- en mångsidig boskapsvallare -
The Truth About The Australian Cattle Dog
- by Laurie Leach, 2004
In the mid 50s, a movie called The Three Faces of Eve, made the public
aware of a rare psychological disorder in which a person has two or
more distinct personalities, each with its own thoughts, feelings, and
patterns of behavior. These personalities are often direct opposites,
and each may be unaware of the other. The result is, of course, bizarre
flip flops in behavior that leave friends and family befuddled - Gee, he
was so nice when I met him last week…
What I would like to suggest is that the breed that resulted from the
cross of dogs and Dingos, which must have seemed like a good idea
at the time, has left us with a handsome, smallish dog that suffers from
three independent personalities. In fact, what we have here is a
psychiatric nightmare worthy of a new movie - The Three Faces of the Australian Cattle Dog.
The First Personality
The first time an ACD came into my consciousness was at a rodeo in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. There was a gray blur that tore into the ring to harass a gigantic bull, that had summarily tossed a young cowboy on his head, out of the arena. The bull exited with the smallish dog hanging off his left ankle.
Over the course of the evening, I became more interested in this dog than the rodeo events. The gray blur, a thirty pound dog with a speckled blue and white coat, prick ears, and a lovely blaze, was in firm control of two thousand pound beasts flinging snot from their noses the size of toy poodles. This dynamo dog ducked under a dozen cow kicks. After one well-aimed kick connected and tossed him fifteen feet, he bounced up like a rubber dog and came back for more. When any bull refused to exit stage left and moved into the arena for an encore, the dog took aim on the drippy snoot and made it clear with some well aimed snaps that that was a bad choice. This dog was high drive, fearless, fast, and working seemingly by himself.
Subsequent study of the ACD has shown that this rodeo dog was not a unique individual. In its herding personality, this lightweight prize fighter of a dog can move big mobs of cattle in terrible terrain "Dense scrub?" the ACD seems to say. "Bring it on!" It is important to note that many owners of other herding breeds would never allow their dog near a cow, given the cow's capacity to knock their lights out. However, a well-trained ACD with its uncanny ability to dodge and feint flying hooves can take the place of several ranch hands when the chores call for moving the live stock. He is the assertive canine gristle the early Australian settlers were hoping for.
The Second Personality
The second personality of the ACD is an about-face from rodeo dog. Kiss the tough dog good bye. Say hello to a perky, intelligent dog with a highly developed sense of humor. The second face can be accurately called the Boy or Girl Scout personality.
Given adequate exercise - both physical and mental - this is the perfect companion. It is easy to imagine this dog with three toes in the air reciting the pledge, "Be Prepared…"
Here are the characteristics of the ACD in the Scout face:
These pups never leave their owner's side. With any movement they are on their feet asking, "Where are we going? Is it an adventure for us? I am sensing fun. Is there going to be fun? Are we taking my ball? Ball. Ball. Can I grab your hand and help you get to the door? Should we take the Frisbee too? Oh, I love to go places with you. I will need to herd all those cattle going by from the back of the car. Oh, I love to go places with you."
If they are getting adequate exercise - mental and physical (I know I am repeating myself but a bored ACD is not a good ACD) - ACDs are not obsessive in their demands. Generally, they can also keep themselves busy with a bone, playing with another dog for quite some time, or working on their merit badges. This is a sharp contrast to other herding dogs that obsessively ask their owners to play.
Zest for Life
This ACD specializes in grinning and inventing sophisticated games. Gone is the serious worker in the pasture or arena. Give an ACD a soccer ball, a baby pool and get your video camera. Chances are good you'll get some good footage for America's Funniest Animals.
Sense of Humor
ACDs love to embarrass their humans in a charming way. For example, the down command is interpreted as a flop on the backside with feet flailing in the air. The ACD in the second personality is always two steps ahead and looking for creative ways to get the job done.
The ACD uses three primary communication tools very effectively. The first - the famous nose bonk in which the dog uses its nose like a woodpecker to prod his owner - is very effective to move the owner in some direction, generally toward the ball. Secondly, the ACD is capable of using "The Eye" to take over their owners' thoughts in the same vein as the Border Collie. When these two strategies fail to bring the desired result, this pup also has a wide range of noises from bark to yodel to communicate their desires.
THE AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG - Page 3
However, the ACD does not stop there. If these three techniques are not enough, the ACD takes communication to a whole new level. This pup can put together entire sentences better than the average ninth grader. Consider this story from owner Carolyn D.:
Like any ACD, Tasha knows where all of her balls are kept. I also have a pair of shoes that I only wear when we go out on walks. And she has a bell that she rings when she has to go out. This one evening she was pestering and pestering me to go play. She went over to the table that her ball was sitting on, pointed her nose up and did her little snort. In a playful mood, I kept asking her, "What do you want." She circled the table and pointed up on top where she knew the ball was. I kept repeating my question. She started snorting and woofing. Finally, she seemed to decide she would have to spell it out for me. She walked over to my shoes, woofed at them and gave them a nose bonk, went over to the bell and kicked it, and then she returned to the table, pointed with the ball, woofed at me, and shook her head at the ball. How clear was that?
These pups bring an ability to solve problems and a firm belief that they are the center of the universe to any household activity. ACD owner Kris W. reports that her ACDs join in hauling branches on pruning day. But when the yard work was done and the ice cream had been brought out to celebrate a job well done, her dog did the following:
Tristan loves ice cream and is allowed to lick the lids. Last night, he cleaned his lid after chasing it across the room. He came over to me to ask for more. I asked him, "Where's your lid?" He ran to get it and handed it back to me. I gave him a bit more. He finished that and brought the lid back.
Who could ask for more - an attentive, funny dog with good communication and problem solving skills? Everything would be perfect if the story stopped there. But sometimes Personality Two fades into Personality Three.
Sometimes the first personality - the driven herding dog - and the second personality - the charming companion dog - collide. The result is the disturbing third face of the ACD.
The onset of this phase is distinguished by a transformation from do-good Scout dog to a looking-for-trouble, delinquent dog that is a handful at best. One can identify this phase by the following behaviors:
A resistant attitude that results in a dog that considers a command and says, "Oh yeah? What's in it for me?"
A demand for gratification such as, "Hey, here is my cow hoof. Fill it with peanut butter now or else."
Destructiveness with a sneaky edge such as Brenda M's dog that chewed her glasses and hid them in the bed under the covers.
Nipping. Human heels. Horse heels. Anything.
Shyness and nervousness that reveal those Dingo genes.
At its worst, a natural suspiciousness of strangers that elevates to aggression.
The third face may remain dormant and never appear in some ACDs. Good training and socialization may limit its appearance. But if it does rear its head, bring out the Prozac and dose both you and the dog. Better yet, be careful to purchase a pup from lines in which the third personality has never appeared. Besides, two personalities are enough for any dog.
Some bargain hunters are drawn to the ACD for the wrong reason. They figure they are getting three dogs for the price of one. In order to make sure that this breed gets into the right hands, there should be an application process that asks the following questions:
Do you have an advanced degree in psychology or psychiatry?
Do you work part time or not at all?
Are you willing to participate in flyball, agility, and obedience classes (all at once)?
Are you willing to play ball or Frisbee at least an hour a day?
Are you willing to match wits with a dog whose wheels never stop turning?
Most importantly, are you willing to deal with two and perhaps three personalities and their specific demands?
If you have answered yes to all of these questions, you are a candidate to partner with one of the most interesting and occasionally challenging breeds.
Australian cattledog är en arbetande ras, framtagen för vallning och vakt. Förutom vallningen så har rasen visat sig ha bredd och möjlighet att användas inom de flesta kategorier av aktiviteter, såsom bruks, tjänstehund, lydnad, agility, viltspår och freestyle.
På utställning har rasen haft ett gott deltagande. Under 1980-talet fanns stort intresse av att visa rasens vallningsegenskaper och flera hundar deltog i vallningskurser och prov. År 1985 godkändes den första ACD:n på Vallhundsklubbens lokalprov. Totalt har fem ACD avlagt godkänt vallhundsprov, den senaste år 2011.
Den australiensiska boskapsvallaren
Cattledogen utvecklades omkring år 1840 i Australien för att hjälpa landets boskapsindustri. Boskapsuppfödarna hade begränsat med arbetskraft och gårdarna var oftast ostängslade vilket gjorde det svårt att kontrollera boskapshjordarna som var vilda eller halvvilda. För att förenkla arbetet behövdes en hundras som var både härdig och kapabel att styra och driva vilt boskap. De första importerade arbetshundarna till Australien uppfyllde inte dessa krav varför man tog fram en korsning av skotska släthåriga highland collies och den inhemska vildhunden dingo. Man fick på så vis fram hårdföra hundar som tålde ansträngning och hetta och som hade dingons sätt att arbeta tyst. De fick namnet heelers sedan de vallade genom att bita boskapen i bakbenen. Senare har det även tillkommit inslag av dalmatiner och svart resp. tantecknad kelpie.
Cattledogen i Sverige
Sverige introducerades Cattledogen av Birgitta Östergren med Storkappans kennel. Birgitta importerade tre hundar. Den första hanhundsvalpen anlände juletid 1973. Därefter kom en dräktig tik 1974 och ännu en hanhundsvalp 1976. Alla tre hundarna kom från en av Australiens då ledande uppfödare, Mrs. Bernice Walters, kennel Wooleston, som främst avlade för att bevara bruksegenskaperna och som därmed var specialiserad på uppfödning av en vallhund med god exteriör, dvs. en arbetshund som även kunde delta på utställningar.
Av Stormkappans kennels två första importer kom endast en avkomma att gå i avel, Stormkappans Blue Jessica. Hon parades i sin tur med den tredje importen vilket resulterade i två Cattledog kullar där den mest framgångsrika blev Bluey´s Josephine som blev internationell och nordisk utställnings champion, svensk lydnadschampion, korad, uppflyttad till hkl rapport och hkl spår.
Under 1981 importerades ytterligare tre Cattledogs till Sverige och 1983 importerades den första röda cattledogen, Landmaster Showdown.
Eftersom Sverige var bland de första länderna i Europa att importera Cattledog kom hundar att exporteras till Norge och Danmark under 1983. Därefter har import skett från Sverige till flera andra europeiska länder.
Genom att den svenska aveln använt hundar från Australien, USA och övriga Europa har inavelsprocenten kunnat hållas låg, trots en liten population. Rasen har aldrig varit numerärt stor i Sverige och i genomsnitt registreras ca 20-30 hundar per år.
Sedan augusti 2006 finns en separat rasklubb för Cattledog, Svenska Australien Cattledog Klubben (SACK).