Test Your Judging I. Q.

1. Who wrote, “Selecting show dog winners is based on physical traits that may have no importance in a field trial. Are we selecting dogs on the wrong criterion? Dog show winners are selected on the basis of what looks right, not on the basis of what can be proved to be right by test.”

  1. Structure in Action: The Makings of a durable dog by Wendy E. Wallace DVM, Erin Rouse and Pat Hastings
  2. The Total Australian Shepherd by Carol Ann Hartnagle and Ernie Hartnagle
  3. Dog Locomotion and Gait Analysis by Curtis M. Brown
  4. An Eye for a Dog Illustrated Guide to Judging by Robert W. Cole

2. True or False. An Aussie built with the type of shoulder layback that produces a trotting style with good reach and drive is more agile than an Aussie with less slope (slightly steeper shoulder angle).

3. What is the functional trade-off for an Australian Shepherd with well-let down (short, close to the ground) hock joints, flatter pelvis and well-laid back shoulders versus an Aussie with longer hocks, a slightly steeper croup and pelvis?

 

4. True or False: An Australian Shepherd with large bone is better built to withstand the impact of a cow kick than an Aussie with smaller bone.

5. True or False: The difference between the cat foot and the hare shaped paw is the length of the third digital bones.

6. True or False: The compact catlike foot is designed for quick speed and jumping ability.

7. True or False: The mechanical advantage of the hare shaped foot is quick speed, turns and jumping ability.

8. True or False: Long hocks (metatarsi) contribute to speed and agility.

9. True or False: The slope of the croup indicates the backward extension of the hind feet.

10. True or False. An Aussie built with shoulders set at an angle that produce a trotting style with maximum reach and drive is more agile than an Aussie with less slope (slightly steeper angulation).

11. True or False: There is a recognizable difference between the basic structure of working and show bloodlines.

12. The slightly steeper angles (when viewed from the side) of Australian Shepherds from working bloodlines are due to:

  1. Poor conformation
  2. Unsoundness
  3. Lacking quality
  4. None of the above

13. True or False: The 45 degree angle for the “well-laid back” shoulder described in the breed standard is nonexistent.

14. True or False: The Australian Shepherd is a long-distance trotting breed able to cover as much ground as possible with as few strides as necessary.

15. True or False. The topskull and muzzle pictured in the ASCA logo are close to parallel planes. Visit this link and then scroll down to the first picture (the head study that became the ASCA logo):  http://lasrocosa.com/ascahistory2.html

Test Your Judging I. Q. ANSWERS:
1: C. Dog Locomotion and Gait Analysis by Curtis Brown. It was also quoted in the Total Australian Shepherd by Carol Ann Hartnagle and Ernie Hartnagle.
2. False. Shoulders that are set well-laid back are designed for sustained, long distance trotting.
3. False. The trade-off is quickness and agility.
4. False. Research suggests that large bones are more porous than smaller, more moderate size bones (when comparing healthy animals of the same size and age).
5. True. The two center toes in the hare foot are noticeably longer. They are not as highly arched as the cat foot either.
6. False. The shorter digital bones lack the necessary leverage action required for quick turns and agility. The catlike foot is designed for effortless, long distance trotting because it takes less energy to lift, thus increasing endurance.
7. True. The longer toes of the hare foot give more leverage for quick speed and agility.
8. True. Short hocks aid endurance for sustained trotting.
9. True. A flatter pelvis is designed for sustained, long distance trotting, while slightly steeper pelvic angles are designed for speed and agility.
10. False. Shoulders that are set are well-laid back are designed for sustained, long distance trotting.
11. True. Australian Shepherds from working bloodlines tend to have less shoulder layback (less slant compared to the vertical plane), a little steeper croup (pelvis), longer hocks and a shorter, quicker stride than their show cousins.
12: D – None of the above. The breed’s tendency for slightly straighter shoulders, a little steeper croup (pelvis) and longer hocks which produce a shorter-quick stride is due to the breed’s original, historic function as a quick and agile working stockdog.
There is a popular misconception that slightly steeper angles indicate incorrect angles and therefore produce faulty gait. As long as the individual is in balance (shoulder angulation of the forequarters is in harmony with corresponding angles in the hindquarters) the gait will be even.
13. True. It has been proven to be a misleading notion. The 45 degree shoulder was based on McDowell Lyon’s 1950 book, The Dog in Action: A Study of Anatomy and Locomotion when the ASCA Breed Standard was originally drafted and approved in 1977. Modern research has since proven this theory to be a myth. The croup with 30 degree slope (to the ground) described in the breed standard corresponds to the 45 degree angle of the shoulder.
14. False: The historical function of the breed is to work livestock. In order for the Aussie to perform the tasks of his original function he must be able to trot for certain distances as well as make instantaneous gait changes, quick and sudden turns and abrupt stops over varied terrain in close proximity to hooves and horns.
The longer extension of gait produced by well-laid back shoulders and a flatter croup naturally produces a slower reaction time to negotiate changes of direction. A dog built for sustained trotting requires an extra stride or two to alter gaits or change direction.The type of structure that best enables the Aussie to perform his inherited duty as a working stockdog is a moderate set of angles (not straight like a Chow, but not well-laid back like a German Shepherd Dog).
15. False. The topskull and muzzle pictured in the logo are oblique (non-parallel). The top portion of the skull slants or slopes very slightly towards the muzzle. Get a protractor and check it out! The slope or gradient of the line of the top skull (occiput to the stop) when extended will eventually intersect with the line of the muzzle (the stop to the tip of the nose). By contrast parallel lines remain the same distance apart and will not meet, no matter how far you extend them.

Australian Shepherd History Revisited, Part II: Documented Early Imports

Oral histories of the early breeders and ranchers provide a valuable context or framework for the breed. The pioneer breeders were not dog people. They were sheep ranchers whose livelihoods depended on the dogs. They didn’t care what color the dogs were or if they came from Spain, Timbuktu or Australia. There were unique qualities associated with the Basque and Spanish dogs that didn’t exist in other breeds.

Early foundation bloodlines were based on dogs from the Pyrenees Mountains. Both Spain and France grazed large flocks of sheep (and goats) on Andorra’s vast mountain pastures each summer. According to Roderick Peattie, writing in the Geographical Review, 1929, “The Pyrenees are not as sharp a divide between France and Spain as they are generally credited with being. At places along the summit of the range it is difficult to judge where the water divide may be. The flocks and herds of the two people mix here” (1929). 2

Juanita Ely, a sheep rancher and one of the oldest documented breeders of record affirmed, “The blue Australian Shepherd dogs first came to Australia from the Great Pyrenees on the Spain side, 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 [in Andorra] 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.”

She also noted, “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 and so started working 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.”3

Those “little blue dogs” (les petits bleus) so to speak were associated with Idaho, the Pacific Northwest, California and Colorado. Teddy, the little blue dog Juanita Ely got in the 1920s, was the first blue dog she had ever seen. The teenager from whom she purchased Teddy was Andorran, but he identified himself as Basque.

It wasn’t until around WWII that the blue dogs started showing up in significant numbers and ranchers started breeding them in earnest. Feo was brought to the United States from Spain with a contract herder who worked for the Warren Livestock Company* in the 1950s. Juanita Ely bought the little blue dog. By 1960, our friend, Joe Fernandez got him from Juanita and was using him, along with our little Goody (Goodie), in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico, where he was running several bands of sheep consisting of 1,500 head per band. 4

According to Ken Duart, an early California breeder, he acquired Lita, an early foundation bitch, from a Basque shepherd who brought her directly from Spain. She was an attractive blue merle female (with one blue eye). She had a moderate coat and a long tail. He said a sheepherder who had a bunch of sheep at Rolf’s Ranch in the San Miguel area had friends that came to California from the Basque sector of the French and Spanish border. When they came to the United States, they brought two dogs, which they were allowed to bring as tools of their trade without quarantine. The time was either late 1959 or early 1960.

The Basque and Spanish dogs in California and in Arizona figured significantly in the breed’s early foundation. Eloise Hart, ASCA’s first president, was ten years old when she acquired her first dog in 1930. Eloise said, “He was a stocky, bob-tailed, brown dog with an infinite capacity to learn. 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.”

Wood’s Dandy (Finley’s Texas Bob X Moreno’s Blue Bitch AKA Valdez Female) was bred by the Moreno family from the dogs they brought to California from Spain. Fletcher acquired Dandy from Chule Valdez. Maryland Little’s Honey Bun was considered “the Spanish type.” She was from the Graatz ranch in Colton, California, with several recorded generations preceding her. McConkey’s Sir Blue Silver was from the Ortega dogs and McConkey’s Tiger Britches was from Maryland Little’s dogs. Maryland based her breeding program on Basque and Spanish dogs.

Ina Ottinger of Casper, Wyoming, stated that her parents imported two dogs from Spain in 1937. She had the original shipping certificates. She continued breeding that line of Wyoming ranch dogs into the middle seventies. She also acquired a little red merle male that looked just like Las Rocosa Sydney that was brought to the United States by a Basque sheep shearer during the World’s Fair in Seattle. When the herder left to go back home he couldn’t take the dog with him so she bought him. Some of the offspring are found in pedigrees as Wyoming Ranch dogs. 4

By 1974, there were only 16.5 million sheep in the United States. The sheep industry continued to decline and Basque herders were no longer recruited from Spain. However, the foundation for the breed was already established from a relatively small group of dogs including Ely’s Feo, which is documented by registration. Feo went on to sire Hartnagle’s Goody, the beautiful little blue female (later registered as Wood’s Blue Shadow) who is behind the pedigrees of countless Australian Shepherds today, including the Dr. Heard’s Flintridge, Hartnagle’s Las Rocosa, and Fletcher Wood’s foundation bloodlines.

Unfortunately, as we’ve explained before, under the old registry system, each time that a dog changed ownership, the previous owner’s name was deleted and the new owner’s name was entered as the prefix to the dog’s name. Thus, part of history becomes obscured. Take Ely’s Spike for example. On some pedigrees, Ely’s Spike is listed as being sired by Sisler’s Spike, when in fact; Sisler’s Spike and Ely’s Spike are one and the same. Juanita Ely got Spike from Gene Sisler (Jay’s brother). Spike’s sire and dam are listed as “Unknown.” The old-timers may not have known the name of the sire and dam, but they knew where they came from. Spike came to this country from the Pyrenees Mountains with a Basque herder. Spike had a harsh coat very much like the dog pictured with the sheepherder on the Drumheller ranch on page 32 in The Total Australian Shepherd: Beyond the Beginning.4   Sometimes when the dog changed hands it became foundation registered with a totally different name and “Unknown” ancestry. This activity all took place in the early years from the 1940s to the 1960s when the foundation dogs were first being registered as a breed. Even though their names appear in pedigrees, many of the early dogs weren’t registered. They had already lived and died.

For more on the Australian Shepherd see also: All About Aussies: The Australian Shepherd from A to Z (Alpine Publications).

Sources
2. Peattie, Roderick, “Andorra: A Study in Mountain Geography,” Geographical Review, vol. 19, no. 2, 1929.
3. Douglass, William A., Basques in Australia, Basque Studies Program Newsletter, issue 18, 1978.
4. Hartnagle, Carol Ann, Hartnagle, Ernest, The Total Australian Shepherd: Beyond the Beginning, Hoflin Publishing, 2006.  http://www.lasrocosa.com/totalaustralianshepherd.html.

Copyright © 2010 by Jeanne Joy Hartnagle-Taylor and Ernest Hartnagle. All rights reserved.

WTCH Las Rocosa Charlie Glass CD, RDX

WTCH Las Rocosa Charlie Glass CD, RDX was highly influential in founding the breed’s modern working bloodlines.

Black tri with brown eyes and docked tail.
Sire: Hartnagle’s Hud
Dam: Las Rocosa Jacqueline (a half sister to Shiloh).
DOB: 10-28-1978
Height 20 ¾ inches
Weight: 55 pounds
OFA AS-1543 Good

Charlie was the pick of the litter. I named him Charlie Glass after a black cowboy who rode on the Colorado-Utah range in the early 1900s and was later featured in The Legend of Charlie Glass by Walker D. Wyman and John D. Hart.

Las Rocosa Charlie Glass went to work for Don Donham who was handling the sheep for the Fort Ellis Research Station in Bozeman Montana. Charlie was an authoritative header with a natural outrun. He exhibited natural wear and used grip on “rough or deserving stock.”

Once when working rams inside a barn a testy Suffolk ram charged and butted him against a wall. It broke his hind leg, but he never quit working until he was called off. They ended up putting a pin in his leg. After he healed up he went back to work.

Charlie was a really fun dog. He was good natured and quite a clown. He was also very gentle with kittens, bunnies and puppies.

Charlie is pictured on the timeline (1974) with a small flock below Mount Ellis:

http://www.lasrocosa.com/aussietimeline.html

http://www.lasrocosa.com/images/timeline/timeline1970-1979/1974-16millionsheep.jpg

Era of Positive Training

People who equate positive training techniques with the era of modern thinking never met Jay Sisler or saw his magnificent Australian Shepherds in action. Sisler, a rancher and rodeo competitor from Idaho entertained rodeo audiences during the 1950s and 1960s with his dogs and their amazing tricks. His extraordinary training ability was showcased on The Wonderful World of Disney in Stub, The Best Cow Dog in the West and Run Appaloosa Run.

Jay was a self-taught trainer. He was a kind, soft spoken man who encouraged his dogs — to balance on bars, stand on their heads, play leap frog, walk on their front legs and so much more—with kind words, bits of pancakes and petting. All of his training was done without the use of a leash. As the dogs grew he phased out the pancakes. In that way the dogs worked for him and not for the food reward. If seeing is believing—you can check it out for yourself on YouTube:

Jay Sisler Home Movie 1

Jay Sisler Home Movie 2

A Few Good Aussies

Some of our greatest lessons in life come from dogs. Through the years we’ve been blessed with so many great ones. My mother always told us that our dogs were God’s way of demonstrating unconditional love and forgiveness. Always ready with a smile. Regardless if you have 5 cents in your pocket or $500.00…they love you just the same.

 My father has always said, if there was one dog he could bring back…it would be Hud. This is from a work my mother is putting together titled, A Few Good Aussies. 

A Dog Called Hud

By Elaine Hartnagle

 When Badger — our foundation stud dog — entered his twilight years, we traveled many miles across the country looking for a suitable replacement to follow in his footsteps. It would be no easy task as Badger exhibited so many exemplary qualities. 

 Finally, Hud came into our lives. He filled the bill beyond our wildest expectations. He was everything we had hoped for and more. He was bold and beautiful, a handsome rascal. He was a clown, but he was dependable and you could trust him with your life. If a mad mother cow or grizzly bear had you pinned to the ground he would protect you without any regard for himself and he never held a grudge. 

 As tough as he was, he was equally as gentle with babies. Late one night one of our imported Manx cats had a litter of kittens. The silence of the following morning was broken by the sound of slurping. Startled by the thought that Hud may be feasting on the newborn kittens, I jumped out of bed only to find that he was affectionately helping the queen wash them.  

Kittens were not the only babies he lent a hand to raise. He helped raise our five children. Hud was intelligent, loyal and fun to have around. He participated in all the family fun including holidays.  Every spring, the kids would recruit Hud for the Easter egg hunt. They put his marvelous tracking ability to the test. He would help them find the treats. One year in particular, we hid a banquet of chocolate bunnies and other such goodies nestled in the hay pile. When the children woke up, they called Hud to help them, but he was no where to be found, so they started the hunt without him. They soon discovered his location in a pile of wrappers as he was polishing off the candy. That was Hud.

 Hud passed his sense of humor on to his pups. Some years later, we sold one of Hud’s sons to a rancher.  One day while the man was working some really tough stock, caught up in the moment he got frustrated and threw a rock at the dog. The dog picked up the rock and took it back to his owner. Like Hud, the dog didn’t take offense against his owner. When that man saw the dog’s response to his thoughtless act — it humbled him. The dog never held a grudge. Another lesson learned from dogs.

Australian Shepherds and Open Range Sheep Ranching

By 1935, sheep raised in the United States were numbered at 51.8 million with 60 percent being raised in the western states. David Cook, who was the foreman for the Warren Livestock Company in Wyoming from 1920 to 1961, wrote, “From the time sheep were introduced into Wyoming, the dog has played an important role in the sheep industry.  If not for the assistance of these faithful animals, herding large numbers of sheep would have been impossible.  Many times the dog saved the lives of sheep and herders, especially in storms.  When a storm suddenly appeared, the herder could not have gathered the herd and brought them to shelter had it not been for the dogs.”

 

Raising good sheep dogs was a necessary part of any large sheep operation. The shepherds needed dogs that were fearless and could stand up to an obstinate ram.  It was customary to give each herder a pair of working dogs and a pup.  That way, if anything happened to one of the dogs, he would have another to fall back on. After many years of working almost all breeds of sheep dogs including the old fashioned farm collies, Cook, said, “For our purpose, the small blue and white Australian, often with a so-called “glass eye”, became the most satisfactory dog we used.” The ranch acquired their first pair, named Maggie and Jiggs. “These dogs turned out to be the breeding stock which was used to produce our future generations of sheep dogs.”

 

According to Cook, one of the main reasons Australian Shepherds were preferred over the old fashioned farm collie was due to their stamina and power to move large numbers of sheep in the harsh western conditions of the open range. In discussing the old-fashioned collie, sometimes referred to as Old Shep, Cook described them as good winter dogs. “It could stand the cold weather, but became sluggish in hot weather. However it was a good all around dog with the ability to work with changing herders. Pups learned fast, but due to big feet and heavy weight, were very susceptible to sore feet and required a lot of food.” Old Shep was reliable, but lacked staying power for wide-spread sheep ranching.

 

 

 

How an Australian Shepherd Saved the Day

Autumn is the time of the year when livestock is rounded up and gathered to be shipped to market.  Calves are collected and weaned and any that weren’t marked during the spring are now branded and tagged. Before snow falls, clean up rides are made to gather any strays left behind during the main gather.   Finally, the bulls are gathered and moved to winter range or corralled in pastures where they are fed for the winter.

It is no different on the Taylor Ranch in Moab, Utah. One year, during the late fall with the threat of heavy snowfall, Joe Taylor and his father, Lester needed to move several hundred cows with calves and about 70 head of bulls from the high country down to a lower elevation. Normally, they wouldn’t have moved that many cows in such rough country with only two riders, but Joe’s brother, D. L. was in the hospital from a horseback riding accident.

They considered going to town to see if they could hire an extra hand, but they decided inexperienced help would be more trouble than it would be worth. Joe and his father decided to go ahead and move the herd from the Bar A down to the Fisher Valley by themselves.

They were headed north across a big open draw. Joe was working Taylor’s Whiskey. “Whiskey’s natural instinct was to go ahead of me,” said Joe.  “He worked the sides.  He would go up the right side of the herd and then come back around behind me and then head up the left side.”  Joe noticed Whiskey went back up the left side a second time.  He was half a mile away.  “He would disappear for ten to fifteen minutes at a time.  Then I could see him leave the herd and go straight west and run with his nose to the ground.  I really needed some help in the rear.  The calves were trying to cut back on me, but he was so far away from me – he couldn’t hear me yell at him.  I was pretty mad.  A little while later, I saw Whiskey bringing a 2,000 pound horned Hereford bull back to the herd at a dead run.  Not long after that, he brought back a huge polled Hereford bull.”

Only when Joe came upon a rise was he able to see what was happening, “It’s a bull’s instinct to go off by himself,” he explained, “and how Whiskey knew to keep those bulls from escaping is not something you can train a dog to do.  It is instinct pure and mysterious.”  It is a perfect example of how farm and ranch dogs bred for the real world need to be able to think for themselves and take action accordingly.  It is also one of the reasons they are so highly valued.

Another time, Joe and his brother were tracking a couple of wild young bulls through about eight inches of snow on the ground and followed them into the junipers and thickets.  “We had been chasing them long enough they were pretty tired.  Normally, I would have never gotten off my horse, but I had just won the Working Cow Horse class that spring and I didn’t want my mare to get hurt.  Wild cattle are usually afraid of you when you are on foot, so I got off and tied her up, but the next thing I knew, I was being charged by one of the bulls.  He was about 1500 to 1600 pounds.  I had no warning.  I grabbed the horns.  As he hit me, my hand slipped off the near horn.  He knocked me down and started mauling me.  All of a sudden I felt the pressure released, so I started crawling back towards my horse.

“When I looked back, I saw Whiskey had grabbed him by the nose and Oscar (sired by Whiskey) had grabbed him by the ham and put him on the ground.”  When Joe was safely on horse, his brother told the dogs to let the bull go. “I was all covered in snow.  I don’t remember it, but D.L. told me he knew something was wrong because he heard me scream like a Comanche and came a riding.” While Joe had been butted, hooked and knocked down by cows running by, that was the only time he had ever been pinned down and mauled.  Taylor’s Whiskey saved the day – he could be counted on to ward off an angry bull or mad mother cow.

Even though a dog’s life is far too short, four words can be said of these exceptional creatures, “Good job, old boy!”

 

Changing Character of a Breed

One of the interesting things about writing this blog is reading the comments from different breeders around the country. Their observations bring to light a unique perspective of the breed. Sandy Cornwell of Fairoaks mentioned that she felt the breed is becoming more like a retriever of some kind. Interestingly, I read a book several years ago profiling different breeds that compared the Aussie’s temperament to that of a Golden Retriever. That is quite a contrast from the character (strong herding and guardian instincts) described in the ASCA Breed Standard.

Tina Mistretta’s comment about Australian Shepherds fending off coyotes reflects a trait which was not considered unusual to early owners.* The late Cee Hambo from the 45 Ranch in California spoke often of how her dog, Bull (WTCH The Bull of Twin Oaks) tangled with coyotes to protect her livestock. This was the typical Aussie.

Aussies were expected to defend their master’s property from all intruders, yet gently watch over the family’s children. This type of versatility and adaptability has led them to become popular pets. As the world changes so do people’s expectations of the breed.

Breeders need to educate potential buyers that being a strong guardian doesn’t make the dog vicious any more than being an authoritative or aggressive stockdog does. However, ownership requires an added responsibility. Not everyone, especially the average pet owner, is equipped to deal with a protective Aussie. As a result, some breeders started breeding for Aussies with laidback, easygoing temperaments.

Even though the companion market has significant influence on the breed’s temperament, so does competition in venues such as the trial arena. Stockdog trials have also helped shape the character of many of the Aussies being bred for working today. It wasn’t until people started competing with the breed in Stockdog trials that you heard of someone mistaking them for Border Collies. That topic brought about ASCA’s Working Description for the breed.

Are the changes good or are they bad for the breed? Once again, I ask you to be the judge.

*It is worthy to note that herding breeds with strong guarding instincts such as Australian Shepherds that tended their flocks in the company of shepherds (humans) and are very different than LGD (Livestock Guarding Dogs) breeds that protect livestock without human companionship with low prey drive.

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