ORIGIN

It must be remembered that before anything else the Border Collie is a sheepdog.
He is renowned as the world’s greatest sheepdog and would have to be the most
widely used working dog around today. The name itself gives some indication as to
the dogs’ origins and so the reasons for its basic structure.
The Border Collie was originally developed in and for the conditions existing on the
vast tracts of land on the Welsh and Scottish borders with England. Here the terrain
varies from mountains to sweeping moorlands, the winter weather conditions being
very bleak with snow, wind and sleet. Land such as this was suitable for very little
except sheep and with the introduction of sheep grew the need for a suitable herding
dog.
It is believed the Border Collie comes from a very mixed ancestry of larger and less
sensitive dogs such as the Bob-tailed sheepdog and the Bearded Collie. The Border
Collie, as we know him today, probably emerged over two hundred years ago from
this more rugged but intelligent stock. Selective breeding helped develop a dog that
could cope with the harsh conditions and the work required. Size and agility to cope
with the mountainous terrain, stamina and economy of movement to cope with the
moorlands, coat and ear type for the weather conditions.
Sheep can be anywhere from nervous/frightened to aggressive. The ‘stealth’ referred
to in the Standard is the Border Collies’ ability to ‘work’ his flock in a manner that
does not disturb or distress them – a light footed, quiet movement, not drawing
attention to itself until required.
The first sheepdog trial was held in 1876. With the introduction of International
Sheepdog Trials in 1906 the outstanding ability of the Border Collie became apparent to the whole world and he subsequently became very much sought after in other
countries, e.g. New Zealand and Australia. In conjunction with these very early sheepdog trials there was often held a competition to find the ‘best looking’ dog entered –
a forerunner to our modern dog show.
The Border Collie is still very close to his working origins. In Australia in the early 50’s
several states had drawn up their own standards for the breed but it was not until
1963 that the ANKC adopted a national standard for the Border Collie. Successful
breeding to type was often difficult during these early years, one factor being that
until the early 60’s Border Collies from working stock, or with unknown pedigrees,
could be registered for breeding and the showring. In UK, where the breed originated,
it did not enter the showring until 1976 when it received Kennel Club recognition,
and in USA the Border Collie was not given full recognition as a show dog in the
Herding Group until 1995

To A Champion Dead
The light is dimmed in your loyal eyes,
Your swift white feet in the grass are still;
No more, old champion, wary and wise,
Shall you gather your sheep upon Troney hill!
No more shall you scatter the morning dew
As you make your cast with the rising sun;
But the shepherd world shall remember you
As long as a dog on the hill shall run!

For those who have seen you stoop and fly
Like an arrow loosed from an archer’s hand
Hold your sheep with that masterful eye,
Crouch and creep at the least command –
Those who have watcher you ‘drive’ and ‘pen’.
‘Shed’ and ‘wear’, on a stubborn three –
Have seen what never on earth again
The lover of dogs may be spared to see!

The short, sharp word of command shall pass
When the sheep in the showring turn and break
But no white breast shall gleam in the grass
As, alert, your answering turn you take.
Trophy and cup in the cottage stand,
Triumphs you won o’er the sheep-world’s best;
But what shall they solace that lonely hand,
Champion Kep, that your tongue caressed?

Over your grave when the hill winds blow,
Kep, old Kep, will you hear the cheers,
The ringing plaudits you learned to know
In those glorious full-lived champion years?
Over your grave as the night-dews fall
Will they bring you a memory kind and true
Of the master who loved you better than all
And faced the world with his pride of you?

-Will H Ogilvie

This is a poem written to honour “Kep 13”, also known as Auld Kep, a working border
collie that won the title of International Supreme Champion for sheepdogs in 1908 &
1909.