Anyone who knows me and my overwhelming obsession with dogs knows about my love of Australian Shepherds. I spent a few years of my young life studying dogs, memorizing dog breeds, subscribing to Dog Fancy (for which I was teased mercilessly by my father). After many months of intense study, I decided that the dog our family needed to get was an Australian shepherd.
In March of that year, right before my birthday, my dad announced that we were going to a farm to look at Aussie puppies. I was so excited I thought I was going to vomit in the minivan. We visited George Hines’ Green Hills Farm and saw his precious litter of puppies from a black tricolor dam and a blue merle sire. Emma stood out to us right away. She was friendly, eager, and simply beautiful. We picked her out and returned a few weeks later to take her home.
I was about 14 when we brought Emma home and I spent hours training her. She was housebroken in a week and learned tricks and commands at a rapid rate. We loved teaching her new things and she loved learning them. She was a gorgeous and attentive dog and, by all respects, we shouldn’t have had any issues with her.
We told people that she had problems, like excessive barking, jumping, and carsickness, but we never did much to alleviate these problems. My family failed Emma. She was not adequately socialized with other dogs or different people, even though she was great with kids, having grown up in a household with four of them. I was starting high school and my commitment to Emma started to wane. We didn’t give her enough attention to keep her energy in check and when the time came for our family to move, my parents gave Emma away to a family friend who lived on a 20-acre property in the country. Emma, however, was not closely monitored there and was allowed to roam free. A few months later, she was hit and killed by a truck and found dead by her new owners on the side of the road. She was only five years old.
Emma’s tragically short and unfair life haunts me to this day. I love so many things about the breed and find myself wanting another Aussie as if I could somehow make it up to Emma.
Right now, an Australian shepherd remains at the top of my list for the dog I’d like to get. I’d be just as happy with an Aussie mix, though. I scan the local Aussie rescue agencies weekly, even though I’m just unfairly tempting myself, and am planning to visit some Virginia Aussie breeders this summer.
From what I know about the breed, here are my lists of reasons why I’d get an Aussie and why I’d be nervous to get an Aussie.
- Extremely intelligent and highly trainable.
- High energy and fun-loving.
- Excel at most canine sports.
- Attached to their people.
- Long, gorgeous coat.
- Can be excessively vocal and bossy.
- Demanding and difficult if not given enough mental and physical stimulation.
- More wary of people than friendly, bubbly breeds.
What do you think? Should we get another Aussie? Have you owned one yourself?
In the coming weeks, I’ll list other breeds that I’d consider as we make our slow way toward dog ownership.
A few Aussie links: