The editorial in the December, 2007 issue of Clean Run brings up the subject of the amount of drive that is necessary in a performance dog.
The writer (Lori Westling) writes: “I have also noticed that there are dogs that are so wild that they cannot control themselves under any exciting circumstance. Is this drive? What happened to biddability? If a dog is so wild (some would say driven) that he cannot think in the ring (in any venue), as well as around the ring, how will he ever succeed? How can he ever do the job he was bred to do? I think it is important for a dog to be thoughtful and have common sense, even when in drive. I look at this as being naturally balanced or having an inner steadiness. Many dogs are born with this trait. I do not think it can be trained.” The author further states, “I now see many ‘performance litters’ being bred. I think this is a good thing a long as the original purpose of the breed and the breed standard are kept in mind. But sometimes it seems as if we are breeding the common sense and innate abilities right out of some breeds because we are focusing solely on breeding a dog with speed and drive to another dog with speed and drive.”
That is what I love about Gel, that inner steadiness. It seems he’s passed that on to his puppies, which is wonderful. Midge is the same way, but to a lesser extent, I have seen her loose her mind when in drive. This could be attributed to her maturity. Gel has changed a lot from the six and a half month old puppy I brought home.
I think a lot of the crazy wildness (and fear and obsessiveness) seen so commonly in dogs today is related to the amount of vaccinations they (and their parents) have received. I also expect the high carbohydrate content (and preservatives) in most dry dog foods is contributing to mental instability.
During lunch today, I caught up with The Working Dog Diary written by Kay Spencer who is a proponent of the working bred Australian Shepherd. She mentions in one entry that she was offered a Border Collie, a granddaughter of Alasdair MacRae’s Ben. The dog was afraid of Kay, and of the world in general, but when put with sheep she forgot everything else. That’s another thing I see in many working-bred Border Collies. Sure, on stock they are fabulous, but off stock, they are neurotic nuts. Are those people who are breeding Border Collies to work stock breeding simply based on their ability to work stock, or are they looking at the whole picture? I suppose it’s easy to put up with a neurotic dog if you can train it and then put it up in a kennel where you do not have to interact with it. Border Collies have the ability to transform into stable working dogs when presented with stock. It’s as if the presence of the stock is enough to suppress their underlying mental instability.