This blog is brought to you by Diamond T Cowhorses and The Bullpen Arena. Check out their full range of products on their Facebook page. They've been long time supporters of Herding East and I personally recommend them. Thanks again to Tom and Micaela Thorlakson for their excellent friendship and support.
This blog may come across fairly negative and that would mark the second week in a row. Sorry for that. Truth is, it's not really meant to be all that negative. I just think we need to have a wake up call to how litters are advertised. I'll peruse different sites that pertain to dog sales or puppy sales and I often see the caption "from working parents". Which is a fairly ambiguous term. A term that is often misused by sellers but is rarely misused in a way that is untruthful or purposely misleading. I genuinely believe that everyone who puts that on believes entirely that they are providing the best information they can. The trouble is that "working parents" will mean different things to different people. I've seen a golden retriever that barked at cows in a feedlot alley but more out of trying to play a game with its handler then any real desire to "work". Yet by the general use of the term "working parents" that dog could have puppies that were advertised to come from a certain kind of line. So how would someone effectively judge working lines? Well there's a couple ways. For one, in the era of smart phones, there certainly should be videos of the parents working stock effectively. Key phrase there is effectively. They shouldn't be those types to make cows and sheep bleed as they scatter in 5 different directions. Which brings me to the second way of judging breeding quality. Competition. Before people role their eyes, please go back and read my entry titled "Farm Dogs Vs. Trial Dogs". My fundamental argument is that if a dog is clever enough to get through a competition, they sure as shit are clever enough to get through the farm. It's the reason that working Border Collie papers denote champions on the papers. Competition is designed to be the ultimate test of everything you use at the farm. The dogs ability to cover and read stock (on their own in the cases of 600 yard outruns and high winds). Their ability to take direction. Their ability to handle tough stock (this is a big reason why you should look for a dog that wins multiple trials as the stock will change and challenge dogs accordingly, multiple time winners obviously can handle whatever stock show up at the trial). Their ability to shed (hugely important on the farm if you ever need to sort off sick or birthing stock). And so on and so on. Now I don't necessarily think the only good dogs reside within winning competition lines. I've seen fantastic dogs out of just some Joe Blow guy that happens to breed ranch dogs. But they always are able to prove that their line is fantastic. They can either show you the dog work right in front of you or send video evidence. But if you want to truly limit the risk involved in buying puppies, pick the ones out of trial parents and pick the winners. Winners don't necessarily have winners but it's rare for losers to have winners. Don't fall for every ad that claims "working parents". And for sure don't be someone who claims to have working parents, unless you can prove it.