This week’s blog post is early. I will be out of commission for a couple of days, courtesy of Upstate Cardiology.
No gardening info today. Instead I want to introduce you to my Australian Cattle Dog. Her official AKC name is “Snoddy’s Blue of New Hope” but here at the farm, she answers to “Blue.”
The ACD breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1980. It is a member of the Herding Group. The roots of the breed are a complex mixture of Dingo, Bull Terrier, Dalmatian, Kelpie and Collie. This combination yielded a speckled coat. The black and white combination is called Blue Heeler; the brown and white combo is called Red Heeler. ACD puppies are born white, with whatever solid patches they will have as adults. Their color comes in quickly after birth. You can usually tell their ultimate color by the time they are six weeks old. Paw pads and noses can give an early hint. The “heeler” part of the name comes from their habit of nipping the heels of livestock when herding. They follow the same action when “herding” visitors to our gardens, whether that is garden club members or children who stray away from the group.
The ACD is energetic, strong, and barks very little. They require frequent exercise to avoid destructive habits arising from boredom. They have low grooming requirements, only blowing their coats once or twice yearly. They are intelligent and trainable but headstrong (read: stubborn). They can be reserved with strangers. We made an intentional effort to socialize our Blue from her first weeks in our home. She is friendly with strangers and children, but may nip at a squealing youngster. We always err on the side of safety, keeping her on a leash when in a crowd of strangers and intervening when she starts to appear overexcited playing with the little ones. She gets along well with our other dog and our cats.
Having a Blue Heeler has forced me to be an active individual. My husband runs her around our pond once or twice daily (about half a mile), and I train her several days each week using the AKC Rally and Obedience signs. We train with a club once a week, which keeps her comfortable around strangers and other dogs.
We have earned the Beginner Novice Obedience title and the Rally Intermediate title. Our next step will be to compete in the Rally Advanced class, in which all exercises are done off leash. Wish us luck!
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The photo gallery below shows our Blue from 18 days old to 2018.