Aussie (dog)

The Australian Shepherd started out as a working dog. Today for the most part it still is, but they have entered a different type of work besides herding. The versatility of the Aussie is remarkable. Today\'s Aussie is an active and intelligent companion who requires stimulation and activity. There are very few breeds of dogs capable of performing as many different jobs as the Australian Shepherd. The breed\'s easy trainability, intelligence, common sense and problem solving abilities, combined with a medium sized build, easy to care for coat, strong will to work and incredible loyalty make for a great working and playing companion.
Australian Shepherd, also known as Spanish Shepherd, New Mexican Shepherd, or California Shepherd, breed of herding dog developed in the United States (Encarta). Its ancestors probably were Australian dogs bred for herding livestock (Braund 106). Sheepherders who emigrated from the Basque region of Spain to the United States had these dogs shipped to California when the United States imported sheep from Australia in the 19th century (Palika 23).
The history of the west during the late 1800s filled with tall tales, and the Australian Shepherd\'s history during this time period is no exception. Leaving the romance of the Wild West aside, most of the people who moved westward in the 1800s had modest dreams of starting a new life, buying land where they could raise a family (Palika 19). Even though the history of this time is derived from diaries and a few personal photographs showing a dog resembling the Australian Shepherd (Palika 19). A loyal, protective, trainable herding dog was needed in the Wild West, and the Australian Shepherd fit right in.
Jay Sisler, a talented dog trainer from Idaho, had Aussies before the breed was well known as the Australian Shepherd (Sisler 3). He acquired Keno, his first "blue dog," as he called them, in 1939 (Palika 34). Sisler spent twenty years traveling with his "blue dogs," giving shows at rodeos and amazing people with the tricks that his wonderfully trained dogs could do (Sisler 4). Sisler\'s dogs gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. They would stand in their heads, balance on bars, jump rope, climb ladders and much more (Palika 34). Their acts greatly increased interest in the breed. Sisler\'s Shorty (1948-1959) sired many of the breed\'s most important foundation stock (Sisler Append. B). He was a good-looking blue merle. He was the star of Sisler\'s act for many years and a Walt Disney movie, Cowdog, was based on his life and talents (Palika 35).
The breed\'s first occupation was as a stockdog. Aussies are able to work a variety of livestock in different situations and terrain (Siegal 218). They can be soft enough to work ewes and lambs and tough enough to handle cattle (Siegal 218). Aussies can drive, move, and gather livestock on the range, in a small farm setting, or in stockdog trials (Palika 15).
The Aussie\'s strong work ethic, intelligence, and good scenting abilities have made it a premier search and rescue dog. Trained dogs and their owners have found lost hikers, children who wandered away and elderly people who have become confused and lost (Lowell 165). Search rescue trained Aussies have worked to find flood victims and people swept away in mudslides and
Avalanches (Palika 10). Although St. Bernards are the most famous search and rescue dogs, and German Shepherds are the most commonly seen search dogs, Aussies are rapidly becoming the breed of choice for many search and rescue teams (Lowell 166).
Tracking is an activity that allows the dog to use its naturally acute sense of smell. Tracking can be competitive sport in which prizes and titles are rewarded: it can be a recreational activity or it can be part of a search and rescue effort. Again, the Aussie\'s trainability, work ethic, intelligence, and natural abilities make tracking something Aussies can, and do, excel in.
The breed\'s easy trainability, intelligence, common sense, and problem solving abilities, combined with a medium sized build, easy to care for coat, strong will to work, and incredible loyalty make Aussies an excellent service dog (Pugnetti 23). Aussies have been used more and more as service dogs in the last few years (Palika 45). Robert Krause was injured in a driving accident and