The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It Works

It's amazing to me how well selective breeding has worked in certain lines of border collies. I've started 2 from Bobby Henderson's ## Sweep line and the similarities are striking. It's a credit to this past International Supreme Champion, who has bred at least 5 generations of exceptional dogs going back to Craig, an international shepard's champion and, some say, his best dog. Craig was ##Sweep's grandfather and he, like all of Bobby's dogs that have died, is buried on a hillside at Lady Side Farm in Midlothian, Scotland. Bobby sheparded on that beautiful spot for over 25 years and took me to see it when I was over. Kep is a maternal great grandson of ##Sweep and like a ##Sweep grandson that I raised and trained, he is very natural. I have been told that ##Sweep had a stand-offish personality and both of his progeny that I've owned have been a little owl'y. Kep seems to be outgrowing it though, but he's not a lamb's leg, mushball, needy dog that wants to sit in your lap. He prefers to keep his distance and observe and will sneak up behind me and touch me with his nose to let me know that he wants some attention. I started Kep in the round pen where he immediately went to balance and stayed there whenever I moved. I just love that. It makes training so easy. He was wary of his stock though and looked a bit uncomfortable. He clearly wanted to figure this out and although he was nervous about the sheep, there was no quit in him at all. I encouraged him onto his stock and eventually got a quick nip out of him. Then I got a few more and pretty soon he enjoyed flying in and pulling wool. That's when I asked him to go between progressively smaller openings of the fence and the sheep and was pleasantly surprised how quickly he became comfortable with that. Not just comfortable, he really liked it and by now had a happy, confident expression on his face. Once out in the big field things stayed pretty much the same so I began asking him for small gathers. This was easy for him too because he's naturally wide off his stock. It's not likely I'll ever need to widen him out and, in my experience, if you push a dog like this out, they get too wide quickly and you have a hard time, if ever, getting them back. Better to have them tight than wide. The nice thing about him is that when you send him from your feet, his first step is correct and as long as that continues, I'll leave his outrun alone. Kep is so easy and so keen to learn that it would be easy to ask too much from this 8-month old pup. In order not to risk souring him, I've decided to put him away for a while and let him grow up. I believe that if I keep schooling him, he would just keep getting better. I believe he can do it, but why would I want him to? I've seen so many young dogs with the life just taken out of them because too much was asked too soon. In the right hands a young dog can be brought on and do quite well. But most handlers (99.9%) lack the timing and skill it takes to accomplish that and simply end up with a dog that's reluctant, hesitant or sour. I see them at every trial I go to. Carol Campion bred and sold me this nice pup. B'Sweet is her kennel prefix, shortened from Bittersweet, which is too long for the American Border Collie Association registry. I would definitely buy another from the breeding.

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