Monday, August 23, 2010

Lost Language
A language that was spoken for the last 65,000 years was lost with the death of Boa Senior. She was the last one to speak the language of a tribe from India.

The black and white pottery technique of the Anasazi people is likewise gone. It was a precise skill and technique that was practiced for a millennium.

The keepers of the border collie breed seem to understand how one must fight to keep the instinct and working ability of these great dogs intact.
And so I ask, what about the skill and the knowledge of these great dog handlers? How many are really left that can fluently "speak the language?"
At the Lacamas trial last weekend, there was really only one man that could fluently speak the language. I try to understand, knowing I only comprehend the simplest parts of this amazing skill. I am frustrated that I am running out of time and scared for all of us, because I fear that the intricate details could be lost.
Maybe it is the photographer in me that feels panicked that this knowledge and wisdom is not being preserved and duplicated to the extent that it deserves. The horse industy has left us in the dust in the learning and knowledge sharing department. Despite all those damn cars, people are still pretty handy with a horse!
I am sure there will be those that disagree and say there is plenty of knowledge out there and that it is being preserved. To those, I refer you to the Lacamas score boards. Yes, some among us kind-of speak the great language, some know a few words, but only one really knew the language fluently on that day.
So, what does the future hold, and what will happen to the knowledge that we do have now, and the ability to do this fantastic dance with these dogs? I ask, did one child, or even a teenager run a dog at the Lacamas trial, despite there being a novice class? I personally don't know a young handler competing. Time is ticking, I feel panicked, not only for me to learn, but for all of us, and for a skill that I fear will fade away as quietly as a language.
When knowledge is gone it is gone! Anyone out there wish they could ask Johnny Wilson a couple of things?........


  1. We are lucky in that we have an active youth program associated with the Wisconsin Working Stockdog Association. They do 1 - 2 clinics just for the kids and have a youth division at some of the trials. I noticed in some pictures of a recent clinic with Julie Hill, that there were one, maybe two, kids who participated in that clinic. We also have one teenager here in MN who participates in novice trials and has come down to my place to work her dog.

    We are trying here in the upper Midwest to keep some kids going.

  2. We have a family here in Western WA, both of their kids run dogs. Their son is training up his own Border Collie pup right now and running another in Ranch. I see a few junior handlers in ASCA and AHBA events, but both clubs have a juniors program.

    I started working dogs in my early twenties and boy has the sport changed in a decade. I was lucky enough to have a great mentor, who helped me train my dog or loaned me sheep even when I couldn't pay.

    I think we need more people willing to mentor, not just teach but actually mentor. Taking on promising handlers and helping them come along. Passing on the knowledge from the masters and recognizing the raw gift in others I think is one thing that is missing. I know a lot of top horse trainers take in working students. Some move on and some stay on as business partners.

    And yes I agree after working many years in the equine industry, the Border Collie industry is far behind. I feel we are still in or infancy, and this sport is about to explode in popularity.

  3. Grant Musgrove is passing it on to his daughter Bailey who ran in her first trial this past weekend at EID, and won it. She beat Wendy Schmaltz's nephew, Joey who was a close second. I wish I had started that young!

  4. I understand what you wrote deep in the marrow of my bones! It's not just the young is the mystic art of knowing dogs and sheep beyond what it "appears"....a second sense of what was, and is and is to come all in a blink of an eye......beyond a blood does one become what we saw time and again (times six at LaCamas)? I seek with you......

  5. Livin life, who are you?? You understand actually understand me!!!!!