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Anti merle prejudice

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Dear Aspiring Sheepdoggers,

 

Mr/Ms Smalahundur writes:

 

"There is a consensus here on the boards that if you don´t select for stock work capacity it will deteriorate.

Why would this not be true for stamina/endurance?

Why are people getting so cagey over these questions?"

 

With respect: because stamina/endurance isn't an issue. I have trailed sheep 15 hours over Montana's Bitterroot Mountains and my horse was tireder than I was and I was much tireder than the sheepdogs. At home, eastern farm work, the only time I've had to swap out dogs for stamina was for high temperatures, deep snow or work stress (worming hundreds of sheep through chutes will take it out of a keen young dog) . I imagine that New Zealand mustering or fall gathering a Scottish hill would test a dog's stamina but, in the ordinary experience of a US farmer trialist, the hardest work the dogs do is a half hour trial with an International shed.

 

Donald McCaig

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With all due respect mr McCaig, I am not a US farmer/trialist.

It might not be an issue for you, but it is for me, and actually all Icelandic farmers who use dogs.

I know what they have to endure, and some don´t really cut it, not because of getting too tired, but usually sore feet. Besides in your own examples you had to swap out dogs for working under difficult circumstances (deep snow, work stress).

 

To be perfectly clear, I don´t say trial dogs are not good enough in this department at the moment. They seem generally to keep up fine.

I just think it is a factor that is not considered in breeding very much, and trials (and you actually affirm that) are not a test of this aspect at all.

Saying to farmers "well you don´t need it anyway" is not really a strong argument...

 

On an unrelated note, though I appreciate the attempt at politeness, using mr or ms (I am male by the way, as you can see at the left, under Gláma´s picture) in front of my forum handle looks a bit silly, as it is not, as you might have guessed, my name. It means stockdog (literally "gathering dog") in Icelandic. I seem to remember having pointed this out to you before.

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what does breeding Jake have to do with anything? All dogs have weaknesses, identifying them selecting in a fashion to complement the strengths while trying to improve on the weakness is what selection is all about.

Exactly. And it's what even the, gasp!, trialers, a group into which you also fall, have been saying throughout this discussion. And still you persist in seeming to argue that trialing is a poor test/selection factor for breeding. Except when it's your dogs, apparently. And except on those occasions, apparently only at cattle trials you attend, where spectators are capable of recognizing good work even in runs that don't place. The impression one gets from your posts is that even though you trial and you breed dogs with holes because you are able to recognize those holes and make breeding choices from a desire to improve the next generation as a farmer, apparently folks who trial (or who don't merit the label real farmer) aren't capable of doing the exact same things. It's mind boggling.

 

J.

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For those who don't trial, do you think it is possible to consistently place well at a wide range in trials by only keeping & working a few training sheep at home?

 

How many head of livestock must be kept to be sufficient for selecting breeding dogs for farm work?

 

How many head of stock (adults being bred) is sufficient for you to consider trial dogs also farm dogs (30, 50, 75, 100, 500, 1000)?

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For those who don't trial, do you think it is possible to consistently place well at a wide range in trials by only working a few training sheep at home?

 

How many head of livestock is sufficient to be considered adequate for selecting breeding dogs for farm work?

 

How many head of stock is sufficient for you to consider trial dogs also farm dogs (30, 50, 75, 100, 500, 1000)?

 

 

Ha! Tables turned, um, I don't really have answers for most of that - the same way you may not have answers for the counterpart queries. But you make an interesting cut into the discussion (turning tides always do that) from which a thinking person could come away with:

 

Yeah, there really is no perfect solution. Maybe the "most perfect" solution is the one that exists in this bi-partisan community: challenging one another so the *discussion* is engaged. I don;t know about anyone else, but I have never read one of these threads and not had my understanding or appreciation altered, however minutely.

 

And the dogs will go on...

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Debbie, I don't know much about cattledog trials, but one thing I have been struck by over the five years or so where I've had some collateral involvement is that it seems to be the philosophy to make them fairly easy, so that middling dogs will do well and things will go smoothly and handlers will be happy. My impression is that it's one of the things that led to the formation of NCA and the split with USBCHA. Were there not finals where the organizers dispensed with the drive because they said the cows were not drive-able, and finals where the organizers worked the cows extensively ahead of the trial to make sure they were dog broke enough? You can't test ability to drive in a trial where there is no drive. You can't test ability to work un-dogbroke steers if you don't use un-dogbroke steers. I could be wrong, but I was very much struck by this attitude, because it's so contrary to to the attitude in sheepdog trialing, where people are generally looking to make the trial more difficult, rather than less.

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What it comes down to is many make distinctions between trial dog and farm dogs and I want to know at what point do trial dogs become farm dogs that also trial. I would think it has to do with the work and the difficulty of the work would be dependent upon the head of livestock being managed (and how they are managed).

 

 

My dogs trial and manage the 75-80 ewes we are breeding this year. Are my dogs trial dogs, farm dogs that also trial, hobby farm dogs that also trial, etc. Is there enough work managing 75-80 breeding ewes for that to be considered farm work?

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What it comes down to is many make distinctions between trial dog and farm dogs and I want to know at what point do trial dogs become farm dogs that also trial. I would think it has to do with the work and the difficulty of the work would be dependent upon the head of livestock being managed (and how they are managed).

 

 

My dogs trial and manage the 75-80 ewes we are breeding this year. Are my dogs trial dogs, farm dogs that also trial, hobby farm dogs that also trial, etc. Is there enough work managing 75-80 breeding ewes for that to be considered farm work?

Here in Iceland that question is actually an easy one; there is no such distinction (yet?).

Everyone who trials occasionaly (and because trials are held rather seldom no one trials often) is a farmer. There might be a couple of exceptions, but no more than say one in fifty or hundred.

So (almost) every dog you see at trials is a farm dog that also trials.

 

For me the questions raised here are still relevant because there are imported stockdogs to this country now and again and those imported dogs (usually very good trained open level dogs) are more often than not intensely used in breeding. Last example was Karven Taff (isds 298804) came in, won the nationals, and I sure hope he is good stud material because he impregnated about every other bc bitch in the country....

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Boy Eileen, that's a whole big can of worms there. Would be a great thing to get together and talk about face to face while working dogs. I hate the thought of taking drives out among other things.

 

 

There is a lot more to it all then meets the eye when you really get to dig into and get to understand why certain things have been requested.

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You're right, it IS a big can of worms, and I hesitated before writing it. Might be better just to say that, as a general principle, trials are a good test of real working ability only to the extent that they set tasks that require real working ability to accomplish.

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If I had to pick a single thing that I would pinpoint as lacking in trial dogs, if such a thing actually exists, is independence. No trial person wants a really independent dog and most farmers need one and some farmers need a *really* independent dog. Stamina would not be high on my list except in the big picture way.

 

What evidence do you have for this claim (I mean this at face value, not as an attack--I'm honestly interested in how you developed this perspective)? As you've noted many times, you do not work your own dogs on sheep and your family does not think trials are worth spending time on, so I don't really get where the idea that "no trial person wants a really independent dog" comes from. In my experience, this is not accurate of people who trial their dogs except perhaps at the lower levels of experience. ETA: I think "independence" might not be what the farmer wants when the dog decides to take the sheep over the hill....(ETA again: I see Mark already said virtually the same thing)

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^^Agreed Robin. I don't know how many times I've explained my training philosophy to others in terms of wanting an independent thinker who will do the right thing even if I'm nowhere in sight/sound. It astounds me when people make pronouncements about things with which they have no real experience.

 

J.

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Were there not finals where the organizers dispensed with the drive because they said the cows were not drive-able, and finals where the organizers worked the cows extensively ahead of the trial to make sure they were dog broke enough?

ETA: All below is in reference to the USBCHA National Cattledog Finals.

 

 

There was one finals (2011) that on the first day of competition they made a drive and then the cross drive as more of a cross-drive-fetch into a set of panels on the fence as opposed to a true cross drive and turn out in the open to prevent the cattle from running off on the dogs and returning to the set out area. The field was small and they wanted to reduce the number of cattle that didn't get down to the at hand obstacles. The second run was a honest cross-drive with a turn out in the open. The cattle for the finals are rerun 5-6 times, the way the first day go really effects how the cattle handle the rest of the week and how even the draw is for the later runs. Many times by the final day they are pretty darn course broke.

 

I believe that this year was the least that the cattle were ever worked before the finals, last year (2013) they were used for a 2 day trial before the finals and the year before that (2012) they had been worked specifically for the finals about 4-5 times as I recall. The first day we went to turn them they were pretty rank, was two herds that had not been put together yet and many were more then happy to run right through dogs and people alike, that was a pretty tough year. In 2011 we used Gary's cattle, we made a couple of trips down to Gary's to condition the cattle I think 2011 they were the most broke but even then some felt that they were not being broke enough before the finals. I don't know what they were like the years before that when they the finals was in Nebraska.

 

2011 and 2012 the cattle had been put through obstacles and run through a trailer before the finals. 2013 they were put through a 2 day trial so handled through obstacles by a dog, 2014 no obstacles, no trailer load except when loaded as a group to be transported. Anyway, I feel that this year the cattle were the freshest and some still showed some curiosity toward the dogs. We also for the first time that I've seen flipped the course, every other year we always had a right hand drive at the finals for every round. This year we changed it from one run to another making it a left hand drive on one day of qualifying.

 

This was also the first year where there were no complete runs in the open finals on Sunday. I believe there were only 25 trailer loads during the entire 4 days of competition, course was tough based on how fresh the cattle were and even on Sunday they were still pretty fresh from a obstacle stand point.

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Wasn't it during the committee meetings for 2012 that they tried to formally take out the drive which was clearly vetoed and soon after the split off occurred?

 

 

eta: Wayne just got home and said that this past finals, 2014 was the toughest and the best as far as testing dogs.

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Good question, about the independence thing.

 

What evidence do you have for this claim (I mean this at face value, not as an attack--I'm honestly interested in how you developed this perspective)?

 

Evidence? None I can enter into the record, I am afraid.

 

Since it is an important distinction in this case, I did not intend to make a claim but rather express an opinion. I will be more clear in the future and instead of relying on telepathy, I will add the standard "imo".

 

Best I can offer to give weight to my opinion, is that I have considerable peripheral experience with trials (attending, being related to/knowing people who trial, following the trial world by way of reading and discussing with other interested/involved people), have some interest in breeding and have spent most of my life involved with working dogs. I will inherit a share of a large working farm where dogs are important to the operation and I am currently in the mode of "learning the business" and breeding is one of the areas I will be very involved. I have been engaging in discussions all over the place and, trust me, you are not the first person I have annoyed :)

 

Additionally, there are several younger members of the family who would like very much to trial and I would like to help make that happen for them. To do that, I need to make a good case for it. So I am expanding my understanding by participating in discussions and putting forth ideas and learning from the responses.

 

 

As you've noted many times, you do not work your own dogs on sheep and your family does not think trials are worth spending time on, so I don't really get where the idea that "no trial person wants a really independent dog" comes from.

 

The suggestion is that I don't trial a dog or handle the dogs on stock ergo I am lacking in knowledge about those matters. That would be a mistake. And one you seem much too intelligent to actually make except from pique.

 

 

In my experience, this is not accurate of people who trial their dogs except perhaps at the lower levels of experience. ETA: I think "independence" might not be what the farmer wants when the dog decides to take the sheep over the hill....(ETA again: I see Mark already said virtually the same thing)

 

 

Okay. This makes sense. We have not defined independence to a standard and therefore cannot argue about it because we are likely arguing separate ideas.

 

 

To me, independence means that a dog is biddable but may not be obedient. It will bring the sheep, but may make a field decision that either contradicts a command you have given or one you would be likely to give (goes against training), because he has decided it was a bad command and will cause him to fail at the task. In other words, a dog that does your bidding, but does not always follow the guidance you offer to get the bidding done. One that will outright disobey you under those circumstances.

 

I do not mean a dog that will go chasing butterflies instead of get the sheep or one that defies your commands when not in the midst of doing a job that could be considered to have arisen his natural instincts.

 

I have seen very very good stock people have to really *insist* their dog do a thing - as in give the command a few times and then give it in the "boss voice" way - because the dog was intent that it was a wrong thing and was not going to do it. You'd think that would bother them, but it does not seem to. Most of them seem to let the dog have its way most of the time.

 

You can do that on a farm. You can't at a trial.

 

That is what I meant.

 

I have never met an old timer, and I have met a lot being one myself, who did not have a story about the time his dog saved his ass (or his sheep or whatever) BECAUSE he did not listen. They tell those stories with the best smiles.

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^^Agreed Robin. I don't know how many times I've explained my training philosophy to others in terms of wanting an independent thinker who will do the right thing even if I'm nowhere in sight/sound. It astounds me when people make pronouncements about things with which they have no real experience.

 

J.

 

I am just going to assume, Julie, that you refer to me. In future, I would be grateful if you could address me directly.

 

"Real" experience is a many layered thing. I hear pronouncements all the time from all sorts of people, yourself included, about things which they admittedly have no "real" experience.

 

We are all entitled to opinions and we are all entitled to ignore those we find distasteful. The need to belittle the people who have differing opinions is, frankly, not something I am overly interested in being the target of, so I wish you would stop, please.

 

Maybe we could just sneer at each other as we pass in the hall instead?

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The suggestion is that I don't trial a dog or handle the dogs on stock ergo I am lacking in knowledge about those matters. That would be a mistake. And one you seem much too intelligent to actually make except from pique.

 

.....

You can do that on a farm. You can't at a trial.

 

That is what I meant.

 

Well, what you have to say about what you can't do at a trial suggests that you do lack knowledge of these matters.

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To me, independence means that a dog is biddable but may not be obedient. It will bring the sheep, but may make a field decision that either contradicts a command you have given or one you would be likely to give (goes against training), because he has decided it was a bad command and will cause him to fail at the task. In other words, a dog that does your bidding, but does not always follow the guidance you offer to get the bidding done. One that will outright disobey you under those circumstances.

 

And you assume that trial dogs don't share this attribute with farm dogs? On what basis?

 

I have seen very very good stock people have to really *insist* their dog do a thing - as in give the command a few times and then give it in the "boss voice" way - because the dog was intent that it was a wrong thing and was not going to do it. You'd think that would bother them, but it does not seem to. Most of them seem to let the dog have its way most of the time.

 

You can do that on a farm. You can't at a trial.

 

Why can't you do that at a trial? I do it all the time. It's called trusting one's dog to be right. Not a fringe concept, even in the trialing world. Do you really think that all trial dogs are blindly obedient? Or that the (not real?) stockmen and -women at trials don't ever have to insist that their dog be obedient, even to the point of using the "voice of doom"?

 

J.

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I am just going to assume, Julie, that you refer to me. In future, I would be grateful if you could address me directly.

 

I was addressing Robin, agreeing with her comments. My comment about talking to people about training philosophy was directed at anyone reading this thread. Right now, I am addressing you specifically, which is why I am quoting you.

 

 

"Real" experience is a many layered thing. I hear pronouncements all the time from all sorts of people, yourself included, about things which they admittedly have no "real" experience.

 

I suppose this is a stab at my apparent (at least in your considered opinion) lack of real farming experience, because actually raising stock is somehow less real than being part of a family who raises stock, even if one admits that one has had no real hands-on experience in that regard, or at least not until very recently? I guess it's okay for you to repeatedly imply that anyone who raises stock on a smaller scale than your family somehow isn't entitled to an opinion about farming, or the distinction between farm and trial dogs, but your opinion on such matters carries so much more weight by virtue of your genetic relationship to people who farm. Really?

 

We are all entitled to opinions and we are all entitled to ignore those we find distasteful. The need to belittle the people who have differing opinions is, frankly, not something I am overly interested in being the target of, so I wish you would stop, please.

 

Maybe we could just sneer at each other as we pass in the hall instead?

Sure, because you have done no belittling yourself here, in all your perfection as a farmer on a grand scale. Sure, I will no longer address you directly because honestly I find your hubris just as distasteful as you apparently find my comments in response to your own. If you think it's okay to lecture the rest of us from your position of superiority as the family member of a group of folks who are real farmers, who am I to contradict you?

 

You win.

 

J.

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CMP, on 12 Nov 2014 - 10:38, said:snapback.png

If I had to pick a single thing that I would pinpoint as lacking in trial dogs, if such a thing actually exists, is independence. No trial person wants a really independent dog and most farmers need one and some farmers need a *really* independent dog. Stamina would not be high on my list except in the big picture way.

Pippin's person - What evidence do you have for this claim (I mean this at face value, not as an attack--I'm honestly interested in how you developed this perspective)? As you've noted many times, you do not work your own dogs on sheep and your family does not think trials are worth spending time on, so I don't really get where the idea that "no trial person wants a really independent dog" comes from. In my experience, this is not accurate of people who trial their dogs except perhaps at the lower levels of experience. ETA: I think "independence" might not be what the farmer wants when the dog decides to take the sheep over the hill....(ETA again: I see Mark already said virtually the same thing) (my emphasis - TEC)

TEC - Independent (dogs with high initiative) and overly-command driven dogs form a spectrum, the extremes on the ends. CMP explained herself well in subsequent posts. IME the type dog chiefly trial handlers want and get are often two things, and same goes for those who primarily farm. I agree with CMP that many handlers who primarily trial are looking for dogs with ability to take numerous rapid fire commands, along with temperaments to take that kind of pressure. Farm work is often more relaxed in the way dogs are guided; fewer commands from handlers who may have only a vague notion of competitive handling styles. Initiative/independence and good instincts are high in priority on the farm/ranch. A dog taking stock "over the hill" is not extreme independence, but lack of fetching instinct. That dog may just enjoy driving, never having been trained an emergency "get around" command -- IMO essential to every handler's tool kit.

I have already explained my background.

________________________________

 

CMP, on 12 Nov 2014 - 18:06, said:snapback.png

To me, independence means that a dog is biddable but may not be obedient. It will bring the sheep, but may make a field decision that either contradicts a command you have given or one you would be likely to give (goes against training), because he has decided it was a bad command and will cause him to fail at the task. In other words, a dog that does your bidding, but does not always follow the guidance you offer to get the bidding done. One that will outright disobey you under those circumstances.

Juliepoudrier - And you assume that trial dogs don't share this attribute with farm dogs? On what basis?

TEC - Because CMP has observed trials (if I recall correctly) and knows that in the large scheme of things, strong-willed highly independent dogs, in general, will not show precision necessary to win trials. Seems clear, but will let CMP answer for herself.

CMP, on 12 Nov 2014 - 18:06, said:snapback.png

I have seen very very good stock people have to really *insist* their dog do a thing - as in give the command a few times and then give it in the "boss voice" way - because the dog was intent that it was a wrong thing and was not going to do it. You'd think that would bother them, but it does not seem to. Most of them seem to let the dog have its way most of the time.

 

You can do that on a farm. You can't at a trial.

JP - Why can't you do that at a trial? I do it all the time. It's called trusting one's dog to be right. Not a fringe concept, even in the trialing world. Do you really think that all trial dogs are blindly obedient? Or that the (not real?) stockmen and -women at trials don't ever have to insist that their dog be obedient, even to the point of using the "voice of doom"?

TEC - I read CMP's statement about, "You can't at a trial", to mean you cannot "let the dogs have its way most of the time." (my emphasis). Sounds reasonable to me. The dog's way is often the correct way on the farm, unless it has to be over-ridden with a big voice.

______________________________________

TEC - I do not get hen-pecking. Nobody deserves it. CMP is a valued member of this group. Important parts of her background and experiences few of us can match. CMP deserves respect. I saw confrontation and belittling prior to the point CMP righteously/assertively defended herself in # 294, above. This lady has a unique perspective, and members would do well to open their minds and learn. Disagreement need not go to abrupt put-down. A strong counter-argument sticks with the issues, and does not need to assail the opponent him/herself. IMO the independence matter has not been discussed on this page in the manner to which this group is capable. -- Thank you, TEC

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And you assume that trial dogs don't share this attribute with farm dogs? On what basis?

 

 

 

Why can't you do that at a trial? I do it all the time. It's called trusting one's dog to be right. Not a fringe concept, even in the trialing world. Do you really think that all trial dogs are blindly obedient? Or that the (not real?) stockmen and -women at trials don't ever have to insist that their dog be obedient, even to the point of using the "voice of doom"?

 

J.

Say in a trial you send your dog out to the right but it crosses over to he left because it really does know better then you, do you not lose points at a trial?

 

If it repeatedly ignores you and crosses over do you not risk disqualification?

 

Andy Nickless addresses the point in " Farm dog vs Trial dog". Google should find it as I can't post a link.

Edited by mum24dog

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Dear Aspiring Sheepdoggers,

 

There are many reasons a dog crosses over on his trial outrun: viz; dog gets lost/loses sight of the sheep, believes the sheep are nearer than they are, doesn't like facing sheep, senses the sheep pressure to the let out; but right off I can't think of a circumstance where such a dog might be right. The handler will know the course and if it's a complex course or a very important trial likely will have walked it.

 

I've never run at a trial where I didn't know the hidden fence, the haha, the dangerous bank, the sheep pressures before I sent my dog.

 

Once the dog has reached the sheep it may very well read circumstances better than I can but not before.

 

Donald McCaig

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