Here’s my purpose-bred “herding” dog in (non)action:
He’s only laying there because I asked him to “go out” and then to lie down. He was not even a teensy bit interested in the llamas, and didn’t even seem to notice they were there, except to duck around past them on his way to “go out” where I was pointing. He didn’t look afraid, he simply regarded them as obstacles in his path.
I admit, I expected at least a little something more … even if it was just a little staring, or walking up on the beasts. Something a little more … Faith.
I get more eye out of this dog when he walks up on Piper than on livestock of any kind.
Actually, Dex is not allowed to walk up on any other dogs … he’s just staring at her in that photo because I am about to throw the Kong-On-A-Rope and he, like every sensible creature anywhere, is fascinated by the insane (and inane) spinning she’s doing in anticipation of the toss.
Dexter’s brother Hoot is doing very well on sheep, and both their parents come from long lines of very nice working dogs. Dex is very stylishly “herdy” in that he is creepy, has a lot of eye, and responds to body pressure very nicely. And yet he is completely uninterested in livestock of any kind. Surrounded as we are by tons of it, because my animal-hoarding neighbours have amassed ungodly amounts of animals, I would expect my “herding” dog to turn on at some point. He has llamas, goats, chickens, turkeys and a ram (don’t ask) to show interest in at any time, but as far as he’s concerned, none of them exist. Whereas you can park Faith in front of the chicken coop for an hour of solid staring, Dex will go find a tennis ball instead.
I suppose that some of this is my doing, in that I a) did not ever really introduce him to working (but Cheryl, let this be your warning, we are coming to try again!) and b) I concentrated on a lot of handler-focused stuff in preparation for agility. But I know from lots of experience that many pet-raised border collies will one day see livestock and BINGO! they want to work. Their latent inner sheep dog comes out to play. Where is Dexter’s inner working dog?
Perhaps Piper is hogging it.
The llamas have no fear of the dogs, not really. And so they shouldn’t, as they can stomp a dog to death if they feel like it. They walked right up to Piper and everyone had a good nose sniff, which I *tried* to photograph, but I was too busy running interference between the llamas and … well, guess who.
If we promise not to eat them, will you let us off the leash?
No off leash for the WooTWoo when the llamas are out!
Faith would like to work, if only she could … she will walk up on the llamas and try and move them around, and she would really like to work my chickens. Except being deaf, she can’t work stock because she would have to take the pressure off them to look to her handler for direction, since she can’t hear whistles. Instead, she inappropriately “works” Dexter, which is not really working at all, it’s just being a pain in the ass. But she sure looks good doing it!
Have you ever asked yourself “What is a herding dog?” It’s kind of a tough question, when you delve into it. Some people, especially pet owners and kennel club types, will tell you it’s a dog bred for herding. But what they really mean by that is “it’s one of the breeds that falls into the category of dogs who herd things.” A stockdog person will also tell you that a herding dog is a dog bred for herding, but what they really mean is “it’s a dog who has been purpose bred to work livestock as the primary consideration in its creation.”
So all border collies are herding dogs, but not all border collies are herding dogs. Clear as mud?
So Piper, who was not bred for working, but will work (albeit quite poorly) isn’t really a border collie. And Dexter, who was bred for working, but won’t, is a border collie(?) They’re both border collies, but neither of them are? It hurts my brain, and I am well indoctrinated into this stuff. I can’t imagine what the average, sane person who doesn’t spend hours a day thinking about border collies must feel like when they are confronted with these sorts of hyperboles. When I have a dog or two at work with me, people who come into the shelter say “Those are border collies, right? They were bred to work sheep, right?” Imagine if I hit them with the working/non working/bred for working issue and really let fly – they’d probably run away! I just say “yep.”
Although they often think that both Dexter and Faith are border collie crosses, which I think is funny, since both of them look so classically border collie to me.
I still am a big believer in the border collie being bred for working and not for other stuff, like dog sports (for example). I think the essence of the dog is probably in selecting for the things that go into a good working dog, and that the breed will fundamentally change in time if people breed for “agility” or the ever popular “versatility.” Besides, you don’t need to breed *for* agility … apparently you can take a working bred dog and agility the latent sheepdog right out of it. Phooey on Dexter! That’s it, I’m taking him to meet sheep again ASAP! (But I’m still going to call Piper a border collie, whether they like it or not!).
One thing you can’t do, though, is get past the Llama Sentries.
Unless you distract one of them with some Mad Teeth™
Faith continues to do very well, but she’s come up lame.
It looks to me like something that has been bothering her for a long time, and often she doesn’t bear weight on one of her hindlegs. The ways things have been going around the community of my friends and their dogs, I can only assume she’s ruptured an ACL and will require insanely expensive surgery. Le sigh. I’m going to try to get her into the vet later this week for some x-rays. If she does need surgery, I’ll be going into fundraising mode, because I need more on my plate ;-) And we know what happens to dogs who stay at Food Lady’s too long … she absorbs them into the pack, that’s what! Ack! Faith has to go! Think happy “crate rest only required” thoughts for her (and me!) would you?
I’m almost finished building my home made dog walk! It’s in three 12′ foot long pieces in my dining room (and office and living room … the damn thing, end to end, is *actually* longer than my house, which kind of pisses me off. (My residence is smaller than a piece of freakin’ dog equipment!) and the supports are hogging the porch. Should we ever get some sunny days in a row, I’ll get to paint it and put it together, and then, maybe just to be obstinate, I’ll teach Dexter a running contact :)
Here’s a random picture of Tweed, because I *luff* him.
Now THAT^^ is no herding dog. I’ll prove it some day soon when I get around to uploading the photos of him *running away* from the llamas!
Happy Monday, my friends!