Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Memories from the Dog Wars

The recent discussion and re-vote by the USBCHA Board of Directors stirred up a lot of memories in my mind and some trauma that I thought I had put to rest for good, but alas, not.

Things felt just as swirly over the weekend on the District 1 FB page, as the photo effect that I applied to this photo of Ryme driving our Scottish Blackface sheep across a newly-greened-up pasture.

There was a Rule in place, in the USBCHA that AKC judges could not judge the USBCHA National Finals, the premier event of the year, in which a champion wins a double lift finals. A motion was passed in a Board meeting by phone last week, to change that rule to bar AKC conformation judges only, and allow "herding" judges, and then days later, another motion was passed to go back to the original rule. Some felt it was stupid. Some felt strongly that the rule needed to stay as it was - i.e., no AKC judges on the panel at the Finals. I am one of those in that latter group. I felt, and still feel, that a person needs to make a choice between judging AKC and judging USBCHA, especially at the Finals. The four judges at the Finals are the face of the organization. As much as I value individual liberties and choice, I just couldn't fathom having one of those four being an AKC judge. All of this took me unwillingly back to the Dog Wars.

The Dog Wars. The battle was being fought when I got my first border collie, back in 1990.  She had registration papers from both AIBC and from ABCA. This was before AKC full registration of border collies. When I decided to try Novice A Obedience with my girl, after taking classes at the local dog training club, I applied for and got an ILP number for her. She was spayed. Her pedigree was all working dogs. In fact all of the border collies were working type dogs. Their pedigrees were the same as the dogs that handlers walked onto the sheepdog trial field with. Some of my friends at the dog training club had border collies (and aussies, actually) who had registration papers from NASDS, too. Certain lines had just started to become popular with the obedience people, but no one, and I mean no one, that I was friends with at the time, wanted full AKC recognition. We wanted to be able to show our border collies in obedience and train them for tracking. We did NOT want to put them in the show ring. My little bitch was spayed, anyway, and she would have gotten laughed out of the show ring for her conformation. We got some qualifying scores, and got a CD, but we did not win any prizes! We were both very much beginners.  I would have loved to try her on sheep, but there weren't any, and no trainers around to even give it a whirl. But AKC conformation, no way. We could see what AKC was all about and we just wanted to do our training thing. AKC "herding" was for dogs in the Herding Group and thus our border collies were not eligible, as they were in the Miscellaneous Class. There wasn't any UDX or MACH or Rally or even agility. You got a CD, CDX, maybe a UD and maybe a TD and TDX and you had fun. We even went to Canada for a week in the summer and everyone got Canadian CDs. Big fun on a girls' trip. :)

Then came my second border collie. He came from the West and had a real working sire, who worked on a ranch. I desperately still wanted to try him on sheep. A person moved to a nearby county who had come from California, and she had been a handler and knew a little about sheepdog handling. She brought in a clinician who was very good; in fact he was the National Champion. I took my male border collie to this clinic and we had a great time. By this time, AKC had begun to register border collies with full registration. I didn't register my dog, even though people told me I should since he was handsome and I should show the judges what a real working dog looked like; I didn't want to.  I foolishly thought all sheepdog training clinics were like the first clinic with the National Champion. A year later this now-local person brought in another clinician. I signed up eagerly. But, this second clinic was not the same. And that's where things get dreadful. I'll have to think about whether I can write about it or want to.  Possibly, to be continued, or not. But that is some of my history from the Dog Wars.

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