A number of years back I read an article in the Stock Dog Journal where the author presented a chart of different stock dog traits, as I recall he indicated which traits were inherited, which you could improve with training and which you just had to accept. At the time we were focussing on our Heeler's, I had not even thought of training them and trialing them leaving that to Wayne, so the article was just novel and really did not mean a lot to me.
But, that article has been nagging at me recently, I've been asking those questions that the chart tried to answer as I am working my dogs. I began the quest to find that article again, unsuccessfully mind you. I wrote the present editor of the Stock Dog Journal, Nicole Rhodes, she steered me toward Tully Willams, a breeder, trainer and stockmen from Australian and this book:
I've been to that site before, I don't know why I have taken in all the information that is there, (get the title of this post now?? "Readers are plentiful, thinkers are rare" ) Guess I was reading that day and not thinking.
Find me a real dog, bred down
A dog of brains and ability, self-reliant
In ignorance, inexperience
The good dogs have thinned, died out
Still, a remnant remains, a handful Natural dogs, and clean
Real sheepdogs not quite yet
A relic of the forgotten past
As a priceless pup demonstrates
The old blood, throbbing in its veins
It is interesting that a poem can strike such emotion in me, I can't help but wonder, is that what I am seeing in my dogs, bits and pieces of that relic from the past?
My quest, though not changed just better defined...to put all the pieces together into one great working dog, or rather, it's the goal of what we want our lines to consistently produce. It's the Holy Grail of Stock Dog breeding, but I wonder how many have truely looked deep enough into their dogs, or if they just accept the hand that is drawn and train their way through with no questions asked.
Also, how many dogs were given up on that had the right piece of the puzzle, but they did not have the rest. We are so fixated in finding the best dog available that has most of the pieces, should we be instead looking for the not so perfect that possess the missing pieces?