Australian Shepherds were developed in a time when ranches were measured in sections (square miles), not acres. Sheep outfits like the Warren Livestock Company ran 25,000 head of sheep over 284,000 acres between Casper, Wyoming, and Greeley, Colorado. Ranches today can be compared to the size of a postage stamp on a football field.
Without the sagacity of the dogs, herding large bands of sheep would have been impossible. Especially when you consider the conditions that the dogs worked under. Sheep are able to forage on land with sparse plant life too arid to support other types of livestock. They are exposed to all weather and wild life often in remote locations.
Numerous are the tales of an Aussie saving the lives of herder and the sheep from wild animals or snowstorms. Had it not been for the dog’s determination and sensibleness neither the sheep nor the herder would have survived.
When I see some individuals in the breed today, I often wonder if they would have the strength of mind to lay by a fallen herder for three days protecting him from predators like little Goody did without water or food. Or stand up against a bear attacking the flock like Wood’s Dandy did or travel for miles to get help when his master was pinned beneath a fallen horse like Ritter’s Streak did. This is the nature of the character that caused people to seek them out and form the clubs to promote, preserve and protect them above other breeds.