The Rough & Smooth Collie
Foundation, formation and objects and other information
In the UK the Rough and the Smooth Collie have been classed as Working (now Pastoral) breeds, but in recent years breeding has been primarily for the Show Ring, with less interest in working capabilities, and with some of the Rough Collies becoming smaller and heavier coated. Against this background there were those who were concerned that interest in the working Collie was being lost, and that its ability to work was being diminished; who felt that something needed to be done specifically to prevent this. In 1991 The Working Rough & Smooth Collie Association was formed by a few such owners, led initially by Peter Simpson of Coventry , with its Object being to "to preserve, promote and enhance the Collie as a working breed through the establishment and support of working events and tests". (Historically viewed by The Kennel Club as two distinct breeds, sharing a breed standard but with different coats; until recently Rough and Smooth Collies were allowed to be interbred to increase the gene pool, but this is no longer the case in the UK).
In due course, registration with The Kennel Club was sought and in 1993 the application was accepted. However, The Kennel Club did not feel they could accept the registration as a Breed Club - which was what had been hoped for - but said we could register as a Training Club, hence the change in name. The name can be misleading as the RSCTA is not a training club as such, though we try to include training as part of our events. However, we very much encourage owners and their Collies to take part in training and activities at their own local clubs.
The Association has always aimed to encourage breeders to consider furthering the mental and physical capabilities of their Collies. It was realised that promotion of the working abilities of Collies could best be achieved by letting Rough and Smooth Collies be seen working, at clubs and in competitions. By encouraging owners to have a go at the activities and find out that they could be great fun, and that their Collies could enjoy taking part, so it would come to be accepted for Collies to take more of a place alongside the other active breeds. People would begin asking for a Collie for this purpose. This is becoming increasingly important with the continued rise in popularity of overseas breeds, at the expenses of those for whom the UK is the country of origin, and when The Kennel Club has included the Smooth Collie in its list of 'Vulnerable Native Breeds'. At the time of its formation, some said the RSCTA would not, or could not, succeed but here we are years later, still around and gaining excellent publicity for our Collies.
We currently have members who are active, or are training, in one or more of the 'working' disciplines - Agility, Flyball, Herding, Obedience, Working Trials, Heelwork to Music - or who are simply just interested in doing something with their Collie. There are also those whose main interest is in breed showing, but who also support the Association's Objects regarding the working Collie. Some members 'work' their Collies as Assistance Dogs, or as PAT (Pets As Therapy) Dogs visiting the sick, elderly or disabled.
Some of our members are pet owners, while others have come to us after turning to working their dogs as a change from breed showing. We encourage versatility. Life is more interesting when a dog is allowed to express its other abilities, and when it has to meet various challenges in the unfolding and development of these. We welcome members from anywhere in the world. We are always pleased to have contact with those who share our love of working Collies, wherever they may live.
There is one event which we aim to hold regularly every year and that is our Club Activity Day or Weekend. These have generally been organised by our Chairman, and have so far taken place in Somerset and in Derbyshire . The events have usually included Agility and Obedience, often with 'taster' sessions when Collies and owners can try out a new activity, or help can be obtained on furthering their training and experience.
Over the years we have staged the following activities: Character Assessments, Kennel Club Good Citizens Scheme tests, Agility training day, Herding Instinct test (with sheep), 'Fun Days' including Agility and Obedience, Exemption Shows, Agility Demonstrations. We have also staged an Open Agility competition at which our Collies were quite well represented as against other individual breeds. All these events help to get active Collies noticed and to encourage their inclusion, and their greater recognition, as a working breed.
Non-member Collie-owners are always welcome at our events, and this provides an excellent introduction to the RSCTA. Our members find that one of the most enjoyable aspects of events is the opportunity they have to meet each other and to mix with other members and all their Collies. They appreciate their own Collies having the chance to enjoy the activities in a relaxed atmosphere, and to discuss training problems and solutions with like-minded enthusiasts.
Past and current publicity
Since 1999 we have had our own web site, which has played a large part in our publicity and is increasingly becoming the focus of much that we do. It can be found at www.rscta.co.uk , and there are links from the web sites of other Collie clubs, and from the main British agility web sites.
In our early days we advertised in the canine press, and much was done by word of mouth. For a number of years we have advertised, or had articles, in the International Collie Handbook, and British Collie Club handbook, taking our place alongside the Collie breed clubs. The RSCTA has also had items in the magazines and the Anniversary Handbook of the Smooth Collie Club of GB, and been frequently mentioned in other magazines and in the dog press. Items on our Annual Achievement Awards/Leagues normally appear in the breed notes of Dog World and Our Dogs , and have also appeared in Agility Eye and on the agilitynet website.
In 2001 Ringpress published a book on the Rough Collie by breeder Stella Clark in their Pet Owner's Guide series. The RSCTA contributed to this book with photographs of some of our dogs in action and with a details on training a Collie for Agility. We have also provided photographs and literature for the breed stands at Discover Dogs, both at Crufts and Earls Court.
As far as we are aware, the American Working Collie Association (AWCA), Performance Collie (PERCOL, also USA), both available through our website, and the RSCTA are the only organisations set up specifically for those who are interested in the working Collie. As one of these we feel we have an important role to play. If there are other similar groups we would love to hear from them, so we can exchange ideas and experiences.
Anyone who would like to make contact with the RSCTA is invited to get in touch with our Secretary , Jean Tuck (firstname.lastname@example.org , tel. 01889 568090) who was a keen agility competitor with her Smooth Collie, or with our Treasurer Delia Moores (email@example.com), a Collie breeder with both Rough & Smooth Collies.