Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

Reader Contribution by Mary Powell and Barnyard Weed Warriors
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When I first got Miss Allie, my first border collie, I had no intention of raising puppies out of her, when I first got her.  She was not spayed and she was registered, so even though I didn’t intend on raising pups at first, that option was available for me.  As a former horse breeder, I appreciate good animals and those good animals are usually worth breeding, at some point in their life.  Miss Allie, although she is often considered a pet and family; to me, she was a working animal that had potential.  I could not see buying another dog, if she was a great working dog, I could raise a pup out of her and sell the rest.  After a year of working together, people started asking when I was going to raise a litter out of her.  It took two years of constant pestering to make the decision and then I started looking for a male, took another year.

I raised two litters out of Allie and I have two litters our of her daughter, Joy.  This second litter was planned and then a car accident changed not only my plans but my life.  My business associate took over the whelping of the litter and plans were, she would sell them and keep two pups.  I had not anticipated EIGHT puppies from this litter and as life throws more changes, we still have seven pups at four months of age!  I ended up getting five of those pups back and am now tasked with training and marketing young working dogs, an expense I had not anticipated either.

I have one pup ready to ship but the buyer has yet to pay for her, so I am stuck with her until that sale goes through or the buyer backs out of the deal.  One pup I will keep for a year and train as I promised a neighbor a pup that is started.  I have three males pups with a lot of drive I have to get obedience training on or they won’t sell.  This  whole mess will cost me more than I will make on each dog. In the past, I usually have all the pups sold before they are 12 weeks old and by 16 weeks, the pups are usually in that stage of development where they are lanky and out of control.  Which makes them more difficult to handle and sell.

While my plans were initially laid out right, life happens and now, I pay the piper, raising pups and starting them on obedience training and on top of everything else( taking care of my mother, grazing business, lawyers and doctors appointments) I now am overwhelmed.  However, I will get the pups trained and sold to ranch/farm homes, I just have to work harder to get this done.

Breeding dogs seems like a good idea to a lot of people and there is money to be made.  However, many folks run into troubles like I have and the first thing they do is dump the pups at a rescue or dump them off on a road in the country and expect them to be found by an understanding farmer or rancher.  Raising border collies is a lifetime commitment and sometimes you can bite off more than you can chew, if you don’t know much about the breed.  I am fortunate that I have many contacts in the border collie world and with my year old pup, Fly going off to the trainer for official working dog training, this will allow me time with the younger pups.

My advice to folks wanting a working border collie; don’t breed them, buy them.  Will I raise another litter of pups?  Yes, but not anytime soon.  I only breed for replacements and right now, I have Jinx age 8, Joy age 6, and Fly age 1.  In about 4  years, I’ll need the next generation, to continue the work on my goat ranch. Until then, I am getting to know these pups and instead of training one or two, I have five to work with and practice training.   I am also going to working dog clinics, which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to get a border collie.  It is better to understand how these dogs work, BEFORE you get one.  After you understand how to work them, you can get the maximum potential from them.

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