Handmade & Vintage Treasures

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Precious Pet: Lady Our Australian Cattle Dog

As you know I love my animals and they are a lot of inspiration behind my crafts. So, I am going to do a series called "My Precious Pet", each telling the story of each pet. I hope you come to love these guys as much as I do...

I can't remember when I first discovered Australian Cattle Dogs (aka. Blue or Red Heeler, ACD), but I do remember thinking what an awesome dog. I'm very adement about researching things especially animals before purchasing them. Although each dog has its own personality, every breed has certain traits that can make them desirable or undesirable to the owner. I search out a certain breed not just for companionship but for their breed specific traits that will be to my benefit. If I got every dog that I thought was cute, I would be in a mess.
     Always ready to hit the trail.
At the time of my search, I was a young single mom to a toddler, who leased a 100 acres of pasture for my horses. This was a time before cell phones. Entrance to the pasture was down a long dirt road, next to a river and another large pasture with a wooded area. The road was frequented by hunter and hikers, not to mention I often saw copperheads, wild hogs, and a pack of stray dogs that liked to harass my horses. I was uncomfortable at times with strange men stopping to talk while I was out attending my horses. This is when I decided I needed a dog. Not just any dog would do, I needed an intelligent, free-thinking, strong, protective dog.
     "Wait for me!"
I found just what I needed in an Australian Cattle Dog that I named Dakota. I purchased this adorable, 6wk old, pup from a breeder in Alabama. He was just what I expected. Dakota grew into a magnificent dog that bonded with me and my son, Zach. He was mostly social with other people but there were a few times when he would be still and a low rumble could be heard. At one time he did bite an unfamiliar man who was ruff-playing with Zach.  He didn't break the skin, but I had no doubt if it wasn't stopped, he would have bitten again. Dakota also made it easy to bring in the horses at feeding time.

    Goob and Lady lead the way.
You're probably thinking "I thought this story was about Lady?" Well, Dakota is Lady's father. Dakota was such a wonderful dog, that I decided to find a female to breed him to before neutering him. Lady is our pick of that litter. Although Dakota has passed, Lady is his living heritage. She has all his wonderful traits that made him so special to us.
     Wet after plaining in the creek.
Did you know that Australian Cattle Dogs are born white except for the patches or markings they will have later in life? This trait comes from the Dalmation being in the breeds that were blended to make this wonderful dog; Dingo, Smooth Haired Scotch Merle Collies (reported to be a cross between the Rough Haired Scotch Collie and the Blue Italian Greyhound), the Dalmatian, the Bull Terrier and the Australian Kelpie. To learn more about this breed visit
     Stopping in a shady place.
I don't know why I chose Lady, but I'm thankful that I did. She came to our family just before the birth of my younger son, Aaron, and has been a great playmate to him. One of her favorite things to do is ride on the 4-wheeler with Zach. It cracks me up to see her tongue hanging out and her ears flopping around as she sits on the back, just enjoying the ride. I can always count on Lady to keep me company on my walks. She always goes ahead checking everything out and then circles back to check on me. 
     "Lady have you been chasing the chickens?"
Lady will be 12 years old this fall and spends most of her days lounging around under the trees. At 7 years of age, I thought she had an infection. Her eyes were real watery, and she was developing what looked like scaly skin around her eyelids and on her nose. So off to the vet we go. He did skin scrapings to check for mange and a variety of blood test. Unfortunately the diagnosis was Autoimmune Disease. This is a condition in which the dogs immune system fights against itself. Our vet said "she's basically allergic to herself."  Without treatment, she will develope an itchy, scaly skin on all of her mucous membranes..."ouch!" The treatment is with steroids. We decided on a rotation treatment plan with oral steroids. It took a few weeks for the skin to clear up, but it worked. The main side effect is severe weight gain. Lady is really over weight, I call her my little puj-puj. Even with low-cal food and plenty of exercise, she is and always will be over weight. Not a lot is known about the disease, and I'm not sure why she hasn't had it or shown symptoms of it all her life. I do know that it is not breed specific, so it can happen to any breed. Whether or not it's genetic is still questionable. It doesn't matter anyway because Lady was spayed at 6 months old. 
Even with her physical ailment, Lady lives a full and happy life.  

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Thank you for reading my post. I enjoy hearing your thoughts. Tisha