Well it seems that I have struck a nerve....so sorry competition folk...no offense was intended. So that you have a better understanding of the way I think. This is what I posted in another thread:
This has been interesting. In my opinion, working dogs are dogs that actively participate in the daily goings on of and in which assist in making the lives of the people they “serve” easier (ranch work) or in which society derives some sort of benefit i.e. SAR, TDI, etc. All other dogs fall into a competition and or companion category.
Competition is just that...competition. Self promoting, ego stroking activities that satisfy some competitive urge from within, are usually performed under the guise of being "fun" and to use Diana's words, have "no true lasting value in the real world". Competitions are events that require voluntary entry into with or with out entry fees and include but are not limited to, Obedience, Rally, Tracking, Agility and Herding.
Do I have a problem with competition events? Not at all and certainly not as long as the people who participate in them keep everything in perspective, that being that society derives " no true lasting value" from the top placing dogs in any competition and treat the results as such. My border collie is an agility champion and no one other than myself (and my ego) got anything out of that. All it proves is that I took the time and put the effort into the training needed to get the "job" done.
You are right and you are wrong.
Competition events can be self-promoting ego-stroking events, and many are.
You are also correct that no one but yourself gets anything out of your dog being an agility champion (other than those who derive pleasure from watching agility competitions).
Some people participate in stockdog field trials purely for their own entertainment. Some don't have sheep. Some wouldn't have sheep if they didn't have sheepdogs that they wanted to run in sheepdog trials.
But, and it's a big but, if one looks at the origin of sheepdog trials, and the reasons they have endured they do serve a more practical purpose. Trials (and there is a reason they are called "trials" and not "competitions") are an opportunity to evaluate the work of a large number of dogs on unfamiliar sheep on unfamiliar ground. If you had been to enough trials to see the same dogs run on different kinds of sheep, on different terrrain, in different weather conditions, you would see how the work shows the strengths and weaknesses of the different dogs. A useful dog is good on his home flock in his home fields. A good dog will do well on certain kinds of sheep. The great dogs can work anything, anywhere, any time. These are the dogs that produce the good farm dogs and ranch dogs.
You don't need trials to do this, but trials make it easier. They bring dogs and handlers together in one place at one time. And they do more. As Tea eloquently pointed out, sit at a trial and watch a hundred runs in a weekend and you will come away with a better understanding of dogs and sheep. Some of that you will learn from just watching, and some you will learn from someone with decades of experience pointing out something you would have missed.
I was at a trial a few weeks ago. I was seated beside one of the world's top handlers as he described what another of the world's top handlers was doing on the trial field. I learned more in fifteen minutes about sheep and dogs than I would have in a month of stumping about a pasture on my own.
So, yes it can be about stroking your own ego, but it doesn't have to be about that unless you allow it to.