Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Readers are plentiful, thinkers are rare" (Harriet Martineau)

Have you ever looked at your pup and asked yourself, is he/she the one?

Sorry I have not posted in a couple of weeks, I've been doing a lot of thinking and keeping it internally. As I continue to train the dogs I find that keep asking myself the same questions, "What is this dog not doing naturally?" and "How can I help him learn it?"
These questions lead me into a direction away from the training field and generate other questions, "Why does one of my dogs naturally understand when another does not?" and "Can I select my breeding pairs in a fashion that will produce pups that naturally understand so I don't have to teach them?"
Bare with me here, I know that some people think I'm crazy, just go out and buy a dog that is a product of dogs you like, train it and be happy. I have a problem, I'm not finding many dogs that I really like, I might like bits and pieces of what they dog, but I don't like the entire dog. I have dogs that I like, but I don't think I would like them if someone else had them. I look at each one individually, try to identify their short comings and strong points and then try to figure out how the puzzle fits together in an attempt to construct the perfect dog. But, what is a perfect dog???

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:
You gotta read the preview pages, and I gotta get it. On the first page of the preview you can find the website of the author, Tully Williams:

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.
On that site there is a "Products" page, among other that have a lot of insight. I am patiently waiting for them to get back to me, I want the campanion DVD...yes a DVD that shows you what the author is talking about in the Natural Instinct section of the book!!! Gosh, I hope that I won't be disappointed in Book and DVD that I am in the process of purchasing!!!
I also wanted to share a poem from the site:

"Old Blood"

Find me a real dog, bred down

Many lines from the great old Yolong Russ

A dog of brains and ability, self-reliant

Of cover, and balance, and the searching cast
Hard dogs and tough One good line, the last

Unfashionable now

When soft dogs, weak dogs, and brainless

Turn-tailers proliferate

The steady strength and cover despised

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

By Tully Williams

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 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?

BTW..Julie, if you read this... don't neuter that dog!!!