Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Yearbook 2014

The Yearbook 2014

We have a new yearbook and once again my congratulations to Michelle Esch Brooks for getting the book out on time.  We had gotten used to yearbooks being late for so long, that it came as a real shock when Michelle took over.  It seems to be a case of the apple not falling far from the tree.

This old dinosaur must admit to being confused by some of he contents of the yearbook.  Obviously some guidelines have changed over the years.  The number of different titles and awards for which dogs are eligible are staggering.  In the Parade of Stars apparently the same dog can be shown on numerous occasions for various wins.  It used to be one picture and you picked the win that you valued most.

The titles for things not related to conformation are seemingly endless.  Not everyone dotes on conformation or even understands our standard and obviously we have folks with other interests.  Proving that Collies have a brain is not a bad thing, but how many degrees do you need to make that point?  Apparently some titles can be awarded posthumously since one therapy dog shows being whelped in 1990.  (This may be a typo)

The dogs themselves, as usual, are a mixed bag of good and not so good.  Since pictures can be misleading we know this doesn’t come as a big surprise.  Too many dogs show the neck and front that Steve Field called “a cobra waiting to strike!”  Some photos show dogs with legs that look like Clydesdales.  Hardly what you would call lithe and active with no useless timber.  Some heads with under jaws that look grotesquely strong.

Lest you think all I do is criticize, I call your attention to Kathy Moll’s committee on Breeder of the Year.  Many have long felt that awarding things like Breeder of the Year, Top Stud, and Top Bitch need to be done on a percentage not just by raw numbers.  Raw numbers encourage breeding lots of Collies and don’t hit the target we wish to recognize.  Please give this your support so even small breeders can get recognition. 

One thing that really tickled the old dinosaur’s fancy was to find an award for Collies that hunt rats.  Now sheep, ducks, agility, therapy, good citizens and all the others were no big surprise just a bit overwhelming, but rats are another matter.  When I was a very young dinosaur my first registered Collie was a granddaughter of Ch. The Duke of Silver Ho.  Apparently the Duke was a Collie rescue by Ameera Croakman,  a noted breeder and handler.  His granddaughter who I owned was a terrible speciman from a show point of view, but was my  pal.  My constant companion, she went on horseback rides and roamed the woods with me.  She learned to hate rats when she sniffed one I had caught in a trap and was bitten on the nose!  No rat that she encountered after that lived more than a few seconds.  If the AKC in their infinite wisdom had only started rat hunting back then, I would have finished another champion.

I’m looking forward to my judging assignment for the Midwest Collie Club in May.  Though many of our current titles and degrees may be a bit overwhelming, the Collie standard and Conformation judging are old friends.  Since it’s getting on toward mowing season and we have about three and a half acres my blogs may be a bit scarce.  My new baby chicks arrive in early May and the old dinosaur takes longer to do chores than he used to.  Steve Field stopped writing when he realized how much he didn’t know.  I know there’s a lot I don’t know, but still love sharing ideas with you.

If you dig around long enough you’ll know what I believe in is what I write about and what I always hope is that my ideas may somehow benefit this breed of ours.  The comments from a vet on line about our breed tells you how some people might feel about where we’re taking our dogs.  He also mentions Cocker Spaniels as another breed that’s lost it’s way.  A good article in “Dogs In Review” show the dog that made Cockers popular, Ch. My Own Brucie.  He doesn’t look much like Cockers today!  Think about where we’re going in terms of the breed not titles or awards.

Think about it!


  1. Refreshing insight. Thank you.

  2. Dear Mr. Horn, I really love reading your blog posts, and very much value your insight, knowledge, and experience. This is the first time I've had a strong disagreement with anything you've said. It is not regarding conformation, as I'm relatively inexperienced in that area and have learned a lot reading your posts. I co-own a dog (with his breeder) who I showed to his CH and his GCH, but I've never bred a litter; I freely confess my need to know more and see more and experience more; I'm essentially a "nobody." But your remark about the many, many titles available outside of conformation surprised me ("Proving that Collies have a brain is not a bad thing, but how many degrees do you need to make that point?"). It's not about proving the dog has a brain. In large part, it's not about having an alphabet soup after the dog's name and the accompanying bragging rights; it's about having a relationship with what the breeders are producing - these gorgeous dogs with their gorgeous hearts and gorgeous minds. It's about the joy shining in the Collie's eyes when he's finished an agility run and knows he's done a good job. They're bred with brains, and they like to show them off! The titles just reflect a working partnership with the animals we adore. They represent hours of training, problem-solving, planning, tears, triumph, and so many Collie smiles.

  3. Oh George! I wish you would visit an agility trial, herding trial or a lure coursing trial. You will see the fun is knowing the companionship between dog and owner is solid. That is why we do the performance events. Just to watch a team work together, with the dog wagging his/her tail and thoroughly enjoying the event is far more rewarding.

  4. Two things: 1) Every ad in the Parade of Stars generates income for the yearbook. If someone (me) wants to place 9 ads for titles earned by their dog(s), it simply means they've worked hard, spent a lot of training time and money to achieve those accomplishments...and they're proud of those milestones. 2) some folks just like variety and the challenge of acquiring a new skillset. If I try something, say lure coursing or barn hunt, which isn't something that every dog can do and my dogs enjoy the event, I will likely pursue titles in those venues. If my collies achieve a title in those non-traditional events along with other more mundane accomplishments, let's say a Group 2 for my smooth dog, why would I not want to show the versatility of the Collie by placing an ad in the yearbook? I certainly have spent more training time, money, and effort on agility, herding, lure coursing, barn hunt, and rally than I have on conformation and have had a modicum of success in all. It's the challenge of helping our partners understand the behaviors we desire and testing that training by competition that is the driving force. Having a blast with our team mates while adjusting for no so great performances, getting that perfect run, partipatingvin the dance with our Collies...such a rush...I wish everyone could experience the is simply awesome.