Sunday, November 10, 2013

Why a French Brittany?

A number of people have been asking me "Why a French Brittany?" when I mention that my next puppy will hopefully be one.  Most people who know me expect my next dog to be an Aussie, Sheltie or Border Collie because after all I teach, train and compete in agility, obedience and herding.  So why a hunting/sporting dog?  

I've had 5 Border Collies, 7 Aussies, 1 Pyr Shep, 1 1/2 JRTs, and 1 Sheltie.  I have had a lot of experience with herding breeds and some with Terriers (my Pyr Shep has terrier-like characteristics).  So I have decided I want a new training challenge.  I also wanted a breed that is not that common in agility and yet has the characteristics which should make a good agility dog.  

A lot of times when I come up with some new way to train something on my own or when I learn of a new way to train something I like to try it with my own dogs first to get a feel for how the method works.  It is similar with having a different breed of dog.  I like to experience first hand what many of my students may experience in training their own dog.  If I am only always training the same type of dog I may not push myself to learn more about training different types of dogs.  What training methods work for herding breeds may not work for other breeds.  I also like training dogs of different sizes for the same reasons. One can learn vicariously working with students who have dogs of different breed/type but to really experience it and appreciate what it is like, I think it is important to learn it firsthand.  My students have an assortment of breeds of dogs.  So if I want to become a better instructor and coach to my students I think I need to experience training different types of dogs and push myself out of my comfort zone as a trainer.  I also personally like to have a change of pace to keep me fresh in my training techniques.  I am confident I can train a herding breed in agility and obedience.  I have had different temperaments among my herding breeds and I have learned a lot from each and every one of them.  Having a hunting breed I am hoping will pose new training challenges for me.

I also seriously looked at my personal goals for this sport.  My first love is teaching/coaching students and my second love is training my own dogs.  My third love is competing.  So I feel to become a better coach and teacher I need to continue to broaden my own personal experience as a trainer and competitor.  With regard to competition I tend to compete with myself.  If I have a smooth and fast run then I will look at the scores but otherwise I am just comparing myself to my own standards and goals.  I enjoy competing in a variety of agility organizations.  I enjoy the challenge of training both distance for NADAC Chances and USDAA/ASCA Gamblers as well as training for tighter technical courses in AKC, UKI, USDAA and CPE. While I want to go to World Team Tryouts with one of my dogs, I am going more from my own personal growth and experience.  I enjoy technical challenges and I have a dog who enjoys it too.  I enjoy going to National competitions for the challenges they pose and the mental stamina they require.  I go to ones I enjoy because I want it to be fun for me and sometimes the environment of a national event is not that fun for me.  So with this in mind I do not feel I need to always have a dog who will be the most competitive in a local or national event.  Therefore I do not feel the pressure to have a Border Collie as my next dog.  It does not mean I will never have another one but for right now it is not something I am interested in having.

So for me to get a French Brittany is more for my own personal training challenge and goals and to help me grow as a teacher and coach.  

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