A new year, I wonder what it holds for all of us? Hopefully a lot more positives than many had to deal with in 2022. The unusually cool summer here makes you wonder if more surprises are in the pipeline!
It has dried off quickly and my area has missed any useful rain for at least a month so the croppers are in strife again. Hopefully they get some good storms very soon, although it’s already getting late for many summer crops. The last few years have been incredibly hard for many; after the drought years it was a lottery as to whether you managed to get a crop sown, and another as whether it got to be harvested. Trying times. I don’t know how long farmers can survive the vagaries of the climate, it’s changed enormously around me in the last 30-40 years. This used to be a dairying area where 80 ac. would support a family. There have been a couple of stubble burns recently, the first I’ve seen here in 20 years.
Back to dogs, which, thankfully, don’t need rain at the right time to grow! They are in good demand because it’s getting even harder to find farm workers. I’m still surprised that I see people looking for ‘hard biting’ dogs, as they’re guaranteed to stir up up cattle and make them harder to work. “Low stress” stock handling has been around for long enough, you’d think, for the principles to have trickled down to most ….. but I guess we all hang onto what we’re brought up with and some are reluctant to change (or haven’t had the chance to learn more). That’s human nature, but it’s a pity dogs have to suffer because of it. It’s the perfect Catch 22: their dogs get damaged by the stirred up cattle so they think it’s a waste of money buying well bred dogs…. not realising that smart dogs will calm the cattle down and live longer. A friend told me last week that a chap he knew had three dogs killed in a week recently!
All of my stock experience is with sheep, but the same thing applies. Lambs copy their mothers, and ewes who are given time to see where a gate is will walk straight through it. I always found my weaned lambs did the same, whereas neighbours had plenty of trouble handling theirs if they owned pretty ordinary dogs. It was a good lesson. I’ve heard people who have been weaner breaking for a few years remark on how “boring” it gets because the weaners are much calmer having been bred from cows that were well handled.
All of which most of you will be well aware of!
This has all been brought to the surface this week by a message I got from Emma last night. They’ve recently moved and were mustering a ‘new’ paddock where their cattle had been shifted. She expected an easy muster and took dogs she thought would be fine, but got the opposite! The cattle took off and the dogs had to work hard, a couple of youngsters wondered what was going on! (It became clear later that there had been dingoes chasing and biting the cows) When the dust settled, so to speak, Em found Sunny had it all under control and was holding the mob of 130 where they were meant to be…and having a breather in the shade! This is a 6 yo bitch who had only done 3 sheep trials before we bought her last May. She’s been a star at finding small groups of cattle out on their own and bringing them in, but this took it to a new level. I dug into her pedigree a bit before buying her and learned that Wickham’s Tex(Bounce) is the sire of both her parents. He also sired Cagella Shine and Cagella Slate, very nice dogs, I think Slate won QWSA Dog of the Year doing Arena trials. This is how Bounce was described by a knowledgable kelpie breeder….
“Wickhams Tex or Bounce, as he was called, was a tall b/t dog. Basically Cagella Bred had a line to a Karrawarra bitch. Gary Milgate broke the dog in. He was a work dog. Came to Jack when a few years old. He 3 sheep trialed successfully. A lovely natured dog. He was Jack’s sire mainly over Cagella Bidgee and Cagella Skeeter. “Just nice big dogs that cover a lot of ground, calm biddable workers. “And that last sentence sums up Sunny. Except for her doing it on her own and not needing much bidding!
You’ll find her full pedigree on the pup page when she had the litter to Wills. A photo of Sunny when she arrived here, and one of the type of country where she’s working now.
Strangely enough, this photo turned up on FB this week of Jack Dawn with Bounce at the EKKA where he was competing in the Arena trial. He certainly looks a big dog!
This is Bright, Sunny’s dog pup I’ve kept by Wills. He’s shaping up to be a lot like his maternal G’pa; he’s certainly an easy boy at this stage.
We’ve been keeping an eye out for handy bitches of the right lines that can be mated to Wills’ sons, and bought Sheps Sandy and a pup of hers by a Barru blood dog (called Overthehill Tarantula, who unsurprisingly is xB.Spiderman). Both Sandy’s parents are by Campbell’s Reg(all Riana blood), her sire out of Karmala Luka and her dam from Sheps Haley.
Sandy’s pup is character, very loyal, totally fearless….it will be interesting to see if her sense of self preservation kicks in later on. She’s a lovely pup. Nesnah Sandfly.
One of the problems when breeding anything is getting too much of your best sire or dam. In my case Brandy seems to have infiltrated a lot of pedigrees! It was funny to find that a dog Arthur had been talking about(Glendon Mo) who was doing well for Ashley Whitehead, had been bred from a full sister to Glendon Benny, Brandy’s sire…because I asked Ashley if it would be OK to mate a bitch to him! Well, long story short, Heli’s been mated to a son of Mo, Barwai Wisconsin Badger. His daughter is rowing for a Uni in America, hence the name! Many thanks to Ashley for his time and patience….Heli got a bit carried away and convinced me she was ready a week early; she had an absolute ball meeting the 4 Whitehead dogs he tried her to! Here she looks to be having a good laugh about her holiday…
I’ve only had two litters of little pups to look after, which has been nice. However I also have six half grown ‘teenagers’ who have been lovely to handle, that is until they started working! Now they only want to go find the sheep the second they get out, so I have to be careful. Good they’re so keen. Venus is a bit disappointing, she hasn’t much concentration … Vamp has enough for both, a pity it wasn’t more evenly divided! Venus would be ideal on a small holding with a few stock, if anyone is interested. She’s a nice girl to have around and would be handy on less stock….and of course is still young so could click into gear….. since writing this I lent Venus to Alumy Angus owners when they came to pick up another pup. I thought a change of scenery might be good for Venus and it seems to have worked beautifully! Never underestimate a pup.
Here are photos of the Mick x Wiggle pups taken during December. The two red/tans are Wills x Fizz fosters.
The other five Wills x Fizz pups have done very well on mum. There are the usual white markings we get from this mating but as I’ve explained before, the ones without it don’t carry it on. One of the best young dogs we’ve bred, Gibson, is from this mating and the working ability of all the pups has been excellent. A few of the pups….
Arthur has a bad knee and is out of action. I hope it recovers fully without too much hassle. It’s a bit tricky, because of his implant he’s not allowed have an MRI scan and a CT won’t give as much info. Very disappointing for him when he was looking forward to doing some trials again.
I’ve posted quite a few short videos on my KK Facebook page which many of you will have seen. I’ll add a couple here later, if I do it when I’m writing the whole thing sometimes vanishes!!
I always enjoy getting photos of dogs I’ve bred. Below left, Karmala Spring, TapxNitro. Next to her, K.Jazz and K.Travel.
I had an email recently from an old contact and was sad to read about his dog. You hear about large breeds having shorter lives but this was horrible:
“Almost 3 years ago our family/ house dog, a 50kg Akita died. A gorgeous animal but bred for looks, l not longevity. He died before his 8th bday, was arthritic and old half his life. Ive been around good dogs with bad breeding before. Its sad. I vowed never again.”
I read the following on the same day from McDowall’s Herbs:
“Osteosarcoma / Bone Cancer is the single most common canine cancer and it has risen from being almost unknown 25 years ago to epidemic proportions nowadays. It is now affecting younger and younger dogs especially those of the bigger breeds. Since the 1950’s with the introduction of processed dog food and with the almost complete elimination of raw meat and bones from companion dogs’ diet, dogs have lost the protection that an efficient digestive system and intake of suitably balanced essential minerals, once provided.”
It’s well worth the effort of feeding as much meat and bones as you can, you’ll be well rewarded by your dogs working for years longer without stiffness.
The bitches are starting to cycle again, as usual several at the same time! Proposed matings are listed on the Pups for Sale page.
An interesting study of dog breeds has been done in America, you might like to check it out. The part that grabbed my attention was their analysis of herding breeds:
In a new paper, researchers from the United States zoomed into the genetic codes of more than 4,000 different dogs, and surveyed 46,000 pet owners. They identified many genes associated with behaviours typical of certain breeds, such as the tendency for terriers to catch and kill prey……….
For example, the paper identifies herding breeds, such as Kelpies or border collies, as characterised by high “non-social fear”, which is fear of environmental stimuli such as loud noises, wind or vehicles. Terriers, such as Jack Russells, are characterised by high predatory chasing. And scenthounds, such as Beagles, by low trainability.
These align with what these dogs were bred for: herding breeds for their high environmental awareness and sensitivity, terriers for chasing and killing prey, and scenthounds for their independent focus on non-visual signals (scent).
The researchers take a more detailed look at herders, because of their easily identifiable and usually innate behaviour of herding.
Interestingly, the gene found to be common among sheepdogs – called EPHA5 – has also been associated with anxiety-like behaviours in other mammals, as well as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in humans. The researcher team says this might explain the breed’s high energy and tendency to hyperfocus on tasks.