Owning an Australian Cattle Dog
BY MARIAN RING & LIZ SCOTT
Is an Australian Cattle Dog right for you??
Cattle dogs are different. Intelligent, devoted to their owners, highly protective and extremely agile. A half way decent one can jump in any direction (including backwards) from a standstill and turn in midair. A wicked sense of humour and ability to look innocent when caught red-handed; possessors of a delightfully devilish grin; they are born stirrers. Not the pet for those who want a quiet life, they have a distinctive sense of humour which makes them ideal for those who like a dog with character.
Like the Christchurch dog who was systematically pulling the boards of a seven-foot high fence by jumping for the top, grasping it in his mouth and using his body weight to loosen the plank. And all because the neighbours had put their rabbit pen just the other side.
Or Johnny who was trotting across the catwalk at agility training when he began to watch the tennis players through the fence and lost his footing. He hit the ground, looked about in surprise, then leapt straight up in the air, landing back on the catwalk and nonchalantly carried on.
Then there was the five month old pup, trotting through the house, that suddenly left the floor, landed on the kitchen table, then instantly off again, with a cake in it's mouth.
Or the bitch that casually walked along a three-inch wide veranda rail, found at the end that she couldn't turn around. So simply went into reverse gear back to where she started from. And we must remember Smokey who would move household items, including a small woven coffee table, outside. He was found one day on the lawn stretched out on the back porch mat; his front legs resting on a cushion, the telephone book alongside and eating a pottle of margarine. He had taken every item outside, unaided.....and certainly without any encouragement.
Tammy was owned by a port worker who was often called out at odd hours. As he left Tammy would come from her usual sleeping spot in the lounge and settle down between the master bedroom and his daughters room. When Colin returned she would leave her self-appointed sentry spot and return to the lounge.
They are courageous, tough as nails and extremely intelligent. Also protective of property and a devoted family dog.
They have great strength and endurance and are one of the most "natural" breeds of domesticated dog, with very little incidence of the common hereditary problems.
They make an ideal house-dog as they need very little bathing and with regular grooming don't have the usual "doggy" smell that other breeds suffer from.
They have the intelligence, agility and 'nose' to successfully train for any of the obedience, agility and trialling hobbies.
They are the longest lived dog on records - "Bluey" died in 1939 at the ripe old age of 29 years and 5 months. He worked cattle and sheep for 20 years before he retired.
If not exercised enough, both mentally and physically, then this spells TROUBLE.
They have been bred to bite for generations, so don't be surprised if you receive the odd nip in moments of excitement.
Very territorial and can tend to be unsociable towards strange dogs - doesn't care if it's three times it's size!!
Can be stubborn and intractable if handled/trained wrongly.
They are not the ideal dog for the first time dog owner. Needs someone who has had previous experience and knowledge of dogs - and knows what they are letting themselves in for!
They can live on 'the smell of an oily rag' and will literally eat anything. Whatever quantity a dog food manufacturer recommends for this size of dog - halve it.
They make a great mate and companion and their only desire in life is to spend every minute of the day with their owner.
Not suited to a sedentary city life on a small section, or to being left at home for long periods, that is unless you don't mind coming home to a house and it's contents in turmoil, or the garden looking like a mine field.
Most suited to a working home. If not on a farm working cattle, then one where it will be worked in other fields, such as obedience, agility, trialling, etc.
Good with kids, but supervision is a necessity while it's a pup, as the working trait to nip at heels and bottoms when excited has to be controlled and curbed.