No more lamb. No more wool. It could happen.

No more lamb. No more wool. It could happen. Read what an American sheepman had to say about the American Sheep Industry in 1974. “Today I rode into the high country above my ranch. There were the sheep scattered about across the greening hills.

“I get a good feeling looking at those lamb chops and wool clothes ‘on the hoof’ out there, until I wake up to facts staring me and all American sheep producers in the face these days. Sheep are a vanishing species, as the biologists would say. Thirty years ago there were more than 50 million sheep in America. In 1974, there are only 16 and a half million. The 310 sheep I lost last year represent almost 4 million lambs lost to all of us put together. Predators aren’t entirely to blame. But they are hurting us, especially in the West where lambs, completely defenseless, are at their mercy.

“The sheep that are left look good — we’ve learned a lot about breeding and feeding since I was a boy growing up on this place. Maybe you’ve noticed — your home-grown lamb chops are bigger and meatier than they used to be.

“And wool from these breeds — you can’t beat it.’ A natural product, it doesn’t need petroleum to make it, like the synthetic fabrics.

“That’s a nice thing about sheep — they’re completely recyclable. It takes thousands of years to create coal, oil and natural gas, and when it’s gone, it’s gone forever. But you can clip wool from sheep when they’re one year old, and keep on shearing them as long as they live.

“The American sheep industry does not stop with us out here on the land, you know. It employs thousands of people — in feed stores and feed lots, in the transportation industry, in woolen mills and shops, in packing plants and supermarkets. Since biblical times 2,000 years ago, sheep have depended on us to protect and shepherd them. We try. Ecologists tell us good land management like mine will support more wildlife than the wilderness. Each new spring, new grass comes up nourished by the sheep that graze on it. When the sheep go, rank underbrush takes over, and fire becomes a real hazard—just ask California about that.

“You could get along without lamb and wool. It’s not a life and death matter for you as it is for our sheep. But with so many shortages these days, it just makes sense to preserve all the natural food and fiber we can. At the same time, we’d be holding onto something precious, a good way of life for our children and our children’s children. No more lamb? No more wool? Let’s not let it happen.”

Source – The American Sheep Industry – Denver, Colorado

Published in: on January 5, 2010 at 4:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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:


Today, I viewed a trailer for the Herding Videos – Herding I, II and II we did in 1989.
One of the segments includes footage of Chiquita, a little blue Aussie I introduced to stock during the shoot. She had just turned one. It dawned on me that while she was only twelve months old in the video – she represented Longevity that was much more common in the breed when I was growing up. It wasn’t unusual to have a healthy and happy 15 or 16 year old Aussie. We lost her in 2006. Chiquita had lived to be 18 years old.

Sadly, too many Aussies are over and done at seven or eight years of age. There are numerous factors contributing to the early demise in dogs today. Some breeders who tend to breed for external appearance and performance and may be inclined to ignore longevity. Metabolic disorders including obesity are among the most common problems in the breed not to mention toxins in diet and the environment that didn’t exist early on. Even so, longevity is a trait that should be sought after and bred for.

Form Follows Function?

Interestingly, the statement: form ever follows function as it appeared in the article titled, “The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered” is credited to Louis Sullivan, American architect. I don’t know if that is actually the earliest citation of form follows function, nevertheless, he implied that the function should be the primary concern of anyone designing objects.


The principal of form follows function as it relates to dogs is assumed to be the basis of evaluating the outward appearance in the show-ring. Dogs that are exceptional in conformation and able to perform their original function are thought to be the epitome of excellence.


The only real method of testing the form is the function which further reveals the temperament and drive necessary for the work. Is the dual-champion (a show-type dog that can pass an instinct test) the embodiment of form follows function, or is it the true working dog?

From Herding Buffalo to Reindeer

From herding bison to reindeer, Australian Shepherds have always been highly valued for their versatility. Working bloodlines are selected for stamina, courage, and the natural ability to keep their charges on the move and together. Partnered with pastoralists in places like Finland, Sweden and even Alaska, Aussies now test their ability on reindeer. They and are being used to herd domestic caribou —just as they once drove herds of cattle — moving them from the mountains to the sea or from the tundra to the forests to graze on lichen (reindeer moss). Reindeer are fast and dogs are sometimes working in several feet of snow. Determination, strength, and endurance are traits necessary to tend migrating herds during their annual grazing cycles.

Traditional reindeer herders (human kind) such as the Jonnson family who live in Northern Sweden depend on upright, close-working stockdogs to drive their herd long distances of 300 kilometers (over 186 miles) between summer and winter grazing. Here is a link to video of Chippa — a really nice, long-tailed Aussie with good natural instinct owned by Silja Jonnson — working a herd of 2,000 animals after only two weeks of training:

Here is another link to an article about how Australian Shepherds were used to work wild bison in Yellowstone National Park:

For the Love of Dogs

I met Joyce Fay at a clinic I gave in Hobbs, New Mexico, a very long time ago. She brought her dogs, Bro and Tracy. They were introduced to sheep for the first time and they did really well. It was an unforgettable experience. Even though they would have enjoyed a career as herding dogs, they became the main subjects of a beautiful book Joyce wrote titled, The Adventures of Bro and Tracy:

Through the exceptional qualities of her dogs, Joyce was inspired to help others. Today, Joyce — who is a world-class photographer — uses her time and talent to help rescue animals. She takes beautiful pictures of rescue animals at different shelters throughout New Mexico:

Think of ways you can contribute your time and talent to help support rescue groups and your local animal shelters. Be informed, but do not be deceived into donating money to groups such as the HSUS (Humane Society of United States). On the surface, they appear to fund animal shelters helping animals — when in fact they are animal rights fanatics. Instead of helping animals they use your donated money to finance anti-pet legislation taking away your rights to own animals of any kind. To keep on top of what is happening nationally and in your own state:

Americans Supporting Animal Ownership:

In the meantime, don’t forget the genuine groups that are in need of your support:

STAAR (Second-Time-Around Aussie Rescue)

ARPH (Aussie Rescue & Placement Helpline)

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.

“Last Year’s Pups”

Spring is here. The trees are in blossom and everything is getting green and beautiful. It is such a pleasant sight to look out the window and watch the animals grazing in the pasture. It reminds me of a poem my father wrote in 1974:

Last Year’s Pups
By Ernie Hartnagle

Last year’s pups are working now
Getting static from mother cow.
And some others earn their keep
Movin baby lambs and sheep.

Published in: on April 30, 2009 at 1:18 pm  Comments (1)  
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Enemy Among Us

PETA’s true colors stood out with the KKK imagery they used to protest the American Kennel Club at the Westminster Kennel Club show. PETA uses intimidation tactics to harass and terrorize their victims just as the KKK did. History tells us when those methods failed; they were willing to commit murder. PETA is now directing their activities towards children:

If innocent children are not safe against their expressions of hate — I am convinced these domestic terrorists will stop at nothing. They are an enemy among us. Just as the KKK hid their identities behind pointed hoods and long white robes, PETA hides their identity under the guise of groups like HSUS.

In the meantime, dog fanciers (of all breeds and bloodlines) slander each other and bicker over inconsequential issues through various Email lists. Of course, it is always with the rationalization of having the breed’s best interest in mind. What a distraction. If there was ever a time to speak up and put the breed’s “best interest” concept in action— it is now:

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