Committed to the improvement of the breed by breeding for health, temperament and better structure in dogs that have the ability to herd.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Having vs Wanting

It is indeed human nature to always want what we can't have. A nicer house, a better paying job, happy love life, a newer car........our society has done well with feeding us the notions that we can never be satisfied.

I have learned in the past few years that that is not always BETTER. I am quite content with my life and my direction, although there are days (or weeks) where I longed for a job that didn't depend on the weather, or a life that didn't have to care for the livestock and dogs and just be a 'city folk' who could go home after work, make supper (or order in) and watch TV all night. Those days are far and few between, as I do like to stay active, and productive, but I still wish for that sometimes.

Breeding dogs to a standard is also a having vs wanting. Dog and livestock really are quite similar and I take my knowledge from livestock and use it on the dogs as well.

A few questions I always find myself asking about my dogs:

1. What are this dogs virtues and what do all my dogs collectively have that are nice?
2. What of those things MUST i never lose and always try to keep?
3. What things would I like to improve on my dogs
4. How do I go about selecting a stud dog to improve what my bitch needs but hopefully not lose what my bitch has?

Awhile back there was a great thread on one of my Facebook statuses regarding stud dogs and how difficult it was for me to find a dog that A) was health tested, B) was of the bloodlines I was willing/wanting to work with, C) structurally had (and was producing) what I wanted to improve in my bitch(es).

Certainly there are many more health tested stud dogs now in Cardigans than ever before. Color was not a sticky point (except I couldn't use blue). Pedigree ....there just some lines I would rather not work with, or have no idea about anything about them and was happy to continue working with lines I was familiar with (mostly old English lines is my preference). I also wanted a dog with a happy and biddable temperament, and had the construction that I was hoping to improve upon.

Many of my kennel club friends who have other breeds cannot believe I would try to breed Cardigans. They say they are nearly impossible to get right and there is much to think of and hope for when breeding. Many litters of Viszlas, Briards, GSPs, or others can tell show pups at young ages and they do not normally go through stages or phases and they are what they are. Sometimes close to entire litters are shown and finished quickly (and that is different than kennel blindness where CWC breeders will show entire litters (IMHO).

When I bred Ell to Pilot I was looking for numerous things. Health tests were a must. A similar pedigree (Merrymoon Hunter is Pie's sire) and I had fallen in love with Pie's dam Alice and was interested in her pedigree. On top of that Pie has a very sweet temperament, and there were things I was looking for out of that litter. In no particular order: rounder feet, more fill of muzzle more substance (overall, not just in bone), longer ribbing and depth of chest, stronger rear. My mentor Barb, said (and i will never forget this) "No matter how much you try and pick the right mate for your bitch, and hope all the starts align, in the end you are just hoping that you get lucky and get something worth keeping". I think of that often. In the end it really is a crap shoot and hopefully a pup or two will catch my eye and be nice enough to keep.

Ell produced surprisingly consistent in the litter. All had nice bone for their size, pretty heads, nice round ears, lovely top lines and necks, length of upper arms etc. Of course each puppy isn't perfect and each has a few faults I would like to see corrected but their virtues, in my opinion outweigh their faults. Are the pups better than their mother? In most instances yes. And that is really what its all about is improvement in each generation.

So even though the dogs HAVE things I want to keep and got things I wanted to HAVE, I still WANT them to be better. Closer to perfection. YES they are my dogs and pets first, but there is not a day that goes by that I do not stare at their faults and wish they were better.  And it will come. I believe I have an eye for finding the faults, and improving on them. I just hope that I continue to be of that mindset in the future.

The WANTING will never go away. And I need to REMIND MYSELF that many of my dogs HAVE many virtues and things that other people want. The grass is always greener on the other side right?

1 comment:

Kim K said...

My final question is like yours. Is the bitch or dog that I am keeping better than the dam or sire I used? There is no reason to keep one if not. We're not benefiting the breed in any way if we do that.

And after a sucessful breeding with quality puppies I feel there isn't a reason to repeat the breeding. We got exactly what we wanted out of Wendy and Nugget, why duplicate it and fail with the next litter or worse... lose the bitch in the entire process.

Now you have to ask the next question...


Good questions Garrett!