Saturday, January 10, 2015

Things Do Change - Are Things Better?

Things Do Change – Are Things Better?

Back in the dark ages when I was breeding and exhibiting with some success it was my pleasure to be invited to speak at a number of symposiums.  Among them was Acconeus Collie College and parent club symposiums.  For some reason the interest in learning from successful people was stronger then and it gave people a chance to compare notes and ideas without being hampered by taking care of dogs as they did at shows.

It was normal for me to be asked to do grooming demonstrations or to speak about stud dogs.  No big surprise here since my dogs were always well groomed and my stud force headed by Ch. Gingeor Bellbrooke’s Choice ROM and his sons were among the best in the country.  As time went on and I was no longer breeding my topics slowly changed to things like “yesterday and today” as something more fitting toward a dinosaur.

My experiences at these events was a much a student as an instructor.  The people who I was privileged to hear included Steve Field, Gus Sigritz, Bobbee Roos, and Dorothy Long as well as many others with impeccable credentials.  Glen Twiford gave a great presentation at one national symposium showing the Wind-Call Collies herding sheep.  I heard an animal behavior Prof. from Purdue University named Eric Klinghammer, do a great presentation on wolves and how their behavior shows up in our dogs.  Long before being well known enough to be asked to participate as a speaker, I attended many seeking wisdom.

The folks you saw at these events were often people who you knew and had shared the stage with before.  Ted Paul was often the one chosen to be master of ceremonies.  Ted had a fine command of the Queen’s English and was always dressed in dapper fashion and did his homework.  He always had some stories about speakers he was introducing and in my case it was always something that pulled my chain.

Now Ted and I had known each other for some time and shown against each other as well.   When I was invited to speak at a national symposium in Jacksonville, Fla. and saw Ted was to be the moderator it was time for revenge.  I carefully prepared my remarks to fit my planned “Ted Paul Roast.”  Unfortunately my work went down the drain when Ted’s introduction made me sound like a cross between Sister Teresa and George Washington.  Oh well, win some and lose some.

A number of things that were part of my stud dog views may not be relevant today.  Things do change and you can judge whether it’s better or not.  Some things, however don’t change much in spite of the march of time and methods.  When selecting a stud prospect it still would seem appropriate to look in a family of quality.  Van Dyck used to say show me the stud and if I like him, I’ll look at his pedigree.  Do value a good background, but it’s hard to get a “silk purse from a sow’s ear!”

To be worthwhile as a stud you’ll want something good enough to appeal to other breeders.  To be used as a fairly young dog he has to be good enough to win or people won’t use him until his puppies are out winning.  The final judgment on a stud dog does revolve around his get, but if his quality is high, his chance of getting off to a good start increases by leaps and bounds.

It helps to have a stud with outgoing personality and good health history to go with the other prerequisites.  Years ago I read that one should never let a young stud prospect exercise with any dog that can dominate him.  Back then it was standard practice to do natural breedings and if a stud wasn’t well trained and eager you could spend a lot of time waiting for the mood to strike him.  It took some time, but I learned how to bring young studs along and my boys loved their work.  Ideally you would hope to start a young dog at about 9-10 months of age when he started to feel like a man and might hope to have an experienced bitch as a partner.

Today many breedings are done with A.I. using chilled semen or even frozen sperm of dogs long gone.  It may be a great way of preventing the spread of disease, but I don’t know how you judge a dog’s libido in such a case.  All my mentors fancied dogs with bold fearless demeanors who bred bitches with no hesitation.  They also fancied bitches who bred normally and willingly and carried litters of healthy puppies and nursed them after normal delivery.  It’s always been my opinion that we can change things about an animal’s appearance to suit a written standard, but when we fool with the basic functions needed to exist and reproduce we’re fooling with something best left alone.

Van Dyck used to laugh about people’s over-rating stud dogs by saying “who’s he by.”  Today with the use of multiple breedings sorted out by DNA it may be even more appropriate.

Think about it!

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