by Gwen Stevenson
(Working Aussie Source editor's note: Gwen Stevenson was a founding member of ASCA, who lived in Oak Run, California. This is a collection of her own and other people's stories, articles, and correspondence, some of which was first published in the newsletter of the Animal Research Foundation, one of the earliest organizations to recognize the Aussie. It was eventually assembled into a small book, published by Dorrance & Co. in 1972, now out of print. The following portions are the initial pages of the larger work.
It must be noted that, although it is all of historical interest, the genetic information in these articles is now known to be incorrect.
For easier online reading, this work has been divided into several sections, and has been edited slightly for purposes of clarity only; some headings have been added. The text is original.)
Part One contents:
• Australia and Australian Breeds by Gwen Stevenson (pp 1-3)
• A letter from Eloise Hart on the founding of ASCA (pp 3-4)
• The Australian Shepherd, Origin-History-Uses by Janeane Harper (pp 4-5)
This book is written for the breed of dog known as the Australian Shepherd and from the owners of these wonderful dogs. I was nominated and elected president of the Australian Shepherd Club of America, Inc., for a three-year term June 18, 1963.
Since my term began, I have kept all correspondence, which includes some very interesting stories and history on these dogs. This book contains some of that information which I have received permission from the breeders and owners to print. From the origin of the club to its officers and members, all dates and places are to the best of my recollection.
Regarding the origin of the Australian Shepherd dog, many trace these dogs from the Scottish Border Collie that was sent to Australia to herd sheep, and there crossed with a Merle Collie belonging to a rancher. As the pups lacked the stamina required for herding sheep over the vast plains of Australia, the were bred to a Dingo, the wild dog of that Country.
The Dingo is an unusual animal, according to this account form the Kennel Control Council of Melbourne, Australia: " The Dingo in his native state shows amazing intelligence in the working of stock preparatory to going in for his kill. Dingoes can work alone or in pairs, and isolate a beast from a flock with all the skill of a competitor in a sheep dog trial. The Dingo, too, can cover enormous distances at an effortless lope and seems to be immune to fatigue."
The results of this breeding were husky pups of predominantly blue coloring. In time, they showed remarkable endurance and intelligence. Ranchers were satisfied and continued breeding and working this type of sheep dog. They proved to be natural heelers, nipping the heels of the herd but never bringing blood. They were very patient, yet always alert, with an eagerness to work which has made them a favorite of their owners.
Mrs. C. Bede Maxwell wrote in 1956 in Popular Dogs Magazine: " Australians must come to this West Coast to see their first Australian shepherd. At home we haven't any. Cross my heart. Investigation suggests the name was first applied in this county to dogs coming in with Australian sheep. Bred from when they proved their worth as herders, their stock shows wide variation of type and coloring. The American Kennel Club will have none of them (and rightly! ): Australian stud books would be embarrassed if required to claim them. However, West Coasters like them, and puppies find ready sale at the low prices considered by farmers the world over sufficient to pay for dogs which save them the wages of men. In haphazard combinations and recombination's, these dogs from the Australian working breeds carry obviously the genes of Kelpie, Border Collie and, if prevalent "glass eyes" are considered, the Merle. No wonder they work expertly with sheep."
OTHER WORKING DOGS IN AUSTRALIA
The Australian Cattle Dog was developed about 1802 to work cattle in Australia. He is seventeen to twenty inches tall at withers, weighs forty pounds, has dark brown eyes, pricked ears, long tail, moderately short straight coat, with thick underfur, of mottled blue, with tan or black markings. Sometimes called the Queensland Heeler or Merles.
The Australian Kelpie was produced in Australia for herding sheep. It is believed to have originated from a cross of two distinct types of intelligence and gentleness. These dogs have produced true types for sixty years; seventeen to twenty inches high, stocky build, pricked ears, brown eyes, short coat of solid color, reds preferred.
The Border Collie is nineteen to twenty- two inches tall with dark eyes, semi - erect ears, fairly long coat of black or tan with white ruff and other markings, abundant manes.
The English Shepherd is a distinctively American dog, sturdy, quick moving, heavier than the Border Collie, with predominately black and tan markings.
The Leopard Dog has hound ears, smooth hair, often merle with one or two "glass eyes." He has plenty of courage and fight, is excellent with wild cattle. Believed to have some Blue Tick Hound blood, which gives him the ability to hunt lost cattle. Popular in southern United States.
The Australian Heeler is nineteen to twenty inches high, weighs twenty-two to thirty-five pounds, red or blue speckled, short harsh coat, erect ears, works silently with cattle.
The Barb is popular in Australia as a sheep dog, twenty-two to twenty-four inches in height, weighs forth to forty-five pounds is all black with short hair and erect, pointed ears.
A LETTER FROM ELOISE HART ON THE FOUNDING OF ASCA
The following is a letter written by the first president of the Australian Shepherd Club.
It was in May, 1957, that the first meeting was held at Himmel Park, Tucson, Arizona. All Australian Shepherds and their owners were invited. I had called on every veterinarian, kennel, pet shop and feed store to get names and addresses and sent them cards. We had a good crowd and saw some beautiful, well mannered dogs. At that time it was decided to form a club. The first recorded meeting, then, was on June 9, 1957, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. N. W. Spaulding. these officers were elected: Mrs. A. Studley Hart, president; Mr. N. W. Spaulding, first vice president; Mrs. Hart, president; Mr. N. W. Spaulding, first vice president; Mrs. J. W. Reid, second vice president; Mrs. Frank Orthey, secretary-treasurer; and Miss Betty B. Baker, corresponding secretary.
At that meeting, proposed standards were read, discussed and agreed upon. These had been worked out by a group of Aussie owners with help from AKC judges of similar breeds. You would have enjoyed seeing us measuring and posing our dogs, evaluating their good and bad points, and comparing them with a sheep dog registry. This in attempt to keep the breed pure and prevent cross-breeding with German Shepherds, Collies, even with hounds - hence the long ears on some of our dogs.
Well, I wish you could have felt our excitement when we received a telegram from Mr. Emanuel ( Mr. E. G. Emanuel, National Stock Dog Registry, Butler, Indiana ) saying: "Will register Australians as a separate breed. Am sending proposition by air mail." This was the result of some correspondence between us and we rushed to send in registration applications. My wonderful Panda was the first, A100-53228, registered March 22, 1958.
Our little club continued with great enthusiasm. Jay Sisler visited one of our matches, and his dog "Queenie" stole the show. At the "Sit-Stay" command, all the dogs were sitting for three minutes, with one minute to go, Queenie got up on her hind legs and walked to Jay! The other dogs were dumbfounded. We have a wonderful scrapbook, too, in our Tucson club, which is a real joy to browse through. You will note on the enclosed newsletter that we have from time to time considered AKC registration! Wishing you continued success with the club.
THE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD Origin-History-Uses
written by Mrs. Janeane Harper of Brewster, Kansas, for the Australian Shepherd Club of America, Inc.
(ed. note: Ms. Harper was another founding member of ASCA)
The Australian Shepherd was first seen arriving with large bands of sheep in California from Australia. Not knowing the origin and history of these small dogs, ranchers and farmers in that area were quite taken with the working ability of the Australian Shepherd. These blue dogs with eyes of blue and brown were seen working very silently and smoothly, bunching, driving and penning sheep. Very fleet of foot and never seeming to tire, The Australian Shepherd soon became a dog to talk about.
Some of the ranchers and farmers in the California area were so taken with the working ability of Australian Shepherds on sheep that they decided to try them on other livestock. Doing so, they found this breed more than capable. With their natural working ability, Australian Shepherds soon became a favorite. They were found to be easily trained, natural watch dogs and very good companions for children as well as adults.
Never seeming to tire, this breed of dog could be called on at any time to help out and were soon found to be happiest when at work, wanting only to please their master. Weather was the least of their worries. It was not odd to see them asleep in the snow, even though warm quarters were nearby. Being very sturdy, this breed required no special care. All they ask for is a hard day's work, food, a place to sleep, a pat on the head, and a word of praise.
This breed could be corrected severely and would not sneak or run. Instead, in just a matter of minutes, they would be ready once again to please. A kind word and a pat on the head would make them turn out double-fold for their master. No job was too hard or too long as long as they knew they were pleasing. It can well be said that the Australian Shepherd has been pure-bred so long that they are a breed in themselves.
There are so many stories on the origin and history that we dare say . . . if all these breeds were placed into one dog the results would be quite shocking. If you are told all about the origin and history of this breed by someone, ask them for proof or ask them where they heard this. Do not repeat the story. It could easily be untrue.
Since the first Australian Shepherd was seen arriving with sheep, they have been used for many things. Following are some other things they have accomplished. First, their basic ability is for use on livestock; they are noted for their guarding ability. They were used in World War II as messenger dogs, have been used for hunting and tracking, and as trick dogs. The Australian Shepherd is a very good varmit dog and very few of them show fear in any way. They have appeared in movies and have gone far in obedience training. Many are now being used as pets and watch dogs in the city.
Breeding of light blue to dark blue results in fewer albino puppies. Blue-eyed dogs bred to blue-eyed dogs will result in water-colored blue, not the true china blue. So dark blue to light blue, brown eyes to blue eyes, for better blue color (fewer whites), unless breeding for brown eyes. If for strictly brown eyes, then brown eyes to brown eyes.