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My apologies for the length of this post. These thoughts have been swirling for a while and I'm trying to process them. While my thoughts are specific to my situation, I am more interested in people's thoughts generally.

I would like to start by saying that I believe and adhere to the principles of this board in regard to working border collies. While I don't have a farm or work my dogs, I think that of course the breed will change for worse if dogs are not bred for working ability. My two dogs thus far have been unwanted dogs that we adopted. And I preach working dogs only and rescue (my preference so far because my needs are basic) to whomever will listen.

My current situation has got me thinking though. What to do in situations where there are not many working border collies but you really want one? We decided in the Fall that this was the summer to add a pup. Our current border collie is 12 and our youngest child is 6. I had contacted several rescues south of the border (we live in Vancouver, Canada) and it seemed like it would be a done deal. Then came the pandemic. Initially I thought I could just be patient and wait a while but it looks like the border could be closed for a very long time.

So I started searching for working bred dogs in British Columbia. There is only one listed with the Canadian border collie association and they do not place dogs in urban settings. So I moved along to Alberta (the next province over). There were several breeders listed and some of them also don't place dogs in pet homes. Many weren't planning litters any time soon or already had full waitlists. Plus now we're talking several days drive away (we drove 12 hours to Idaho to pick up Orbit but that was before we had 3 kids). In general, our shelters here need to fly in dogs because everyone has their dogs fixed and people are pretty responsible about dog ownership. So border collies around here tend to be rescues or rural bred but not working border collie. I also see a good number of candy coloured border collies or poofy Barbie collies around here because those breeders have available dogs.  

So my question is this: What should people do if they want a puppy and they live somewhere that does not have any border collies that end up in rescue ( when I contacted THE border collie rescue in British Columbia, I was told that there was almost no chance that a puppy or even a young dog without major issues would become available) and they don't plan on breeding their pup?

The options seem to be drive for days or have a pup shipped out (which isn't ideal because I prefer to meet the people and parents to get a sense of what's what) in order to get a pup whose parents are working. This option is quite expensive and many of these pups are already selling for $1000-1500 and working people often have a long wait list. Or get a puppy from farm bred parents but the parents don't work. So they are still very much border collies genetically but they wouldn't necessarily be good working dogs because the people breeding them are not doing so for a working purpose. Or get dog from someone that had 2 nice looking, friendly family dogs (supporting breeding for no other reason that producing puppies). Or get a Barbie collie (urgh).

Thoughts?

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If you truly support the principles of working border collie people, as outlined on these forum boards, then I am surprised you would even consider getting a puppy from someone who is breeding " for no other purpose than producing puppies " or getting a Barbie collie. The fact that it is difficult for you right now to get a working-bred puppy is really no excuse at all for buying a non-working bred puppy, and pardon me for saying so, but you asked for our opinions and mine is that to do that would be selfish and hypocritical and would in effect be saying "yeah, I definitely believe in this principle but I am going to do what is wrong just because I don't want to wait to do the right thing." I am not trying to be harsh, but that's how I see it.

It would not be the end of the world if you didn't get a puppy this year. Next year would be a good year too. The border won't stay closed forever. Good things are worth waiting for.

It also wouldn't be a bad thing to adopt a young adult from a rescue instead of a puppy. My best border collies so far came to me at the age of 2, and  at age 6. Maybe you could give up the idea of a puppy and instead get a young adult, or go ahead and get a pup shipped from a working breeder. Either that or be patient and wait.

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Flying a puppy isn’t bad. I didn’t meet Valek parents till after I got him. I followed the breeder on Facebook. It was the same breeder as Cressa although not related. I got to see how his half sibling turn out. I got to watch through video how his parent worked and played. Talk to some of the owners also to see what type of personality the parents threw. Talked to the breeder. I believed I also talked to some of his grandparents owners also. When it came time to picking puppy I already knew I wanted a boy. I watched multiple videos and talked to the breeder who help me select Val. 
The more time you allow the more research you can put in to make sure your puppy will be suited for you.
 

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9 hours ago, D'Elle said:

If you truly support the principles of working border collie people, as outlined on these forum boards, then I am surprised you would even consider getting a puppy from someone who is breeding " for no other purpose than producing puppies " or getting a Barbie collie. 

Thank you for the response. I wasn't sure I was being clear when I wrote it: the specifics of my situation but more broadly speaking. What I meant was that there are people that live in places (like British Columbia) that don't have a lot of rescue dogs available, puppy or otherwise. And the only available options (as in choices) are the ones I listed. I in no way I meant that they were options for me personally but those are the "options" (good or bad) that are available to Joe public. What I was trying to get at is that I am a person that really gets what this board is saying about preserving the breed but the average person just wants a puppy. And the current situation made me think about the options that face people and the fact that it is rather difficult or can be perceived as being difficult to get a working bred dog is the reason that many people end up making the wrong choices.

Is there a solution beyond, those that know better will do better and the hell with the rest of them? I'm not sure there is a solution, because the working border collie world is small (especially in certain parts of the world) and according to the breeders that I chatted with, the appetite from the general public is getting larger. So there simply are not enough well bred dogs. Rescue is such a great option for many but not everyone is willing to go through that. So it just seems to me that the situation will get worse and worse, which is a such a shame. 

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One option is to contact all responsible working dog breeders in your area, and ask them to let you know if a pup they bred is ever returned to them.  One of the reasons this happens is that the dog did not perform well for the buyer on the work they wanted the dog to do.  Examples would be weak herding drive, works sheep but not cows, is too hard or soft for the stock being worked.  You won't get a puppy this way, but you will be giving a home to a dog from a responsible breeder that just didn't make it as a stock dog.

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Great advice, Michael.  Cast this net beyond British Columbia as well. Good luck in your search, puppytoes - as others have said, finding the right dog will be worth the wait.

Amy

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On 7/12/2020 at 6:37 AM, Michael Parkey said:

One option is to contact all responsible working dog breeders in your area, and ask them to let you know if a pup they bred is ever returned to them.  One of the reasons this happens is that the dog did not perform well for the buyer on the work they wanted the dog to do.  Examples would be weak herding drive, works sheep but not cows, is too hard or soft for the stock being worked.  You won't get a puppy this way, but you will be giving a home to a dog from a responsible breeder that just didn't make it as a stock dog.

My Gibbs is a re-home. He's got great working dogs in his immediate ancestry, and somehow he's sort of 'meh' about the working stuff. I got him when he was 2 and a half or so and he's been a wonderful pet/companion for me.  Michael's idea is a great one.

Ruth & Gibbs

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It is a good way to look for a dog. I'd posted an ad looking for just this type of dog on a couple of FB pages (and maybe here?) and got a number of replies. I was surprised at how much money some people were asking for a failed sheepdog :rolleyes: but several were quite reasonable, mostly concerned with finding the dog that wasn't useful for them a good home. I ended up adopting a lovely girl from a rescue but will definitely consider this option again when the time comes. (Note: I was looking for a very specific temperament for a therapy dog, but several of the dogs I was notified about would have made great pets or sports prospects.)

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  • 2 weeks later...

This question really speaks to me because I'm in a similar situation. When we got our first dog two years ago, we did it "right" and got a rescue. After a long search, and failing to find any suitable dogs in shelters, we adopted a dog from an excellent breed-specific rescue. They did a great job and answered all of our questions, but we ended up with a dog with much more sever behavioral issues than we anticipated, including fear-aggression. After tons of training, she's made huge progress, and entirely stopped resource guarding and reactively barking at people. But she still has body handling issues and occasionally snaps at me for trying to take her leash or collar off. She'll tolerate my husband's hands near her head, but not anyone else's. The rescue was surprised to hear of her intense fear of people's hands, since she apparently did not show this with her foster parent. (Somehow, she is excellent with dogs, even though the rescue said she wouldn't be.)

 

I want another dog, and I really don't want a second dog with behavioral issues -- what to do? I know most rescue dogs are not as difficult as mine, but still, almost all of the Border Collies, Border Collie mixes, Aussie mixes, and Kelpie mixes in rescue near us seem to be adults with behavioral issues. No surprise -- rescues come from bad breeders and usually not the best owners. And it's still a roll of the dice whether more issues pop up post-adoption, as happened with my dog. On top of all that, rescue is very competitive around here. My dog's foster parent rejected literally dozens of applications for my dog before approving ours. We are a sort of sports home, so rescuing a mystery mutt isn't appealing.

 

So breeders are looking more and more tempting -- specifically a breeder with a history of producing dogs with good temperaments and who values socialization. I really like the idea in this thread of trying to buy a dog that washed out of herding. Do you all think a dog used to farm life would struggle in to a suburban environment? I.e. strange dogs walking by, screaming kids on bikes, the commotion of an agility event, house parties, etc.? How old are dogs typically when they are rehomed due to a lack of herding ability? I'd prefer to socialize a dog myself if possible, since after seeing the effects of poor socialization so starkly, I don't really trust anyone else to do it. But if I could spend a lot of time with the dog before buying it might be okay.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Of our three the first came from Ms Rodgers on Lookout Mountain from her Tara, Rodgers' Miss Billie Mags.  She raised our Kuvasz puppies for 14 years.  The next and the current both came from Phoenix Rising rescue.  Bess lasted 12 years, Bonnie is with us, we believe about 7 or so.  Since she went to her first home as a street dog, true age isn't know.  For Bess and Bonnie, we asked PRBCR to keep a lookout for a low pressure girl.  Bess was a failed herder who worked out quite well.  Bonnie shows street smarts, and excitement when it'[s indicated, the rest of the time she's the close dog.  Doesn't want in your lap, just close.  Sleeps by the bed, not on it uless invited and even then leavs before she goes to sleep. 

We've had excellent luck with rescues.  We visited the fosters and met both dogs, and introduced our current Kuvasz each time.  The girs assimilated without problems.  In the current case, Bonnie's fosters spent the afternoon with us and the dogs.  The rescue sent a home inspector when we got Bess, since we knew the previous owner well.  With that process, I recommend rescues.  Breed rescues will know more about the dog,but shelters are also a good place to look.  While I'm not opposed to going and getting a puppy, I wouldn't have one shipped, nor when I was breeding (co breeder) we wouldn't ship puppies.   You didn't get one of our puppies without visiting and letting the dogs vet you.  My co-breeder said a couple of times, people visited and after a bit of visit, their deposit was returned because they just weren't suitable or in a suitable situation.  Short answer- go for the rescue.

 

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned this, or maybe I just missed it.

I would recommend finding some competitive herding folks, perhaps attend a trial or a clinic.  You may not be interested in, or able to do any, herding.  But if you seriously want a working-bred dog - go where they are!  I think (and stand to be corrected if I'm wrong), that if you are upfront about what you want, what you can offer, and what you are looking for - those folks would listen.  They may not have any pups at the moment; they may not have any "herding washouts" at the moment.  But you can at least make a connection.  I've found the few herding folks I've met very open to discussions.  If they don't want their dogs to go to a non-working home, they'll tell ya!

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I have noticed that the advice to people looking to get a well bred border collie is often to attend trials. I'm curious about whether a "well bred" dog can simply be one that lives on a ranch and works all day? I would imagine that there are lots of really useful dogs out there working every day whose people maybe don't have time to attend trials. Are those dogs considered less well bred because there is no outside evaluation? If a farmer or rancher has dogs that do the job that he or she needs them to do, are healthy and get along with all of necessary characters, does that dog qualify as one that should be bred? 

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Buyers looking for dogs bred to work can either go to where multiple breeders from across the country will be at one time (trials) or they can visit multiple ranches/farms around the country.  Which is easier?

The definition of “dogs that do the job that he or she needs them to do” can vary greatly between farms and regions potentially masking the true working ability of the dog or affect the standard to which the dog was bred.

The job required to manage a flock of 1000 sheep grazing on range land in the west is different than the job required to move 10-50 sheep from one fenced field to another in the east.  The job of dealing with sheep that are worked every day for dog training is very different than the job of dealing with sheep that don’t see dogs for months at a time (range sheep).  At a trial all dogs are expected to do the same job.

I am certain there are dogs working on farms/ranches that never trial and are “well bred”.  Will a puppy buyer who does not understand the job requirements on a farm/ranch be able to ascertain how “well bred” a dog is when visiting a farm/ranch?  I know I did not when we purchased our first pup, and not when we purchased our next few pups/dogs.  It wasn’t until we started learning stock work (actually working and training our dogs) that we began to understand “the job”.

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Going to a trial will give someone a nice overview. Let's face it though, some of the breeders there are such respected handlers that they could make a dead cockroach look golden. They're that good, it's not an insult..

If a puppy buyer has the wherewithal to visit farms and watch dogs work I think they have a decent idea of what the work is. Some prefer the farm dog as it's not entirely mechanical..sure it's home and knows the job on familiar territory but it also just does the job without non stop commands..

What qualifies a dog to be bred is too subjective. What one owner wants or needs isn't what another needs. 

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The right sheep can make many dogs look good; they’ll follow their shepherd (or another handler) as long as the dog stays off of them.

 

The point of buying from working breeders is to support those preserving and improving the breed.  If the job on the farm only entails gathering “self fetching” sheep and that is the breeding standard is that really preserving or improving the breed?

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Who said anything about "self fetching' sheep? It could also be said of the trial dog that requires non stop direction/communication etc..let's not belittle one side vs the other. Both play an important role in the breed. 

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Will a puppy buyer with no stock work experience be able to tell if the sheep being used to demonstrate the working ability of the dogs are self fetching or not?

 

Its the same type of argument as really good handlers can mask the faults in dogs; the right sheep can also mask the faults in dogs.  At a farm one only sees those dogs; at a trial one sees many different dogs and can network with more than 1 breeder at a time.

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