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FARMCOLLIE  August 1998

FARMCOLLIE August 1998

Subject:

Re: Breed origins...

From:

Jill Rose <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Farm Collie Breed Conservancy and Restoration <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 24 Aug 1998 19:24:26 EDT

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (98 lines)

In a message dated 98-08-24 17:59:48 EDT, you write:

<< Go to
  http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Valley/5755/links.html
  Click on the Iceland dog links.
  Tell us more about your aussies!  I am assuming that you have read Linda's
 version of Aussie history? >>

Hi there,

Thanks for the link reference...  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the
Icelandic dogs.  I have also read Linda's views on the Aussie history, and
feel that she presents a valid, but perhaps not complete, viewpoint.  I have
spent countless hours researching the Basque Shepherds, both in texts, as well
National Geographic archives, and while many accompanying pictures showed the
Basque Shepherds with their dogs, I failed to see any resemblance in them to
our modern day Aussies.  I was aware though, of the Basque's association with
both the Pyrenean Mountain dogs (Great Pyrenees) (livestock guard dogs) and
the Pyrenean Shepherd dogs (Petite Berger) (herding dogs).  I was also well
aware that the Pyrenean Shepherd dogs, as correctly described by Linda,
resembled small bearded collies or briards and came with long or corded coats.
Some great pics can be seen at:  http://www.pyrenean-journal.com/history.htm
There is also a third smooth coated variety, and again, as she described, this
dog often came in merle coloration, with blue eyes, and oftentimes with the
unique natural bobtail.

While I have no doubt, and the rest of the Aussie world would probably crucify
me for saying this, but personally, I have no doubt that the old farm collie
type dogs figure predominantly in the Aussie's background.  (Thus my subbing
to this list!)  But I think that the dogs that accompanied the Basque
Shepherds also play a strong part in the breed's development, perhaps a bit
more than Linda believes.  I say this because of the connection between the
Old Welsh Bob Tail, the German Coolie and the Australian Shepherd.  All three
have their roots associated with the Basques and their sheep.  All three share
similar size and conformational structure.  More than that, all three share
the original Pyrenean Shepherd's style of herding, not to mention the unique
combination of merle coloration, blue eyes, and natural bobtails.  And all
three seem to share very similar temperament characteristics.  Add to that the
experiences of those Australians who own German Coolies and then visit the US
and see a modern day Aussie for the first time and then swear, "no, that's a
coolie!".

I have my own ideas on what may have possibly happened....  But I'm still
seeking out historical documentation to support my thoughts.  I know that the
British Isles were a popular landing place for many Basque priests.  I know
that the Basques travelled with their sheep to Australia accompanied by their
Pyrenean Shepherds.  I know that many of these dogs were used and developed
locally in different Australian regions during the 1800s...  The Old Welsh Bob
Tail was supposedly developed in NSW during the 1800s, and as Linda suggested,
the German Coolie came from areas with German settlement...  Personally, I
wonder if the German Coolie and the Old Welsh Bob Tail aren't one and the same
breed, just different locales.  I believe that it was these dogs that
accompanied the Basques further, on their way with their sheep to the U.S.  By
the time the dogs reached the U.S., the merle coloration was already
predominant, as they were often referred to as "those little blue dogs".  And
of course, because they had travelled directly from Australia, the misnomer of
Australian Shepherd was applied.

So, my guess is that the dogs that accompanied the Basque Shepherds and were
of Pyrenean Shepherd descent, did indeed play a major role in the development
of the Old Welsh Bob Tail, German Coolie and our modern day Aussies.  (Heehee,
it would be interesting to hear what those who own the other two breeds
think...)  While the inland Basques were among the earliest of people to
domesticate animals, the coastal Basque were fisherman.  With the age of
whaling, they were an important part of sailing around the globe to settle the
New World.  In fact, after Juan de Onate helped founded Guadalajara, he
journeyed to NM where he founded the first permanent European settlement in
the American Southwest in 1598 AND INTRODUCED SHEEP.  ;-)  Its true that many
Basques headed for the gold rush, but even more pertinent is that when there
was little gold to be found, they returned to raising sheep and cattle to feed
the miners.  It would be ludicrous to think that they did this without their
shepherd dogs who had been such a great part of their heritage, just as there
is no way one could fathom that they would arrive in the U.S. from Australia
with shiploads of sheep and not bring their dogs with them.

And since we have documentation, in the form of letters from some of the
earliest Aussie folks who acknowledge getting their dogs directly from the
Basques, well, the Basque dogs obviously played a roled in the Aussie's
development.  But as Linda pointed out, there was also an influx of the old
farm shepherd types, that accompanied flocks from the midwest and east, not to
mention directly from the UK.  What I would like to learn more about, is the
role that these dogs played in contributing to the Aussie as we know it today.
My guess is that these old farm shepherds were quite popular on the farms as
pets, companions, and guard dogs.  As ranchers dealing with cost-
effectiveness, I'm wondering if the ranchers didn't start incorporating and/or
acquiring the Basque dogs after seeing their uncanny abilities to work stock.
Could this have provided the merger between the two contributing to our modern
day Aussies?

Gosh, I better end here....  Get me talking about dogs and I'll never stop....
sorry....

Jill

By the way, you asked about my Aussies....
You can see them at my web site:
http://members.aol.com/AustShpds/aussies.html/

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