

To make a longer story short- we came home with both remaining 13 wk old pups, brothers- yes, we did. Not knowing that was a very bad thing to do. But momma came from good working stock. Parents being used in that way? No. Registered AKC- but they could be registered ABCA dually.

Nope. If both parents aren’t- not going to happen.

So- it seems we have “Barbie” BC’s... siblings... untrained stock... and untrained owners. How many strikes does it take-

The good part is- they DO have natural instinct, I HAVE taken both to Jack Knox clinics, they ARE teachable. But, yes- they’re still in “Kindergarten”. 

I agree with D’Elle: read this first. While the pups you look at may be just the ticket- they may NOT.

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