Sunday, April 10, 2016

Would you take a risk to breed a great dog?

Would you take a risk to breed a great dog?

Life is full of decisions.  As children most of them are made for us by others.  Even as we grow older some of our decisions are influenced by others and the myriad of laws that affect our lives.  At times it may seem like someone is always telling us what we may or may not do.  Many people thirst for the chance to be involved in something that they can control.  The outcome of finding such an endeavor will be influenced by their skill in learning and profiting from the knowledge of those who came before.  Breeding dogs provides such an outlet for people’s creativity and their desire to be able to do something largely on their own.

The sport of breeding and exhibiting purebred dogs is not without guidelines, but it does offer the opportunity to do a lot based on your own knowledge, observations, and creativity.  The breed standards and AKC rules are out there to point us in the right direction but there is still a lot of latitude for doing “your own thing.”  Some folks have even been known to stretch the rules just a bit.

Our sport has undergone many changes over the years.  Depending on your point of view some may be good and some not so good.  The sport for many reasons is shrinking.  The AKC registers fewer dogs each year and many shows have smaller entries with a few notable exceptions.  Specialty shows have been hit particularly hard.  Some of the yardsticks to measure success have been altered to reflect what’s happening and some have not.  In this area it now takes five Rough Collies to constitute a major win.  Some people still brag about dogs who finish with “all majors.”  The ability to qualify for ROM status ridiculously has not changed in years, despite the ease with which a dog can finish.

Back in dinosaur years it took around twenty Collies for a three point major, a stud dog was successful who had four offspring finish in a year, and that same number could also qualify you as “breeder of the year.”  Times certainly have changed!  Improvements in feed and fixing some problems like ears have created a tendency toward uniformity we didn’t see in the old days.  The big kennels offered some line bred characteristics which astute breeders could tap into and certain crosses performed very well, likewise some lines did not cross well and were largely abandoned in time.  To persevere over time a line of dogs must be successful in producing other families to carry the flag.

Most breeders have a tendency to breed safely rather than take chances.  They may start out with dogs from a successful line or create their own, but if they have success in the show ring, they tend to stick with the pattern that has worked.  Sooner or later everyone must go out of the line they’ve been working with which has brought them good fortune but needs help in some area(s).  Outcrossing is the biggest challenge to most breeders, but inevitably it is needed.  Ben and Joyce Hauser of Twin Creeks fame had the knack to incorporate other lines and not miss a beat.  Such success is the exception rather than the rule.

Even when making that needed outcross people tend to think careful and not want to rock the boat.  They tend to use a winning line or a top dog rather than take a chance.  Obviously taking a chance requires some knowledge and careful study of what you’re hoping to accomplish.  You can take a chance with a good young dog if you really believe he’s right for your bitch.  Barbara Woodmancy did and got Ch. Jadene’s Breezalong (CCA BB 1967)) for her gamble.  I took a chance taking Ch. Carla’s Blue Ruin (a complete outcross) to Ch. Gingeor’s Indelible Choice and got Ch. Gingeor’s Indelibly Blue (BB CCA 1976) for my risk.  No, neither dog was without faults but they sure were good.

Breeding to a dog with just the head and expression you love even though his hind end is not his fortune can work out well.  Sure it’s taking a chance, but if you get that one great one to carry on your line it’s a risk well taken.  Every risk must be weighed and the goal of the risk compared to the downside.  To sell a litter of pretty pets to get one CCA BB might be worth it.  Beware the risks that involve health issues.  You might attain your goal, but the breed can suffer from your choice.

This old dinosaur hasn’t bred dogs for years, but still deals with risks.  Apparently my chemo has been working out well in shrinking my bladder tumor.  That will still leave us with some decisions to make down the road.  All those out there wishing us well with cards and calls as well as prayers have been a great source of strength for Phyllis and I.  There are so many people out there who are helping us thru this crisis.  At times like this you truly appreciate the blessing of having friends.  We are very blessed and hope all of you are blessed with true friendship as well when you come to a difficult time in your life, it helps beyond measure.

Think about it!

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