Posted November 20th, 2012 — Filed in Stockdogs
Question: . . . . Seems as if you are answering a lot of questions about training Stockdogs and you seem to be very knowledgeable as to training techniques and different Cowdog-breeds, so I was hoping you could maybe shed some light on an issue that has been bugging me for several years now. Back in the day I held a job with a very large yearling outfit on the Laramie plains of Wy, of course all of us were always looking for the dog that could travel longer, gather better and get his point across to those obnoxious yearlings without tiring, so somebody gave me . . . . number, and told me he had some BorderCollie-Pitbull cross dogs that were just the ticket. So, I calls the guy and he happened to have some pups, I met him in Green River and he sure enough seem to be a real nice guy and had a lot of wild stories to tell about his years gathering wild cattle and how incredibly tough his dogs were. Anyway, the pup developed to be a beautiful dog, very loyal, built just right, but a total 0 when it came to either gather cattle or to being tough enough to at least dog-break yearlings in the corrals. I don´t ever expected this pup to do anything until I turned him loose on some sheep when he was about 6 months old, even though there were other pups along that were having a blast tearing up them sheep, my . . . pup seem very content running around eating crap. He improved a little when he got older, but not a lot. So . . ., being a man of his word gave me another pup, which turned out even worse than the first one. Two other guys that I know got pups from him and neither of those didn´t do anything with cattle, actually they were both pretty yellow. Now, get me right please, I don´t want you guys to knock Mr. . . ., for I still like the guy, I just want to know if he ever had those “fourlegged chainsaws” he used to tell me about. Anymore, I came to the conclusion that I prefer my Duvall Kelpies, for they do a pretty darn nice job, but I just wanted to know your opinion about those . . . . dogs, maybe this won’t bug me anymore.
Answer: I’m sorry to say that Bud passed away last week. He and I have worked dogs together for a lot of years so maybe I can answer you the way I know that he would have.
We’ve never seen . . . . dogs work so I don’t really have an opinion about that. We have never been interested in breeding Pit Bull into a cowdog hoping to get more bite. That’s like breeding your Angus cow to a Jersey bull to get more milk in your beef herd. What’s to say that you don’t get the conformation of the Jersey and the milking ability of the Angus?
We have never had any problem finding tough cowdogs within the breed, though they are getting harder and harder to find. People are more interested in a “trainable” dog than a tough dog. Tough and hard-headed seem to go together. I do know that just having a lot of bite doesn’t always get the job done and we’ve never been interested in a “four legged chainsaw.” They usually make a cow even more protective of her calf, actually causing her to be more of a dog-fighter. A cow is usually afraid to turn her back on this kind of a dog in order to go back to the herd.
When we were in Canada, because of the problem of keeping water for the cattle in the winter time we used the same pasture for two bunches of cattle. One bunch had the water all day, the other bunch had it all night. Every morning in the winter we had to move 800-900 yearlings off of the straw bed and put them in the “water pasture.” At minus 40 degrees the cattle are reluctant to get up and move off of their cozy bed. Without a dog it would take two people several minutes to get them up. You practically had to boot each individual animal. It would take two of our Border Collies about the same amount of time. They had to work their little tails off to get them up and going. If we sent “Tuffy,” a Kelpie that we had at that time, the cattle started standing up as soon as they saw him coming. Tuffy never used anymore force than was absolutely necessary but he had “presence,” which we consider more valuable in a cowdog than a lot of “bite.” I’m not making a case for Kelpies. We’ve had Border Collies and McNabs and some dogs whose breeding was a complete mystery that had just as much presence as Tuffy, just not when we were in Canada.