THE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD’S ORIGIN AND HISTORY
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.)
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.
WHY BUY AN AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD?
By Janeane Harper, Brewster, Kansas (ed. note: Ms. Harper was one of the founding members of ASCA)
Many have asked this question. First, and most important of all, you must love dogs. You must be willing to give them a good home and the advantages of living a long life. How is this done? Quite simply. The dog must be wanted and loved. He should be given a comfortable home or living quarters, warm and free from drafts. Give him temporary shots until he is old enough to keep him up to date on his rabies shots. These things, plus good food and clean water are all that are required. Why buy an Australian Shepherd? If you DON’T want:
A Ability to work
U Unusual gentleness
R Rapid, fleet of foot
A Ability to learn
N Never faltering in their faith to in their master
H Hardy, natural watch dog, companion
E Easily trained
H Herding ability
E Eager to please
If you don’t want these attributes and more in a dog — then don’t buy an Australian Shepherd.
STANDARD OF THE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD
Approved by Animal Research Foundation
(ed note: this early standard is interesting in that it shows that the original idea was to develop an entirely blue merle breed with a natural bob tail — both ideas were eventually discarded as unworkable.)
General Characteristics: The Australian Shepherd may be best described by the words “moderate” and “medium.” He must never be seen as one portion; the entire dog must be in perfect balance and harmony. That is best described in this way: a dog that appears to be heavy, or blocky, or weedy, or fine, or coarse, is definitely a faulty Aussie.
He should be a lithe, powerful, lively dog of medium size; the entire structure of the Aussie must show tremendous strength combined with unusual agility. His disposition is friendly and out-going unless his family or property is threatened; then he is aggressive and bold. Disqualification: Any form of shyness or timidity; any dog or bitch that shies, sneaks, crawls or piddles, when approached by anyone should never be used for breeding. The Aussie is a bold, upstanding, aggressive, (but never obnoxious) breed and any deviation from this type of temperament cannot be permitted.
Head: The perfect Aussie head is in perfect balance. The back-skull is strong, medium wide and flat; some are very slightly domed at the outer edges. The muzzle is of the same length as the back-skull and must be strong but never coarse. The “stop” or “break” between the back-skull and the muzzle must be well defined. Pigmentation of the skin around the eyes and on the lips must always be black except in very young puppies. The cheeks are well muscled but not overly prominent. The teeth must definitely have a perfect “scissors bite” and be of good size and strength. Faults: wide, clumsy head or narrow and snipey in appearance. Pink or “butterfly” nose in adults. Teeth overshot, or undershot, or meeting evenly.
Eyes: The eyes are slightly almond shaped and of average size and set well apart. The eye are very important as they must be large enough to give the lively, full-of-sense of expression so distinctive in the Aussie but are never to appear to be bulging or overly prominent. The color may be blue, “china,” brown, hazel, or brown or hazel flecked with blue. Absolutely no preference should be shown between eye colors; all are correct. Faults: eyes too full or too small and sunken in the head or colored so dark that they appear to be black.
Ears: The ears are quite large, very soft, and “break down” just slightly above the base: the tips hang forward toward the eyes. Some may “break” about half way above the base, and this is not to be considered a fault. The fur at the base of the ears is quite long and very soft and silky, but the ear itself is covered with very short, dense, silky hair. Faults: either very small or very large “houndy” ears; “pricked” ears; “tuliped” ears that break over only at the tips.
Neck: The neck is firm, clean, and muscular, with no hint of throatiness; it should be of medium length and slightly arched at the nape. Faults: neck that appears either short, long, coarse, or thin.
Body: The body is firm, hard, and muscular, and is a bit longer than in height. The ribs are deep and well sprung but never overly wide, or “bulldoggy” in appearance. The back is level with a slightly rounded croup and the loin is powerful and slightly “tucked-up.” Faults: thin, “weedy,” clumsy, or heavy. Blocky or over-long.
Legs: The bone of the legs is well rounded and very dense. When viewed from front and rear, the legs must appear to be straight and powerful. The pasterns will show a slight slope when viewed from the side. The shoulders are well laid back, and the thighs are heavily muscled, extremely powerful and have medium angulation. The feet are oval in shape, the toes are well arched and very tight. The pads are deep, thick, and well cushioned and must fall firm, pliable, and flexible. Faults: thin, fragile bone or thick, heavy bone. Cow-hocks or bow-hocks. Straight or weak pasterns. Straight or steep shoulders. Angulation in rear quarters that is either deeply curved or very straight (this angulation must be moderate). Toes that are slack or weak. Thick pads or ” horny” pads. Dewclaws on the rear legs (if present, these should be removed at birth).
Gait: here, again, is the proof in the purebred Australian Shepherd. At a fast trot, they have a tremendous “reach,” both in fore and rear. The forepads have an odd “flip” that appears awkward but actually imparts more reach. When making a sharp turn, they lift the forequarters and use the body and hind-quarters to turn the body. This same action is shown by champion cutting-horses and will be shown by a good Aussie puppy by the age of eight weeks, during normal play periods. The action, at any speed, is smooth and flowing, and the Aussie must be able to cover ground at a maximum speed over any kind of terrain. If he is built right, he can do it with ease and a minimum of effort. Faults: choppy, “hackney,” or loose, shambling action.
Tail: The tail should always be a natural bob – the shorter the better – but not tailless. Purebred Australian Shepherds will produce a high percentage of puppies with natural bob tails. These natural bobs will vary all the way from a two-inch tail bone to about one-half the length of the normal tail length of other breeds. Aussies retained for breeding purposes should be selected for the natural bob factor – again, the shorter the better. Other things being equal, no Aussie should be used for breeding if it has a tail more than one-fourth the normal length. Long-tailed Aussies should never have a tail in which the bone reaches below the hock point of the rear leg. Pups’ tails over one-fourth normal length should be docked shortly after birth. Owners and breeders of good Aussie bitches should always base their breeding programs on a foundation or “hub” stud which has a natural bobtail in which the bone is no longer than two or three inches. Only through this type of selective breeding can the true type of Australian Shepherd be produced. Faults: long tails, tails over one-fourth normal length, tails of any length where the bone is twisted or “screwed.” the bone must be straight, with not a hint of kinking or swirling.
Coat: The coat is harsh, straight and moderate in length. The coat on the muzzle, back-skull, ears, feet, and fronts of forelegs and backlegs is very short, dense, fine, and silky. The coat around the neck is only a little longer than the body coat – just long enough to give a nicely finished appearance to the ruff, but never long and hanging as in the Collie or Shetland sheep dog. The coat on the backs of the forelegs is fairly long and silky; the breeching on the backs of the thighs is also fairly long in comparison to the body coat. The undercoat is short, thick, and wooly. The texture of the entire coat must be weatherproof. Faults: soft, hanging coat; coat short and wiry; lack of undercoat except in house dogs or during the heat of summer.
Color: The basic body color should be some shade of grey, ranging all the way from a very dark, steel grey to a light blue-grey. It should be liberally speckled and blotched with jet, shiny black. The cheeks, breast, and legs should be well marked with deep, rich tan. White markings usually appear on all four feet and on the breast and may appear around the neck and as a narrow blaze on the face.
Too much white in the markings should be avoided when selecting breeding stock, as it is a sign that albinoism may be appearing in these lines. In this case, select a dog that has a bit too much black in the body color as a mate for the dog with too much white. Other things being equal, no shade of “blue merle” should be considered preferable to another shade. For breeding purposes, a black Aussie from a blue merle sire and dam is highly desirable in helping to eliminate any form of albinoism in the blue merles. However, the black Aussie must be a deep, pure, jet black, with only a small amount of white in the markings and, preferably, with the same type of tan markings previously described.
Faults: basic body color of anything other than some shade of grey; absence of jet black markings in body coat; excessive white markings, as in white on the stifles or blotches of white in the body coat; absence of rich tan markings on breast, cheeks, above eyes ( “shepherd spots” ), and on all four legs; any hint of a reddish or rusty cast in the grey or a brownish tinge in the black merling of the “blue merle”; a brownish or rusty cast in the body color of the black dogs.
Size: Mature bitches should be from eighteen to twenty inches in height (measured at natural stance at the withers), and mature dogs should be from nineteen to twenty-one inches in height. Probably weights will not be estimated, as the weight is too much dependent on the type and amount of work the Aussie doing. The ideal should be considered at nineteen inches for the bitch and twenty inches for the dog. Note: if a dog or bitch is a bit over-sized but is otherwise outstanding in type and quality, it should be bred to one of ideal size. Size is most important, as the Aussie has retained its popularity because he is small enough not to be rough with lambs but is large enough to handle any other kind of livestock. Strict avoidance must be made of any tendency for the Aussie to appear delicate or of a “toy-type,” or, on the other hand, large, burly, or clumsy. Disqualification: monorchidism and cryptorchidism.
THE ORIGIN OF THE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD
By Tom D. Stodghill
(ed. note:Tom Stodghill was the founder of the Animal Research Foundation, a rare breed registry still in existence.)
The Animal Research Foundation has devoted a good deal of time and hard work to the history of the Australian Shepherd. Many people have the idea that this breed originated here in America, but Mr. R. E. Berry of new South Wales, Australia, seems to prove otherwise. In a recent letter,he writes that the picture of the Australian Shepherd on the back cover of the Animal Research Magazine’s 1964 – 1965 edition is just like the natural bob dog they have in Australia, which is known there as the Smithfield, a dog that heels low and bites hard.
In doing further research, I find that the Australian Encyclopedia refers to the Smithfield as a “natural bob black dog, sometimes having a patch of white on the chest, ” whereas Mr. Berry stated the Smithfield dogs found in Australia today are a natural bob blue merle with glass eyes or brown eyes, just like the Australian Shepherds here in America. As the Australian Encyclopedia was describing the Smithfield dog back before 1840 and Mr. Berry is speaking of the Smithfield dog of today, 125 years later, I am of the opinion that they are both correct; for the color may possibly change over the years, but to my knowledge, it is impossible to develop a bob tail in breeding unless you have a controlling gene for a natural bob tail.
Anyone who should doubt that the Australian Shepherd of the United States dates back to the natural bob Smithfield dog of Australia should look at the picture of Scratch owned by Mr. Walter Lamar of Kingsville, Texas. Please notice that this dog is solid black with a white chest and a natural bob tail just like the Smithfield dogs of Australia before 1840. Duke, Scratch’s sire, is a blue merle having blue eyes, a natural bob tail, and is a rough worker. Freckles, the dam of Scratch, is also blue, having white and tan trim and a natural bob tail, and, like Duke, is a rough worker. Freckles has been bred to Duke a number of times and always had eight pups – six blue merle like the Australian Shepherd of this country and two black pups with white on the chest like the natural bob Smithfield dog of Australia.
Another interesting fact to ponder is why the early settlers of California and Oregon referred to these natural bob blue merle dogs as “Australian” Shepherds if they had no knowledge of that country being their land of origin.
(Reprint of Article in Animal Research Magazine of Winter 1967-1968, Quinlan, Texas, 75474. )
BREEDING AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERDS
By Tom D. Stodghill
Time has proved that if you will breed enough females to one good hub dog, all the pups will be like one great sire. The more females you blend together, the more you weaken their blood and by holding 50 percent of one great sire all your dogs will be alike.
Now a hub dog of Australian Shepherds is about the same as we have in the Catahoula Leopards. It takes a little time to be sure that your hub sire has a good dark blue base. Then you have to use good judgment in the females that you use. If a female is too light, her pups should be mated with a female that is dark. Regardless of how you breed, if you will breed clockwise and have selected the right hub sire, you will not have to worry about color or type.
Now color and type are much easier to obtain than temperament and working qualities. It is true that you can hold your color and type with 25 percent controlling gene, but you cannot hold your temperament and working quality. In fact, the exact truth is this: be sure your hub dog has the temperament and working qualities that you want, for you can more or less control color, but working quality is something that took the Animal Research Foundation many years to learn how to hold. It is a proven fact that it takes 50 percent controlling gene of one great dog to be sure that your dogs will work the way you want them too.
If your pups from your hubsire do not work the way you want them to work, don’t be too disappointed because it is the next generation when you will get what you want. The more generations you breed clockwise, the more likely you will get the hub dog you desire. To make a long story short, if your hub sire has all the qualities you want, you do not have to worry too much about the females you breed to him because when you breed clockwise, you develop a magnetic gene which seems to separate the Australian Shepherd blood from the other blood, and as you blend enough females together, you will re-establish the old breed of Australian Shepherds.
( Reprint of Article in Animal Research Magazine of Spring-Summer-Fall, 1968, Quinlan, Texas, 75474 ).
WHEN TO START YOUR PUPS
Note by Tom D. Stodghill
The older the pups are when they are taken out of the pens and carried to the pasture, the longer it takes to get the pups started. The best way to start pups working cows that were raised in pens is to chain the pup where cows come up around the dog house. The older the pup is, the longer it will be before it will start working, but you can watch the pup on the chain and tell when to carry him to pasture.
In fact, it helps young dogs to haul them in a pick-up when feeding cows to get them started working cows Young pups will start working as soon as they can follow you if you carry them to the barn and pasture with you. but if you kept the same pups in a pen where they can’t see cows, the older they are the longer it takes to get them started working cows, whereas the same pups would have started trying to heel the cows at six to eight weeks of age if they had a chance. I raise my pups in a pasture where I have cows and hogs, and they start running pigs and calves while they nurse.
( Reprint of article in Animal Research Magazine of Spring-Summer 1969, Quinlan, Texas 75474 ).
LETTER FROM AUSTRALIA
By Rod Berry
Dear Mr. Stodghill: I must first apologize for the lateness of this answer to your very welcome letter. I have not had an hour at home for a very long time, so have been unable to answer any letters at all. I am still busy shifting cattle by rail, and will be very busy at it for some time to come. I am writing this in the brake van of a stock train, so please excuse any bad writing.
Strange to say, we have a quantity of grain for the stock, but a lot of our trouble is lack of water. This does not apply in all cases, but unfortunately, in a great many. There has been some rain, but it has been accompanied by strong hot winds which have dried the ground and burnt off all the grass that has shot up. I am sorry that I confused you over those two types of heelers and the Dingo, regarding tail length. You are right when you say the Dingo is a long tailed dog. What I meant is that he has a short tail as long tail dogs go, that is, that it reaches only to his hocks and no further.
The bob tail cattle dog I mentioned is an original cross between the Dingo and the bobtail dog, the Smithfield. During my trips about the country with stock, I have done a great deal of gathering of information regarding the dog you call the Australian Shepherd. I have come up with this: the Smithfield is not quite the same dog that you have, but he figures strongly in the breeding of the so called Australian Shepherd.
Many years ago, one family who lived and pioneered some of our best mountain cattle country known as the Upper Hunter River in New South Wales, brought with them from Scotland some black bobtail dogs. These dogs were built fairly strong and, as well as a black hard coat, they had a white ring around their necks (these dogs are not extinct; I will explain this later). They had a good square head, very bristly muzzles and brows; they were quite intelligent workers but had bad feet and were also good heelers but could not stand the heat of this country, so they were let die out.
But it was decided that a cross with something else was in order. This particular family possessed some merle-type, long haired dogs (and long tailed dogs for sheep work – collie types), and it was decided to cross these two. The blue merle dogs had white or blue eyes, sometimes broken-color eyes. The bobtail black was the original Smithfield, and the other merle dog is a dog that exists here today and is known as the coulie or German collie. The coulie is identical to the photos of your Australian Shepherd. The only difference is that he does not have a bob tail, but is the same in every other way as your Australian Shepherd.
To carry on with the story, some of the menfolk of this aforementioned family, Simpson by name, went to California, back just before or during the early Gold Rush days, and took some of these bobtail dogs with them. These were the old Smithfield – coulie cross. This also explains why there are very few, or perhaps none in this country today, as only one family ever bred such a dog, and only a few at that.
This is apparently how the Australian Shepherd got its name; it was named in America and not here. This, I would think is the true history of this dog as it is not known anywhere else but the Hunter River. I am going to get you some photos of the coulie, and I am sure you will see that they are exactly like your Australian Shepherd, except for the tail. Also, I shall send you some photos of the bobtail Smithfield as he is today. He is blue speckled and not black, as he was originally, although he has no coulie blood today. He gets his blue color from an old cross of the old blue merle smooth Scotch collie.
( Reprint of article in Animal Research Magazine of Summer – 1966, Quinlan, Texas, 75474 ).
THE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD By Mrs. Roy E. Cotton
(ed. note: Elsie Cotton was an early and influential member of ASCA. Another article in the Library by her is The History of the Australian Shepherd in the Northwest)
The purebred Australian Shepherd is truly a unique and distincitve breed. He is impossible to describe, but once one has seen a really typical specimen of the breed, this person will be able to spot any other dog that has only a bit of Aussie in its background. There is simply something about the expression, temperament, build, action, etc, that is Aussie and can’t possible be anything else.
Even a litter of small puppies shows this. They are naturally very clean in their habits, fantastically easy to housebreak and train; loving and affectionate. Yet, here again they are unique. Even tiny pups have a deep sense of justice and injustice. If you have brains enough to point out what they are doing wrong and can prove it, you have it made. If the pup thinks you are wrong and he is right, you have problems. It is up to you to find a way to approach the pup on his own level, and convince him that your viewpoint surpasses his. This cannot be done by severe punishment but can be done by a combination of love and instruction, together with moderate punishment for a major break in the rules.
Unlike the collie and the Shetland sheepdog, the Aussie is not unduly sensitive. He simply needs convincing on his own level. You won’t break the Aussie’s spirit by injustice – he will usually just become rebellious and quit cold until he figures you have regained your senses.
One very important thing in raising and training the Aussie pup is never to tease him. A thoroughly furious, snapping puppy may be amusing to his owner, but a vicious, vile-tempered adult Aussie is not funny and can be dangerous to everyone. And one creates the other. The Aussie has a temper – he must have it in order to do the work for which he was developed. But if this temper is controlled as a pup, the dog will be far more intelligent, easily trained, and a better worker, no matter what his job may be. If in playing or in training the pup, the hackles go up until he looks like a small grey porcupine and the eyes begin to flame, stop whatever you are doing, call him to you and soothe and smooth him until he is laughing again. He may growl and “cuss” a bit while you are doing it, but it is good for both of you to have a cooling-off period.
The Aussie is never a yapping, fence-running fool. He is very alert, and active but far more inclined to sit and study out a situation than to charge madly around, yapping his head off. However, he is talkative. When he wants something or has something on his mind, his vocabulary of small growls, squeaks, whines, and mutters can be something to behold. His working or warning bark is high and sharp and commanding, but he uses it only when necessary. I have seen three of four Aussies work sheep all day and never make a sound, and I have seen the same dogs use the sharp bark many times in handling a herd that would not cooperate. When on guard, he usually uses a very deep, thunderous growl that no one is about to challenge.
I am not going to go much into their herding ability beyond the fact that I have seen them work every kind of livestock, including chickens. They are heelers, in a way. Most that I have seen work will go to any portion of the animal that needs to be headed, heeled, or shouldered. I have seen them nose and push lambs in order to break up a huddle and never bare their teeth. It is my firm belief that the Aussie is one of the finest all-around farm dogs that exists.
One thing that may create some friction among the stockmen is that I think the Aussie has been shortchanged on a job that he can do fully as well as herding. We live in a residential area right downtown, and when we bought our present Aussie I heard nothing but, “You can’t keep an Aussie in the house. They just aren’t that kind of dog!” Less than one year later, I have proved my point. Bobby is the ideal house dog. He is small enough not to be in the way but big enough to be a very efficient guard. He is a great companion and pal for my son, and every child in the neighborhood adores him.
He has been raised in the house, walked on the leash, romped with in our small fenced-in back yard, and the whole thing has worked out perfectly for Bobby, for our neighbors ( who all praise him because he is the most quiet dog in the area ), and for our family. With no training whatsoever and at the tender age of seven months, Bob scared one would-be intruder to a point where the man took off through the hedge at a dead run. It didn’t do the hedge any good, but the word must have got around, as no one else has fooled around our premises since then.
Since sheep herding dogs are in limited supply, I think the Aussie will go over equally well as a guard and companion for those who have a home in urban and suburban areas. He is an attractive dog, a sensible dog, a clean dog, and a dog that enjoys his family. He does not need extensive training, as he has an inborn knowledge of the right and wrong thing to do in a given situation. He has proved this many times in his farm work, where he was placed on his own and expected to handle anything that came up.
I have researched the origin of the Australian Shepherd just as far as possible and have always run into a dead end. I am strongly inclined to believe that the rancher in Australia who talked to my friends had the best information on the dog. He definitely knew of the breed, as when my friends described our merled (mottled) dog to him, he described the speckled version that my uncle was able to acquire many years ago. It was definitely the same breed of dog. As previously explained, our version of the Australian Shepherd is identical with the Australian dog in every way but markings on the body coat, and the Australian dog is a bit smaller.
This rancher knew them only as Stubbies; as far as I am concerned, it is a perfectly good name, as it definitely separated them from the other Australian breeds such as the Australian Blue Heeler (cattle dog), the Red Heeler, and the Kelpie. All of these latter breeds have the long tail and the pricked ears similar to that of the Dingo. We had an entire family of Dingos, and there were beauties at the zoo here for several years, so I am quite familiar with their appearance.
The ears are medium-large, but pricked and stiff as boards. The tail is normal length but not overly long; the bone would reach about to the hock joint. The color is some shade of red; some are a deep red and some shade down to a grey-red. Since I am not at all familiar with the background of the Heelers and Kelpies ( sorry, but I was never interested enough in either breed to study them ), I don’t know just what type of background is claimed for them. However, I do know that there is more than a passiing tendency for both breeds to bear some resemblance to the Dingo.
I have never seen a purebreed Australian Shepherd that bore any resemblance to the Dingo. The two Stubbies my uncle had definitely did not show any Dingo charateristics, either. And I have never known of any Amerecan-bred Aussie that shows any tendency to prey on small livestock. Those that I have been familiar with have been so gentle with baby lambs and ewes heavy in lamb that this is often laughable.
The Dingo has an entirely different disposition. He can be tamed and is intelligent and easy to handle if raised properly. But, you can never train out his beief that any small animal is a potential dinner – sure doesn’t sound like the Aussie, does it? The two Stubbies my uncle had could not be used with sheep as they were trained cattle dogs and entirely too rough and fiery of temper. However, they were not killers – they paid no attention whatsoever to the chickens and ducks that were loose all over the ranch.
According to this Australian rancher, at one time the Stubbie had been anything but rare in Australia. He hadn’t the foggiest idea what breeds had gone into forming them. Since, for many years, I was involved with AKC dogs and breeders, I have a passable knowledge of all the recognized breeds plus the fact that I have a small library on rare breeds of dogs in out-of-print books that I have picked up. No breed bears any resemblance to the Stubbie any place in the world.
I believe sincerely that the Stubbie is a genetically pure mutation in that its characteristics are readily discernible even in mongelized breeding. And I believe that if a few people would start breeding for the bob tail, drop ears, the correct color and conformation, it would take only a very short time to standardize this breed to a point where you could describe every pup in a litter before they were born. It should not be at all necessary to use any other breed to do this. This is the present problem with the Aussie -anything with a blue color and china eyes is called an Australian Shepherd. Selection of breeding stock and culling of litters must be ruthless at first in order to eliminate mongrelism and bring back the genetically pure mutation. From there on the Aussie will handle the situation!
(Reprint of Article in Animal Research Magazine of Fall, 1966. Quinlan, Texas 75474. )
prefatory note from Tom D. Stodghill:
Australian Shepherd history gets more interesting as the ARF get more facts on the breed. One thing for sure, they did come from Australia to the U.S.A. For many years I knew there was a large and small type.
About twenty-five years ago many of the large type could be found in the state of Montana. Natural bob tail, copper trim, heavy blue merle, almost covering the black base, typical four-tone, willing workers, all around good stockdogs.
I want you to read Mrs. Bernard E. Ely’s true story about the small type of Australian Shepherd they got with a flock of sheep direct from Australia. Please notice this is seventy-five years after the larger sized Smighfield type of natural bob-blue merle Australian Shepherd arrived in California from Australia. To be exact, it was in 1849 during the California Gold Rush. These large and small types of Australian Shepherd have been blended together in one great breed of all-around good stockdogs.
ORIGIN OF THE BLUE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD DOGS
By Mrs. Bernard E. Ely
(ed.note: Juanita Ely’s dogs were foundational in the major Colorado lines of Woods and Las Rocosa, as well as Slash V.)
The blue Australian Shepherd dogs first came to Australia from the Great Pyrenees on the Spain side and as it is a small country with Andorra, a little country lying between Spain and France of only 191 square miles, there isn’t much work for the boys to do so they take their little blue dogs and go into Australia to herd sheep. A lot of these boys are Basque, coming from a region in north Spain bordering on the Bay of Biscay which is populated mostly by Basques. They are very good workers and make the best sheep herders.
The wool from Australia was finer and much longer staple than we had here in the United States so we brought boatloads of sheep from Australia to Seattle, Washington. The Basque herder and his little blue dog coming over to care for the sheep on the boats started to work in that vicinity, then located in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. As these dogs were brought to the United States from Australia, we speak of them as Australian Shepherds. Australia will have no part of this type of dog, but by now, I suppose after all these years they are mixed up with some dog in the outback country of Australia as we have mixtures in this county that are blue but not purebred.
Much over forty-three years ago we bought two bands of sheep in Idaho to get this wool with the long staple, and so we brought the Basque herder and his little blue dog with the ewes to Colorado and those are the first blue dogs I’d ever seen. This dog was very devoted to his master and would work for someone else if his master wasn’t around; but the minute he scented or spotted his master, he was gone.
When this boy left us to go back to Idaho on the train, he left his little dog “Teddy” for me. We found a blue female several miles from our ranch that had come from Idaho also, and so got started in the breed. We always keep several as they do have to work in lots of thick cactus and as some of the herders make the dog do all the work, they would get footsore, so we would have to bring one dog in and rest him and get him over his being footsore and take out another. So, we have to have several just as we had several bands of sheep.
In winter the frozen crusted snow cut ther feet too. Their coats are long and thick with a down-like hair next to their skin. As they come from a cold country, they can stand a lot of cold and will sleep outside of their dog house on snow and let it nearly cover them as they seem to like it. They can stand heat as well as cold; they love water and are good swimmers.
This dog is the best for cattle and sheep, good watch dogs, good companions and a built in “baby sitter.” I’ve herded sheep with these dogs, worked range cattle, used them in heavy undergrowth to gather my milk cows and I find them the best. Although I have raised these dogs for years, I was one of the first to start registering them.
Some are blue with white and are born with long tails and we dock them. Some havea natural bob and copper trim, blue eyes; others have an eye of each color, while still others have hazel and some a real brown. Once in a while a red merle will have lemon-colored eyes. Some are black with white trim and some copper with wite trim. All are purebred; just comes out in the breedings. Some people prefer one color and the same in eye color.
I purchased a female, gave her to my husband and found she was really a one-man dog. She was at his heels whenever he was outside and when I lost my husband, this dog hunted him constantly and waited at the back step for him; then died from a boken heart four months to the day after my husband died.
This female, “Old Blue” as we named her, was a very perfect female and she was the small type – one eye each color, a natural bob, good, blue color, white and copper trim, medium long hair and wavy down next to her skin. She never seemed to get wet through to her skin.
I still raise them and keep only the best in color – natural bob tail and small type as the large type are too rough with sheep – can’t lay low enough to keep from getting kicked by a cow, calves, or horses. Also, they are too big to take in a car and so I prefer the small type as most other people do.
Some people cut off their dew claws and they are the brakes for a dog going downhill. He has nothing to dig into the vegetation or ground covering to keep him from going head over heels and can get badly bruised and hurt. They also keep him from going so deep in crusted snow. I always think “who would want to start downhill in a car without brakes; so why take the brakes off your dog. Nature put them on for a reason and that’s it!”
Well, this is my knowledge of the breed and I have confirmed it by several older Basques and Spanish people.
( Reprint of Article in Animal Research Magazine of Winter 1968 – 1969, Quinlan, Texas, 75474 )
A LETTER FROM LYMAN NASH
The following is an excerpt from correspondence with Lyman Nash, Head Horseman at the University of California Campus at Davis.
In answer to your letter about the manner my dogs work, I will give you a brief description of how I start and work my dogs.
I start taking pups with me when they are about two and one-half months old, first, to get them used to being with me, and second, to break them to ride in the pickup truck. I always put them in back with one of the older dogs. They learn to ride there in just a few trips and always want to ride there from then on.
As far as working cattle, I start them at this age to work weaner calves by following with me when moving through the many corrals. I always encourage them to drive and heel, or head, turn and heel.
By the time the pup is six to eight months of age, he will work as well as the older dogs, but up to about a year of age I never work them by themselves. At about a year of age I deliberately work them for a while by themselves; thus in a short time they are finished dogs. Going back to the six to eight months old pups, they work as well as older dogs, but they still make mistakes and need a great deal of encouragement at times.
As you already know, I breed dogs for their working ability first and their conformation and looks second. I always try to have both if this is at all possible. I am a firm believer that they must perform first, last, and always, for this is what they were bred for and must be able to do. I have sold an average of about ten pups a year for the last eleven years and guarantee all to work to the satisfaction of the buyer at the end of one year of age. Thus far, I have not had to fulfill my guarantee. I presume all are satisfied customers. I have received both letters and personal contact from many buyers over the years stating their full satisfaction. I have sold to much of the Western states and as far east as Oklahoma.
When I start working a pup, the first thing I teach him is to learn to obey commands. Then I teach them to drive and heel. I want a dog that barks and then bites-in that order. A low bark is a warning, and then if the livestock do not move, the dog bites. If an animal turns to fight, I want my dogs to wade in like they are going to eat them alive; after a time or two of this, the livestock find it best to move and not fight.
In respect to signals, I talk, whistle, and use arm motions depending on conditions and distances involved, also repeating myself. I want only a minimum amount of bark from a dog and much more bite, if and when it is needed.
I never let a pup get too far away from me, in the early stages, for he is much easier to control.
I use voice commands in the corrals, but much less out in the fields and pasture, where I whistle and use arm signals to work and control my dogs. I depend almost 100 percent on my dogs, and they are with me almost all of the time. In fact, if I should go somewhere without them, they feel rejected.
My dogs can often work cattle in the corrals and up to the scales or chute much better than a great deal of the student help I have here at the college.
I want my dogs to follow the cattle in total silence and nip now and then without barking, but a bark and bite keeps (the cattle) honest and on the move. I am often asked about the young dogs getting kicked and what effect it has on them. I want a pup to get mad, have his hair stand up on his back and wade into the animal that kicked him. I do everything I can to help encourage him to return and bite right away. If I ever had a pup quit and run I would destroy him, which so far, I never have had to do. For a coward is no good in the cattle or livestock business. I breed guts and grit into dogs I breed and raise, and I have total control over them.
With heading or heeling, I want a dog to circle, bark and bite, coming in low and fast. This makes the cattle move sooner and the dogs have less chance of getting hurt. When working as a team, both dogs go in at the same time. If the animal should want to fight, one will work the head, the other will circle and heel. With one on each end, it is not long before they move the cattle.
A young dog needs to be assured of his work; an old dog receives this when the animal goes where you instruct him to take it.
While at work, I pet my dogs only now and then, for they are working dogs and this is a business. But when I am at home, they are pets for the whole family and both dogs and family enjoy each other.
My dogs are very good deer hunters. They also jump and catch many pheasants during pheasant season and are outstanding watch dogs.
I feel much more emphasis should be put on the working ability of these dogs, and that this should be required in the dogs to be registered that have little or no known breeding in their history.
I have met many people with registered dogs that have never worked in their life and don’t even know if they will or how good they are. Pets are great and we certainly need them, but the success of this breed and how far they go is going to be on their working ability and nothing more. As an example, that is how the Border Collie got where it is today, as the best sheep dog in the whole world. I support and believe that the Australian Shepherd can do the same as a livestock dog, with the main aim on their working ability on cattle and horses, for they have and need more guts to get the job done.
Written by Lyman Nash of Davis, California, for the Australian Shepherd Club of America, Inc.
by Gwen Stevenson
… Then, if you are from Nevada and know your Aussies and cattle and sheepmen, you’ll remember Roy Ritter and his famous blue merle. Roy’s horse slipped and fell on him and pinned him under. The Aussie went for help. It took rescuers most of the night to reach Roy and his horse. The horse was dead, with Roy still pinned there. A short while after this Roy passed away. He was well known and well liked in Nevada and other states. Everyone knew about Roy’s famous Aussies, and Fallon is out of Roy’s stock also (ed.note: there is a previous story about Santa Barbara cutting horse trainer Jody Carsello and his Aussie Fallon, who worked as his turnback dog).
And here is a secret I’ve never told anyone … when I had the club stationery printed, I wanted a good blue merle on it. I couldn’t choose, there were so many beauties among the living. So I put Ritter’s famous male Streak at the top. What higher honor than to have this famous Aussie on our stationery? And I think he and Roy, who have both left us, would approve of us honoring them this way. If there is a Hall of Fame up there that’s where they are. Now, my secret is out …
(Working Aussie Source editor’s note: letterhead image courtesy of Jeanne Joy Hartnagle, who remembers that Elsie Cotton wrote her mother a letter concerning this logo; she wasn’t happy about it. Jeanne Joy also remembers that Ritter’s Streak didn’t really have as high an earset as is shown in the drawing — the photo corroborates this)
MY FIRST AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD (Hart’s Blanco)
by Eloise Hart
I was ten years old when I had my first Australian Shepherd. Blanco came to California from the Basque sheep country in Spain. His owner was forced to forfeit him, as payment for some minor violation, to a lawyer neighbor of ours when we lived near Wilshire and Vine in Los Angeles.
He was a stocky, bob-tailed, brown dog with an infinite
capacity to learn and a heart that included all he met. At first we knew one word of his language, “Ushkabab” — bring it here. This he did with alacrity. Every stray cat, neighborhood dog, Easter rabbit, duckling, chick, even desert turtles and gopher snakes were either herded or carried to us and directed into whatever cage we indicated. He also brought us baby mice, birds and kittens which he mothered with tender and constant attention.
In time, he learned a complete vocabulary and all the tricks we could think of. We read The Dog of Flanders, he learned to pull a wagon-cart full of flowers, pets, or children. When we saw the circus, he was taught to perform like the trained dogs, and he picked up some special tricks himself, like opening doors, turning on water faucets and bringing home lost objects.
Day and night he was with us, climbing over fences, up ladders to our roof-top playhouse, jumping rope, running through the sprinklers and even to school, where, unlike most dogs, he was not sent home. Somehow he captivated the teachers’ sympathy and stationed himself by their desks. He assisted in shepherding the boys and girls. He even attended some classes we didn’t. He loved French; perhaps it reminded him of his puppyhood. After graduation he was missed more than the most outstanding students.
This was forty years ago. Since then I have known many Australian Shepherds. Each in his own way possesses the same special qualities which so endeared Blanco to us.
From Eloise Hart
First President, Australian Shepherd Dog Club
TUCK’S PEPPER AND TUCK’S HOTSHOT
by Mrs. Gary Tuck
I wanted to relate to you one experience that happened just recently. A bad bull got into our pasture and jumped the corral when they tried to catch him to take him home. Then they decided to drive him the two miles and cross the creek. So my husband took Pepper and Hot Shot along with the bull’s owners.
Pepper and Hot Shot took him about halfway. Then Pepper lost the bull. He’s kind of slow now. It was very hot and humid and he is very old. But he started to criss-cross a gully looking for the bull. Then the men sighted the bull and Hot Shot past the gully on the way to the creek (I should say “small river” because it is more than a creek).
Gary decided the bull would go on home and he let the other men go on and he called his dogs to go home. Pepper came. Hot Shot heard him, stopped, and looked; then looked back at the bull which had not yet been penned.
Hot Shot has had all his training in gathering-to-pen, holding, then putting out of the pen. That bull hadn’t been penned and he could not understand why Gary was going back when the work wasn’t done. So he went on with the other men; crossed the river with the bull; found the people’s corral and penned their bull. He waited until they arrived and closed the gate; then he came home.
He’s just a young, unfinished pup and he should have obeyed Gary without question, but he is a terribly ambitious dog and we couldn’t help but chuckle over the way the pup finished the job that he had started. Finding that corral and guarding that bull was certainly commendable; and, needless to say, the bull’s owners were very impressed with our working pup. We think he is going to be quite a dog when he is completely trained and a real credit to his sire, Pepper.
Note: The above story was completed and on file when, on October 19th, we received a brief note from Mrs. Tuck and just had to add it to this. “Hot Shot out-did himself again. Jumped (or should I say ‘flew’) off a fifteen foot river bank just to turn some cattle—and he did turn those cattle!”
by Walter Lamar
Walter Lamar of Okeene, Oklahoma, has contributed the following information in response to a request for hints about training the Australian Shepherd as a worker. Mr. Lamar has used Aussies for many years and is thoroughly familiar with the working ability of the true old type of Australian Shepherd.
“We don’t actually have a training method. The pups grow up around the other dogs and learn as they grow. We teach them to come when they are small pups by rewarding them with food and petting.
“They learn to go to cattle by being around the older dogs when they are working. We give the older dog a command (‘get ’em’ or ‘ssst’) and the pup sees how the older dog responds and learns by watching.
“The command to quit a cow is the same as the command to come (a whistle and the dog’s name). The dogs are natural herders and drive a herd of cattle with very little assistance; but if we want a dog to chase a certain cow, we call the dog’s name, point to the cow and say ‘get her’ or ‘ssst’. These dogs are exceptionally intelligent and need very little training as they are natural herders and natural heelers. They learn quickly by just being around people or other dogs.
“Some examples of the learning ability of the Aussie follow: My Dad has an old pony mare that is wild and will not come to the barn to be fed. She runs in a seven acre field south of the house and every evening someone had to walk down to the south end of the field and run her in. Dad got to taking Bo with him and then siccing the pup on the old mare to make her go to the barn. Now all he has to do is step out of the house and tell Bo to go get the old mare and she will be at the barn by the time Dad gets there.
“I gave a black female pup (daughter of Bo) to some friends who have a dairy. They always went after the cows in a pick-up, but by showing the pup what they wanted, after a while they just told her to go get the cows and shortly every cow was at the barn.
“What I am trying to say is that Aussies need very little training. Anyone with one eye and half sense can work an Aussie if he will only use a little patience, understanding and common sense.”
We hope this information helps the members who have asked for training suggestions.
THAYER’S PADRICK KING:
“16-YEAR-OLD SHEPHERD DOG SAVES WOMAN FROM MAD COW”
Missoula, Montana July 6, 1948
Paddy, a sixteen-year-old dog, said to be too old to get around much. lately got around enough Monday morning to save the life of his mistress when she was charged by a mad cow. Paddy is an Australian Shepherd owned by Mr. and Mrs. Kenward N. Thayer of Lola, Montana. Mrs. Thayer, now at St. Patrick’s Hospital recovering from a broken shoulder and other injuries incurring when the cow charged, said she had taken Paddy to their farm’s pasture with her Monday morning when she went to get a cow and its newborn calf.
“It was more or less out of habit that I took him,” she said. “He hadn’t been too quick for the last few years, besides, it isn’t a very good practice to take dogs near cows when they are calving. The dogs make them nervous. Paddy wasn’t near at the time the cow charged. He had disappeared temporarily.”
When Mrs. Thayer entered the pasture to lead the cow and its calf out, the cow which she described as always having been more or less mean, attacked her, catching her shoulder with its horn.
Paddy, hearing his mistress’ frantic cries, must have remembered the days when he was nimble and charged with herding cattle, because he dashed from a grove of trees to the spot where Mrs. Thayer was about to be trampled to death and drove the cow to a far corner.
Mr. Thayer also heard his wife’s cries for help and got to the fight in time to bring his wife to Missoula for medical aid.
“If it hadn’t been for Paddy I would not be lying in this bed alive and talking like I am now,” she said. Paddy received a silver medal from Red Heart Dog Food Co. pictures in the papers and quite a bit of publicity.
SCHMUTZ TURKEY RANCH:
“THE AUSSIES SAVED THE DAY—AGAIN”
Hank and Carol Schmutz own a turkey ranch, consisting of over 1200 prime breeding birds, near Molalla, Oregon. They also own, or are owned by, three Australian Shepherds: the “old man,” Schmutz’ Michael of Poverty Ridge, Mike’s daughter, Schmutz’ Liz of Poverty Ridge, and a young male, Schmutz’ Dr. Ben’s Freedie. The several acres surrounding the house, turkey-lot and its buildings are planted yearly with grain.
On August tenth, the combine was in threshing the grain; it was a hot, dry and windy day. Hank and Carol were in the house resting between the chores. At 3:00 P.M., Mike began to bark and his weird, high, most unusually imperative bark was quickly backed by Liz. Knowing that something had to be wrong, Carol ran out to check. The grain field was blazing and the strong wind was pushing it into an inferno of flame.
They phoned the Fire Department and then began soaking down the house, turkey-lot and buildings. But, in spite of prompt help from the Fire Department, a major portion of the grain and of the timber surrounding the lake below was destroyed.
And had it not been for the prompt alarm given by the Aussies, Carol is positive that they would have been totally “burned-out”-house, turkeys and all. Tonight we know of some Aussies who will dine well and undergo much praise.
However, this most recent incident is only one of the many in which Mike and Liz have “saved the day, again,” and have once again proven the value of the Aussie on ranches and in the cities and suburbs. And we are sure that, with full maturity, “Freddie, the Free-Loader” will prove his value, too. Today, with typical juvenile attitude, Freddie thought that the whole day was unusually interesting and a real blast!
(Working Aussie Source ed.note: Schmutz’s Michael of Poverty Ridge is also ASCA registered as Casa Decarillo Michael of Poverty Ridge.
CAN WE SET UP WORKING STOCKDOG TRIALS?
by Mrs. Gary (Diane) Tuck
Route 4, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701
Your Editor received a long, most carefully thought-out and interesting letter from Mrs. Tuck in August. We have her permission to quote it and we do hope that it will lead to something constructive in showing our Aussies in Working Stockdog Trials. Please do contact Mrs. Tuck if you have other ideas on this subject and can help her develop this. Rest assured that the ASCofA will give everyone all possible help in furthering this. Now, to quote the letter in part:
The working Aussie is what everyone should be breeding for. If we breed strictly for desired coloring and conformation (though conformation is important in working), we’ll end up with show dogs like the poodle or Collie or German Shepherd—all these dogs were once useful, but look at them now. I have heard from various places that many Aussies are undesirable for workers and have “weedy” conformation and that this type is more prevalent where the dogs are being shown in conformation classes.
I know that many people who have Aussies do not live on ranches; but perhaps there could be ways to make working programs available for all Aussies and require that all Aussies pass a working test before being eligible to show in conformation and breeding classes. I know, as cattle owners, we tell all our puppy buyers locally that we will be happy to help start their pups working when they are old enough. We offer to do this free of charge.
So far, no one has needed this service. That is because they mostly have their own cattle and the pups work so naturally that they train the people in how to work Aussies! I’ll bet a cattle pattern could be set up the same as a sheep pattern for show purposes, and I’ll bet that requirements could be set up for a test for dogs to be eligible to show. Certain honest breeders in each area of the country could be “inspectors” that would officially pass dogs on working ability. The dogs could be given a certificate proving that they can do what the breed is supposed to do and this certificate should be required at the conformation shows.
Many ranchers who know how to train Aussies could offer services for training Aussie owners. It does not take very long, really, and then the charge could be slight, yet these people would not have to feel that they were out of time and money by receiving a small fee. How proud the owners of the dogs would be to be able to show proof that their dogs were truly Working Australian Shepherds.