by Marilyn Clayton (WCC Carting Chair)
A number of different canine organizations, including the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America, the Newfoundland Club of America, the American Rottweiler Club, the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), and the American Working Collie Association (AWCA), offer carting/draft programs that allow Collies to compete and earn titles. There are common elements among the various programs as well as numerous variations. Where a breed-specific organization is offering the program, the variations depend upon the form and function of that specific breed. Where a more all-breed program is offered (e.g. CKC), the variations are dependent upon which parent clubs had the most input/influence in designing the program.
Some of the common elements include: proper (and calm) harnessing and inspection of cart and harness for safety; basic maneuvers (forward, halt, right, left and backup); a weight requirement; entry and advanced levels; and a portion of the test to be done in a public place.
Variations include how the basic maneuvers are demonstrated; the amount of weight, terrain, and the distance the dog is required to pull said weight; position of the handler relative to the cart; whether the dog is off leash or on leash or reins; some programs include a backpacking component; others include more intricate maneuvers (e.g. AWCA requires a 360 degree pivot, to both the left and right, with a wheel of the cart remaining within a specific dimensioned circle, while the Bernese Mountain Dog Club requires the dog to bring the cart through a narrow opening); some organizations require an individual obedience portion – others require group stays in harness (some in cart); and most require a long-distance group walk, in cart, with the teams rotating positions so all teams have time at the front, in the middle and at the back of the line.
The specific criteria/requirements of the various breed-specific programs depend, of course, upon the job for which that specific breed was developed. Thus the requirements set out for true draft breeds, such as the Bernese Mountain Dog, would differ from a breed, such as the Collie, where draft/carting work would be a small proportion of the original collie's daily life as an efficient, all-around farm dog.
With that in mind, you can imagine how difficult it is to design a single program that would fairly and accurately demonstrate the workability of various breeds with such different body structure and function. That's exactly what the AKC attempted to do several years ago. And, this challenge is not limited to drafting . . . it encompasses a number of canine performance events and activities. As a result, in February of this year, the AKC Board approved a program that would acknowledge breed-specific performance events, designed and administered by AKC parent clubs that demonstrate the skills required to perform the historic function of their breed. For a nominal fee, the AKC will issue a title certificate and include those titles on pedigrees in an attempt to identify individual dogs and lines that have retained a breed’s ability to perform its original function.
The Collie Club of America, via the Working Collie Committee (WCC), has decided to develop a Carting program that meets AKC’s requirements. The WCC’s new Carting Committee consists of Marilyn Clayton (chair) and Michelle Frank.
Some may ask why the CCA would develop a Carting program when the American Working Collie Association already has one. The answer is that the AWCA is not an AKC parent club and, as such, does not meet AKC’s criteria for the program.
The WCC Carting Committee is new and has much background information to gather and peruse before beginning to lay out specific requirements for a program. This is going to take time, so please be patient! The goal of the club is to create a program that truly demonstrates the Collie’s ability as an efficient all-around farm dog.
At this time, the committee is interested in receiving constructive suggestions and ideas (in writing please) from Collie owners, who (1) have titled their Collies in carting/drafting or (2) who use their Collie as a draft dog in their day-to-day lives. The suggestions and ideas the committee is looking for are those that will lead to fair and practical ways to demonstrate, maintain and enhance the Collie’s original function as an all-around farm dog. The committee requests all who submit to include (1) the type and amount of experience they have with carting/draft work; (2) the number and types of carting/draft titles attained and under which programs they were attained; and (3) why they feel their suggestions/ideas demonstrate the skills of an all-around farm dog.
Please email your constructive suggestions, with the subject line beginning with the words “WCC Carting Program,” to either Marilyn Clayton at WoodruffCollies@shaw.ca or to Michelle Frank at email@example.com