Winter (Grey’s Bright Winter, AKC/ASCA UD, OAD NA VAD) 1986–2002
Winter was my first Aussie and why I fell in love with the breed. Her first job was to be my horse show dog. She was always at my heels so a leash was never needed. Winter had a great relationship with my horses. I had a young horse that I would put in a round pen to exercise before I got on him to ride. Winter would run outside the pen barking and my colt would rear up and buck, charging at her, shaking his head and acting like he wanted to trample her. Around and around they would go. But when I brought Remy, the colt, out of the pen, he and Winter would go back to their normal selves, Remy walking along quietly and Winter politely trotting at his heels. Winter was excellent with cats. I once found a litter of kittens and their mother sitting along side the road. Of course I picked them up and took them home. The kittens loved to crawl over Winter and she bore it with patience. Then one kitten began nursing on her, so much so that Winnie began expressing milk! Eventually the kitten became a 16 pound cat and Winter was only 38 pounds so you can imagine how odd it looked- this large cat still nursing. It wasn’t until I had her spayed that Winter stopped letting the cat nurse. Winter didn’t begin her obedience career until she was 7 years old. When I no longer had horses and needed a hobby to fill my time, I became involved in showing dogs. I trained Winter for the beginning level of obedience and little by little we continued training until before I realized it, at age 11 she competed in and got her Utility title, the highest and most difficult level. She also did lots of agility when the sport was brand new. Winter was the most sensitive but toughest little dog I’ve ever known. They don’t breed Aussies like her any more.
Wylie (Alt. CH Gitalong’s Wylie Coyote AKC/ASCA CDX NA) 1994–2008
Oh, how I miss my beautiful boy. He was an ambassador for the Australian Shepherd breed, sweet, friendly and gentle. One of his best tricks was to jump into my arms, landing light as a feather, despite being 55 pounds. I remember being at a dog show at Pebble Beach where there were lots of Japanese tourists. One of these gentlemen saw Wylie jump into my arms and pantomimed that he would like Wylie to do the same with him. So I showed him how to give the signal (arms spread wide) and pointed Wylie in his direction. Wylie took a couple loping steps and confidently jumped into his arms. Someone snapped a picture and so somewhere in Japan there is a photo of Wylie in this man’s arms. I wish I could have a copy of it! Another cute trick of Wylie’s was jumping up and kissing me lightly on the mouth touching with his nose. He was a terrific show dog and won many prizes at Australian Shepherd National shows and in national obedience trial championship shows where he competed against some of the best obedience dogs in the nation. His favorite things to do, however, were to snuggle on the couch with me, sleep on my bed and chase squirrels.
Holly (Propwash Cloverhill Holiday AKC/ASCA CDX) 1997–2008
Holly and I explored new dog venues together and while she had lots of talent for tracking, I came to the conclusion that sheep herding just wasn’t in her genes. We spent an entire summer training only to discover that Holly’s main joy in herding was gathering up the sheep only to split them so she could chase and round them up again. Not the desired behavior! We did a little agility bit mostly she was a lot of fun to trial in obedience and she was very very good. Holly was my constant companion and a spitfire of energy who also loved to snuggle on the couch. I lost her at the young age of 10 years 6 months before I lost Wylie due to old age. It was discovered she had a type of cancer called Hemangiosarcoma, an aggressive, malignant tumor of blood vessel cells. You don’t even know your dog has this cancer until it is too late to be able to do anything about it and there is internal bleeding.
Lacy (Twin Oaks Summer Lace, AKC/ASCA CDX, OA, OAD) 1990–2001
Lacy was my herding-bred Aussie and I never did take her herding! She was my agility dog, when the sport was brand new, although I worked obedience with her, too. She never had any formal training in agility so we learned by doing and had a lot of fun. It was due to personal circumstances, however, that I made the tough decision to place her in another home. I met a friend of a friend and found that Lacy to be the perfect match for her. And as it turned out it was the best home any dog could have had. Jessica owned a pet food store and Lacy went to work with her every day. Jessica also had a horse and Lace went with her to the barn every evening. I felt like she would always be part of my life as Jess would send me pictures and tell me stories about Lacy and her doings. I was with Jessica when Lacy became paralyzed and we made the decision together to have her put down.
Lady (Lovely Lady Lark) 1970–1993
My first conscious thought as a child was that I wanted a horse. On my twelfth birthday my parents bought me a beautiful two year old filly. She was with me throughout my teens, through my college years and into my first real job. She was shown by me as well as professionally and was truly a once-in-a-lifetime horse. She went on to produce several lovely babies. One baby was bought by a close friend who then bred Breeze when she grew up. To this day I can see Lady’s grandbabies grazing in their pasture. I kept one of Lady’s babies and Remy first started out as a western horse. Over time I began riding English and he became an outstanding English pleasure horse. I eventually sold him to a young girl looking for a well-trained show horse. My plans were to keep that last baby that Lady produced. Rosy was everything I could have wanted but became injured at 4 months of age. She would never be able to be ridden and I had to sell her as a broodmare. It was at this point I decided that horses were too painful to own and switched to showing and trialing my dogs.