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Bridging division between Working Border Collie Tradition vs. “Working” Agility Dogs+Other Disciplines

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Sorry to drag this tortured column out further.

 

Serena+Eluane B.C have you read the guest column in this months Clean Run by Slivia Trkman, she talks about how her dogs were not great agility prospects, but by building a team she has achieved great results. Sorry I can not find the magazine this morning, to give you an exact quote.

I think this really does explain why breeding border collies for agility is not important, great agility dogs are not born, but are a result of great training and a great bond with the handler.

 

And to the many non-agility people reading this, Ms. Trkman is one of the best in the world.

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Diana, I loved your last paragraph. I enjoy your posts as a whole but you put in words what I can't. To me, that is the only way to even start building a bridge.

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Rifftie,

That's another topic that has been covered thoroughly here. In the past the answer has been that if there were greater demand from working breeders, then they would probably breed more to meet the demand, which in turn would also allow them to try out more crosses to get the best possible working dogs for themselves. Of course the caveat to that is that at least some of the pups from each litter would have to go to working homes so that the success of the cross could be evaluated, but certainly owners of some dogs would breed them more often if there was a market for the pups beyond the working dog community.

 

J.

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I just went through this whole thread one more time, (Yes, OCD, yes masochistic) and cut and pasted all the posts that seemed worth keeping. There were a lot of them. They ran to 39 pages, 11 point, New Times Roman, in a Word document. (And that was with all but the first of to OP's posts excised.)

 

There's a lot of good stuff here. I think it should be required reading for people who own Border Collies but are new to the stockdog scene - especially those who come in from a sporting background. It would educate many in fact, and as to the dedication of the membership, and to what to expect from contributors to these forums in the way of behavior.

 

I've read criticisms of a thread being this long, and it is really long. But the frustration-level engendered by the OP's apparent entrenched inability to grasp the most basic tenet of these Boards (breeding for stock working ability ONLY) has seemingly spurred some to brilliance.

 

Well done "Border Collie Boarder's"!

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I just went through this whole thread one more time, (Yes, OCD, yes masochistic) and cut and pasted all the posts that seemed worth keeping. There were a lot of them. They ran to 39 pages, 11 point, New Times Roman, in a Word document.

 

Sounds like the making of a booklet there!

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Sounds like the making of a booklet there!

It would certainly make a good one, but permissions would have to be obtained...

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Geonni, I actually agree with you...believe it or not...The posts from Diana, Gloria, Eileen are very important to me and very beautifully written and so clear. The purpose of the thread is to also let people know their choices, and I truly and sincerely hope everyone follows Diana, Gloria, and Eileen. But for the "prodigals" like myself, it saddens me that so far there has been no interest save for one person who is starting to question, ok, tell me more about this puppy mill and conformation issues, and why I'm so against it, and how is AKC involved... There should be more AKC people asking these issues and wanting to be interested in changing the AKC organization.

 

Please if anyone ever! harangues Mum24Dog, you will never hear the end of it from me! She is no sniper and never ever did she attack anyone or name names either!!! She just pointed out a few very hurtful threads. Any objective outsider can very clearly and objectively see, not just Mum24Dog, that in a few rare instances we have definitely crossed the lines with....

 

Diana, I agree with you in more ways than what people on the boards here realize. That's why I keep mentioning the word epidemic and crucial and the word ruin. Agility itself is not destructive, but wrongly used by a clueless person, it can be very dangerous, destructive, ruinous....Silvia Trkman herself is someone I strongly disagree with, believe it or not-- for heaven's sake, she got a border collie because of its agility reputation and not because she truly loves and understands the breed. It's too long to explain here and we will veer off on a very bad tangent....But when I heard how she, a normal Pyrean Shepherd owner, selected her first border collie and the background story behind it, I was horrified...again it emphasizes my point that only top national-ranking agility champions, who keep very close binds with the sheepherding community, who are extremely responsible in studying, training and loving the Border Collie breed from the get-go, who regularly correspond and communicate with the top sheepherding experts, who are leaders in teaching and training agility dogs, who keep efforts to make their dog the most well balanced (knowing other disciplines besides just agility but multiple verbals, commands, service, obedience, etc.) should be allowed to breed and get working dog lines If anyone is missing just a tiny fraction of these components, they are COMPLETELY OUT, including Sylvia Trkman...

 

Diana, yes, I do believe that people will indeed completely ruin the agility line if they do not go back to the original working line every other generation or so....We do not have the working line expertise, the art of sheepherding, the complexity of tasks that develop the border collie brains; neither do we have true field tests and puppy tests of experience that you have and the ability to keep working the full intelligence of the dogs. I once watched an interview from a famous English sheepherder on how he reads and selects and tests his puppies. The rest he spays and sends to pet homes saying he only wants only the very best lines of his pups should be kept to continue the sheepherding lines...that sort of discerning eye and stellar standards is incredible and which I deeply admire... But back to the subject, most of us have limited geographics, resources, the city slicker problems of being clueless and ignorant, no background in sheepherding, no professional sheepherding or agility experience, so many problems, that is why we are so dependent on the sheepherding experts for the lines. But there are also some excellent agility folks who have their special winning pup that has given them the best performances ever! in their decades of experience and so they take the pup and then go back to the working line to get back the special working border collie blend or when their special pup passes away because they do not dare risk losing that special agility gift. This chance only comes once in a blue moon for the brilliant Border Collie agility dog...

 

You see there is a specific unmistakeable "gift" of specific agility movements and a certain "fire", what is called that eye spark, when a pup "gets" it and wants it and grabs hold, that an agility person needs and which you recognize, Diana, since you know both worlds. That same agility person depends on you to help them select for that intelligence and keenness and personality recognition when it comes around to selecting which dog would be the best agility dog within your lines.

 

Me personally, I'd want the working lines...I would love to have a pup from an outstanding working line and would never ever seek an outstanding sports line if this were possible. You bet I would! But the sad and awful thing for me is who in the world would want to give me their pup from an outstanding working line??? I'd be immediately rejected flat-out! Would a special upstanding sheepherding community person ever sell a pup to someone like me? We are stuck in a terrible zone of bad situations, one can say we made the choice and therefore we should "pay" the price. But it's such a painful price for me personally. Why would any outstanding stock dog breeder want to lose a brilliant pup to an AKC'er unless they had something of true upstanding value to contribute... that what's truly depressing. And neither is it fair or right for me to have this hope... And yes, Diane, that is the Bridge that we dream of. A perfect world of no Border Collie conformation and no puppy mills, and fighting for this dream of change within the AKC organization. And yes promising the rest of what you, Diana wrote below...

 

Diana wrote: Partner up with the working breeders, provide good homes for working bred dogs, show the working breeders you appreciate what they produce, and you respect it enough that you'll come back to them for your next dog and not breed your own if you aren't in a position to make sure you're breeding the very best WORKING border collie possible. This gives all sides what they want and preserves the best in the breed.

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Me personally, I'd want the working lines...I would love to have a pup from an outstanding working line and would never ever seek an outstanding sports line if this were possible. You bet I would! But the sad and awful thing for me is who in the world would want to give me their pup from an outstanding working line??? I'd be immediately rejected flat-out! Would a special upstanding sheepherding community person ever sell a pup to someone like me?

 

Ummm.... have you even tried? You can get excellent, working line dogs I'm sure. I know I can and I've never even trialed. There are plenty of "herding washouts" to choose from.

 

...again it emphasizes my point that only top national-ranking agility champions, who keep very close binds with the sheepherding community, who are extremely responsible in studying, training and loving the Border Collie breed from the get-go, who regularly correspond and communicate with the top sheepherding experts, who are leaders in teaching and training agility dogs, who keep efforts to make their dog the most well balanced (knowing other disciplines besides just agility but multiple verbals, commands, service, obedience, etc.) should be allowed to breed and get working dog lines

 

We now have, what, 39 pages of Times Roman 11 point font of people politely telling you over and over that this is not enough. Genes are tricky little things, and it is very, very easy to lose the natural aptitude for stock work if every single pairing is not evaluated by the offsprings' performances on stock. How else would we know if the pairing should be repeated?

 

 

If it makes you feel better, I'm a CGC Evaluator for the AKC. Because I believe it is the only program with any validity, and the program has received a resolution by the state, I run the tests, but at the same time I know it is another money trap. Look at all the CGC and now the STAR Puppy products and try to tell me otherwise, plus that I have to buy the test forms. I know what runs the AKC. It's the same reason why the prestigious American Kennel Club opened its doors to mixed breeds to run in the sport trials. Just like any other business, they go over quarterly profits and find ways to line their pockets more. The AKC is a corporation with their hands even in the 4H clubs so that kids think the AKC is the end all. If you truly want them to stop supporting puppy mills and such, you do not write letters and petitions, you hit them where it hurts: in the wallet.

 

The big money makers are the sport trials. If you truly want to protest the AKC's actions and sponsors, you get a very large number of competitors to boycott all trials for at least a year, perhaps more. In essence, you go on strike until there are changes. Treat it like the corporation it is and demand changes. You have to make a big enough dent to make them listen, just letters and petitions will not work.

 

 

I can't believe I got sucked into this again. It's like an addiction, despite the fact that I'm clearly being ignored.

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Disclaimer: I compete in AKC obedience and am a CGC evaluator.

 

 

how I really would take the risk to talk to AKC organizational people and present the concerns

 

The AKC knows. They've heard the concerns. There have been popular documentaries made about the detrimental effects of conformation and puppy mills. There are books about it (The Dog Wars, among others). There are breed clubs dedicated to preserving working ability in their chosen breed. There are anti-AKC clubs.

 

The AKC just doesn't care.

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Serena, there are hundreds if not thousands of working breeders who are willing to sell to sport homes (on neuter agreement). Someone has been feeding you a lie.

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Serena,

You have noted that agility people need working people's working dogs to help them breed superior agility dogs. Many have told you that any breeding without stock sense as the main criterion (whether the criterion is agility or conformation makes no difference to science) over time dilutes the genetic makeup of our border collies.

 

Why should we care about helping you replenish your "agility line" dogs when you obviously don't care about preserving our stockdogs?

 

Go ruin your own dogs!

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You can get excellent, working line dogs I'm sure. I know I can and I've never even trialed. There are plenty of "herding washouts" to choose from.

 

Just a sidenote about the above comment, I was sent an e-mail a number of weeks back from a agility competitor, she said that she did not want a herding washout, wanted the best of the litter. Seems that to some a washout is a washout regardless of what purpose they washout in.

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But when I heard how she, a normal Pyrean Shepherd owner, selected her first border collie and the background story behind it, I was horrified...

Yet you refuse to "hear" what a number of people have been saying on this thread.

 

Have you made some sort of financial agreement with an agility breeder, Serena? If you talk a working line breeder into breeding with their agility dog, you get a portion of each puppy that is sold?

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Me personally, I'd want the working lines...I would love to have a pup from an outstanding working line and would never ever seek an outstanding sports line if this were possible. You bet I would! But the sad and awful thing for me is who in the world would want to give me their pup from an outstanding working line??? I'd be immediately rejected flat-out! Would a special upstanding sheepherding community person ever sell a pup to someone like me?

 

You might be surprised how easy it would be. And there may not be any sort of contract involved... People have different feelings about contracts and about the AKC.

 

More importantly, you don't necessarily need or even want a dog from just any working line, outstanding or not. I'd get some experience with different types of dogs that are out there - there are a wide variety and not all will be suitable for your purposes.

 

When you know what you want, you might find the perfect dog bred by a local breeder with a smaller operation. Big Names in this world are attached to incredibly gifted handlers, but lots of not-so-famous people also breed nice dogs.

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Serena,

A few points:

1. It sounds very much as if you want to have your cake and eat it too. There are certainly working breeders who will sell to you. Others won't. Some will sell with a contract that says you won't register with AKC.

 

2. Some (but not all) working breeders are anti-AKC, and for good reason. These people are not going to change their minds because someone who states that they understand the beauty, etc., of working stockdogs and that agility is equally beautiful wants to convince them to periodically infuse sport bred dogs with their working lines. These individuals are standing on principle and people who have a strong sense of ethics/morals are not going to change their principles just because someone with great passion for agility thinks they should.

 

3. You really need to understand that many of us see AKC as the force behind the ruination of many breeds. We don't want to have anything to do with AKC because we recognize that money talks and as a community we don't support AKC with our money. It's very simple. As someone else noted, the way to big corporations is through their pocketbooks. The only way you'll ever force AKC to do anything is if you can hurt them financially for not doing what you want. But that creates a conundrum for you because you pay the organization money to register your dog and compete in their events. Another example of trying to have your cake....

 

4. No one on this forum sees agility people as second-class citizens. As has been said ad nauseum is that the only way to preserve working-bred border collies in the face of assaults on their genetics from many quarters is to NOT get sucked into schemes where the population of working dogs is needlessly diluted genetically.

 

5. If you really, truly want to have a significant effect on AKC then you need to put your money where your mouth is and not support the organization. You need to bridge the differences between the desire to play with AKC and the desire to force AKC to do what you want it to do. Your time would be better spent convincing your friends and acquaintances in the sports venues to boycott AKC. This would have a much greater impact on effecting change within AKC than sending them monthly petitions that they can ignore. In other words, asking the working dog community to join in your plan to influence AKC is pointless. Most of us don't have anything to do with the AKC already, so we have no leverage with the organization. You and your friends who pay money to AKC on a regular basis are the ones who can actually influence them, and you do that by witholding that money. That is what AKC will understand.

 

I don't know how much more plainly it can be said.

 

I believe you are welcome here to post your thoughts, comments, and concerns. But when it comes to encouraging people to "play" with AKC (and that's essentially what you're doing by saying you want to build bridges and get working breeders to allow use of their dogs in the breeding programs of people involved with AKC), you're not likely to find much, if any, support. The place to seek support for taking on the AKC is among the people who pay their money to AKC.

 

J.

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.Silvia Trkman herself is someone I strongly disagree with, believe it or not-- for heaven's sake, she got a border collie because of its agility reputation and not because she truly loves and understands the breed. It's too long to explain here and we will veer off on a very bad tangent....But when I heard how she, a normal Pyrean Shepherd owner, selected her first border collie and the background story behind it, I was horrified...again it emphasizes my point that only top national-ranking agility champions, who keep very close binds with the sheepherding community, who are extremely responsible in studying, training and loving the Border Collie breed from the get-go, who regularly correspond and communicate with the top sheepherding experts, who are leaders in teaching and training agility dogs, who keep efforts to make their dog the most well balanced (knowing other disciplines besides just agility but multiple verbals, commands, service, obedience, etc.) should be allowed to breed and get working dog lines If anyone is missing just a tiny fraction of these components, they are COMPLETELY OUT, including Sylvia Trkman...

 

I've been resisting, but :huh::huh::huh:

 

Using this logic, why do you have a Border Collie? Did you get her because you loved the breed and wanted to preserve it's heritage? I'm not trying to pick on you but it seems like a huge double standard.

 

It's a fact that people get dogs that are best suited to their desires (sport, work, companion, whatever)

 

Can you name one top agility competetor that trains their dog in such a manner as you say? They don't because in order to be a top agility contendor, you pretty much eat/breathe/sleep the sport!

 

So just leave ALL the breeding to those who can eat/breathe/sleep/understand the working border collie. And yes there are absolutely working breeders who will sell to sport homes.

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Maralynn, the reason why I chose the border collie is because they are the mirror of the best of ourselves....the drive, the dedication, the unfailing courage, I love the border collie for its brilliance- the brilliance and work ethic yes even the workaholism-all of which I identify with, the tenacity, the never-give-up attitude no matter the odds (rain-sleet-snow-blazing heat, fatigue, fighting out the headachey sheep, and the beautiful precision of coralling the sheep, tireless, committed--- all those extremely challenging duties), the persistence of the border collie, just like I work so hard to be the best artist I could be...A border collie will lay its life down, it tries soooo hard. It has such a tremendous heart, this dog....and I cherish the breed for this reason first and foremost. The second very minor reason is that deep physical connection, they move as I do, we move as one, with grace... If you ever have the chance to look at our videos they show that same kinship. For ballet dancers, we use very similar motions. Skimming of the ground, the same conservation of speed for key moments...The same sway and weave and the lean, the tilting, and crossovers, the same fluidity. Eluane and I do not run like any other agility handler. This style was preserved, because not only was it the way I could do well in agility with my learning disability, it is for me an art form, of moving and excelling to the best of my abilities as a ballet dancer, both Eluane and I working out our "dance" partnership.

 

Maralynn, in a sense you are right in that many top agility contender eat/sleep/breathe the sport but! not quite. The instructor at the club (I do not know her personally, but have witnessed her and her students' interactions, I have seen her credentials, etc., I have also seen her participate in helping manage elements of the agility ring) does not and neither does my MACH handler friend. Their lives are dedicated to others far more than to themselves, my MACH friend has an altruistic heart but, he is not breeding, plus he's been scared away by the Boards, so he no longer goes to our Boards.... So therefore, indeed, possibly there may be no one who can match the criteria I have mentioned. Therefore if an agility person does not meet all of these criteria, they should never ever breed. It's exactly as you say, if there is not a single agility person who could do this, then yes, there will indeed should be no agility breeding.

 

Oh, forgot to say, Terrecar, thank you so much about our videos...I do so much appreciate you taking the time to view, and it means the world to us, and we still hope people can indeed see how agility can indeed have a softer grace as well...Just as I hope every single agility person will always remember to look at that beautiful gorgeous Sheepherding link from Amelia and remember what a tremendous life we owe to those champion working dog breeders.

 

 

Eluane does send her high-fives and puppy hugs to the majesty of the sheepherding dogs. I will go back and fix up some of my former posts...

 

Julie, a very kind person is trying to help me out on the people at AKC who have refused to listen or address her emails....so I'm still working on things on my end. You are definitely right on hitting the pocketbook super hard. but I also feel that strong shaming factors, working with HSUS publicity, can help change the policies of an organization as well. Also recognizing and appealing to the kind AKC'ers who do care, and who can mention something, who themselves might be strong enough to try making a change... I am actually going to also talk to my MACH handler friend in awhile as well. I found one small way I can help bring about the issue of going to working lines instead of sports agility lines and the dangers about agility breeding-- there are people who ask about where I got Eluane from and what a sweet girl she is, and how I wish AKC would do yadayadayadayada..... And I can tell all about my sad regrets as well, mentioning how I should have PM'd and asked board members their thoughts before I purchased my ABCA lineage'd Eluane that a pet breeder took advantage of. It's a long story with that. And it's important to stay on topic. So I will be busy working on the "sidelines". But please wish me a bit of luck. As you can tell, I'm not very tactful or wise in how I express my feelings and thoughts, but I am sincere and I do care, and hope people realize this. In spite of all the regrets, Eluane is still a very special, sweet dog and could I trade her in- no! not in a lifetime. And not until she passes to Rainbow Bridge, will I ever get another border collie pup. I hope Eluane lives a very, very long and happy life!

 

Ooops, Kelliepup, I will address your points soon, it's real important but I didn't read it in time and ugh, didn't get a chance to respond to critical things you wrote about! I will get back with what you wrote tomorrow....

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Just a sidenote about the above comment, I was sent an e-mail a number of weeks back from a agility competitor, she said that she did not want a herding washout, wanted the best of the litter. Seems that to some a washout is a washout regardless of what purpose they washout in.

 

I can't speak for the person who emailed you, but I can say that I most likely would not want to purchase a herding washout, either. If I want an older dog with a background independent of me, I'll go through rescue and give a home to a dog in need of a second chance (and I have done this multiple times now, and will do it again). If I am going to purchase from a breeder (which I may someday), I want to start the training myself with a baby puppy, so I can start off right away in the manner that the dog will be trained and handled throughout his or her life.

 

I wouldn't be so concerned about having the "best in the litter", but if I'm going to purchase, I am going to want to purchase a puppy.

 

Just one perspective from someone on the sport side. :D

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Just a sidenote about the above comment, I was sent an e-mail a number of weeks back from a agility competitor, she said that she did not want a herding washout, wanted the best of the litter. Seems that to some a washout is a washout regardless of what purpose they washout in.

Wait... Was she talking about a baby puppy? How on earth do you know if a puppy is a "herding washout" if it's age is told in weeks?

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...It's exactly as you say, if there is not a single agility person who could do this, then yes, there will indeed should be no agility breeding...

 

Am I hearing what I hope I'm hearing?

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I can't speak for the person who emailed you, but I can say that I most likely would not want to purchase a herding washout, either. :D

 

I spoke to someone recently about a 1 year old herding washout and the person wanted a crazy amount of money for the dog, a dog that the person said should not be worked on stock. Period.

 

I think that the pluses of a such a dog is that it probably has decent basic obedience and the trainer/ owner had an excellent understanding of the dog's temperment, trainability, bidability, health, genetics. The minuses were that this particular dog had never been in a house and had never been off the farm. ofcourse, the person had no idea if the dog had play/ toy drive, but I could have tested that in 5 minutes. To me, the biggie was the adaptability of a former farm dog to my suburban environment.

 

If the person was willing to give the dog to me for the price of a neuter, I would have taken the day off from work and gone to see it, and grabbed the dog if I liked it. To me, a dog like this is risky, but not as risky as a rescue with a totally unknown background. I'll take a calculated risk for the cost of a neuter surgery (or a $200-$250 rescue donation), but not for the crazy amount of money that the person wanted. Which is too bad, because I would have given the dog a great home, if we clicked.

 

I do think that one person's trash is anothers treasure. I would definately consider a young (9-18 month)herding washout for the cost of the spay/neuter.

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Truly? Well, thank doG for my herding washouts. They do very well in the fields that appeal to them and me. Kellie was too hard on stock, but she showed a lot of potential in SAR before I blew my knee, and Maverick, who is afraid of sheep, makes a nice little dance partner.

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Truly? Well, thank doG for my herding washouts.

 

Yes, truly. I say the same for my rescues - I thank God for them sincerely every day of my life. And for my one and only breeder purchase.

 

I think it's great that herding washouts have worked out perfectly for you. I don't think there is a thing wrong with purchasing a herding washout if that is one's preference.

 

But I can also understand why some (myself included) do not share that particular preference.

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To me, the biggie was the adaptability of a former farm dog to my suburban environment.

 

This is a very significant issue, and I am glad you considered it.

 

I have done it several times, with the help of long time competition obedience people. Some of them have been converting interesting farm dogs into suburban performance dogs for decades. If I had to rely on the new school of rally/agility only trainers, I might not have been successful. The breeders of the dogs and the people I bought them from (not always the same) were also helpful. Overall, it's not necessary easy, although some dogs are easier than others.

 

If you're lucky, you get a animal with an unique degree of mental toughness, intelligence and a great gun-ho attitude. Once you've experienced that, you'll never look back.

 

I think your price considerations were certainly reasonable, although I will be more generous with someone whose breeding program I understand and want to support. It can be hard to make a living farming sheep and training dogs.

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