Our constant ranch companions are our two heelers, Molly & Grizzly. They have been your greeters if you've visited our store. Heelers are known to be dogs who stay with their owners and these two do. If I'm not sure where Rick and Alex are working on the ranch, I can just look around until I see the dogs and know where the guys are. If we are in the house, they are on the porch waiting for us. If we are in the store they are waiting for us outside the back door. When we drive out the front gate they wait near the driveway and are there to greet us when we return home. It's always nice to know they are on duty when we are away.
According to the Dog Breeder's Guide "When on home ground, the Australian Cattle Dog is a happy, affectionate and playful pet . . . The bond that this breed can create with its owner is strong and will leave the dog feeling protective towards the owner, typically resulting in the dog's never being too far from the owner's side. The Australian Cattle Dog can be the friendliest of companions although it is quick to respond to the emotions of it's owners and may defend them without waiting for a command." We have certainly found these characterizations to be true, they stay at our side constantly. The only aggressive behavior I've ever seen from either of them came one day when I was out for a walk in our woods. The dogs and I came upon a trespasser; a man who was loud, drunk and incoherent. The dogs must have cued off my emotions because they immediately put themselves between me and the intruder and barked and growled in a tone I have never heard from them before or since. They convinced the guy to leave in short order and I was so thankful they were there with me. They both got an extra dog bone that day!
Molly (black female, 3/4 heeler 1/4 black lab) and Grizzly (full blood heeler, blue/gray male) are not only our companions, they have been each other's since they were two weeks old. Molly's mother died when she was a small puppy so Grizzly's mother adopted her and they were raised as a pair and have been together ever since. Three years ago the two of them had ten - yes ten - puppies that were completely adorable. We really hadn't planned on puppies (and didn't take steps to prevent them soon enough) but they were very cute and fun and we found wonderful homes for all ten of them. Two of the puppies went to a friend of ours so we get to see those two fairly often.
In the 1800s, Australians began crossing Dingo-blue merle Collies to Dalmatians and Black and Tan Kelpies. The result was a dog identical in type and build to the Dingo, only with a thicker set and peculiar markings - and also an excellent worker. Known originally as the Blue or Australian Heeler, the Australian Cattle Dog has been a huge help to the Australian beef industry, enabling farmers to maintain huge herds.
Our dogs don't herd the cattle too often, honestly they are not very good at it since they get no practice, but they do herd the chickens really well. They are "heelers" so their method is to nip at the heels of whatever (or whoever) they are herding. When they were very young dogs they had one unfortunate incident with a chicken who was wandering outside the fence. They were only playing with the fowl, but the chicken did not survive the game. Since then we have trained them not to play Tug o' War with the chickens and they do very well around them. They must also consider grouse off limits because we have had a pair of grouse hanging around our yard the past couple of weeks and the dogs have left them alone too.
They are a team but they also have their own personalities. Molly is a sweet, affectionate dog who is the leader of the pack. She is athletic, energetic and protective. Grizzly is really just a big baby; he loves to be part of whatever is going on and will come sit on your foot if he gets the chance. He loves to be petted and is very affectionate.
Below are a few pictures of our favorite canines and their lives here around the ranch.