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Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Working Ranch Dog is Priceless


I've always wanted a dog that I could take everywhere with me and not have to worry about them taking off or being a nuisance. Three years ago I started looking for a miniature Australian Shepherd and found a breeder in Oklahoma who had some beautiful dogs that were very reasonably priced. We decided on Annie, a red tri female. I really wanted a blue merle Aussie but they are generally hard to find and are more expensive because of their popularity. Annie's father is a blue merle and her mother is a red tri that looks just like her. So Annie has one brown eye and one ice blue eye.

I had forgotten how destructive Aussies can be when left alone. One day while we were gone Annie chewed the sill off one of the windows in the living room/great room. She even ate some of the drywall. She wasn't even alone - she had our YorkiePoo and our toy poodle for company along with several cats. But these dogs need a job to really be happy.

I recently started taking Annie with me when I go out to do ranch chores. At first it was a real hassle because she wanted to run all over to explore everything. I was constantly having to go to the neighbor's house to the south of us to retrieve Annie. Every time she took off I would either put her in the house or put her on her leash at the front of the house after telling her she was a bad dog and she was grounded. She quickly learned that she needed to stick with me, come when called and pay attention to what I was doing.

I hate it when the adult male llamas get into fights. There is generally a lot of screaming, spitting, running around and wrestling. Usually nobody gets hurt but it still aggravates me to no end. Annie is so tuned into me that she quickly learned to start barking at the llamas, which would make them stop their fighting and focus their attention on her. As they got used to her barking, that no longer worked so I would send Annie into their pasture and tell her to make them stop. She runs after the fighting llamas and barks then nips on their back legs to stop the fighting. As soon as they stop, she trots back to me with a satisfied grin on her face - "hey, Mom, see what I did?!"


She went after my horse, Maggie Mae, one day when I went into the horse pasture with grain in scoops and Maggie rushed me and crowded me, getting pushy. Annie immediately went after Maggie and Maggie spun around with Annie between her legs, knocking her down, which frightened Annie so she immediately left the pasture and stood at the gate barking at the horses until I came back out. So, Annie does have respect for the animals and knows when she is out-gunned, so to speak. Now she follows me to the horse pasture and sits at the gate with her chin on one of the gate rails waiting for me to come back out. She watches every move I make, along with every move the horses make, while I'm in there.

I really do feel a lot safer now with Annie helping with chores. I don't worry so much about wild animals sneaking up on me while I'm out working on the ranch. I believe if something happened to me Annie would find help for me or at least stay with me until somebody came to help.

Annie has even learned to work around the tractor. At first it made me really nervous but now she makes a wide berth around the tractor, waits for it to pass her and then falls in behind it, keeping one eye on me and one eye on the tractor.

Next summer we plan to start looking for an old Jeep to use for four-wheeling on some of the mountain trails we used to explore years ago. We plan to take Annie with us because we think she will be the perfect companion on these day trips.

19 comments:

Daisy said...

Annie sure is beautiful! And I'm glad she learned how she could be of help to you. I know that must make her happy!

Pricilla said...

She is beautiful.
And it's good she didn't get hurt by the horse!

tahtimbo said...

Fascinating reading. Annie seems to be a perfect match for your ranch. It was interesting to read about her journey as she "learned the ropes" of her new job. I bet she will really like those day trips you are planning to take.

Lin said...

Oh, what a sweet story. These are very smart dogs and they thrive on working--she seems happy to work with you and make you happy. Have you read any of Jon Katz's books on his escapades with his working dogs?

Marlaine said...

Annie is a beautiful girl! I really enjoyed your story about her. I have two five pound dogs who are my constant companions and like you, they make me feel safe. I know no one can 'sneak up' on me in my house because they will warn me first! There are lots of reasons that dogs are man's best friends.

Mrs Mecomber said...

What a great bunch of stories about your dog!! I do miss the country life.

Rebecca
FreakyFrugalite.com

Split Rock Ranch said...

Thank you everyone! Annie fits in so well here on the ranch. For awhile there I was wondering why I had gotten another Aussie, until she learned the ropes and started working. Now I just say, "Annie, let's go to work!" and she beats me to the door. She's a joy to have around.

Regina said...

Brenda...she is beautiful...love those eyes. So happy that she has learned to follow the leader now. I think she will love riding in the jeep...such adventures. Can't wait to read about them.

Hugs,
Regi

WillOaks Studio said...

It always amazes me how smart dogs can be!! After they "tune in" to their moms and dads...they really do try to please and even my eskie does better when she's got a task to take care of! Your Annie is so pretty and those eyes are fascinating!

BeadedTail said...

Annie certainly is beautiful! And she is so smart! It's wonderful that she is there to help you with your chores and keep an eye on you.

Kathleen said...

Aussies are so cool! My folks had one =) Annie is very pretty and looks like a lot of fun. I agree - it is nice to have a dog with you when you chore =)

Lynne said...

What a beautiful dog! She is obviously quite smart too and the ranch seems to be the perfect place for her.

DayPhoto said...

I can't imagine life without a dog. I love the cats but I need a dog. I have enjoyed meeting Annie!

Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com/

tkdesigns4u said...

I just loved reading about Annie! She is so cute, especially with her gorgeous eyes! There is nothing like the love and companionship of a dog, you sound like you have a wonderful bond!

I also wanted to wish you a happy holiday season!!

Tracey

Ann said...

First off, I love her name...lol She's quite the pretty girl and she sounds like a great dog and wonderful companion.

Mountaindreamers said...

what a wonderful dog! my first fur grand baby was a similar dog , Rocky was great and we miss him! Glad you have such wonderful company

Nancy said...

Awh, your very own Lassie:)

Anna said...

Good name for a girl dog!
Wonderful story.
Anna

FishHawk said...

Could you come by and work with our four puppies? It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job with Annie, and they have their bluff in on us. We have already given up on the cats.