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Dear Doggers,

I was talking with my friend, Dr. Mike Neary, veteran sheepdogger, shepherd and extension sheep specialist at Purdue University. Years ago, when it became clear that most novice sheepdoggers were coming from AKC activities, especially agility, we’d worried these folk might bring that culture into ours. We worried that our democratic, long apprenticeship, demanding, idiosyncratic culture might be altered by these immigrants.

Didn’t happen. Except “”Herding.’ We lost that one, Mike,” I said.
Mike replied, “Yeah, and it makes me crazy.”

“Hirde” in old english is “shepherd” or “keeper”. In the UK, for centuries a “herd” has meant just that.

“Herd” is a noun describing a human occupation. To say, “I want to herd” would be like saying, “I want to dentist” and a “herding” dog would be a “dentisting” dog - whatever that’d be.

For Mike, I and other traditionalists sheepdogs were good “gatherers” or “drovers” or “bidable” or “clappy” or . . . Work we did with them was sheepwork or cattle work or stockwork.

“Herding” dogs is an AKC showdog misnomer - adopted by rich people with no interest in livestock to delineate a class of showdog breeds that once had some relationship, however dim or vague, with livestock.

Alas, when novices came from The Dog Fancy, they brought that ugly misnomer with them. Happily, they also brought vigor, courtesy, kindliness and willingness to do the thankless tasks too.

By comparison, “Herding” wasn’t that big a loss but it’s worth mentioning.

Donald

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I just hate the word "herding" because it does, to me, do note nothing more meaningful than any other dog-related hobby. My friend, owner of a different breed, whom I went to lessons woth for several years, was always fond of "going herding". I'd grit my teeth and keep my mouth shut.

 

So many wonderful people have "come over" from AKC roots and have "seen the light", or really learned and understood working dogs, and hardly a one I know would have anything to do with anything AKC any more.

 

Some will never really understand.

 

Thanks for bringing up one of my pet peeves. It's minor but, to me, reflective of changing times and perspectives.

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I also tend to twitch when people say they want to "do herding" with their dogs. Like Sue I often don't say much, but when sometimes I'll mention that ACK "herding" is nothing like the real work.

 

Thanks for the etymology lesson. This word nerd loves things like this. . . .

 

. . . and is glad they haven't managed to take the work from us, even though they've bastardized the descriptor for it as well as their version of the work. The miscalling is ironically appropriate.

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Donald

I sympathize with you, but herding has meant "working with livestock" for as long as I have been alive (and probably a lot longer) See : herding. Language is not ours; it belongs to the community who use it. I also cringe when people talk about "the sport of herding" and the like, but neither you nor I control the English language.

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John, I think the point of contention is that in the AKC world, herding has stopped meaning "working with livestock" and more rightly means "working a dog when livestock are present." People "go herding" as a means to give their dog something to do or get titles on their dogs.

Witness the differences in the AKC and USBCHA statements:

The AKC says:
"The purpose of the competitive herding trial program is to preserve and develop the herding skills inherent in the herding breeds and to demonstrate that they can perform the useful functions for which they were originally bred. Although herding trials are artificial simulations of pastoral or farm situations, they are standardized tests to measure and develop the characteristics of the herding breeds."

Meanwhile the first paragraph on the USBCHA's "Trial Rules" quotes from the ISDS:
"The Objectives For a Trial: To test the ability of a dog, as part of a team with the handler, to manage sheep properly under the differing circumstances that may be encountered in daily work. Hence the various tests such as Gathering, Driving, Shedding, Penning and Singling which are all tasks which may be necessary as the shepherd goes on his daily round."

The former speaks only of the dog. The latter speaks first of properly managing sheep. I think that in a nutshell explains why "herding" coming from the AKC world tastes a little sour to those who are not of it. It speaks of people for whom the livestock are just dog-broke vehicles for getting titles on their dogs. My two cents, of course.

~ Gloria

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Yes, what she said!

 

I'm also a stinker in that I dislike references to trialing as a "sport". To me, that demeans it and makes it something "optional" or done simply for ribbons or acclaim or fun, disregarding trialing's very useful and essential purpose as the testing of practical working ability and training. I know the people I know who call it a sport don't mean that but word nerdism strikes again in my pea brain!

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Trialing is a sport, by every definition.

Yes it is optional and for the ribbons/ prices. It also simulates work, and therefor tests working ability. Doesn't change the fact it is a sport.

It riles me more that for instance agility people talk about their "working" dogs, and their sport as "work".

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John, I think the point of contention is that in the AKC world, herding has stopped meaning "working with livestock" and more rightly means "working a dog when livestock are present." People "go herding" as a means to give their dog something to do or get titles on their dogs.

I do understand. All I was trying to say is that we have no control over how people use words.

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It riles me more that for instance agility people talk about their "working" dogs, and their sport as "work".

For sure.

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Dear Shep****s,

It all pales in comparison with the lost battle with 'thusly' and (oh, horror!) 'literally'.

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It all pales in comparison with the lost battle with 'thusly' and (oh, horror!) 'literally'.

 

Eh, irregardless of your horror at the misuse of "literally", I consider it all a mute point, and could care less. ;)

 

I get why people object to dogs competing in agility being considered "working dogs". But, we do consider professional athletes to be doing a job, and in fact pay some of them pretty darn well for their work. Me whacking a tennis ball around isn't work, although it may be painful to watch, but I'm more than willing to accept that when Serena Williams is on the court, she's working. Likewise, my dogs and I play at agility and it isn't work. I don't know where to draw the line between an activity being recreation and work but I would say that he agility teams that are serious contenders at a national level worked to get where they are, and I have no problem with those dogs being considered working dogs.

 

Back to the original topic - I started out "herding." I'm still a rank novice whose skills at training and trialing sheepdogs are only marginally better than my skills at whacking a tennis ball around. But I have at least learned to cringe at the word "herding" even if I still can't keep my flank commands straight when the pressure is on, so at least I've learned something.

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Hooper2 writes: "Back to the original topic - I started out "herding"."

I get that herding is not an accepted term for real sheepdoggers, but when I am personally out there bumbling around trying to read, learn and be kind to sheep and trying not to annoy my dog too much in the process, it just feels pretentious to call what I am doing stockwork. I am not suggesting I dont take it all seriously though. Nothing could be further from the truth.

ETA: For some reason, my iPad is losing apostrophes, dashes and quotations that I include in my posts. My apologies.

 

ETA2: I even feel as though I'm being a bit pretentious by putting the profile pic of my dog, my arm and sheep up. I can't help myself. I am so danged proud of that dog.

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Interesting discussion, and I am happy to be careful how I use the tern "herding".

 

I see it so often misused, as in "my dog herds the cat" or, "my dog bites at our heels but we know he is just herding us so we let him"

 

Wondering, though, this: Supposing I take my border collie to a place that trains dogs with sheep, and I am taking her there purely for something fun for my dog and me to do together, then what would be good for me to call it?

 

I will never own sheep. I very probably won't even ever trial the dog. I am not that ambitious about it, and not into competition in any case. For me it would be a game with the dog, only taken much more seriously than most games because of the involvement of other animals, namely the sheep.

 

If I call it "playing with sheep" it sounds as though I don't care about the feelings of the sheep.

If I call it "stock dog training" that is not really true, since no dog of mine is likely ever to work stock.

If I call it "herding"....well there's the above discussion, plus the fact that I don't really think it falls into that category in any case unless it is done at a higher level than my dog would be likely to attain. Ditto "working with..."

Etc.

 

So....suggestions?

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Interesting discussion, and I am happy to be careful how I use the tern "herding".

 

I see it so often misused, as in "my dog herds the cat" or, "my dog bites at our heels but we know he is just herding us so we let him"

 

Wondering, though, this: Supposing I take my border collie to a place that trains dogs with sheep, and I am taking her there purely for something fun for my dog and me to do together, then what would be good for me to call it?

 

I will never own sheep. I very probably won't even ever trial the dog. I am not that ambitious about it, and not into competition in any case. For me it would be a game with the dog, only taken much more seriously than most games because of the involvement of other animals, namely the sheep.

 

If I call it "playing with sheep" it sounds as though I don't care about the feelings of the sheep.

If I call it "stock dog training" that is not really true, since no dog of mine is likely ever to work stock.

If I call it "herding"....well there's the above discussion, plus the fact that I don't really think it falls into that category in any case unless it is done at a higher level than my dog would be likely to attain. Ditto "working with..."

Etc.

 

So....suggestions?

Herein lie a couple of issues, and I'll admit to being quite close-minded about them, and I know that there are others who feel the same way that I do and many that don't.

 

I don't really have an issue with someone who wants to evaluate their dog's potential on livestock with a view towards the future (it's a slippery slope to buying the farm, etc.); to learn about stockmanship and the use of a dog with the goal of understanding lowered-stress livestock handling and management; or to leave oneself open to the possibility that some day in the future, you and this dog (or another dog) just might progress into serious stockwork and/or training.

 

On the other hand, if you don't see any stockwork in your dog's future, why "awake the beast within"? There is always the question of whether a dog that has never been exposed to stock is aware of "what he is missing" compared to a dog that has had the chance to "turn on" and then has no opportunity to utilize the instinct that's been awoken. Unless we can read their minds, I think these are questions we might not be able to answer.

 

Having "fun" with a dog? Anytime a person takes a dog to train, instinct test, or whatever, on stock, there is going to be stress produced in those prey animals' lives. The goal of breeding, training, and handling a dog to manage stock is to reduce stress in livestock management (the handler's stress and/or the livestock's stress) without introducing undue stress in the dog, either. So going to "have fun" with your dog utilizing livestock is contrary to what I, and some others, consider the reason-to-be of the dogs - managing stock in a way that reduces, not increases or adds on, stress.

 

On the other hand, there are a lot of sheep that live out long and largely relaxed lives simply because their owners and/or owner's clients want to "have fun with their dogs" by training on those sheep (or ducks or whatever). Most of those animals would have been in the pot after a much shorter life if they hadn't been suitable for training sheep, whether it was for potential working dogs or "hobby herders" and their dogs.

 

For me, what I think it boils down to is that if you are truly wanting to *learn* about the livestock, the dogs, and the handler, and their complex relationships, even if you expect you will never have livestock of your own, it's not a big deal if you (and the owner of the stock) respect the livestock, first and foremost. If you are just out to "have fun with your dog" and/or seek to amass ribbons and titles at the expense of the livestock, then I think it's not right.

 

What would I call it? "Going to train my dog" because you will be training if you are using that time in a worthwhile manner, and not just letting the dog "have fun playing with" sheep.

 

You have a very good sense of what's ethical and what's not - I wouldn't have an issue with what you chose because I think you would chose with the big picture in mind, and not just self-gratification.

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I do understand. All I was trying to say is that we have no control over how people use words.

 

Quite true! All we can do is get online and grouch about it when they do. :P:D

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Quite true! All we can do is get online and grouch about it when they do. :P:D

I resemble that remark! :rolleyes:

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Thanks, Sue, for a thought-provoking response.

It didn't take me long to realize that you are right.

 

I did take my Jester to be evaluated on sheep, and I took my foster dog Kelso.

Kelso didn't know what to do; Jester acted like a natural, and even obeyed commands, which didn't surprise me because his foster, who had sheep, said that he'd make a good stock dog.

 

I do care about the feelings of the sheep. The place where I went had sheep who were extremely accustomed to having dogs come and boss them around, as the person gives training lessons. They didn't seem stressed out but what would I know about that, really?

 

Then the point about awakening something in the dog without then giving it a proper outlet, and that's a good point as well.

 

Not that I probably would ever have done it in any case, but I think now that I would not take my dog to sheep training.

As much as I would like to have a ranch and some stock, it won't happen.

 

With agility, I took two 8 week classes and then quit even though it was fun for me and the dog, and Jester did very well. I enjoyed it and wanted to go further, but really the only place to go eventually was competition and I didn't want to compete.

 

I would take a new young dog to agility classes just to give the dog the experience, bonding with my dog, and fun. But knowing that I would quit at some point.

Not really right to do that same approach with sheep.

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They aren't even "herds" of sheep - they're "flocks" of sheep.

 

I go out to "work" or "train" my dog.

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D'Elle Writes: "Not that I probably would ever have done it in any case, but I think now that I would not take my dog to sheep training.

As much as I would like to have a ranch and some stock, it won't happen."

 

Just from reading past posts, I get the idea that if everybody here had decided not to take lessons unless they had a firm goal of ranch or farm and livestock ownership as their prerequisites, there wouldn't be quite as many on here to give experienced, sound advice. I could be wrong.

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Herein lie a couple of issues, and I'll admit to being quite close-minded about them, and I know that there are others who feel the same way that I do and many that don't.

 

I don't really have an issue with someone who wants to evaluate their dog's potential on livestock with a view towards the future (it's a slippery slope to buying the farm, etc.); to learn about stockmanship and the use of a dog with the goal of understanding lowered-stress livestock handling and management; or to leave oneself open to the possibility that some day in the future, you and this dog (or another dog) just might progress into serious stockwork and/or training.

 

On the other hand, if you don't see any stockwork in your dog's future, why "awake the beast within"? There is always the question of whether a dog that has never been exposed to stock is aware of "what he is missing" compared to a dog that has had the chance to "turn on" and then has no opportunity to utilize the instinct that's been awoken. Unless we can read their minds, I think these are questions we might not be able to answer.

 

Having "fun" with a dog? Anytime a person takes a dog to train, instinct test, or whatever, on stock, there is going to be stress produced in those prey animals' lives. The goal of breeding, training, and handling a dog to manage stock is to reduce stress in livestock management (the handler's stress and/or the livestock's stress) without introducing undue stress in the dog, either. So going to "have fun" with your dog utilizing livestock is contrary to what I, and some others, consider the reason-to-be of the dogs - managing stock in a way that reduces, not increases or adds on, stress.

 

On the other hand, there are a lot of sheep that live out long and largely relaxed lives simply because their owners and/or owner's clients want to "have fun with their dogs" by training on those sheep (or ducks or whatever). Most of those animals would have been in the pot after a much shorter life if they hadn't been suitable for training sheep, whether it was for potential working dogs or "hobby herders" and their dogs.

 

For me, what I think it boils down to is that if you are truly wanting to *learn* about the livestock, the dogs, and the handler, and their complex relationships, even if you expect you will never have livestock of your own, it's not a big deal if you (and the owner of the stock) respect the livestock, first and foremost. If you are just out to "have fun with your dog" and/or seek to amass ribbons and titles at the expense of the livestock, then I think it's not right.

 

What would I call it? "Going to train my dog" because you will be training if you are using that time in a worthwhile manner, and not just letting the dog "have fun playing with" sheep.

 

You have a very good sense of what's ethical and what's not - I wouldn't have an issue with what you chose because I think you would chose with the big picture in mind, and not just self-gratification.

 

I really like this; particularly the parts I took the liberty of placing in bold text (I hope you don't mind, Sue). Once you get out there and watch the reactions of livestock to the dog and handler, it becomes clear that there is a level of stress involved. You can see it in the videos as well. If you have a modicum of compassion for animals, you're probably going to do a bit of self-examination as to why you may or may not wish to continue to train on livestock.

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There's no question that there's stress on sheep being used to test or train novice dogs.

 

Many years ago I was at a Jack Knox clinic in either Maryland or Virginia. Many of the dogs and their handlers were ACK wannabes and Jack has always been as good as anyone I've ever seen in managing the overall situation. Still, one of the sheep, a yearling IIRC, dropped over dead during one of the dogs' turns in the round pen.

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Eh, irregardless of your horror at the misuse of "literally", I consider it all a mute point, and could care less. ;)

 

Oh dear, you're killing me :lol::lol::lol::lol:

_________

 

Back when I became a happy member of these boards, I had noticed how the newcomers with dogs of wrong lineage were quietly made to stand out with various uses and non-uses of vocabulary. It included the non-use of "herding" it included the use of "wannabes" as a prefix in the form of address, and others stratagems. Apparently, "Read this First" was insufficient.

 

But the curious thing is that apart from the wonderful sea of help that I received here, for which I will be forever grateful, what helped me the most at the time when trainers in Poland were scarce, was the book Herding Dogs. Progressive Training by Virgil Holland. The book is, as most of you know, one of the most comprehensive guides, and, quite unabashed, it discusses "herding instinct", "herding principles", "herding training" and others.

 

Expunging a word from vocabulary is just one way to deal with the problem. Another way is to take it, embrace it, and make it one's own, giving it the desired definition through use. Otherwise, if stockdogs work stock, and herding dogs herd, the latter is never challenged. If we say that our dogs work livestock, then who are we to say that somebody's dog is not herding but noodling about following course-trained sheep?

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Expunging a word from vocabulary is just one way to deal with the problem. Another way is to take it, embrace it, and make it one's own, giving it the desired definition through use. Otherwise, if stockdogs work stock, and herding dogs herd, the latter is never challenged. If we say the our dogs work livestock, then who are we to say the somebody's dog is not herding but noodling about following course-trained sheep?

 

This is an excellent point.

 

As much as I'd love to be a purist and even traditionalist when it comes to language, I've reluctantly accepted that it's a living thing given to evolution that I can't stop no matter how often I cringe at people's neologisms or misuse of fewer and less, etc. that become more common by the day.

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