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Letter to the Editor
From Kaye Harris, Crown Point Australian Shepherds, Aussie Times March/April 1994 p. 10
Why are people breeding Australian Shepherds to Border Collies, calling and registering them as Aussies?
Most of these people (all but one) are newcomers to Aussies. They don't have the knowledge, and certainly not the right, to say what is best for our working dogs today. I hear lots of arguments (excuses?). I hear, "We need a larger gene pool of working Aussies." We're not providing that by *mixing* gene pools. We have a gene pool of good working Aussies, but I'm not writing a debate.
The opinions of a few should never dictate to a majority. Unfortunately, this sometimes happens; case in point, AKC's takeover of the Aussie. What started with a few unethical and misguided people cross-breeding could eventually contaminate our entire working Aussie gene pool. I hear, "Oh, they don't look or work like Border Collies after the second generation." So, what's the point? Or, "There's only a little Border Collie in this dog." Isn't that like being a little pregnant?
I hear, "Ranchers don't care if their Aussies have Border Collie or not, they only care that they work." Well, those same ranchers wouldn't care if these working dogs were registered with A.S.C.A. or AKC either. So that argument only gives credence (they think) to the people trying to win in the trial arena at any cost. Why else would they register cross-breeds as purebred Australian Shepherds?
I hear, "The working Aussie is in real trouble and probably won't be around in ten to twenty years." The quickest way to insure the annihilation of our breed is to cross-breed. Also, the conflict between people advocating cross-breeding and those against has the potential to divide our working force irrevocably. Working Aussie owners need to be pulling together for the betterment and promotion of our dogs, and education of the aforementioned ranchers about our Aussie's ability and value in their operations.
I hear, "If A.S.C.A. or AKC registers these dogs, why shouldn't we trial and breed them?" What price do you put on your integrity and honesty? You say you're not in this for the money. What then? Ego? Peer respect for your *talent* as a trainer? Does it really puff you up when you cheat? Do you think your peers respect a liar?
If registries can't or won't deal with this issue, the Aussie breeders must. My hope is that those of you who are basically honest, good folks will wake up before it's too late. And the rest of you - those who think the working Australian Shepherd isn't good enough without slipping in a little Border Collie - you could find another breed. One that suits you as it is. Or make a breed that suits you, and call it what it is. But don't continue giving lip service to *bettering* our Aussies by changing their genotypic makeup simply for your own personal gain, glory or gratification.