I wrote a while back about my exchange with a woman about the “want” to work in Border Collies. I thought that what she was looking for in a dog was more machine-like than a living, breathing, feeling animal. I wrote her this morning, told her I was wrong and apologized. I will admit when I’m wrong.
While some of what she said was extreme, there has to be a lot of “want to” in these dogs in order that they can be trained and work properly. A dog that won’t do this, or won’t work this type of stock or that, or quits if you put any amount of pressure on it is just not good. Gel has quit in him, I’m the first to admit that, but I think a lot of the quit was created by me. The day we were out trying to move those Belted Galloway cattle, Gel was in way over his head, but he kept on trying. Even when I pulled him out so he could rest, he kept trying to go back. I have, at times, been unnecessarily hard and unfair to Gel. It is my understanding that Gel’s mother was a good worker, but that his father would not work. Gel’s breeding was accidental, but lots of people breed their dogs just because. They don’t take into full consideration the positives and negatives of both dogs; they don’t look at the grandparents; they breed on pedigree alone. There are too darned many Border Collies around looking for homes to consider breeding a litter unless (until) you look at everything about the parents and have at least half a normal sized litter spoken for.
Time will tell if any quit shows up in Fern. It is possible it will, but I’m better able to train through it than I was early on with Gel.
In fact, I’m playing on some of Gel’s quit now that I’ve got sheep and cattle pastured together. When I send him in to bring the stock out, he’s very apt to ignore the sheep and pull out just the cattle. Right now, cattle are much more exciting for him to work than sheep. That is unacceptable, I want everything out. When he ignores the sheep, I lie him down and then tell him to go back. He fights me, he doesn’t want to mess with stupid sheep when he can work cattle. The same thing happens if I send him into a pasture to pull out ducks when there’s sheep or cattle in the same area. He blows off the ducks. Sometimes, when I want ducks out, I’ll send Fern in for them knowing at this point in time, she’s going to go for ducks before she’ll go for anything else; but from now on, I’m using Gel, just to make my point.
I have to give my friend, Sheryl of Daybreak Aussies a lot of credit. She puts a tremendous amount of work into selecting a sire for her bitches. Her puppies are usually spoken for (and then some) before the bitch is even bred. In her current litter, the bitch has nine puppies. Every single one of them is spoken for, even though some of the original people on her list changed their minds. That’s the way to breed a litter, not just because.