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Registration on Merit Clarification


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I have made this a separate thread from the one about the USBCC because that one went in so many directions.


In that thread, Columbia MO wrote: "The logistics are almost impossible, alone, considering

that you have to have the dog videotaped doing Open-trial level work in

several strange environments with new sheep, then send the videotape to the

12 board members and get 11 to approve. And by the way, 3 of those board

members have to come watch the dog work in person, too!


I'm sure there are a lot of dogs in the U.S. that could pass, but the

expense (hundreds of dollars plus actual costs), paperwork, cost/time of

video copying, postage, and continually having to nag 12 board members to

watch the tapes and write their approval letters must be pretty daunting, or

more dogs would have done this."


First of all, you don't have to videotape in several strange places or even

one. The requirement is (or perhaps was if that has changed) that 3 board members have seen in person the dog working livestock

the dog is not used to in a strange place.


Second, nowhere does the procedure require that the dog has to run an open course on the

video although showing that plus some farm type work would be okay. At

least, it was for me. I don't know what other people have done.


Third, it is fairly easy to make sure that 3 board members see the dog

working away from home on unfamiliar sheep or cattle if you trial at all. If you don't trial at all and

are on this bulletin board, the chances are good that you work your dog as a

hobby and that you are taking lessons. You can video your dog at home

working or at your trainer's. Your trainer can probably give you a

reasonable evaluation of your dog's abilities before you go to the trouble

arranging to have board members see your dog.


Fourth, I did not have to bug anyone to watch a video or write a letter.


Fifth, the cost was the $100 for the application (I don't know what it is now), the cost of video reproduction, the cost of buying the initial blank tape, and postage. I borrowed a video camera. A friend did the filming complaining bitterly all the time "Are we done yet?" in 90 degree heat in the Montana summer. I suppose that was a human cost. I also had to get the dog's hips OFA'ed and get an eye test certificate. Her previous CERF was too old.


If you are not willing to inconvience yourself to some degree in order to demonstrate your dog's skills to ABCA board members, I draw two conclusions. These are that either you don't care about getting your dog registered based on its skill and ability with livestock or that you doubt the dog will succeed.


My impression was and is that Registration on Merit is intended to include competent, useful dogs trained to a high enough level to prove their worth but which are not necessarily world beaters. The standard as written eliminates dogs only trained through novice (or what would be very rudimentary farm work) but does not require even qualifying for the National Finals, let alone getting through to semi-finals or the double lift. There is a lot of room between those two extremes. The fact that the skill requirement can be met without submission of trial scores at all is evidence that ROM is not just intended for top level trial dogs.


Finally, the fact that there are so few registrations on merit is not evidence that the process is too onerous. It is evidence that most people with dogs who could pass muster and are not ABCA registered don't care about that. I did care because I thought that the ROM standards from the other registry (I think it was just one at the time) that was doing ROM around that time were too low. That registry took ASCA scores as sufficient evidence and was whimsical in its approach to which dogs could be registered on merit. I was delighted to find that when the ABCA decided to have a ROM program, it was demanding enough to be worth bothering with.



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I thought this was worth bumping up, especially since it clears up quite nicely the misinformation posted in another thread.


FWIW, I suspect there are so few dogs registered on merit because (a) there are few unregistered dogs out there that are seeking registration, (:rolleyes: like Penny said, owners of unregistered dogs who aren't working them or don't wish to breed them and register the pups have no need for ROM. I would also add that the process shouldn't be easy. The whole point is to make sure that dogs registerd through the process are worthy of breeding because they are capable of working to a particular standard. If you aren't planning on breeding then there's really no need to ROM, right? And if you are planning on breeding, it's not overly burdensome to be expected to prove that your dog is capable of working to a certain standard in order to gain registration that allows you to breed and sell registered pups. And as Rebecca pointed out in the other thread, that standard isn't so high as placing at, or even qualifying for, national finals, so we're not being terribly exclusionary here.


I have a friend who recently ROMed her dog. The most time consuming part for her, if I remember correctly, was getting all the information she could on his ancestry (his dam was unregistered and imported). She did trial this dog (not in open, though the dog could do all the tasks required on an open course), so board members had seen him in that situation, and when it came time to have three board members make their official appraisal, one of those members opened his farm and the other two traveled some distance to get there.


The owner was allowed to have her trainer work the dog so that her nervousness wouldn't affect the work. The work was videotaped and sent to the full board.


Although I'm sure it was quite the "nail biting experience" for the owner, I don't think it was financially onerous. To use expense as an excuse not to ROM if you think an unregistered dog breeding worthy is just a cop out. It's like saying, my dog could do ___________ [fill in the blank] if only I had the time and the money. Frankly, if a person has an unregistered dog who is a good working dog, ROM really isn't very difficult.



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Julie, what did your friend video the dog doing?


Emily was the first dog the ABCA accepted on merit, so I had no idea what to include in the video. Someone suggested to me that there should be both course work and something to show Emily was handy and helpful on an everyday basis. I thought that sounded like a good idea.


To get both of those goals for the video taken care of conveniently, I went over to Don and Billie Redding's in Hardin, Montana. Don set the sheep; his wife, Billie, ran the camera; I worked Emily. We did several outruns, lifts, fetches, and drives on 80 head, then I shed off around half and drove them. At the end of the tape, I had Emily do a complete open course on five head. This was not on a huge field so filming was easy.


While I did not use all the footage, every sequence was done as one continuous shot without editing. For example, I did the trial course exactly once and it was all filmed in one shot with a bit zooming for the lift, panels, shed, and pen. The result was hardly professional but it was in focus and done using a tripod.


It would be interesting to hear what other people have done.



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Although I have seen the video, I don't remember exactly what was included. The video was taken while the dog was working for the three ABCA board members, so they had input into what the dog was required to do and therefore what was shown on the video. I don't remember if they ran a trial course in addition to the other work shown, but I believe all three board members had seen the dog run a number of times at trials, so showing a trial course may not have been considered as important as some of the regular farm type work they showed. I will PM you with the e-mail address of the person and you can ask her directly.



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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm sorry, I meant to ask this earlier and got distracted. Does anyone have any idea (out of curiosity) roughly how many dogs have ever been Registered on Merit with the ABCA??


The process doesn't sound like an insurmountable burden to me. If one has a dog that will do the work it needs to anyway it seems to me like this process would just fall right in line.

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OK, my 2 bits. My Tess got her papers on ROM


What was done:


1.She was evaluted by some of the top handlers in the US and several wanted to buy her (11 months old)


2. A top handler believed in her and took her for training, qualified her for 2001 Sheeodog Finals Nursery and ran her and got 6th place.


3. I made a video of those runs and asked the ABCA directors at that 2001 finals watch her run


4. Had references on her ability from several top handlers. Got her history (her sire was unreg but from German working lines) Got her hips/eyes done.


5. Listed her winnings, PN dog of the yr in Alberta, multiple placements etc...PN and/or Nursery


6. Submitted all this with fee and videos


7. She got her ROM and then went on to prove herself by placing in top 20% in 2004 and ran at the Final as well almost making it to the Final this yr. She missed it by about 1 point or so. Which I was happy since she only ran 5 months of the 12 months - she had pups so was out most of the season


When she got her merit, the other dog that a ROM the same year was Melinda's dog. Penny's Emily got it a few yr earlier. I had talked to Penny about the ROM and it inspired me to go forth with Tess.


Penny's Emily and Tess's pup all have proven themself on the field. Penny (correct me if I am worng) but 2 of Emily's pups ran at Nationals and are top Open dogs?


Tess pups from the first litter have done really well....one qualified and ran in the 2005 USBCHA CowDog Nursery and then a few months later the qualifed for the 2005 USBCHA Sheepdog Nursery. The other pups are doing well and placing high in trials.


One diretor told me that the ROM was for dogs that could bring quality back and had a chance to prove themself and by getting their papers it meant that they could do the work. It opened a door for dogs that through unfortunate circumstances did not have their papers but now had a chance to prove themselves.


I bought Tess for $100 from a BYB and just to prevent her from being put down...a pity buy....so far this is the most expensive *cheap* dog that I have ever owned...so far she has cost me, in addition to that one hundred measly dollars....one 10 acre sheep farm, new truck, more dogs, sheep,...need I say more?



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This thread has me wondering something.


Since there are a number of BYB's that use the "ABCA registered" hook in there sales pitch, would it be possible for the ABCA to do a "provisional" registration when the pups are first whelped and then go to a "full" registration after something similar to the ROM?


If the dog has not been trialed or somehow verifiably worked to a set of standards within a given amount of time, then it looses the "provisional" and is dropped from the books.


It just seems to me that the "working border collie" should be more than a birthright from a lineage of dogs that may have not been proven and may have lost what it takes generations ago.

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Definitely fewer than a dozen dogs have been registered on merit in the ABCA. About five is more like it.


Gary, I understand where you're coming from, but it just wouldn't be feasible to do anything like a ROM evaluation on the thousands of dogs registered in the ABCA each year. The resources (time and money) involved would be enormous, aside from the difficulty of ensuring that such a system was both demanding and fair. And what about the fact that many farmers and ranchers with excellent working dogs simply wouldn't choose to go through the process? That would mean those dogs would be lost from the studbook.


The ABCA is a working border collie registry in the same sense that the AKC is a conformation registry. Not every dog registered with the AKC has good conformation, and likewise not every dog registered with the ABCA is a good working dog. But the ABCA promotes and supports the working dog, and the only standard of excellence it recognizes is livestock working ability.


The ABCA cooperates closely with the USBCHA and contributes major support to the sheepdog and cattledog finals. Though the trial program and the registry are not combined in the same organization, as they are in the ISDS in Britain, the ABCA and the HA operate in practice pretty much like a federation. I think it makes sense to view trialing as the proving program for ABCA dogs. Of course, there are excellent working farm dogs who are never trialed, but for those who want to demonstrate or measure their dogs' quality, the HA trials are the means for doing it.

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