ShowSight Presents The Bearded Collie

“AGILITY REQUIRES THE SURE-FOOTED, DEVIL-MAY-CARE ABILITIES TYPICAL OF THESE ADROIT ATHLETES.”

smile with him. Th ose characteristics bring him big wins in the show ring and a huge fan following. Female Beardies have all the same abilities and characteristics, but exer- cise their skills with elegance and finesse that often mask wily subterfuge. Should an irate owner find the lamb roast reduced to a few gristly lumps, a Beardie girl’s adoring eyes and embarrassed demeanor usually beguile her owner. Clever wench that she is, she follows that up with a lavish show of devoted, meaty kisses. A Beardie bitch is Sarah Bernhardt and Anna Pavlova on four tidy feet, and expects to get her way. Beardies excel at sports. Agility requires the sure-footed, devil-may-care abilities typical of these adroit athletes. In 2012, at the prestigious Eukanuba competition, a marvelous Beardie won the 20" class over a competitive field of powerful Border Col- lies, a breed believed to have been devel- oped from Scottish Beardies along the ‘border’ with England. Despite their common ancestry, these two breeds are not alike in structure or temperament. Th ey do share one out- standing characteristic; they need a job to do. Th ey need to work or play or train five days a week. Th e drive and energy that makes them strong and bright and able, also makes them bored and frus- trated if they are not thoroughly exercised most days, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Boredom results in destructive behav- ior. What they love best are games with an owner. Ball games, Frisbee, find the cookie, tug of war (they will win through determination), soccer, you invent it, they

will play. If obedience is a sport, and I doubt it, they are less amenable. Th ey do not care for repetition, for working too close, and for tasks they don’t see the point of. Nevertheless, a Beardie will do it, if it’s that important to the owner, and if training is full of games and excite- ment. It will take a bit more cheerleading to get a good result in training and count- ing on regular practice to prevail in per- formance may lead to disappointment. Ever friendly with a crowd, a Beardie can be seen trotting gaily along ringside greeting fans while you’re conscientiously striding through the course the judge is calling out. At the end of an agility run, while onlookers clap and cheer a nice run, a Beardie has been known to race back onto the course waving his fabulous tail in glee, and risking an NQ. Mostly, judg- es are smiling tolerantly because “after all, it’s a Beardie!” Th ey are adept herders, bred to use their voice, conscientious and plucky, and sometimes too enthusiastic. A Beardie may assert his own instinctual, embedded knowledge regardless of the trial course. Successful competition with a Beardie has to be built by mutual coop- eration and respect, not forced. A Bearded Collie can be very obsti- nate when forced, but completely ame- nable when he’s trained gently with praise and appreciation. Th ere is one event in the poignant his- tory of the Bearded Collie that under- scores the precarious gamble that brought him through an undistinguished heritage from trailing nomads in Central Asia to

conquering the rugged hills of the High- lands gathering sheep, to conquering the show ring. Although the Bearded Collie was briefly glimpsed in dog book annals before the Great War, they were subse- quently lost, disappearing back to work- ing farms mostly in Scotland and Wales, unnoticed by dog fanciers. After the Sec- ond World War, because one woman became passionately attracted to the breed and determined to find them, the Bearded Collie reappeared, this time successfully brought to the fancy. Mrs. G. O. Willison rescued the Bearded Collie from obscurity in 1944 when a Bearded Collie pup arrived instead of the Sheltie she was expecting. It was five years before she was finally able to acquire a male and from these two, Jeanie of Bothkennar and Bailie of Bothkennar, all pedigreed Beardies are descended according to Mrs. Williston. Interestingly, Jeannie was brown and Bailie was black. Because of this genetic diversity, Beadies come in four col- ors: black, brown, fawn and blue. Pigment is to match coat, as is eye color. A Bearded Collie must have an e ff ortless, ground covering movement, balanced and beautiful to watch. Because he demands exer- cise, he is a lean well muscled dog. While the breed standard calls for him to be naturally presented, show ring competitors have begun to soften his harsh coat and trim him into an unnatural silhouette. Such dogs should be considered unfavorably with respect for his heritage and his archetypal breed standard. Th e Bearded Collie is an aristocrat among dogs exactly as he is and has been for over a century.

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , O CTOBER 2014 • 237

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