Published in the October 15, 1912 issue of Country Life in America.
Who is breeding old-fashioned Collies, with the definite purpose of perpetuating the breed? We have had so many inquiries from readers that we are anxious to secure this information. Many good dogs of this type are bred by chance, but the information that our readers want should deal only with responsible 'breeders with puppies of a definite type to sell. We take pleasure in publishing two more letters which this discussion has brought forth.
Many good dogs of the old-fashioned Collie type are bred by chance
TO THE EDITORS:
I have just read the article on "Old-fashioned Collies" in the June 15th number of Country Life In America, and also the article by Mr. Barnum in the issue of December IS, 1911. As owner of two Collies I am interested in the subject and would like to ask whether Mr. Barnum has ever tried to find what he wants among the farmers in Maine. I have seen just such dogs up here, and there must be some pure-bred ones among them.
I bought one of my Collies up here and it was called pure Scotch Collie. I bought my other Collie in New York as a pure one of good stock. Ever since I have been puzzled at the difference until to-day; now I see. My Maine one is a descendant of the old-fashioned Collie with short legs, short nose, rather heavy body, hair inclined to a slight wave, devotion, intelligence, obedience, all of the old type, and showing a decided amount of brains. The New York dog is one of the long-pointed-nose aristocrats, and while affectionate, obedient, and intelligent, does not impress one with his devotion or his intelligence. He makes friends easily; the Maine dog cares only for me, makes no friends but merely tolerates people, and shows his knowledge of the responsibilities that rest upon him.
"Showing a decided amount of brains"
I am satisfied that the Maine dog came from the old-fashioned stock of Collies before it was fully modernized. The New York Collie is one of the "new" Collies.' Both are called beautiful and attract attention, but the Maine dog gives me a feeling of security and friendship that is beyond price.
I know of no dealer in Collies up here, but have seen some fine, intelligent[-looking dogs among the farmers. As a veterinary said once, the way to find a pure Scotch Collie is to find a farmer with good stock and too many pups. -
The picture of "Homo" in the July 15th Country Life In America could be taken for my Maine Collie, except that Homo's face is broader and older, and the white on Carlie's nose extends further, but they have the same look of responsibility in the eyes, the short nose, etc. His color is red, tipped nose, etc. His color is red, tipped with black, and the white Collie, markings, whereas my New York Collie is fawn color with the white.
Oakland, Maine. N. P.
TO THE EDITORS:
I have recently read with interest the extracts from your article that were in the May number of The Collie Folio anent the Collie, and also Mr. Mason's remarks regarding the same. I am not an old, experienced breeder, but I know, love, and understand the dog - especially that breed - and I have known and bred both the Shepherd and the modern Collie.
He loves all humanity. and regards everyone as a friend and brother
Now it seems to me that both you gentlemen are right and both somewhat wrong. I can well understand that a breeder who has spent years of time, trouble, and much coin in perfecting the modern Collie, and who owns, moreover, the finest in the country, can hardly look around the corner from his own viewpoint, to appreciate that of the lover of the old-time Shepherd- than which a more loyal, devoted, intelligent animal never lived.
I owned one, unfortunately killed recently, and we are still mourning his loss. His mother was a proud, pedigreed lady of the modern type, and his father a true, magnificent Shepherd. He was one of the most absolutely human animals I have ever seen. He actually tried to talk, and his attempts were far from unsuccessful. I once asked a bell-boy in a New )'York hotel where the dog was, and the answer came: "Oh, he's up in 69 a-talkin' to the men." lie was called "The Dog with a Soul." He loved all humanity, and regarded all as his friend and brother.
Now my Lady Babbie, boasting one of the finest pedigrees in the country, is proud, shy, reserved, and distrustful of strangers, but her intelligence is of the highest, and she is an ideal mother. Therefore I can well understand the respective viewpoints, so radically different. in this matter.
The faults of some of the modern Collies are, I think, due to causes that could easily be obviated. One is the foolish fad, carried almost to a mania with some in America, fo rthe long head, which has produced the "toothpick head," where, if by chance the poor owner has any brains, they must perforce lie up and down, and not in the good old way that nature planned.
Then there is the mania of overshowing. I do not decry the show--far from it. I understand the human part of it, that pride of possessing--and parading--a "good thing." But the show maniac is as dangerous as the long-head maniac. When one considers the high-strung, nervous temperament of the fine bred dog, the real anguish to the system that a railroad journey often entails, apart from all the excitements of the show itself, and that a dog must perforce go through many ordeals of this kind before he or she can attin to championship honors, it is well to exercise the wisdom of a Solomon in this matter of "going on circuit." The best authority in the country states, regarding this matter: "Would-be purchasers rightly seek the kennels of the most successful exhibitors, and the latter try to retain their prestige, and in so doing often ruin their dogs." So that it seems to me, at least as regards the female, that championship honors are often of doubtful value, and attained at positive detriment to the all-important function of motherliood -- the capacity to bring fortli and rear sound, healthy, perfect puppies. For my part, I should always keep the ideal mother -the one of highest type in markings, expression, disposition, etc. - at home, whereas she is too often, naturally, the one most forced to the front. To my mind, she belongs at home, where the ideal mother of any kind belongs. (I am not a suffragette.) And still another fault seems the craze for breeding to a champion - any old champion (too often he is all of that) so long as he is of great repute. In that matter I have had an experience of my own. I once took my young lady to be mated with one of these great has-beens; result, absolute failure. I recently mated her to another, a two-year-old youngster boasting a great old grandsire, and seven of the perfect most, healthy puppies are the result.
Now that seems to me the point of it: to breed for health and intelligence first, and lastly for those superficial qualifications that make the show dog. Too often, this is exactly reversed. The foundations are sacrificed for the superstructure. And we of America are inclined to go a bit daft over markings. While it is true that most of the great ones have had correct markings, it is not a sine qua non, as we too often make of it.
It strikes me that the old-fashioned Collie lover is himself largely to blame for the disrepute into which his favorite has fallen. Did the fortunate owners of this dog spend cheerfully the same amount of time, trouble, and good hard coin toward the propagation and advancement of his type, the Shepherd situation would be to-day far different. A plant run wild will lose its character; intelligence and care in mating are necessary for the propagation of superior stock.
I myself have bred both types of Collie. Now, the usual price for the modern, well-bred Collie puppy at three months is from $15 to $25, which, taking into account the expense, care, and other essentials involved, generally but allows the breeder to break even. For big profits he must rely on his exceptionals.
It was only recently that an old stock-man - a Scotchman who knew the old-time Collie as he did his Bible - cameover to buy of me a Collie puppy with uncommon breadth of head, etc., which particularly pleased him, and offered me $5 for his very "canny" choice. As the youngster's mates had been sold for $2o and $25 apiece, and I was holding this one for the very qualities that the old judge admired, the offer was hardly appreciated.
Finally, as Mr. Mason says, "the trainer makes or mars." As well expect to bring up ideal children under a set of paid nursemaids, as to leave the all-important part of rearing puppies to other than the most discriminating, reliable, patient, and understanding of minds. The dog should not be the rich owner's fad, but the master's friend. To quote from a recent article of my own: "We have taken and made him what he is-dependent on man. His honest and loyal heart is proud of his vassalage. He is ever-willing to do his duty by us; let us attend, then, to the noblesse oblige of it, and do our duty by him."
And in so far as we fall short or live up to that duty shall we have perfect or imperfect specimens of the kingdom that is next to man, be they Shepherd Collie or modern Collie, or any breed whatsoever. In the making toward perfection here, as in the making toward all perfection, it Is mainly a matter of conscientious striving, sympathetic understanding, patience, justice, and common sense.
Glens Falls. N. Y. Eileen Moretta.
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