I had to admit that I had seen more Border participants than other terriers, but I mentioned a couple of other breeds. And I threw in Dachshunds for good measure. Her eyes narrowed and I had a real sense of where this conversation was headed. “Well, do all Border owners participate in the maintenance and preparation needed to put on an event?” I, of course, sang Paul’s praises as he’s donated time and energy over and over again in all areas of preparation and maintenance for ATC trials. Her response was “That’s great, but Paul is 30-40 years younger than most club members. And he’s one person.” Again, she was spot on. The membership in most clubs, from all-breed to specialty clubs, is a good number of decades past “Over the Hill” – which my son said happened at 30. Eventually, the question was “Do you think earthdog has fallen out of favor as both dogs and handlers continue to age?” Again, I had no answer. The discussion ended without any firm resolution and more questions than answers.
So, I’m putting the questions to you. As members of an involved earthdog club, what do you see? Now, and 5, maybe 10 years from now? Earthdog can be physically demanding for both dog and handler. But some of us are still breeding puppies. Young, potential earthdog participants. And with puppies come new owners. Are any of those owners young enough to be interested in and able to participate in this sport? Maintenance and preparation is an issue for all clubs. This, too, is physically demanding. Certainly, it’s possible to hire the work done. But is that financially feasible when there is no guarantee of entries to pay the bill? How much influence does time of year have on participation, recognizing that dead of winter and summer are not considerations? Would it be beneficial to have trials closer together?
This is an ongoing situation, as none of us will be getting any younger or any taller. Perhaps the next article will be yours. After you have mulled this over, maybe the answer will come like a bolt from the blue. All thoughts and suggestions are invited and appreciated.