Pastoral Big Hats Are Dogmatic Bigots

Priest: Gay marriage... Sheep trialer: Sporter Collies...  It's not natural or traditional! Permitting it will destroy our historical institutions. If we allow it, worse abuses will happen and my book here says it's against the rules. No dice.  We can't stop them doing it, but demand they call it something else and we won't sanctify their behavior in our records.  Evolution isn't really our thing. Heck, we just let women join. We don't care if we're out of touch.  We shouldn't allow them to adopt or breed, lest they grow in number.  Offspring of such parents are more likely to be degenerate and are not welcome in our company. Our greatest fear is that our kin end up like that.  We wish they didn't even exist.  Trust us, we have big hats.

There’s a lot of symmetry between the Church’s dogmatic and bigoted stand against gay marriage and the sheeple arguments against breeding Border Collies for sport or any other activity save trial “work.”

Both tradition-based cultures are authoritarian and exclusionary when it comes to who gets to breed and raise the next generation.  Both keep extensive records of sex and who is allowed to engage in it with who else.  Both sanctify the new offspring of this approved sex and offer papers in testament to membership within their ranks.  Both fancy themselves as shepherds guiding their flocks.  Both are intransigent, conservative, and suspicious of change.  Both are thousands of miles and hundreds of years distant from the lands and cultures of their origin.  And both are anachronistic and increasingly out of touch with modern culture.

Both are surprisingly quiet about how recent their actual institutions are and how often they’ve over-turned their own culture or administration, instead preferring to appeal to great longevity.  The ISDS didn’t start publishing pedigrees until ~1950 and the ABCA is younger than I am coming to be in 1982.  Likewise the Roman Catholic Church didn’t settle on what books were and weren’t in the Bible until 1562 and the Protestants said to hell with this soon after coming up with their own canon, and the King James Version for the Church of England–which was ironically founded around redefining marriage–wasn’t finished until 1611.  Of course all of these shepherd schools have been revising their dogma ever since, with big changes like Vatican II ruffling a lot of feathers as recently as 1965, and new versions of the good book coming out almost continually.

Consequences of Breeding Sporter Collies. [] Plague of Locusts [] Sheep Industry Collapse [] Death of First Born [] Ruination of the Breed [] Zombie Apocalypse [x] People breed quality dogs from familiar stock to meet their needs.

Both the Church and the sheeple shun the opposing activity as unnatural and unproductive, and they tolerate it only insomuch as they can’t prevent it from happening save for cultural shaming, peer pressure, and ostracizing anyone who proclaims that it is not a sin or dare engage in those activities.  Both holier-than-thou institutions also forget just how different their governing culture is from the culture of the governed.  The Church is a male-dominated sexually segregated celibate hierarchy that draws its numbers from and ministers a doctrine of be fruitful and multiply to co-ed unions that are supposed to have lots of sex in the pursuit of growing membership.  Childless men who live with men, women who live with women and are married to invisible deities who are fundamentally opposed to men living with men and women living with women who likewise can’t produce children from their union.  Strange ironies.

The sheeple are likewise strangely ironic in their hypocrisy in that their foundational activity is agricultural improvement sport that began as adjuncts to fancy shows and now their biggest enemy is those self-same fancy shows.  Just as the vast majority of people are neither celibate priests or gay, the vast majority of Border Collies are never going to compete in a trial or pageant and the number of sport bred dogs greatly outweighs either of these other competition concerns.  And, of course, the number of “just pets” bred Border Collie dogs dwarfs all of the other categories combined.  But like the Church, the lure of dogma and institutional power makes the minority in charge of the doctrine which impacts the majority.

And in this regard both priesthoods demand that other people not be given the freedom to associate and reproduce with whom they want out of an overly-prejudicial concern for protecting their own flocks.  Mostly out of dogmatic concerns than any ability to document actual harm.  The Church lashes out at gay unions on grounds that it will damage the traditional institution of marriage with no evidence of such. The sheeple lash out at sport and show bred collies on grounds that their presence will damage the traditional institution of shepherd work and trials with no evidence of such.  The notion that people simply want the freedom to associate with and breed with others of their own choice is slandered by the Big Hats as trying to undermine and corrupt their protected group.  But we know that gays marrying isn’t going to result in a corruption of straight marriage, nor will breeding sporter collies prevent anyone from breeding a shepherding-focused dog on a ranch.

Traditional marriage has its own problems which are entirely unrelated to gays and their desire to have their unions recognized.  Trying to prevent or rebrand gay marriages as “civil unions” does nothing to mitigate those extant problems.  Likewise, true working dogs have a basket of their own problems, none of which are caused by the growing popularity of Border Collies bred for endeavors off of the farm, and bitching about calling these dogs something other than “Border Collies” is likewise a pointless diversion.

The Border Collie genie is out of the bottle, there’s no shoving it back in and it’s an undeniable truth that the majority of people own and breed and use Border Collies for pursuits that have nothing to do with sheep trial sport or professional livestock ranches.  Trying to carve these people out of the Border Collie family accomplishes about the same as ostracizing your gay children.  It’s pointless division and engenders hatred instead of inclusive and adaptive family structures that can weather change and challenge together.

As it stands today, most breeds don’t even allow you to marry outside the family, and we all know that’s unhealthy.  Border Collies aren’t much different, very few marriages are allowed outside the family and require blood tests, religious conversion, and a donation to the Church.  Actual working people aren’t so dogmatic and breed within the landrace without papers quite often.  This innovation is why the working dogs of the American West in 2014 aren’t particularly like the working dogs of the border regions of England and Scotland from the 1700s.

Despite being a popular breed, which genetically is a very good thing, the desire to create sub-species out of our breed and excommunicate a good portion of the dogs doesn’t help.  It just throws up more barriers to people like me who want to live in the city and do city sports with my Border Collies and breed them in a way that preserves their genetic diversity and doesn’t double down on the continued squandering of the gene pool.  There should be a place at the table for me and my dogs, instead most zealots think I’m Satan, or at least Judas willing to betray the doctrine of their made-up Gods for some perceived profit.  I don’t demand anyone else breed like me or breed to my dogs against their will, but freedom and choice is not the name of the game with these people.

These people are convinced that their trial-bred dogs are the epitome of working dogs, that what they do is not a sport but actual agriculture, and that the biggest threat to that endeavor isn’t the collapse of the US Sheep industry, but the rise of Sporter Collies.  And that such dogs need to be as shunned and ostracized as the show BCs.  Ignore the real problems, don’t expand the market or the gene pool, don’t even preserve what you have… divide it and double down on intransigence in the face of change.  And hey, trust us, we have Big Hats.

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About Christopher

Christopher Landauer is a fifth generation Colorado native and second generation Border Collie enthusiast. Border Collies have been the Landauer family dogs since the 1960s and Christopher got his first one as a toddler. He began his own modest breeding program with the purchase of Dublin and Celeste in 2006 and currently shares his home with their children Mercury and Gemma as well. His interest in genetics began in AP Chemistry and AP Biology and was honed at Stanford University.