by Claudia Frank of JusDandy Shelties & Border Collies
Well, the answer is “yes” and “no”!
The “yes” part of the answer comes because most Shelties do not have any trouble understanding the difference between the breed ring and performance events. First the commands are different, the body posture of the handler/trainer is different, the equipment is different and the surroundings are different. These are all keys to the dog defining what is expected of them. If the dog seems to be confused make a list of each command and body motion and under it write how the dog should respond. Next to that, record how the dog actually behaves. If these two columns are not the same you have some homework to do to clarify your commands and body language to develop consistency with what you do and what you expect.
The answer “no” is based upon the fact that a dog cannot be in two different weights, and in different locations at the same time. Also, there are outside factors such as the size of one’s pocketbook and number of vacation days. These are defining factors as to how much we can do with our Shelties.
The BIG determining factor is what you place as your FIRST priority.
What are your goals for each venue at a specific time? Goals may readily change with condition and coat of the dog and level of skills and their reliability but you can only have ONE FIRST priority.
An example on one end of the spectrum would be to have the First Priority be preparing for a possible place on the AKC World Agility Team and attending a few conformation matches when you have a weekend free. This puts your emphasis on the performance side and your dog would probably be quite thin and muscled in a slightly different way than if he was only exercising on the flat. If your dog was close to the height limit for the World Team(s), you may have combed out the undercoat on its back and shoulders.
The opposite end of the spectrum would be having your dog in full coat and in good breed ring weight at an age that presents the dog closest to the standard. The dog would be well muscled but in a way to accentuate his gaiting, including nice reach and drive. It would also be fully trained for breed ring requirements. The handler, whether owner or someone else, would have the ability to present the dog to its best advantage too. With the dog ready to win it is shown where and when it will get a good look from the judges. From the performance angle the dog can continue training if it is only going to shows on weekends, and when ready, competing in the performance venues. Keep in mind, though, the dog can earn legs toward titles it may not be in the type of condition needed in some venues to get the very best out of the dog.
So, it would seem that despite the fact that our wonderful Sheltie can distinguish one type of required performance over another, there may be enough other opposing outside requirements that inhibit seeking top performances in both breed ring and performance venues at the very same time.
Author Claudia Frank of JusDandy Shelties & Border Collies
resides at Finelia Farm, near Greenfield, Ohio