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The Breed to Win

Amanda Nelson shares her experiences with perceptions of Border Collies in agility.

Just about a year ago someone asked me how many dogs I have. I replied, "I have three Border Collies," and the response I received was "Oh, of course you do, that is the kind of breed you need to win." She meant no harm by the comment and had no ill intent, but still, to this day, I think about the immediate reaction that I sometimes get from people when I say I have Border Collies.The most common reaction is similar to the one above: that I have Borders because I want to win. 

This topic bothers me down to the core. If I had a more uncommon agility breed, I would be met with reactions of amazement and how I must be doing agility strictly for that connection with my dog and the sheer fun of it. Whereas owners of Border Collies are met with the attitude that we are competing to win and we are in it for the ribbons. 

I love my Border Collies. I love them as dogs, not as tools to win or as means to go to championships. They are my breed. I love the way they look, their attitude and the way they learn. 

Yes, most Borders are fast and yes, they do win. But if I was running a Beagle who was fast and won every class, I would be met with high fives. but, for some reason, owners of Border Collies are met with the attitude of "Oh, of course you won." 

If someone has owned a dog who wasn't a Border Collie, but then decides to get a BC, they are said to be going to "the dark side." This entire Border Collies vs. everyone else ideal has always baffled me. I believe we should all be able to play in agility with whatever breed we want and all receive the same show of support. We all love our different breeds, and I think we should all love them for who they are, small or tall, fast or slow. 

My breed is Border Collies, win or lose. 

Ally (bottom) and Try (top), courtesy of Amanda Nelson.

This article first appeared at and is shared with permission.

Amanda Nelson has been competing in agility for 20 years and has been teaching agility across the country for 12 years. She provides canine massage and acupressure as well as canine nutrition, herbology and energy therapy throughout the country at agility shows. Amanda has integrated her massage therapy with acupressure and reflexology to create Fluid Motion Bodywork. Visit her website for online training options. 


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