what’s wrong with border collies?

So I’m back to thinking about future dogs, future pups, what to do, what to do?

I really do wonder if I should just suck it up and get a border collie because maybe everything I want is a border collie? That intensity, speed, drive, absolute desire to work and please and work some more, and to play and that sharpness of motion in agility…

And yet my head is still saying: yeah, but…

Is it that thing that you have to have a border to do well in agility? Is it that I wanted to prove I could do just as well with an Aussie and would still like to, but I don’t think it’s actually going to happen? Is it that everyone with a different breed is now getting borders because if you want to do well you have to have one? Maybe it’s because most of the borders I’ve met have seemed ‘blah’ in personalities (although usually less ‘blah’ when getting to know them one-on-one), maybe it’s because most of the high-up agility borders seem to be from one breeder and I’d want to look somewhere different, but then how do you find a good one? (and not that there’s anything wrong with that breeder or the dogs, they are awesome and they are fast and you do get hurricane-love from them, but I just don’t want to do what everyone else seems to be doing, though they’re probably doing that for a good reason, which is that the dogs are bloody quick and awesome workers)…


Maybe I should just suck it up and contact that breeder. Or this breeder (because even though she does more ‘show-type’ borders than working borders, I love how she really wants to focus on happy, lovely tempermented dogs who are also quick agility dogs) but I don’t know if she’s planning on having any litters any time soon.


So the answer to the question in the title of the post is: I don’t know what’s wrong with Border Collies, I kind of want one, but it kind of feels like turning my back on Aussies (and then the question is: well, what’s wrong with that?).


12 thoughts on “what’s wrong with border collies?

  1. You weren’t reading me when I “tried” a border collie (of my own. She only lasted two months. I actually live with two, and LOVE THEM!!!)
    But I will never get a border collie, for me. They are NOT aussies, or anything else, they are them. BCs. Lovely. Fast, good learners, driven etc.

    Because what’s “wrong” with Border Collies is NOTHING. What’s wrong is with ME. I just don’t “get them.” I feel like I DO get Aussies. I must, i’ve had three now! All three very different.
    In defense of Aussies in agility, I’ll say my red boy has just as good times as MOST BCs in his class. There are a few that can smoke him. I know. One is in my house! but mostly if he’s clean, he’s a top 1-3 finisher. NOTHING about my training, all about him being super drivey.

    I think my “next dog” (and I’m talking 5+ years from now) will be a small dog. I hope I can connect with whatever breed that ends up being as well as I’ve connected with my Aussies. It’s a sincere hope. Because I do feel like I’ve really found myself in these hairy beasts. And I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

    • Em says:

      All very good points, Rosie.
      I don’t know though if I don’t get borders- I’ve never had one myself. I haven’t ‘gotten’ the ones I’ve met but apart from Badger (who is awesome) I’ve never spent a lot of time one-on-one with them. And I thought I ‘got’ Aussies, except that I really don’t think I get Lu. Sometimes I think she’s so serious, and then she’ll attack me with toys all night…. I thought Aussies were like my Mal, and then Lu has smashed all that up. Maybe Aussie boys are what I think Aussies are, but my Aussie girl is so not.
      That bit about your boy being “super drivey”, I think Lu has drive, she just doesn’t bring it to agility. Penny will probably say she doesn’t see this in Lu, but I watch Badger try and pull Penny’s arm off to get in the tunnel and that’s the difference. Lu will do it, but she won’t give 110%.
      So I thought I was an “Aussie person”, and I feel loyal to them because Mal was so awesome and because I’ve always told people that they can be as good as BCs (and bagged out a good friend of mine for switching to BCs (not Penny)), so it’s like I’m going back on all that, but Lu has kind of turned me away from Aussies, I guess, by not being so much like an Aussie (or, possibly by being an Aussie girl!)… Maybe I need to breed her and just keep a boy. 😉

      • You could be spot on. I’ve only had boy aussies. The girls I’ve met? (we have Aussie trials up here FILLED with them, so I meet a lot) have been 1/2 drivy crazy, 1/2 not that much enthusiasm. There’s a female from just the next state over and she regularly has times that rival Razor’s (which is good, he’s pretty speedy) and she’s very keen to play. She is, however, not that great with other dogs. So yeah, anything can happen.

        I keep wondering if Lu’s love of the game will increase with her understanding of it. That’s my hope with Rumble. He’s really drivey in most places, and is slowly bringing it to agility as well.

  2. Our take Em is that the handlers we respect the most are the ones that take a non traditional agility dog and do great stuff. Or even better if they got the dog through something like Working Dog Rescue. No pedigree lines, just a person giving a dog a chance to live and love an amazing life. Yep there are some amazing handlers out there with Borders, Aussies, Shelties and they are awesome to watch (so nothing against anyone… It is great seeing anyone engaging in dog sports) but it’s the non-traditional and the rescues that I really give credit to the skills of the handler.

  3. Penny says:

    I think I can totally understand your predicament. Lots of people used to bring it up on the Sighthound agility list too, were they going to have to get a BC to continue with Agility? No one had any answers. There is no right answer. And you are right about Border Collies. They can seem awfully one dimensional, Badger has more personality than I expected but he is nothing like the whippets.

    So I can’t help you at all.. as usual. I don’t know what will make you happy. One thing I thought might happen when I got a BC was all my agility anxiety would go away. But it didn’t. I found out that was just me. I just obsess over different problems now, not so much motivation problems, more ‘please don’t kill yourself Badger’ problems. So agility hasn’t become all sunshines and rainbows like maybe it would with a BC.

    On the other hand, I was OVER motivational issues and had lost all my confidence in helping a dog work through them. I knew getting a dog from Deb *almost* guaranteed me of not having to deal with motivation problems. Like Moe Strenfel said once (she went from sighthounds to BC) “I wanted to work with a dog that could put up with training as much as I wanted to train”.

    I completely understand the concept of not wanting a BC because everyone else has one. Completely! And there are shitloads of breeds and cross breeds that you can look at. The BC/Kelpie crosses that Gina and Stacy and Megan (?) have look very rad. I still have dreams of getting a Beau/Java whippet, but what are the chances of them having the same great drive, especially with me (freakin serious features over here) as their handler?

    • Em says:

      Ok it’s really dumb but this: “I had lost all my confidence in helping a dog work through them. I knew getting a dog from Deb *almost* guaranteed me of not having to deal with motivation problems.” got me quite emotional. Nail. on. the. head.
      I don’t think that all my training issues would go away, there’d still be jumping issues or maybe self control issues, you know- both of us need issues in order to do stuff, otherwise there isn’t something to ‘fix’, but it wouldn’t be: “How the F- can I make this game fun for my dog?” issues like I have now. I was saying to Amanda that it’s so so frustrating for me because I’ve tried really hard to make it fun, from the start, lots of tricks like Silvia says, playing, la la la… and yes, sometimes I got serious and annoyed but I’m sure you did with Badger too and he still loves it, and meanwhile Lu will do a tunnel but she’s not going to do it quickly because why should she? And that’s what’s so frustrating is that even though I’ve done all this stuff and tried to do it Silvia’s way and tried to do it full speed from the start, I DON’T get full speed, I don’t get 110%, and maybe I just want a dog that will DO it, you know? I know she’s capable of so much more and I sometimes feel like such a shit trainer because for some reason I couldn’t bring it out… and maybe with more time and confidence it will come out but how can I rely on that, either?

      Also, I loved this: “freakin serious features over here”. Oh, yes. Except I have a freakin serious-features dog, too, hahaha.

      • I do believe Silvia’s Bu wasn’t running nearly as fast at 18 months as she is running now… winning the EO and all that. I don’t know how I would cope with a dog like that, but certainly not well enough to get her fast enough to win EO! It’s so frustrating when you try to do everything right and the speed still isn’t there… I know what it’s like when you feel like you’re trying to push the rope. And you know that just won’t work! I’ve been there with Ruby for over a year (before we got into agility). And yes, working with my dogs I also often wonder if I’m just no good as a trainer when things aren’t going as I think they should. But I think that’s just me, it’s my habit to compare and the frustration when comparison isn’t favorable, it’s not what’s *real*. I’m pretty sure it’s not what Silvia was thinking working with Bu in her early years.

        Lu’s videos look great to me. I realize your feelings are not in those videos and that is painting a different picture for you. I realize I didn’t see her when she decided to check out that horse. But you had some brilliant moments in the past year with her! And you will have more brilliant moments and they will happen more and more often as she finds this game more and more fun. Running contacts in courses! That will be fun, right?

        It might be a good idea to get another dog so you can train less with Lu, and sure, it could be a BC. But don’t get a dog out of frustration, get it because it feels like a great idea.

    • “One thing I thought might happen when I got a BC was all my agility anxiety would go away. But it didn’t. I found out that was just me. ” Such wise words! It’s great that you got Badger so that you could decipher what was you wand what was not you, right? I often wonder what sorts of handling issues I would have with a BC… because I’m pretty sure that is *me* 😀

  4. It all depends on why you want to do agility? If you want to be one of the shiny people at the top, do what they do, if you want to have fun with your dog stick with the dogs that you love.
    I have a Border Collie and love him to bits, I just don’t get the agility thing? Too many people take it seriously and their dogs end up hating it.
    The Collie rescue I volunteer at used to have agility competitions at their annual show but had to stop because too many handlers were treating their dogs roughly!
    Aussies are pretty cool dogs, I can see why you love them. 🙂

    • Em says:

      I’d like to be able to do both- I’m incredibly competitive so I’d like to get to the top, but I also love training & being with my dog.
      That being said, I don’t treat my dogs roughly. That goes entirely against my training philosophy. In fact even if Lu makes a mistake I try and praise her and try again. If you don’t ‘get’ agility, that’s fine, but it’s my passion and my blog where I talk about agility stuff. 🙂

      • I wasn’t implying that all people involved in agility are rough with their dogs, the fact I don’t get agility isn’t a negative either it is just not for me. 🙂
        My point really was if you want to be top banana you might have to do what the others do but if it is for you and your dog to have fun, stick with your Aussie.

  5. Are you serious? How can you not ‘get’ BCs? What are you all talking about? Put me in a room with my friends, 1 BC, 1 toy and I’m gonna have to work real hard to spend more time with my friends than with that dog. I can spend 15 minutes just doing Get it… Out… Down… Ha ha got ya there… Down… Good girl! Get it… Out… Down… It’s sort of a training trance… We are both easily amused, it seems 🙂

    I know the feelings of abandoning the breed you love. I thought about that too as I was looking for a BC, but you have to realize that’s just bogus. No Aussie will come to you and say “You know, you really hurt me going over to the dark side”. Sure there are some people who might say that, but those people aren’t the breed, the dogs are.

    For me the three biggest reasons against BCs were that:
    – I wanted to know more about whippets and if I got a BC now it would be many years before I could get another whippet
    – I wasn’t sure I was ready to deal with all that energy (and then my BF and I split up so it was a really good decision to get a lower-energy dog!)
    – I find whippet puppies waaaay more cute (sorry, BC ppl!), so it was easier for me to fall in love with a whippet puppy

    And yes, that feeling that everybody has a BC. I *need* to know I didn’t get one to follow the crowd. And yes, perhaps I need to feel a wee bit special having a less popular breed 😉 I think there is a lot of untapped potential in whippets, but as much as I would like to show it to the world, I might not be the right person to do it. Agility is more about the handler than about the dog. I do feel very lucky that I have two whippets who are happy to train as much as I like, so in that aspect I am not longing for a BC at all 🙂

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