I regret not learning about the farm collie movement earlier. It appears there was a great deal of enthusiasm for the idea of bringing back the old time farm collies back in the late 90’s but today that enthusiasm has, for the most part, either petered out or been redirected towards the English Shepherd breed. When the Farmcollie list got started after 1997 it seemed most people were interested in bringing back a dog that worked on the farm similar to what is seen in certain lines of English Shepherd, but that looked more collie like. From what I have read, Erika Dubois placed a great deal of emphasis on looks in addition to behavior. J. Richard McDuffy saw a definite difference between the English Shepherds and the Old Time Farm Shepherds, and when he chose English Shepherds to breed his dogs to, he chose those with the right brains and with a more collie look. So I ask, where has that movement gone? English Shepherd groups seem to be flourishing, the AWFA, which seems to be the heir to late 90’s farm collie movement, is heavily weighted towards English Shepherds. Erika Dubois gave up on her efforts to restore the old Nova Scotian Farm Collie, Rick McDuffy is no longer involved in maintaining and promoting the breed. The future of the old Scotch Collie looks dim at this point, to quote the oracle of delphi.
“Tell the king; the fair wrought house has fallen.
No shelter has Apollo, nor sacred laurel leaves;
The fountains are now silent; the voice is stilled.
It is finished.”
So now, over 12 years since the founding of the Farmcollie list and even more since the Friends of the Old Farm Collie website, where are we?
Try as I might I cannot find a litter that are descendants of Dunrovin’s Ole Shep that are less than 50% English Shepherd. And I don’t mean collie looking English Shepherd, but English Shepherd looking English Shepherd. The lines have just not been kept up or have been totally absorbed within the English Shepherd breed. See Jan Hilborn’s discussion of the different types of old fashioned collies here.
Yet, who today is breeding with any of these kinds of goals in mind? There are a few, but very few and far between.
I would like to see some renewed enthusiasm in this movement, to rekindle the fire that evidently existed in the late 90s and early 00s. The chart below shows the number of posts to the Farmcollie list in August each year since 97, you can clearly see that participation has ebbed drastically since 2006.
Looking more closely at the archives it just seems to drop off sometime mid-summer of 2006. The AWFA group in that same month had 474 posts, so it seems that the enthusiasm simply shifted to other areas, predominantly English Shepherd related areas.
Don’t take this as a put down for English Shepherds because it is not. English Shepherds are fine dogs that have preserved most of what has been lost in AKC Rough Collies as far as temperament and working abilities goes. However, looks-wise I feel they are not what was intended when this movement began, nor are they what I personally would like to have in a working farm collie.
In researching much of the content of this website I can see a glimpse of a type of collie that existed before the demise of the small family farm, a glimpse of the type of collie that existed before the advent of dog shows and herding trials. It’s a dog with a great deal of diversity in looks and ability, but also a dog that was unique in the world of dogs in looks, in working ability, in loyalty and in sagacity among other things. I encourage you to explore this website and read about these dogs that almost passed into history without anybody noticing. This is the standard I will work towards, no other standard need be written than the epitaphs and photographs of these dogs who lived a century ago.
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