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I'd like to add one more question to that - would a dog that once worked sheep and gave it's full heart and soul to that ever be a "normal" pet? Maybe it would be kinder for these dogs to adopt them to homes where they wouldn't have to look at sheep and not be able to work, and be just pets with some type of pet work like sports, tricks and such. Or would it cause just the opposite, more heartache?

Typically a retired sheepdog is not a good fit for sports - either the injury, the previous training or the instincts. Others may have different experiences. That said, I have successfully trained retired sheepdogs to be tracking dogs for SaR.

 

I have recently moved back to the family farm and I am rethinking my policy of being the go-to person when a home is needed for a dog that can't work any more. Most of them stay in the homes they lived in while working as they are part of that family. That sometimes does not work as new dogs come into it, etc. Prior to my moving back they were shipped to me and lived with me on my rural (but not sheepfarm) property. In fact, you would have had to drive plenty of miles to find a sheep where I lived (prairies).

 

I never had a really sad one until I cam back home. No doubt that is part of it - so close and yet so far.

 

I find retired working dogs make as good a pet as any other dog - it's all about personality and character - as long as they are with people who understand the quirks that working dogs develop over time (hyper altertness, biddability does NOT equal obedience, a certain sort of attention that might seem aggressive with moving things, including people, etc.)

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Coffee and toast? Well, there you go. Don't all shepherds have coffee (or spot of tea) and toast before bundling up for morning chores? There's your answer ;) . She will take the pasture path soon.

 

Josie has me trained to have my coffee with her in the kitchen, leaning against the counter as she eats her breakfast. She wags her tail, puts her head down, and digs into the kibble. Otherwise, she follows me around the house or to the home-office, eating only when she is hungry enough. I think she's afraid of missing-out on something.

 

It's a well known pre-instinct screening test :) -- Best wishes, TEC

heh - thanks :)

 

"Grampy" is an old stockman with a real talent for sizing up a dog. He claims that a dog that shares a bit of your breakfast - even a crumb and lap - works better for you :) He says that Molly is *my* dog and will only give a crap about sheep if I do. I am choosing to go with this wisdom :)

 

"She's a good little collie dog," he says. They're all "collie dogs" to him :)

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I will have to make one thing clear that I did not - both of my work dogs are *not* happy to be left and know I'm working the other. They are both happy however to be hanging around us when no other dog is working. My mistake for not explaining properly.

That makes sense.

 

There are also two working dogs that live here at the moment. My mother still likes to tend her own little flock of hair sheep. So maybe that's it.

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I will have to make one thing clear that I did not - both of my work dogs are *not* happy to be left and know I'm working the other. They are both happy however to be hanging around us when no other dog is working. My mistake for not explaining properly.

 

That's not unique to working dogs. All mine will complain loudly if they think they are missing out on something unless I put them in another part of the house where they can't see what is going on.

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Typically a retired sheepdog is not a good fit for sports - either the injury, the previous training or the instincts. Others may have different experiences.

I absolutely disagree with what you say. My experience and that of many others is very different.

 

Rescues here are full of dogs that are no longer needed to work for a variety of reasons and injury is one of the less frequent. Many of those are mopped up by the sport world and go on to have a successful competitive life.

 

Whilst working instinct can help in training for certain sports the success of so many sport bred dog rather suggests that it isn't essential. A working bred dog that doesn't turn out to have what it takes can be a very good fit in the sport world.

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Yesterday the puppies went out to meet the sheep and while Molly seemed interested, she was not fixated. Two puppies had to be collected and removed with some (gentle) force. Two started eating poop and playing with leaves, one ran yelping to someone's legs when a ewe turned quickly on him and one other simply didn't go into the pasture - he waited by the fence post.

 

Where did yours fall? ;)

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"Grampy" is an old stockman with a real talent for sizing up a dog. He claims that a dog that shares a bit of your breakfast - even a crumb and lap - works better for you :)

 

I suspect that dogs working better for people who shares a crumb and a lap do so more because "Grampy" and others like him have the kids of relationships with their dogs that lead them to want to share their breakfasts, rather than the crumbs and laps themselves. :DB)

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That's not unique to working dogs. All mine will complain loudly if they think they are missing out on something unless I put them in another part of the house where they can't see what is going on.

I've had this problem with my two when Freya just arrived (Kali being the resident dog), when I would do tricks, obedience and frisbee/fetch with them. The other couldn't wait for her turn. A good "go to your mat" and "settle" helped a lot. I'd work with the one I'm teaching and occasionally toss a treat to the one waiting. After a while they learned their turn will come (or won't) and all is well now, they know not to interfere.

But that's easy stuff I guess, I've never had dogs do real farm work or such where their whole souls and bodies wanted to be right there with the sheep.

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@mum24dogs

 

Yes, I thought others might have different experiences. All of my retired bcd came from this farm and dogs do not get retired except for very good reason... The sort that tends to rule out many things.

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@Gentle Lake

 

She was somewhere between needing to be carried off and eating poop.

 

Haha... that should not make me happy but it does :)

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I owned a dog I had to retire quite young as a result of a health problem. He was terribly unhappy that he couldn't work anymore. If he saw me putting on my boots and work cloths but I did not take him with me, he would go nuts in the house, break teeth and hurt himself trying to get out. If we were just hanging out, playing ball or going on a walk he was fine. I made the very hard decision to place him in a pet home. He is spoiled, travels the country with his new owner (who is also retired) and competes in dock diving competitions. It broke my heart to let my dog go, but it was definitely the right choice. Retired working dogs can make wonderful pets. Think about it. This was a well manner, fully trained dog with no vices. What more could you want in a pet?

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I owned a dog I had to retire quite young as a result of a health problem. He was terribly unhappy that he couldn't work anymore. If he saw me putting on my boots and work cloths but I did not take him with me, he would go nuts in the house, break teeth and hurt himself trying to get out. If we were just hanging out, playing ball or going on a walk he was fine. I made the very hard decision to place him in a pet home. He is spoiled, travels the country with his new owner (who is also retired) and competes in dock diving competitions. It broke my heart to let my dog go, but it was definitely the right choice. Retired working dogs can make wonderful pets. Think about it. This was a well manner, fully trained dog with no vices. What more could you want in a pet?

Good for you for making the right choice for the dog. So many people get on this "forever home" high horse when something like what happened with your dog happens.

 

I've seen people keep dogs that were miserable in their circumstances, and even a few that the people didn't even like. How must it feel to be a dog and know - how could they not - that their owner doesn't even like them? But no, they get on their high-horse about never "dumping a dog."

 

What you did was hard, but right for the dog. Do you get pictures?

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@Liz

 

Yeah, I think I was supposed to be the "pet home". Only I moved back home. My experience with them when they were sent away from the farm is quite different from how it is now that I am here and not quite in the midst, but definitely on it.

 

Depends a lot on why the dog was retired as to whether they can do sports. We try hard to use the dogs in less demanding roles - such as hill gatherers or boat dogs - sometimes just letting them go along and keep the handler company or do some gate helping. But sometimes they are retired because they begin to kill sheep or become otherwise aggressive, or they become unbiddable or develop other strange personality quirks that make them unsuitable for your everyday pet owner.

 

I was the one who got the dogs like you describe. The ones who were too unhappy around the sheep but were fine once removed from the environment. Some were not suitable for someone who did not have a fair bit of dog experience but the ones who were in good health and injury free and did not have any really weird quirks, I tended to find sport or service homes for.

 

I have one female here now, a 6 year old unsuitable for breeding but still intact, who was retired due to a hearing problem but who is otherwise pretty much perfect. I will need to find a home for her because she does miss the sheep and is not thriving. Dogs who live with me must either thrive or move along to a place where they will. I am not so attached to any creature, including my children, that it trumps their well being.

 

Which sort of explains my somewhat sentimental and anxious worry that my puppy would fall in love with sheep. Maybe not a possibility but it would have meant she had to move along and I am rather attached to the little bugger.

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The thing is, most sports homes are dog experienced. I'm not saying a dog with major issues should move to a sports home - I think the people who know the dog make that decision and it depends on the dog and the home- but all kinds of dogs with issues run agility.

 

Dogs who are animal aggressive - even dog aggressive - run agility just fine with proper training on focus and attention. Since there's only one dog on the course at the time it works out okay. One of my agility dogs can NOT be touched by strangers and would honestly bite a person if cornered. She's gained confidence through agility, made it through being measured, but still absolutely is not a dog who can be pet by anyone walking down the street and has to be muzzled at the vet. The other one is stone deaf. With a heart condition. And luxating patellas. I know three legged dogs who run agility with great joy and success on a small, local level.

 

I'm not a high level competitor, but neither are most sports homes.

 

Again, not disagreeing with you - you know the dogs, you make the decisions that are right for them, of that I have no doubt.

 

It's just that sports don't require perfectly sound dogs. Not for someone who wants to take classes and trial once in a while and maybe get a title or two.

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Read the latest edition of "Clean Run" the agility fan mag: Oy Vey!! Ugg. . .I run my pups in agility and love it. But oh my goodness they don't get it at ALL!

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I probably shouldn't have used "six hours" as a way of saying what I really meant as just "an above average amount of exercise and stimulation". I didn't think of it being perceived as literal. And I know they don't work every day, but there's a different aura in a rural setting to a suburban environment with much less free space. Even I find it less boring if I have space and still nothing to do. Being enclosed isn't fun for most of us regardless, let alone a dog who doesn't have the capability to sit down and read a book, yet is still quite intelligent in a lot of cases.

 

 

You sound like a very nice person so I don't want to sound too brusque or mean-spirited, but since you have asked, here are my thoughts on the matter. The very nature of a border collie IS a dog that evolved in work, was bred for work, developed for work and exists for work, so of course it requires an "above average amount of exercise and stimulation." That's who the border collie is.

 

After all, one wouldn't get a Jack Russell terrier and then expect it to lay around the house all day. One would not buy a Thoroughbred horse and expect it to live in a box stall and come out plodding like a pony. So, why would people want a dog that's not typical for its breed? It's like saying, "I want a chocolate sundae but hold the ice cream." :ph34r:

 

The reason this forum is so down on conformation breeders, however, is that conformation breeding omits, overlooks and neglects working ability. There are some conformation breeders who have freely admitted to deliberately building their kennels on dogs with minimal working drive, because lack of working ability meant they were less distractable in the show ring than a working-bred border collie.

 

In other words, they want and prefer a pretty, watered down border collie. :wacko: And this forum is fundamentally against watering down, diluting and ultimately ruining the working ability in the border collie. Believe me, I've seen conformation bred dogs tried on sheep and they are just ... sad. They sniff poop, they trot around, they perhaps make a little dash at the sheep before wandering off again. Sometimes they can be obedience-trained to move dog-broke, dead gentle sheep around an AKC trial arena, but they aren't working dogs.

 

And if once you have ever seen a dog bolt from its handler's feet and fly, fly, fly out across the fields with all the joy a dog's heart can hold, three hundred years of breeding and evolution hurtling at full stride, and then the dog comes round behind his sheep and settles there, moving in with that matchless purpose and down they come, 300, 400, 600 yards down the field straight to the handler's feet ... once you've seen that? Anything less just breaks your heart.

 

It's like watching Mozart try to play piano without any fingers. It's like watching someone break a Stradivarius violin across their knee. It's like watching Monet or Picasso or Georgia O'Keefe go blind.

 

Border collies are meant to be border collies. Even if they never see a sheep, even if their only "job" is to run with the kids or play frisbee or go jogging with their humans or take weekend walks on local trails ... that DNA is still there. That magic is still in their bones. To breed for something less, for something that "looks like" but lacks the fundamental things that separate the border collie from the golden retrievers and Lhasa Apsos of the world is just ... wrong.

 

Those breeders who want to create less should stick to lesser, other breeds. And that's all I'm gonna say about that. :)

Respectfully,

 

Gloria

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Gloria well said, but I would question the use of "pretty" in regards to show dogs. I find most of what is wanted in the show ring to be 'clunky and not pretty to look at.

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You've done it again, Gloria, with masterful artistry to boot. Your descriptions brought tears to my eyes.

 

I think Gloria's post should be considered for addition to the Must Read section.

 

p.s. I hope the OP is still around to see this. If not, someone, somewhere, some other time certainly will. And I can't imagine how they wouldn't be changed by it.

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I agree. Should be pinned and required reading.

 

You've done it again, Gloria, with masterful artistry to boot. Your descriptions brought tears to my eyes.

 

I think Gloria's post should be considered for addition to the Must Read section.

 

p.s. I hope the OP is still around to see this. If not someone, somewhere some other time certainly will. And I can't imagine how they wouldn't be changed by it..

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