Can We Improve

By Ed Emanuel
Editorial in the National Stock Dog Magazine, 1959

Ed Emanuel wrote the editorial below for the winter 1959 issue of The National Stock Dog Magazine.

Can We Improve…

On the Present System Now in Use by the Sheep Dog Men in Establishing a “Universal All-Breed” Field Trial Plan?

“In the past two or more years I have made an intensive study and did all possible research that would eventually lead to a field trial plan that would be suitable for use by any or ALL of the STOCK WORKING Breeds.

I have made repeated requests to all parties interested in such a plan and written many PERSONAL letters to well known breeders, asking them to voice their opinions and submit their plans and ideas as to HOW THEY would conduct a field trial. This was done in an effort to secure an over-all picture or summary of thoughts from all parts of the Nation.

May I say “THANKS to all of you, who have given of your time and thoughts. We hope you will all have the opportunity to see, and compete (if you wish) in Field Trials open to ALL breeds of working dogs.” Lest I omit the name of some contributor to this cause, and cause offense to someone, I believe it best to abstain from the personal mention of any of the good friends of our cause. IF YOU have helped in any way at all “WE THANK YOU.”

As I have said many times before, one of the essential qualities of our future trials is that we MUST have a STANDARD PLAN, whereby, each competitor can train for it at home (wherever that may be, whether it be in Maine, Ohio, or Texas) so that they, that is BOTH dog and MASTER will know WHAT will be expected of them at any and every place of TRIALS. The Border Collie owners and sheepmen have realized the importance of this matter and have had a STANDARD trial procedure for many, many years. How many, I would not even attempt to guess. Perhaps it dates back the Trials in Scotland.

Almost invariably the plans and ideas which were submitted to me for consideration, had one thing in common, they were made to fit the sender’s own particular barnyard fences, pens, etc., which you all know varies in a thousand ways, but one thing they all had in common, whether they realized it or not, was that they all expected about the same things of their dogs, namely, “to go out and SEARCH for the stock,” “to GATHER them together,” “to FETCH them in,” “To DRIVE”, and “to PEN.” Agreed? O.K., then, LOOK HERE. STUDY this sketch of the plan now in use by the Border Collie people: 

Doesn’t IT incorporate just about every move that the average stockman would require of HIS dog regardless of Breed, or the kind of livestock or poultry that he might choose to work? As I understand it, this field trial area is supposed to be about 800 ft. wide by 1500 ft. long but is often varied because of the topographical condition of the area in which the trials is to be held. Last year at the Hershey, Pa. trials it was reduced to 350 ft. wide by 800 ft. long, in order to make every part of the performance visible to all the spectators. Regardless of the size the “requirements” are still STANDARD as far as dog and handler are concerned. Points earned, and “Titles” awarded dogs for working various kinds of livestock or poultry could be decided upon later.

I have not consulted the North American Sheep Dog Society as yet, to determine what their reaction would be, relative to the adoption of their plan, by all the stock-working breeders for Universal Stock Working Trials. Personally I would think that they would be pleased with the idea for several reasons. The main one being that it would enable any and all Border Collie owners to compete against All other breeds on a plan already familiar to them, at any OPEN Trial in any part of the country. Another reason – which I hate to mention – is that in case any or all of the OTHER working breeds were NOT able to make a worthy showing on their plan then surely they would have the laugh on us. In which case we might all have to become Border Collie owners in order to take part in Field Trials. Wouldn’t that be terrible?

As to whether or not the SPEED and AGILITY shown by the Border Collie in the performance of his duties is an essential qualification, is a debatable subject, which Universal Field Trials may help to settle. No doubt there are many who prefer a dog that works in a slow and patient manner. Trial rules cannot be expected to stipulate just HOW the dog shall work with regard to SPEED because these things are determined by the breeding and temperament of the dog, and to a certain extent the disposition of the owner or handler. But regardless of all trifles, variations and geographical conditions let us hope that we can all come to some sort of satisfactory agreement for a UNIVERSAL FIELD TRIAL PLAN that will be usable by all working breeds in common. Trials may then be confined to the limitations of the various working breeds or in some cases may be open to any and all comers from all of the stock working breeds, depending on the locality and the size of the area taken in by the trial, and of course, the sponsors. We have worked out a plan which we trust will be a great boon to the many owners of Stock Working breeds of dogs, who are not so located to make it possible to own stock on which their dogs may work. We believe this plan enable these owners to train their dogs in DIRECTIONAL CONTROL (without the use of the livestock) to the extent that they may possibly be permitted to “try out on working stock or poultry WHEN the opportunity presents itself at some future LOCAL field trial.” In order to explain the workings of this plan it will require a reasonably well drawn sketch, which must be made into a cut for printing in this magazine. We have neither of these prepared just now, for this issue, so please bear with me until we are able to present this plan in its fullness.”

~ E.G. Emanuel
The National Stock Dog Magazine, Winter 1959 issue